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Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Even More Dafur

More on Dafur, from our voices in the wilderness, Democracy Arsenal and Nicholas Kristof. Kristof has another editorial in the New York Times:
A desert town that used to hold about 25,000 people, Labado was attacked in December by the Sudanese military and the militia known as the janjaweed. For several days, the army burned huts, looted shops, killed men and raped women.

For months, Labado was completely deserted and appeared destined to become a ghost town. But then African Union forces, soldiers from across Africa who have been dispatched to stop the slaughter, set up a small security outpost of 50 troops here. Almost immediately, refugees began returning to Labado, followed by international aid groups.

Today there are perhaps 5,000 people living in the town again, building new thatch roofs over their scorched mud huts. The revival of Labado underscores how little it takes to make a huge difference on the ground. If Western governments help the African Union establish security, if we lean hard on both the government and the rebels to reach a peace agreement, then by the end of this year Darfur might see peace breaking out...

In 1999, Madeleine Albright traveled to Sierra Leone and met child amputees there, wrenching the hearts of American television viewers and making that crisis a priority in a way that eventually helped resolve it. Ms. Rice could do the same for Darfur if she would only bother to go.
Meanwhile, Derek Chollet writes, on Arsenal, of the growing movement to get colleges, universities, and states to divest their interest in companies that do business in Sudan:
Harvard [divested] earlier this year, and other major universities are being pressured to follow suit. Last month, ICG’s John Prendergast and Harvard’s Samantha Power sent a letter to 100 university presidents urging them to examine their portfolios for links to Sudan and divest. Student groups have sprouted up and have done good work (the group STAND — Students Taking Action Now: Darfur — has 80 chapters nationwide), but with school out for the summer, progressives should work to pick up the slack.

And a few weeks ago, the Illinois legislature took this one step further: it passed a law to make Illinois the first state to prohibit doing business with Sudan. Illinois’ five pension systems have about $1 billion invested in 32 companies that work in Sudan, which this bill will put an end to. It will also prohibit the state from investing in foreign government bonds of Sudan and investing in companies doing business in or with Sudan.

Illinois might be the first, but it is not alone: A related measure has passed the New Jersey House but is bottled up in the Senate, California’s legislature has a version bouncing around, and just last week, legislation was offered in Ohio’s state Senate proposing something similar.
There's more work to do if we're going to stop this thing.

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