Shareholders of 16 American Funds have rejected a request from anti-genocide activists to withdraw investments from companies doing business in Sudan.
The campaign for a genocide-free investment has been led by Boston-based Investors Against Genocide.
Chairman Eric Cohen said royalty payments by Chinese oil companies are funding the Sudan government which is blamed for human rights abuses in Darfur and south Sudan.Eric Cohen is chairman of Investors Against Genocide.
“In particular we point to PetroChina which is the closely related subsidiary to the China National Petroleum Company…and it’s because of the oil industry that the government of Sudan has so much revenue that it can afford to spend on armies and militias…to attack its own people in Darfur,” he said.
Cohen said while his organization has not had much success in getting big mutual funds companies to divest in Sudan, it has been able to raise consciousness among shareholders.
“We came up with the strategy of doing shareholders proposals…and what we discovered is that ordinary investors, once they become aware, want no connection of their family’s savings, their pension funds, their 401Ks to the genocide in Sudan,” Cohen said.
He said millions of mutual funds shareholders are upset because of the companies’ refusal to divest in Sudan.
Cohen said his group agrees with a new report by Enough Project calling on the United States and other Western countries to impose sanctions on key members of the Khartoum government for refusing to end the violence in Darfur and southern Sudan.
“We’re very supportive of that work because in the six weeks since the United States Sudan policy was announced we have seen enough new problems of a very serious nature that the United States government should take note of those problems and use them as proof point that the government is not moving yet in the right direction and impose sanctions,” Cohen said.
He said just as individuals have to do what they can in the face of genocide, so too must governments.
In addition, Cohen said Americans have high expectations of what their government should be doing when it comes to Sudan.