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NY City Council Urges US Companies Not To Condone China's Role In Darfur


New York's City Council is urging U.S. companies to stop their support of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing if the Chinese government continues what it calls "tacit condoning" of the genocide in Darfur. From VOA's New York Bureau, Mona Ghuneim reports.

Standing in front of the headquarters of the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), New York City Council Member Simcha Felder said corporations like NBC have the power to make a difference in Darfur.

NBC has the exclusive US broadcast rights to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, and Felder says the company is poised to make huge profits from the coverage. China has been accused of weakening UN resolutions on Sudan because of Beijing's oil interests in the nation.

Felder says it's time for corporate sponsors to be responsible world citizens. "We want these companies to pressure the Chinese government into doing the right thing and telling Sudan, 'No, we will not do business with you anymore, unless you stop promoting and supporting the genocide in Darfur'," he said.

Felder says he wants New York City-based companies in particular to do everything in their power to thwart funding to Khartoum until the Sudanese government implements UN resolutions and international agreements on Darfur.

The City Council also honored advocate Brian Steidle for calling attention to the genocide in Darfur. Steidle served as a military observer in Darfur for the African Union and since returning to the United States has been active in pressuring U.S. politicians to act. He has testified before the US Congress and his documentary film, "The Devil Came on Horseback," has just opened in New York.

"I think we've gone past that point of appeasing the Sudanese government over the last four years of their genocidal campaign. I think it's time that we say, 'We're not going to let you get away with this anymore. We're going to restrict your planes from flying and bombing villages.' We have to do everything we can in our power."

Councilman Eric Gioa says the United States can no longer stand idly by and claim innocence in the situation. Although it has been illegal since 1998 for US citizens to do business in Sudan, the prohibition does not reach foreign companies. "That means that pension funds, hedge funds, and including the municipal pension funds here in New York City and in New York State, actually have substantial holdings in foreign companies that do direct business with the Sudanese government," he said.

The Council and Steidle say if words are going to be put into action anywhere in the world, it's going to be in New York City. They are encouraging New Yorkers to support this resolution and hoping others will follow their lead.