Members of the Congressional Black Caucus and religious groups in the United States Monday called for shareholder action to force multinational and overseas corporations to withdraw from Sudan. The legislators accuse these companies of providing financial support for the Khartoum government's genocide in the Darfur region.
U.S. public pension funds are being asked to divest their holdings in multinational companies doing business in Sudan. Former member of Congress Walter Fauntroy says oil companies, such as Total of France, are the biggest offenders. These companies, he says, have paid over $500-million for mineral rights in oil-rich southern Sudan. Mr. Fauntroy says American pension funds should not own shares in any company, foreign or domestic, still active in Sudan. "We're asking them to take action to stop companies doing business in Sudan from using our money to support the dirty work of the Khartoum regime," he said.
Mr. Fauntroy was a leader in a similar divestment campaign nearly 20 years ago that was instrumental in helping force an end to apartheid in South Africa.
Joe Madison, another leader in the Sudan action, says the divestment effort is a matter of moral principle. "The greatest expression of those moral values is to say to Sudan that we will not fund in any way, form or fashion genocide in Darfur," he said.
American companies are barred by U.S. economic sanctions from doing business in Sudan. Now, these activists want U.S. investors to withhold their funds from foreign and mutlinational businesses as well.
Human rights groups say the government of Sudan and Arab militias that support it have carried out ethnic cleansing in Darfur that has cost the lives of tens of thousands and driven nearly two million people from their homes.