Human Rights Legislation Passes Over Strong White House Opposition

December 13, 2007

WASHINGTON, DC – The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) hailed U.S. Senate passage of legislation which would allow state and local governments to divest from companies supporting Sudan’s genocidal regime.

The resolution, introduced by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), was adopted just before midnight yesterday evening, despite ongoing opposition from the departments of State and Justice. A similar resolution was overwhelmingly adopted by the U.S. House this July by a vote of 418-1.

“We join with all our allies in the Save Darfur Coalition in welcoming the adoption of this anti-genocide measure, and in extending our appreciation to Senator Dodd and all those who moved this measure through the U.S. Senate,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We look forward to working with our friends in the House to see this measure adopted as quickly as possible so that it can be sent to the President for his signature.”

The ANCA has been working as part of the Save Darfur Coalition in support of the measure, encouraging activists in key states to contact a number of Senators who were holding up passage of the measure.

In a November 5th letter circulated to Senators, the ANCA and Save Darfur Coalition members noted that, “In the last month, the Sudanese government has delayed the deployment of the UN/AU hybrid peacekeeping force, perpetrated and then denied the forced eviction of a refugee camp, and continued a campaign of violence that not only included the murder and rape of civilians but also the murder of three UN truck drivers… The events of the past month illustrate that the time for increased economic pressure is now.”

The Senate bill would allow states and localities to divest from companies involved in certain Sudanese business sectors and allow mutual fund and private pension managers to cut ties with those same companies.

“This legislation empowers Americans to exercise their rights as investors, taxpayers, and pensioners to divest from businesses directly contributing to the violence and misery of hundreds of thousands of innocent Darfuris,” said Senator Dodd.

The State Department and Justice Department have expressed strong objections to the legislation, citing infringement on Executive branch flexibility in conducting foreign policy.

The Save Darfur Coalition endorses divestment from certain foreign companies doing business in Sudan as a means to apply economic pressure on the government of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir to change its policies, and to seek a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict and subsequent humanitarian crisis in Darfur. The coalition supports targeted divestment from shares of the “highest offending” foreign companies in mutual funds and pension offerings.

Some twenty states, including Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, and Vermont, have already adopted Sudan divestment policies, and similar campaigns are underway in 20 additional states.

The Senate legislation is now headed to the U.S. House for its consideration.


For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Astine Suleimanyan
Email / Tel: (202) 775-1918 / (703) 585-8254 cell
Armenian National Committee of America
1711 N Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036
Tel. (202) 775-1918 * Fax. (202) 775-5648 *
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