American Jewish World Service Hails Senate Passage Of Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act

International development and human rights organization urges swift action by President Bush in signing and implementing the full spirit of the law.

New York; December 13, 2007—American Jewish World Service (AJWS) praised Senate passage today of the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act (SADA) by unanimous consent. The bill prohibits federal government contracts with companies invested in Sudan’s booming oil, mineral and weapons sectors and provides safe haven for states that have enacted their own Sudan divestment policies. The House of Representatives passed a similar bill earlier this year.

“Once signed by President Bush, the Sudan Divestment and Accountability Act will force companies invested in Sudan to choose between receiving lucrative U.S. government contracts and funding a government responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of its own citizens,” AJWS President Ruth W. Messinger said.

AJWS has been a leader in efforts to end the genocide in Darfur by mobilizing the American Jewish community, and working with others in the international development, human rights and faith communities to pass state and federal divestment legislation, and increase U.S. international funding for humanitarian assistance and peace-keeping.

“We believe that economic pressure is critical to reaching a turning point with Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir,” Messinger continued. “Passage of this bill ensures that U.S. tax payer dollars will not go to funding a genocidal regime.

“Moreover, we believe the economic pressure on al-Bashir’s regime resulting from divestment will help accelerate swift and safe deployment of peacekeeping forces, increased access by humanitarian workers to people in dire need of assistance, and progress on a comprehensive peace agreement.”

Since 2003, the Government of Sudan has been arming and organizing militias, with backing by the Sudanese army, to engage in a genocidal campaign against the people of Darfur, claiming more than 400,000 civilian lives and creating more than 2 million refugees and internally displaced persons. President al-Bashir has flouted numerous agreements to disarm the militias and allow the United Nations to safely deploy a peacekeeping force. Most recently, promises to facilitate deployment of a UN hybrid force have been thwarted at every turn by new obstacles created by the regime in Khartoum.

China and other foreign countries import hundreds of millions of dollars in oil from Sudan each year. Sudan’s military has doubled in size since the country started exporting oil in the 1990s. A significantly softer export market, would pressure the government to disarm militias perpetrating widespread murder and rape.

“The ball is now in President Bush’s court,” Messinger said. “He must decide whether his legacy will be of an American president who walked the walk when it came to ending this epic tragedy or as one turned his back on millions of dying people. Signing and enforcing a strong Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act gives the United States one of its best chances to turn the tide and begin the long healing process in Darfur.”

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