Saturday, December 22, 2007

Save Darfur Anchorage to Meet with Governor Palin's Office

On December 26th, representatives from Save Darfur Anchorage will meet with Governor Palin's office to ask that she reject Sinopec's bid for the AGIA contract on the grounds that Sinopec is helping to fund the Darfur genocide and not using its influence as the leading oil field services provider in Sudan to petition the Government of Sudan to end its brutal campaign against Darfuri civilians.

Save Darfur Anchorage will also ask Governor Palin to publicly support the divestment campaign that will take place in the State House and the State Senate next session. Although legislators will determine whether or not Alaska adopts a policy of targeted divestment for the duration of the genocide, it would be great to also have the Governor's support.

Friday, December 21, 2007

In the Spotlight: The Darfur Wall

There seem to be as many ways to raise awareness (and money) for the people of Darfur as there are creative people. Check out and see how one father and his two sons have answered the call to action. All donations (the minimum is $1) are split evenly among Doctors Without Borders, Save the Children, Save Darfur Coalition, and Sudan Aid Fund.

One of the best features of the wall is that you can click on any of the white numbers and see the name and location of the person whose money lit that number. The names are from all over the United States and beyond. It's a great feeling to instantly see how widespread the love, concern, and compassion for the people of Darfur truly is.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Federal Government Takes Aim at Sinopec: Will Alaska?

The following is the press release sent out to all Alaska radio and television news stations to announce the U.S. House of Representatives' passage of the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act and to call on the Alaska Government to follow the Federal Government's lead and reject opportunities to do business with Sinopec. Governor Palin is likely to announce the accepted bidders for the AGIA contract on Monday, December 24th, so there's still time to contact the Governor's office and let her know we want her to reject Sinopec's bid on the grounds that they are helping to bankroll the Darfur genocide.

Company fueling genocide still in the mix for pipeline contract.

Today, in a bipartisan show of force, the United States House of Representatives passed the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act by a vote of 411 to 0. Last week the Senate unanimously approved the measure which now needs only President Bush’s signature to become law. The bill would prohibit federal contracts with companies fueling the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, including current Alaska Gasline Inducement Act bidder, Sinopec. The bill also authorizes individual states to independently enforce a similar prohibition.

More than two weeks after the Genocide Intervention Network sent a letter to Governor Palin urging Alaska to reject the Sinopec bid because of the company’s involvement in Sudan, the bid is still pending. In a poll conducted last Tuesday by Channel 2 News (KTUU), 80% of the poll’s respondents said the state should reject a gas pipeline bid from a company with known ties to the Darfur genocide.

Sinopec is the largest oil field services provider in Sudan, where the government has been accused by President Bush and Congress of committing genocide.

“The pipeline is an investment in Alaska’s future and should be built in a way that is consistent with Alaskan and American values. We should not allow a company that is currently bankrolling the 21st century’s first genocide to bid for this very important project. Governor Palin should immediately reject Sinopec’s proposal for the AGIA pipeline on these grounds.” said Save Darfur Anchorage member Kelley Nixon.

The links between foreign direct investment in Sudan’s oil industry and the Darfur conflict have been extensively documented by numerous governments, non-governmental organizations, and foreign policy experts. Roughly 90% of Sudan’s export revenue comes from oil and despite the country's enormous foreign debt; Sudan funnels as much as 70% of that revenue into its military.

In a letter addressed to Governor Palin, Genocide Intervention Network Executive Director Mark Hanis said that awarding the contract to Sinopec would amount to support for the murderous Sudanese government at a time when others are divesting from the company, and that Sinopec’s bid presents a significant opportunity for Alaskans to stand up against the world’s worst crime.

Twenty-two states and over fifty universities have passed divestment measures from problematic companies in Sudan. As a result, many of these entities have sold substantial stock holdings in Sinopec. A number of Alaskan state legislators are also preparing to introduce Sudan divestment legislation in the upcoming legislative session.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Local Artist Paints to Raise Funds and Awareness for Darfur

Anchorage artist, Katie Sevigny, recently painted a beautiful depiction of Sleeping Lady under a Van Gogh-inspired sky for a silent auction held at the Anchor Pub and Grill through the end of December. Half of the sale proceeds will go to the Save Darful Coalition to continue our fight to bring a resolution to the Darfur genocide.

Bids will be accepted at the Anchor Pub and Grill -- where Katie's painting currently hangs -- through the end of December. The Anchor is right next to Katie's own gallery on 4th Avenue, near G street. We hope you will be able to stop by the Anchor and see or even bid on Katie's incredible handiwork. Katie's artwork is also accessible throught the web at

Katie, thank you so much for donating your time and creating such a lovely piece!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act Passes the U.S. Senate

The Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act has finally made it through the U.S. Senate! The bill authorizes states and local governments to divest from companies that support the Khartoum government at the expense of marginalized populations and it prohibits federal contracts with those companies. Although the State Department and the Bush Administration have repeatedly voiced opposition to this bill and stalled it in the Senate multiple times, last night the Senators united and held their ground. Be sure to thank Senators Stevens and Murkowski for consenting to this bill's passage.

The bill will return to the House for consideration and then go to the President for final approval. The House passed a similar bill in July by a vote of 418-1 so the House should be no problem. (It's more a procedural mater than anything.) We'll see what President Bush does when he is asked to sign it into law.

To read more about the bill, see articles from

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Sinopec Should Not Build Our Pipeline

Save Darfur Anchorage, along with other anti-genocide groups, are urging Governor Palin to reject Sinopec ZPEB's bid to build the Alaska gas pipeline. Sinopec, whose majority shares are owned by the Chinese government, is the leading oil-field services provider in Sudan and a major revenue source for the Sudanese government. In fact, 90% of Sudan's export revenue comes from the oil industry and 70% of that is used to finance the government's military. Despite repeated pleas from anti-genocide groups, Sinopec has refused to alter its operations in Sudan despite the link between the money Sinopec provides to the Sudanese government and the atrocities happening in Darfur.

We urge all to contact Governor Palin and ask her to please reject Sinopec's bid. Ask her to please use this opportunity to take a clear stand against genocide on behalf of all Alaskans. Click on the following for Governor Palin's contact information:

To review articles covering Sinopec's bid and some local editorial sparring on the issue, check out these links:

Friday, December 7, 2007

Presidential Candidates Share Views on Darfur

Two-minute YouTube videos of leading candidates talking about their views and policies specific to the Darfur genocide can be viewed at

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

UAA Chapter of STAND Presents DarfurFast Event

Tonight, the UAA Chapter of STAND welcomes all to a showing of The Devil Came on Horseback in Room 101 of Rasmuson Hall on the UAA Campus. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted for The Genocide Intervention Network's (GI-Net) Civilian Protection Program. The first of its kind in Darfur, this program works with Darfuri community leaders, displaced women and girls, and the African Union Mission in Sudan to protect women and girls in internally displaced persons camps. In Darfur, women and girls are forced to wander in search of firewood for cooking, exposing them to rape and attack from militias. GI-Net's Civilian Protection Program offers safer cooking options by providing alternative-fuel stoves, guarded firewood patrols, and income-generating projects for women so that they can afford to buy firewood from the robust firewood market.

A question/answer session will be held after the movie and Save Darfur Anchorage will be there to show support and offer any information needed. We will also be there to help attendees write their legislators to ask for divestment of Alaska funds from companies that assist the Sudanese Goverment in its genocide campaign and to write Governor Palin to ask her to reject Sinopec's bid to build the Alaska Gas Pipeline.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Gift Ideas that Help Raise Awareness

The Holiday season often means a lot of gift buying, why not purchase some gifts this year that will also help raise awareness about the Darfur genocide. Amnesty International has put together Instant Karma, a CD of John Lennon songs performed by contemporary artists such as Aerosmith, the Black Eyed Peas, and Christina Aguilera. You can check out the CD website by visiting You can purchase it at for convenience.

The Save Darfur Store offers a limited selection of items (e.g., ribbon decals, t-shirts, yard signs) sold by the Save Darfur Coalition. For a broader and more creative selection of Save Darfur items, check out They sell hundreds of designs on everything from buttons, to tote bags, to t-shirts for humans and animals!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


PBS aired FRONTLINE: On Our Watch last night. The program presented a chronological accounting of the international community's (particularly the United Nations') response to the Darfur genocide. If you missed it, you can watch it online at

If the program drives one thing home, it is that our government and the governments of other countries can not be counted on to end this genocide. We can no longer sit idly by and expect, or believe, that some entity on its own accord will save Darfur. We must accept that the responsibility really lies with each and all of us. Now, let's get to work!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

22 States Have Now Divested

Last week, Massachusetts and New Mexico divested from Sudan, bringing the total number of states to divest to 22. Will Alaska be the 23rd? We certainly hope so, and Save Darfur Anchorage is continuing efforts to push for divestment and raise awareness about the genocide.

On Sunday, a letter-writing event was held at Holy Family Cathedral. Parishioners and others took time after mass to learn more about the genocide and divestment and to write their state legislators to request Alaska's divestment. Our appreciation goes out to every single person who took the time to send this very important message to their state senator and representative, to Holy Family Cathedral for providing the venue, and to Shawn Powers for putting the event together.

We also continue to work more with UAA Anchorage's STAND chapter. This incredibly motivated chapter of STAND is putting together plans for an on-campus showing of The Devil Came on Horseback. It will be held on Dec. 5th in conjunction with DarfurFast. We will publish the time and place once they are finalized. Admission will be free, but donations will be collected to support the Genocide Intervention Network's Civilian Protection Program. The program works with Darfuri community leaders, displaced women and girls, and the African Union Mission in Sudan to protect women and girls in internally displaced persons camps. Learn more aboutDarfurFast and this program at

Friday, November 2, 2007

Rep. Les Gara Joins Rep. Bob Lynn in Championing House Divestment Legislation

Thank you, Representative Lynn and Representative Gara! Yesterday, in a teleconference attended by members of Save Darfur Anchorage, Max Croes of the Sudan Divestment Task Force, Representative Bob Lynn and his staff, and Representative Les Gara and his staff, Representatives Lynn and Gara agreed to join together to introduce divestment legislation in the House in January. We are really excited to now have committed leaders from both parties and look forward to working with them and their motivated staff members to finalize the divestment legislation.

Please take the time to contact the offices of Rep. Lynn and Rep. Gara to thank them for taking on this very important cause. They need to know that we Alaskans support their efforts...because we do!

Representative Les Gara: 716 W. 4th Avenue, Ste 310, Anchorage, AK 99501-2133, Phone# 269-0106, Fax# 465-3518, Email Representative Bob Lynn: 716 W. 4th Avenue, Ste 650, Anchorage, AK 99501-2133, Phone# 269-0205, Fax# 269-0207, Email (our staff contact in Rep. Lynn's office).

Thursday, October 25, 2007

How to Care About Darfur

Last month an article, "Why We Don't Care About Darfur," was published in the September issue of O Magazine. In it, the author cites scientific research that shows that humans have a much easier time being empathetic toward individuals than toward groups. Researchers note that as the number of affected persons increases in a tragedy, such as in genocide, the human brain's ability to process such heart-rending information becomes more difficult. The assigned term is 'psychic numbing.'

As a defense mechanism, psychic numbing is invaluable because it protects us from being constantly assaulted by grief; however, this mechanism can also hinder very generous and good people from taking much needed action in times of great need - - like now in Darfur. The only way around this defense mechanism and toward positive action is by conscious effort. One must make a conscious effort to see beyond the statistics. This means we must make a choice to commit time to educate ourselves about the specifics of the genocide. We must reflect on these specifics and try to truly comprehend the range of struggles the people of Darfur are facing. We must consciously try to achieve and maintain a level of compassion that prompts action, instead of surrender.

For some, having a face to associate with a struggle helps make it more "real" to them. I rely on this technique at times. On those days when the slow progress toward ending the genocide leaves me feeling discouraged and powerless, I see the face of a woman. I have never met this woman. I saw her once in a documentary about the genocide in Rwanda. In the documentary, she eloquently pleads for help from the news crew that is filming her and about a hundred other Tutsis that have gathered together after fleeing their Hutu pursuers. She knows once the film crew leaves, the Hutus mulling about at the periphery of the gathering area will attack. And, that's what happens: the film crew leaves and the Hutus slaughter every person in that group, including the beautiful, well-spoken woman.

I imagine standing face to face with this woman. She asks me what I am doing to help end the genocide in Darfur. I look at her and wait for words to form, but they never do. Instead, every time, I simply get back to learning and doing more about Darfur. It is the only answer I feel she deserves. I sometimes feel no less discouraged, but I am always reminded of why to keep trying -- people's lives depend on it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Meeting with Representative Bob Lynn

On Sunday, Oct. 14th, three of us met with Representative Bob Lynn (House District 31 - Anchorage)and his aide Dirk Moffatt. For almost two hours we talked about the situation in Darfur. We presented our request for Rep. Lynn's support of legislation calling for the divestment of the Permanent Fund and state pension funds, and before we knew it Rep. Lynn stated that he plans to sponsor legislation to address targeted divestment of the Alaska State Permanent Fund from Sudan during the next session. His office has already begun drafting the legislation!!

And, if that wasn't enough, Rep. Lynn also provided a list of other representatives and senators that he believed would be sympathetic to this cause. We will begin contacting them this week. He warned us that this divestment campaign would not be an easy one. We certainly expect that - money's involved - but this campaign is certainly a worthy one.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Yesterday's group meeting was absolutely inspiring. So many new faces, new enthusiasm, and new ideas! Thanks to the showing of The Devil Came on Horseback at the Bear Tooth earlier this month, our group listing on the Save Darfur coalition website, and Tamar's recent speaking engagement at UAA, Save Darfur Anchorage tripled in size in just two weeks. Growth means more people are not only more aware of the current plight of the Darfuris, but more people are also taking action to help end their suffering!

New members include students from UAA, some of which are founding members of the local chapter of STAND (a student anti-genocide coalition), newcomers to Anchorage, and long-time Anchorage residents that are for the first time taking action that, dare I say it, looks a lot like activism. With each new member our skill base grows, our determination is bolstered, and our ability to raise more awareness about the genocide grows exponentially. Perfection, a ridiculously high IQ, and extreme wealth are not requirments for group participation (not that people with these attributes would be turned away), a person need only the desire to do what he or she can to help end a genocide that has gone on FAR too long.

At Saturday's meeting, we decided to increase our outreach to the University of Alaska Anchorage, and our new student members have agreed to spearhead this effort. They will also look into beginning a campaign for divestment of the University's holdings in companies complicit in the Darfur genocide. Any APU students out there?

We are also going to reach out more to faith-based organizations with the help of some of our other new members who have ties to St. Elizabeth's, St. Anthony's, Faith Christian, and other churches. Some of our more seasoned group participants have put together some events scheduled for January: Holy Cathedral will be doing a letter writing campaign and we will speak at the Unitarian Universalist Church.

All ideas for outreach are welcome. All efforts to raise awareness are encouraged. And, all our new group members are greatly appreciated!!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Not On Our Dime!

Often when I speak with people about the genocide in Darfur, I hear "that's so sad that there is nothing I can do about it." My breath catches every time. Not because I'm tiring of this excuse, but because I know it is not an excuse. People truly believe there is nothing we Alaskans on the other side of the world from Darfur can do to help. We Alaskans, as Americans living in the greatest democracy in the world, feel powerless to help the people of Darfur. I assure you all, we are not powerless! We are each the epicenter of incredible power.

Before I became involved with the Save Darfur campaign, I had never once written, called, or emailed my state or national representatives. This activism thing is all new to me. I can't say I'm yet completely comfortable with it, but I simply cannot and will not tolerate genocide. It's genocide for pete's sake! As a child I could not understand how we as a country waited so long to help end the Holocaust, how people in America went about their lives without demanding more government action as other human beings were being brutally killed en mass.

I now know how. For three years, I heard bits and pieces about Darfur, and did nothing. I did my laundry, I worked, I grocery shopped, I watched Grey's Anatomy, but I never once made an extra effort to learn more and do more until about six months ago. I am ashamed it has taken me this long and I plan on wasting no more time. I truly believe that as an American I am one of the luckiest people in this world because I am free to speak out, free to ask more of my government on this issue, and free to do those two things as often as I need to to be heard.

Today I wrote Senator Murkowski and Senator Stevens to ask them to vote in favor of the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act. The Act would authorize states and local governments to prohibit the investment of State assets in any company that has a qualifying business relationship with Sudan. As Senator Sam Brownback put it, "We've said often 'never again' and taken up the pledge of 'not on our watch.' We also need to take up the pledge 'NOT ON OUR DIME.'"

President Bush doesn't want Congress to administer any new sanctions because he thinks there is progress towards reconciliation. I asked our Senators not to be as gullible as our president. After all, just today the Sudanese government and their militias attacked a Darfur town -- the town controlled by the only Darfur rebel group to sign a 2006 peace deal!

Unlike President Bush, I don't want to wait and see, because what I think I'll see is just more of the same...evil brutality. I also don't want my money going toward prolonging this genocide. I want Alaska to divest our state pension funds and the permanent fund, and I want the right of states to divest to be beyond question. Please write, call, or email Senators Murkowski and Stevens to vote in favor of the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act. Exert your power, my fellow lucky and powerful Americans!!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Call to Write State Represenatives and Senators

The next session of the Alaska State Legislature begins in January of 2008. Our goal is that during that session, legislation is introduced and passed that will divest the permanent fund and state pension funds from targeted companies that meet the following criteria: 1) have a business relationship with Sudan, 2) impart minimal benefit to the country's underprivileged, 3) have demonstrated no substantial corporate governance policy regarding the Darfur situation. Our hope is that every single State Senator and Representative will vote for that legislation to show that Alaskans will not condone genocide.

Our State representatives are our voice. They want to hear what our priorities are and we ask that those of you who believe ending the genocide in Darfur is a top priority tell them that we want our state to exert as much economic pressure on offending companies as it can. Ask them to pass legislation to divest state pension funds and the permanent fund from these "worst offender" companies.

A personalized, handwritten letter or postcard will get more attention than a phone call or an email, so we recommend getting the old pen and paper out. Be brief, be factual, and be polite. Tell them that you are a constituent, and include your home address. Ask them to follow up with you. Here is a sample if you need some inspiration, but your own words are much more effective.


In a step toward ending the ongoing genocide in Darfur, I would like Alaska to divest both its Permanent Fund and pension funds from Sudan. As your constituent, I ask that you support divestment from the handful of foreign businesses involved with the Sudanese regime and complicit in the first genocide of the 21st century.


Your Name

Your Address

If you do not know who your State Representative and Senator are and you live in Anchorage, you can look them up by clicking here . Type in your address, chose "Political" under the Category drop-down menu, and hit the Find button. Scroll down until you find the name of your Rep and Senator. If you live outside of Anchorage, find your community by clicking here. Your Rep and Senator's names are listed with a link to their websites.

Click here to find the address of your State Represenative and click here for your Senator's address.

Please leave a comment on this blog to let us know who you wrote so we can track our efforts. Thank you!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Divestment Op-Ed in the ADN

Click here to read Shawn's article about divesting the permanent fund and state pension funds. The article appeared in the September 27th edition of the Anchorage Daily News. To continue this important public discussion, we encourage submittal of letters to the editor showing support for this effort.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Movie Raises Awareness

All we can say is "WOW!" Alaskans came out in full force for The Devil Came on Horseback showing and those of us working the Save Darfur Anchorage table in the lobby were awed by the crowd's interest and support. THANK YOU!

We distributed all 120 "4 Actions for Darfur" bookmarks and all 100 of the postcard sets for viewers to send to their state legislator and representative to request targeted divestment of the permanent fund and State of Alaska pension funds from companies on Sudan Divestment Task Force's "worst offenders" list. For those who left their contact information with us, we hope to get back to you in the next few days with the information you requested.

The next Save Darfur Anchorage meeting will be on Saturday, the 13th of October at 2pm. The location will be posted soon. (Tomorrow we're going to look for a meeting venue bigger than our usual because we anticipate that a lot more folks will be joining us after watching Brian Steidle's incredible story.)

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Upcoming Viewing of The Devil Came on Horseback

The Bear Tooth will show The Devil Came on Horseback on Monday, October 1st at 5:30pm. Because of the adult subject matter and graphic photographs, children are discouraged from viewing this film. Some adults will likely find this a difficult film to watch, too -- it's hard to see and hear about brutality that few people can even imagine -- but, it tells a story that must be told if the genocide is to end. May all who view the film heed its call to action.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Welcome to Save Darfur Anchorage

The mission of the Save Darfur Coalition is "to raise public awareness about the ongoing genocide in Darfur and to mobilize a unified response to the atrocities that threaten the lives of two million people in the Darfur region." Our member group, Save Darfur Anchorage (previously MAMAS for Darfur), was started in 2006 and is open to all Alaskans concerned about the people of Darfur. Sign up on the Save Darfur Coalition website to join the group. Welcome and thank you!