ME and Ophelia

Saturday, October 23, 2004

- - -

Blood Money and Divest Sudan

John Fitzgerald, a law student blogging out of New York, writes another great piece on Sudan in his blog Secession

Last week, John published Blood Money. Yesterday, he published Six Degrees of Separation. In both posts he manages to put the hugely important issue of ethics neatly in short pieces that are easy to read and digest - and provide great food for thought.

As John is new to the blogosphere, here's wishing him a warm welcome and interesting time. He has a really neat blog and writes beautifully - check out his review of the play "After the Revolution".
- - -

Choose who you spend your money on - beware of overseas investments

Following on from the above post, John in his post "Six Degrees of Separation", links to DivestSudan, a great campaign that any of us can carry on with in our daily lives by simply being aware of who we choose to spend our money on - from insurance policies to washing machines made by Siemens.

For the past 30 years, whenever I see a product, advertisement or article that carries the Siemens name, I point out to anyone who is with me at the time: "Siemens is the German company that provided the gas chambers for the Nazi's concentration camps, knowing what they were for." I've made a point of not buying any white goods bearing the Siemens name.

Recently, British Labour MP Clive Soley blogged about a German ambassador he'd listened to on a radio programme. The programme and Clive's post was about Germany's improving image and how times have changed. Here is a copy of a comment that I posted:

"Clive, Up until a few months ago, I'd have agreed with your post here. I was impressed to see how well Germany were focused on what was going on in Sudan. High ranking German officials visiting Khartoum and meeting up for diplomatic talks with rebel groups in Germany. They seemed to be really going out of their way to help.

Then I saw news reports that Germany won a massive huge contract from Sudan to build the new Sudan-Kenya railway - and that Siemens have a very big operation around that area.

Siemens still don't seem to have learned about ethics over the past 60 years. They built the gas chambers in the Nazi's concentration camps.

Siemens has stuck in my mind as the company never to buy a washing machine, or any goods, from.

Time goes by and things do heal. But this news of what the Germans are doing in Sudan, and the fresh deals they are doing with ruthless and immoral dictators has renewed my personal sanctions on Siemens, along with my habit of telling people about Siemens whenever the words "gas chambers, nazis and holocaust" arise.

Who can respect a country for doing big business with any government that is killing its own people, hampering access for aid and assistance to reach innocent civilians while refusing all offers of help from the outside? Perhaps Germany could help improve its image by contributing more towards humanitarian assistance - big time. Posted by: Ingrid at October 21, 2004 05:35 PM"
- - -


Excerpt from DivestSudan:

The divestment campaign of a has as its aim forcing a suspension of all commercial and economic projects and investments in northern Sudan, pending a halt to the genocide in Darfur and completion of a north/south peace agreement.  Excerpt from the campaign's website:

The key task of the campaign is ensuring that pensions plans, mutual funds, endowment funds, and other investment vehicles do not contain the shares of these rapacious European and Asian corporations, whether they trade on the New York Stock Exchange or other international exchanges.

If these companies feel sufficient pressure on their share price, they will be forced to suspend activities.  Canada's largest private oil company, Talisman Energy, offers a signal example of what a previous divestment campaign can do: in a relatively short period of time, the company was forced to exit and seek a buyer for its lucrative oil concession holdings in southern Sudan.

Divestment campaigns depend upon broad, grass-roots support -- and dogged determination.  The many pension and mutual funds with shares of companies investing in Sudan will not readily accede to divestment demands.  But if faced with enough outrage, and the clear prospect of losing investors, their behavior can be quickly modified.  The key is unrelenting determination to re-direct investments to untainted funds, or to bring public shame to funds that refuse to divest.

If ordinary citizens wish to confront this intransigent, serially genocidal regime, they must be willing to insist that their investment and pension portfolios do not contain shares of the companies that have permitted continued political survival to the genocidaires in Khartoum. 

DivestSudan will not succeed unless you take a stand. Please download and send the letters provided to your local public pension systems - and to your country's Governor, Treasurer, Attorney General and leading legislators.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 10/23/2004
Comments: Post a Comment
0 comments Newer›  ‹Older