Sunday, November 30, 2008

KTUU Covers Darfur Refugee Transition to Anchorage

Attahir Karief, his wife, and children fled Darfur on foot when the older child was only 6 and his wife was 9 months pregnant with their third child. They ran through the desert for 10 days before reaching Chad. They then persevered through years in a refugee camp in Ghana, cut off from contact with other family members and often with not enough food or medical care before arriving in Anchorage and beginning over.

Click here to see the news story and an interview with Attahir.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Save Darfur Anchorage Gmail Account

We now have a gmail account! Write to us at if you need some information that you can't find on our blog, if you're interested in helping with the state divestment campaign, if you want to share what you're doing to raise awareness about the Darfur genocide in your community, or if you just want to show some support. We'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Facts about Governor Palin's Support of Divestment

There is a lot of discussion in the media about Governor Palin's support of Sudan divestment. All of the questions revolve around when she supported the divestment legislation and her role in championing the cause. We began Alaska's divestment campaign, so we feel we are the most equipped to provide reliable information about the Governor's involvement. That information is offered here, in (very) brief, to set the speculation to rest -- not to discredit Governor Palin but to bring back into focus the real priority: ending the genocide in Darfur.

Governor Palin was aware of the divestment legislation as early as December 2007. We know. We met with her staff at the Governor's Anchorage Office to discuss Sinopec's role in the Alaska Gas Pipeline and to request her support for targeted divestment from Sudan. As late as mid-March 2008, the governor was not on board with the divestment legislation. Again, we know. A group member who wrote the Governor asking her to support divestment received a letter dated March 11, 2008, wherein the Governor again declined on the opportunity to support divestment. Most importantly, however, in April 2008, Governor Palin publicly announced her support of targeted divestment legislation.

You see, in the end, she publicly supported it, and, based on her statements during the debate, she still does! Many people do not believe in or understand the value of targeted divestment immediately. Targeted divestment is a totally different beast than the divestment most people know about (like divestment from South Africa), so it can take some time to fully understand. That's no crime.

We at Save Darfur Anchorage are excited about Governor Palin's support, the national attention she has brought to the divestment campaign, and, most importantly, the national attention she and Senator Biden have brought to the Darfur genocide. In this time of partisan activity, we must work hard to remember what matters most, and in this case, it is that the Darfur Genocide must be stopped. We are encouraged that both presidential (and vice-presidential) candidates support taking the necessary actions to end the Goverment of Sudan's brutal campaign against its own people.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Wow! What a Summer!

Blogging fell by the wayside this summer as providing assistance to newly arrived Darfur refugees took top priority for Save Darfur Anchorage. Approximately 25 Darfur refugees have arrived in Anchorage between May and today, and more are expected later this month. Refugees are allowed to travel to the United States with 1 bag of belongings per person and are provided only roughly $450 dollars per person each month to cover their needs while getting settled in. Needless to say, their needs are great.

The Refugee Assistance and Immigration Services (RAIS) branch of Catholic Social Services Alaska leads the charge in welcoming refugees to Alaska, and they do an AMAZING job. Among other things, they find the refugees housing, furnish the residences, greet the refugees at the airport when they arrive, enroll refugee children in school, arrange mandated medical appointments, and teach refugees how to use the bus system. The RAIS program employs only a few staff members and has access to very limited funds, so we have been doing our best to pitch in where we can to make the refugees' transition to the United States easier.

We hosted a welcoming party in May and have continued to host gatherings since then. We have collected and donated clothing and household goods. We have provided transportation when needed. We have answered countless questions about the English language, Anchorage, and our American culture. We have listened to their survival stories and have cheered their incredible resilience. We have helped them try to locate family members that they lost touch with when fleeing Darfur by working with the Red Cross' Restoring Family Links program.

We have also taken some of the refugees to the movies. The size of the refreshments seemed to be more amazing to them than the actual movie! We went to the Arctic Thunder Air Show at Elmendorf AFB. One refugee found it hard to believe that we could actually go on a military base -- and take pictures! He said he would certainly be harmed if he attempted the same in Sudan. Per his request, we took dozens of pictures of him in front of the military aircraft. He hopes to send them to friends in his old refugee camp.

Earlier this month, we went berry picking when the blueberries ripened on the hillside. The children were covered in blueberry juice by the end of the day. And, of course, they had no berries to show for their efforts because they couldn't stop eating them as they picked them. Kids will be kids. The kids also had a blast when we took them to the State Fair. They rode rides fearlessly! Some of the adults even hopped on the Ferris wheel.

Summer was definitely a whirlwind for our new friends, as well as ourselves, and I'm sure none of us would have wanted it any other way.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

ADN Prints Tales of Anchorage's Darfur Refugees

Click here to be directed to Julia O'Malley's piece "From Darfur to a Strange New Home." Thank you, Ms. O'Malley, for interviewing Safi, Abu, and Halima and letting Anchorage know their stories. They told us at Save Darfur Anchorage that being able to tell their stories meant a lot. They want people to know what's going on in Darfur. And, now, thanks to your article, more people do.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Permanent Fund Board Asked to Divest

Save Darfur Anchorage volunteers and Darfur refugees asked the Permanent Fund Board during the Board's Anchorage meeting on May 28th to adopt a targeted Sudan divestment policy. Save Darfur Anchorage members Debbie Bock and Kelley Nixon gave testimony encouraging the divestment, while Safi Mohammed Ali, a Darfur refugee who recently arrived in Anchorage, pleaded that the Board "do all that is in your power to bring peace to my homeland."

As of March 31, 2008, the Permanent Fund had $17.5 million of direct holdings in 3 companies that are considered by the Sudan Divestment Task Force (SDTF) as being among about 25 companies that provide the greatest financial and/or political support to the Government of Sudan, while providing very little to no support to the people of Darfur or other marginalized Sudanese populations. These 3 companies are Alstom, Wartsila, and Lundin Petroleum AB. To learn more about these companies' operations in Sudan, go to The SDTF Reports Page and download the Sudan Company Report.

In 2007, the Permanent Fund had approximately $22 million invested in 6 Highest Offender companies. Save Darfur Anchorage commended the Permanent Fund Corporation for having divested from 2 of those companies earlier this year and encouraged continued divestment. The third company, Petrofac, was removed by the SDTF from the Highest Offenders list after the company completed a SDTF-approved Substantial Action Plan. In this plan, Petrofac has committed to funding the first 2 years of a 4-year pilot education program in southern Sudan, with the option to extend the funding. The pilot will involve funding 60 one-room primary schools, whose students will be from marginalized areas of south Sudan. The project hopes to provide education to girls and other children who do not have the opportunity to attend school.

Please continue to voice your support for targeted divestment to the Permanent Fund Corporation:
Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation
P.O.Box 115500
Juneau, Ak 99811-5500
(907) 796-1500, TTY (907) 796-1523

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Darfur Refugee to Share His Story

Save Darfur Anchorage is meeting May 24th from 11AM to 1PM. The public is invited to attend. One of the newly arrived Darfur refugees will share his story and answer questions. Abu's English is very good and he is eager to raise Alaskans' awareness about the Darfur Genocide.

Come welcome Abu (and hopefully other Darfur refugees) to Anchorage and learn about his journey here. The setting will be very informal. Some Save Darfur Anchorage business will be conducted during the meeting.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Darfur Refugees Arrive in Anchorage

Save Darfur Anchorage hosted a picnic on May 10th to welcome Darfur refugees to Anchorage. All have been in Anchorage for less than 2 months and one man and his mother arrived only four days before the picnic. This same man and mother lived in a refugee camp in Ghana before being moved to Anchorage. In the refugee camp they befriended the Karief family, who were moved to Anchorage just over a month ago and who also attended the picnic!

Like any picnic there was a lot of eating and laughter, some games, and a lot of chatting to get to know each other. We located on a map where our guests lived before leaving Sudan. We learned about their lives prior to the Genocide. One man operated heavy machinery, another was a shopkeeper. And, we learned some about the refugee placement process.

The placement process is a long one. One man had left Darfur in 1999, others left Sudan in 2003, and still others in 2005. Some lived in refugee camps for years while awaiting placement. All moved to Anchorage because that's where there were placement openings. No one "picked" Anchorage.

Many of the refugees are enrolled in English as a Second Language classes and they are doing great, although some are more shy than others to try out their English. The children are picking up the English very quickly.

We are looking forward to getting to know more about our new friends and to providing opportunities for Anchorage to learn more about them, too.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Permanent Fund Board to Meet in Anchorage May 28th & 29th

When the Permanent Fund Board meets at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Anchorage May 28-29, representatives from Save Darfur Anchorage will ask board members to divest the roughly $22 million the Fund has invested in companies bankrolling the Darfur Genocide. Although legislation that would require the Permanent Fund Corporation to divest the Permanent Fund did not pass the Alaska Legislature, the Permanent Fund Corporation can divest the Fund voluntarily, and that's exactly want we will ask them to do.

Please stop by the Marriott and voice your support for divestment. The Board will hear all public comments beginning at 8:30 AM on Wednesday, May 28th. They need to hear that Alaskans want our Permanent Fund divested. They need to hear it and we need to say it!

If you can't make it to the Marriott, please call, write, or email the Permanent Fund Corporation. Let them know that you think it is unacceptable to have $22 million dollars invested in Worst Offender companies (as identified by the Sudan Divestment Task Force). Remind them that there are many other equally profitable investment options--ones that don't support genocide.

Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation
P.O.Box 115500
Juneau, Ak 99811-5500
(907) 796-1500, TTY (907) 796-1523

Friday, April 18, 2008

Time Runs Out on Sudan Divestment Legislation

Although the Senate State Affairs Committee passed SB 227 out of that committee on April 1st, the Legislative Session ended before it could be reviewed by the next slated committee, the Senate Finance Committee. Companion legislation HB 287 was heard in the House State Affairs Committee in February, but the legislation was never put to a vote and it remained stalled in that committee for the rest of the session.

Words like "maybe next year" offer no comfort. Sudan divestment legislation can be re-introduced in the January 2009 session, but just the thought of this genocide continuing to rage on until, and beyond, then is absolutely depressing. Our hope was that Alaska would contribute to the fight against the Darfur genocide as soon as possible -- because there is no time to waste during such a tragedy -- but, sadly, that was not to be the case.

Our sincerest thanks go out to all legislators who supported HB 287/SB 227, particularly Representatives Les Gara and Bob Lynn and Senator Hollis French for their extra efforts.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Senate State Affairs Committee to Hear SB 227 on April 1st

It's time again to reach out to our legislators to let them know that we Alaskans want them to adopt the targeted Sudan divestment legislation (SB 227/HB 287). Below is a listing of the Senate State Affairs Committee members and their contact information. Please call and email each to let them know that this legislation is not to be taken lightly. That it is too effective, too simple to implement, and too important to be disregarded.

Chair - Sen. Lesil McGuire 465-2995
Vice-Chair - Sen. Gary Stevens 465-4925
Member - Sen. Hollis French 465-3892
Member - Sen. Lyda Green 465-6600
Member - Sen. Con Bunde 465-4843

Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator. Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander. --Holocaust Museum, Washington, DC.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Juneau DIE-IN Raises Awareness

Despite heavy wet snowfalls throughout the day, about 100 people attended the DIE-IN FOR DARFUR. The 30-minute event included chants, sign waving, and multiple speeches calling for targeted divestment from Sudan. A group of protesters lay at the bottom of the capitol steps for the duration of the event as a symbol of the lives lost in Darfur while divestment legislation languishes in committee.

The DIE-IN got a lot of local radio and newspaper coverage in Juneau. The Juneau Empire even published an editorial in favor of the legislation a couple days after the DIE-IN. Excerpts were also televised throughout the state on KTUU. The Associated Press' story about the event was picked up by a South Carolina paper and by

While in Juneau, Kelley Nixon, a member of Save Darfur Anchorage met with available legislators or their staff to find out how legislators stand on the divestment legislation. Of the legislators/staff interviewed, 7 legislators were not familiar with the legislation at all or they did not have a current position on the legislation. These included Senators Cowdery, Green, and Huggins, and Representatives Gardner, Holmes, Olson, and Salmon. Six were decidedly against the legislation: Senator Wilken and Representatives Coghill, Johansen, Johnson, Roses, and Stoltze. Fifteen were in favor of divestment: Senators Davis, Ellis, Elton, French, McGuire, and Wielechowski and Representatives Cissna, Doll, Gara, Gatto, Gruenberg, Guttenberg, Kerttula, Lynn, and Ramras.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Die-In for Darfur Scheduled for March 19th in Juneau

The Juneau-Douglas High School Chapter of STAND will lead a "die-in" in front of our state capitol building at 12:10PM on Wednesday March 19th. The die-in will be part of a rally calling for legislators to get divestment legislation (HB287/SB227) out of committee and on to the House and Senate floor for a vote before the session ends on April 13th. Supporters from all over the state are encouraged to attend. (Be sure to use your constituent fare with Alaska Airlines to save 40 percent on airfare.) See you there!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Arizona Becomes 24th State to Divest

Earlier this week, Arizona's Governor signed into law a bill to divest their state pension funds from Sudan. All 90 state lawmakers supported the legislation!! Click here to view the press release.

Arizona's legislation uses the same Sudan Divestment Task Force model for divestment that the Alaska legislation uses. All 90 of Arizona's state legislators understand that targeted divestment is an effective and easy-to-implement tool to fight genocide. It is appalling that so few of our state legislators understand this truth. It makes one wonder if it is their ignorance, apathy, laziness, fear, or arrogance that blinds them.
It also makes one wonder why we've elected them.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Links to Recent Articles about Darfur Published in Alaska Newspapers

Below are links to Darfur-related articles that have appeared in either the Juneau Empire or the Anchorage Daily News in 2008. A Internet search identified no related articles have been carried by the Daily News - Miner. If you are unsatisfied with the amount of coverage your local paper is giving the Darfur Genocide or our proposed divestment legislation, please let the editorial board of that paper know.

March 4th - Permanent Fund Investments Need to Change

March 4th - Alaska and Darfur

March 3rd - Alaska's Assets in Sudan Targeted

Feb. 7th - Lawmakers Aim to Cut Ties with Sudan's Government

Jan. 24th - Outside Editorial: Impunity in Sudan

Jan. 15th - Outside editorial: U.S. should give Sudan envoy more support to end genocide

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Outreach to the Permanent Fund Corporation to Request Voluntary Divestment

The Permanent Fund Corporation does not have to wait for legislators to pass HB 287/SB 227 in order to divest from targeted companies, and they shouldn't. We think the Fund's managers should as soon as possible sell the Fund's direct holdings in the 6 companies that we are currently invested in that are identified by the Sudan Divestment Task Force as "Highest Offenders" because of their complicity in the Darfur Genocide. These 6 companies are CHINA PETROLEUM (SINOPEC), ALSTOM, PETROFAC LTD, WARTSILA, LUNDIN PETROLEUM AB, and CNPC HONG KONG LIMITED.

For readers who agree, please write to Mike Burns, Executive Director of the Permanent Fund Corporation, and request that the Permanent Fund Corporation pursue divestment on its own accord (like public fund manager's have in other states). The Permanent Fund Corporation shouldn't feel compelled to wait for law to dictate the right action when the Fund can (and should) do it on its own.

Mike Burns, Executive Director
Permanent Fund Corporation
P.O. Box 115500
Juneau, AK 99811-5500

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Cost of Divestment

Targeted divestment is not a losing venture. Many people think if we divest, we will lose money. Truth is, we could actually make money. Utilizing data from Bloomberg, on average, highest offenders underperformed their peer group by 51.63 percent over one year, 38.69 percent over three years, and 4.73 percent over five years. Also, the highest offenders, on average, underperformed the top three performers in their peer group by 75.92 percent over one year, 62.15 percent over three years, and 38.28 percent over five years.

When targeted divestment was developed, the goal was (and still is) to preserve investment returns AND fight against the Darfur Genocide. These two things (making money and fighting genocide) are not mutually exclusive. They can be done together.

HB 287/SB227 gives ample time for fund managers to find a suitable market for divestment (between 6 and 15 months). Our state investments in targeted companies account for only about $20 million of the roughly $40 billion held in our Permanent Fund. We are talking of less than 0.01 percent of the Permanent Fund. A divestment of less than 0.01 percent is definitely not likely to have a negative impact on the Fund's returns given the abundance of other available investment options and the generous amount of time given to divest.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hear the House State Affairs Committee Deliberation on HB 287 - You Be the Judge

Click here to be directed to the Gavel to Gavel Alaska webpage. If you enter February 9 and push the NEW DATE tab on the left of the webpage, you will be able to access the audio file of the Feb 9th House State Affairs Committee proceedings. Discussion of HB287 begins about 55 minutes into the meeting and lasts about 1.5 hours. The politics are very interesting!

You will hear testimony from many Alaskans (from Juneau, Fairbanks, and Anchorage)in support of the legislation, testimonies from members of the Sudan Divestment Task Force, including Max Croes, who helped draft the legislation, and testimonies from Mike Burns with the Alaska Permanent Fund Board and Brian Andrews with the Alaska Retirement Management Board.

The real stars of this hearing, though, are the legislators. Take note of the questions; who they are directed to and who they are not directed to and the unstated purpose behind the questions. Also, be sure to review the last few blog entries for the truth behind the testimonies presented by Mr. Burns and Mr. Andrews, as well as the stated concerns of the legislators.

Rep. Lynn was out due to his wife's illness, so he was not able to present the legislation. We are glad he and his wife are both doing well now. Rep. Les Gara is the "prime" who, in Rep. Lynn's absence, conducts this task with intelligence and passion. Thank you, Representatie Gara.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Truth 2 Revisited

Representative Coghill in the Feb. 9th hearing on HB 287, stated that he believed that divestment is not the "right tool" to address the Darfur genocide. He shared his concern for the people of Darfur, but stated that he believes that Alaska's divestment would have no real impact on how companies do business. The facts show that the targeted divestment campaign has real teeth to it. We hope as more facts are considered by Representative Coghill and our other legislators, they will come to realize what an effective tool divestment really is.

As discussed in our Feb. 10th blog entry, the targeted divestment movement has contributed to the altered business practices of multiple companies operating in Sudan. For example, Schlumberger, which does the wire-line logging for the oil field operators in Sudan, recently undertook substantial humanitarian efforts in Darfur because of pressure from investors. Specifically, they have begun building hospitals and schools in Darfur for the local population.

La Mancha Resources, the only mining company in Sudan, has adopted a policy to develop infrastructure in Sudan. The company has developed humanitarian facilities in Sudan that reach out to populations in the country that have been marginalized by the Government of Sudan. La Mancha also now offers employment opportunities to local Sudanese and has implemented training programs for these Sudanese so that they can move up in the company.

Roberta Cohen, Senior Advisor with The Brookings Institution, had this to say in observance of the power of targeted divestment: "Rolls Royce’s withdrawal from Sudan this past year reportedly surprised the government and affected the import of needed machine parts. The Sudanese government has publicly urged an end to divestment actions, underscoring the potential sting of their impact."

The divestment campaign poses a very real threat to the Government of Sudan. Sudan has an incredible amount of external debt -- estimated at $26 billion (World Bank). Sudan owes the International Development Association (IDA) $422 million in arrears payments, and has arrears of $1.7 billion owed to the International Monetary Fund. This incredible debt has crippled Sudan's ability to secure loans. For example, the IDA refuses to consider loans to the country until the country settles its arrears. The Government of Sudan is therefore almost completely reliant on foreign direct investment to operate. Unfortunately, the government chooses to put most of the foreign direct investment (70 percent)toward the military expenditures that fund the ongoing genocide in Darfur.

Targeted divestment aims to pressure companies providing most of the foreign direct investment (the oil industry provides 90 percent) to use the leverage they have with the Government of Sudan to end the genocide. The Government of Sudan needs foreign direct investment and the companies providing foreign direct investment need shareholders. The targeted divestment campaign recognizes that the shareholders are the power base, and calls on this power base to exert its very real and very powerful influence. To deny that targeted divestment is an effective tool, is to deny the facts.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Truth Continues

Truth 4: A Slope Doesn't Have to Be Slippery. In the deliberations on HB 287, one concern in particular was voiced repeatedly by some committee members in argument against the legislation: the slippery slope. Representative Johnson used the analogy of "the camel's nose under the tent." Apparently, if you let the camel nose poke under the tent, before you know it, you'll be sharing your sleeping bag with a smelly ungulate. Is that really inevitable? We at Save Darfur Anchorage argue that it's not.

The slippery slope is only as slippery as it is allowed to be by the people in charge. The people in charge, in this case, are our state legislators. They have in the past, are now in the present, and will in the future hear legislation calling for an evaluation of how our state invests, and they, our legislators, will be the ones who determine where that slippery slope begins and ends.

A slippery slope has no life force of its own. It is not some sort of autonomous being lying in wait for someone to step upon its red gooey blobness so that it can devour him and grow in power and destructive force. It is nothing more than what the people in charge (yes, our legislators) determine it to be. Our legislators should not fear something that they have control over.

We believed when we approached Representative Lynn with the idea for state divestment that our legislators would see the import of this legislation to address the genocide of today. We did not expect so much fear of the future. So many people throughout history have allowed their self-serving fears to prevent them from taking action against genocide, and the cost has been countless lives.

Our hope is that our legislators will move beyond the fear of the future and what it might bring, so that Alaska can do something powerful about the genocide that is happening today.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

More Truth about our Divestment Legislation

Truth 3: House Bill 287/Senate Bill 227 proposes divestment legislation that is constitutional, NOT unconstitutional.
In his testimony before the House State Affairs Committee and against HB 287, Brian Andrews, with the Alaska Retirement Board brought up the divestment bill that was passed in Illinois and then thrown out for being unconstitutional. He, like Mr. Burns from the Permanent Fund, was talking about an orange, when the fruit under question is the apple.

The Illinois legislation WAS unconstitutional (and, yes, it was blanket divestment, not targeted). It attempted, among other things, to impose sanctions on banks and to regulate investments made by the state's municipalities. HB 287/SB 227 proposes none of the actions that were responsible for getting the Illinois legislation revoked. Illinois's intention was good, but its execution was deeply flawed.

Alaska's legislation has none of those flaws, largely due to Representative Lynn's office working with the Sudan Divestment Task Force (SDTF) from the very beginning to draft the legislation. The SDTF is a non-profit organization whose model for targeted divestment legislation has been used by 15 of the 22 states that have divested. The SDTF knows its stuff, and has been the leading force in the divestment campaign. For Alaska, we went with the best!

Mr. Andrews might not have been aware of another factor regarding constitutionality: the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act (SADA). On December 31, 2007, President Bush signed the SADA. The SADA authorizes and encourages states and other public entities using the targeted model to divest from Sudan. It also provides legal authorization and encouragement for states to adopt policies of targeted Sudan divestment. The bill, which passed both houses of Congress unanimously, also makes it easier for mutual funds and private pension fund managers to sell their investments and prohibits targeted companies from being eligible to receive contracts with the federal government.

Deliberation on legislation that offers a tool for combating genocide should involve the analysis of truths, not misinformation. May the truth prevail!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Misinformation Threatens Divestment Legislation

Four of the seven members of the House State Affairs Committee heard testimony on HB 287 on Saturday Feb 9th. The committee decided to hold the vote on the bill for a later date. It is, however, in big danger of being killed, based on the committee members' comments during the deliberation. A big factor in this is the testimonies presented by the Permanent Fund Board and the Alaska Retirement Board. The misinformation presented during these two testimonies threatens to kill the legislation. Because these two testimonies were the last two of the day and there were no opportunities provided to pro-legislation people to correct the misinformation during the hearing, these next few blogs are dedicated to doing just that.

Truth 1: Targeted divestment is NOT blanket divestment.
In his testimony, Mike Burns, representing the Permanent Fund Board, cited an article that stated that divestment did not impact the outcome of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, and therefore, the Sudan divestment effort is likely to be just as ineffective. Mr. Burns was comparing, perhaps unknowingly, apples to oranges. The South Africa divestment movement encouraged what is called blanket divestment. Blanket divestment targets all companies equally. Divesting from South Africa meant divesting from companies that financed arms deals and from companies that provided medical supplies. All companies doing business in South Africa were impacted, and therefore, the South African people were as impacted at least as much as the government, and often to a greater degree.

Our state divestment bill (HB 287/SB 227) proposes targeted, not blanket, divestment. Targeted divestment calls for divestment from about 24 companies that either contract directly with the Government of Sudan or work on projects run and financed by the Government of Sudan. These companies are either directly or indirectly enabling the Darfur genocide and providing minimal services, goods, or support to the regular people of Sudan.

Yes, blanket and targeted are both divestment approaches, just as apples and oranges are both fruit. But they are very different - - just ask anyone who's ever had a warm piece of orange pie.

Truth 2: Targeted divestment works.
Mr.Burns also stated that divestment would not effect the companies targeted and would not have any real impact on the genocide. Mr. Burns is not a foreign policy expert, or an expert on genocide, so he may have been speaking a bit beyond his area of expertise. He may also not have been aware of the following facts:

Companies operating in Sudan have proven highly responsive to the current Sudan divestment movement. Canadian oil company, Talisman, withdrew from Sudan in 2002. "Shareholders have told me they were tired of continually having to monitor and analyze events relating to Sudan," Talisman CEO Jim Buckee said in a press release. He conceded that the criticism directed at the company's activities had had an effect, stating: "Talisman's shares have continued to be discounted based on perceived political risk in-country and in North America to a degree that was unacceptable for 12 per cent of our production." Other oil companies followed Talisman's lead and, soon thereafter, the Khartoum regime entered into negotiations that finally ended the country's 21-year civil war.

In 2007, the Canadian firm CHC Helicopter Corporation, the world's largest provider of helicopter services to the global offshore oil and gas industry and previously a Highest Offender on the Sudan Divestment Task Force list of companies, ceased all business operations in Sudan for the indefinite future after substantial levels of inquiry from a range of concerned investors. CHC Helicopter had been executing a contract with Greater Nile Petroleum Company, the largest oil consortium in Sudan.

Also in 2007, the British firm Rolls Royce PLC, previously a Highest Offender due to the sale of oil equipment to a problematic consortium abutting Darfur, announced it will begin withdrawing from current contracts in Sudan and cease pursuing new contracts. Schlumberger Ltd.,which provides oil-field services to the major oil consortiums in Sudan, committed to reinforcing its existing outreach programs by implementing substantial humanitarian programs to reach marginalized populations in the country. This includes several humanitarian projects carried out in coordination with non-profit entities in one of the country's many Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps. "Substantial" humanitarian action is rigorously defined in the Sudan Divestment Task Force's "targeted divestment" model, and Schlumberger has committed to this high standard in a detailed written letter to the Task Force.

As for the government of Sudan? The Sudan Divestment Task Force sums it up well: "Perceiving the divestment movement as a clear threat, the Khartoum government has taken considerable steps to publicly oppose divestment, placing a $1 million advertisement in The New York Times extolling the virtues of investing in Sudan, and issuing both a press release and an op-ed condemning the divestment movement. In direct correspondence with the Task Force members, the Sudanese Ambassador to the United States reiterated his country's strong opposition to divestment. As Sudan researcher Eric Reeves notes, 'The fact that the regime is responding so distinctly to the movement means they certainly understand the implications.'"

Friday, February 1, 2008

House State Affairs Committee Review of HB 287 Postponed to Feb. 9th

This postponement gives us another week to contact House State Affairs Committee members and ask them to support HB 287. Please find time this week to contact each member listed below, so that they will have no doubt that Alaskans do not want to profit from genocide!

House State Affairs Committee Members:
Chair - Rep. Bob Lynn (465-4931)
Rep. Lynn is sponsoring the legislation, so be sure to commend him for his great work and let him know we support his efforts!
Vice-Chair Rep. Bob Roses (465-4939)
Member Rep. John Coghill (465-3719)
Member Rep. Kyle Johansen (465-3424)
Member Rep. Craig Johnson (465-4993)
Member Rep. Andrea Doll (465-3744)
Member Rep. Max Gruenberg (465-4940)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Alaska House State Affairs Committee Reviews HB 287 on Feb. 2nd

Please let your voice be heard this week. The House State Affairs Committee will review HB 287 Saturday, Feb. 2nd. The legislation must pass this committee and then go on to the Finance Committee before it can be voted on on the House floor. Let the State Affairs Committee members know that we Alaskans do not want our state funds invested in companies that help the Government of Sudan continue its genocidal campaign against the long-suffering people of Darfur.

House State Affairs Committee Members:
Chair - Rep. Bob Lynn (465-4931)
Rep. Lynn is sponsoring the legislation, so be sure to commend him for his great work and let him know we support his efforts!
Vice-Chair Rep. Bob Roses (465-4939)
Member Rep. John Coghill (465-3719)
Member Rep. Kyle Johansen (465-3424)
Member Rep. Craig Johnson (465-4993)
Member Rep. Andrea Doll (465-3744)
Member Rep. Max Gruenberg (465-4940)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

DARFUR NOW Showing Highlights the Real Beauty of Alaska

I've lived in Alaska for over 10 years now, and I am still frequently amazed by Alaskans. Most outsiders would probably suspect that the indomitable spirit or the athletic prowess of the average Alaskan would render me awestruck from time to time. Both certainly have. But, more often than not, it has been the earnest compassion and easy generosity of the people in this state that has blown me away -- like on Monday night.

We sponsored two showings of DARFUR NOW at the BearTooth that night. After the showings, we had a table set up for people to write their legislators to ask them to support Sudan divestment legislation (HB 287 and SB 227), which will be heard soon in the State House and State Senate. People crowded our table after each showing. They waited patiently to ask questions, filled out postcards, and one man even offered to go over there and fight the Janjaweed. Many, and I mean, MANY thanked us for pushing for divestment and for giving Alaskans an opportunity to take a stand for the people of Darfur. I have never been more proud to be a member of this beautiful state -- to be one of the people of this state.

Thank you all for your compassion for the people of Darfur and for your generosity with your time and voice in support of them.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

AK Divestment Legislation Uses Targeted Divestment Model. What is that?

Targeted divestment calls for the expedited engagement of companies that are directly or indirectly helping the Sudanese government perpetuate genocide. Only if a company refuses to change its behavior in response to shareholder engagement does the targeted divestment model call for divestment from that company. Since the ultimate intent of Sudan divestment is to protect the victims of genocide, it is important to tailor divestment to have maximal impact on the government of Sudan's behavior and minimal harm to innocent Sudanese (and to the financial health of institutional portfolios). Divestment should therefore be targeted to those companies that have a business relationship with the government or a government-created project, impart minimal benefit to the country's underprivileged, and have expressed no significant corporate governance policy regarding the Darfur genocide (so-called targeted divestment). Such targeted divestment implicitly excludes companies involved in agriculture, the production and distribution of consumer goods, or the provision of goods and services intended to relieve human suffering or to promote health, religious and spiritual activities, or education.

When an institution divests from these types of companies (so-called "worst offenders") demand for offending companies' stocks falls and share prices decline. Share price is further reduced by the presence of additional Sudan divestment campaigns, many of which are already in progress. To protect the value of shareholder investments, offending company executives would convey to the Sudanese government that perpetuation of genocide in Darfur is making the country an undesirable place to do business. As a result, either government behavior would change (in order to keep businesses in Sudan) or offending companies would leave Sudan, thereby withdrawing money that had been used to purchase military equipment for the genocide. Withdrawal of business investments from Sudan would simultaneously create an economic penalty for genocide and reduce Khartoum's ability to fund the campaign.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Senator Hollis French Will Sponsor Sudan Divestment Legislation in Alaska Senate

Sudan divestment legislation will be introduced in both houses during the next session of the Alaska State Legislature, which begins on January 15th. Representatives Bob Lynn and Les Gara will co-sponsor the legislation in the House, and Senator Hollis French will champion the legislation in the Senate.

It is very important that each of these gentlemen, as well as each of our own state legislators know that Alaskans support this legislation. Please call/write/email and let them all know you want them to vote in favor of Sudan Divestment Legislation.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Sinopec Out of the Running for AGIA Contract

Sinopec and three of the four other bidders for the AGIA contract did not pass the initial phase of the AGIA review. Thus, Sinopec is out of the running for the AGIA contract. Although this is great news in that Alaskans will not be asked to support or work with Sinopec, Save Darfur Anchorage is disappointed that Governor Palin did not seize the opportunity to reject Sinopec on the grounds of their complicity in the Darfur genocide. We feel she missed a great opportunity to take a public stand against the Darfur genocide and the essential role foreign direct investment in Sudan by companies including Sinopec play in financing it.

Our governor could have stood before local, national, and international media and acknowledged the genocide and the business practices that enable its continuation, while also sending a message to the people of Darfur and the rest of the world that Alaskans know what's happening in Sudan, care what's happening in Sudan, and will act to help bring an end to the genocide wherever possible. Instead, Sinopec's bid came and went, and an opportunity to stand together as a state against the genocide and in support of the Darfur people came and went.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

President Bush Signs Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act into Law

Great News! On December 31st, President Bush signed the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act (SADA) into law. The SADA protects states' rights to divest from holdings in companies doing business with Sudan and prohibits Sinopec from receiving federal contracts for the duration of the genocide. To read more, click here.