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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.


Published: October 28, 2005
Section: Opinions

To the Editor:
Kevin Montgomery is absolutely correct in his contention that genocide has political and economic dimensions. However, he would be completely incorrect to argue that STAND on the national and local level has failed to understand and respond to the economics of genocide. Specifically, STAND has openly advocated that schools pursue divestment campaigns that seek to remove university endowment holdings from companies doing business in Sudan. And before Mr. Montgomery begins to criticize these campaigns, he would be wise to study the case of Sudanese divestment in 2001.

Four years ago, church and religious groups in the United States led a divestment campaign against three key petroleum companies (Talisman Energy Corp, OMV Oil, and Lundin Petroleum) for their involvement in Sudan during the North-South conflict. This campaign was, by all accounts, successful given the decisions by all three companies to leave Sudan or severely curtail operations. Following this removal, the Sudanese government (the same government currently prosecuting the genocide in Darfur) returned to the bargaining table with a renewed commitment. Today, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement holds together an important, albeit tenuous, peace between the two regions.

The lesson from this is that the Sudanese government is extraordinarily reliant on foreign direct investment and is vulnerable to a divestment campaign. Such a campaign was undertaken and was ultimately successful when Stanford University divested from four oil exploration companies doing business in Sudan on June 9th, 2005. Brandeis is currently planning a similar campaign and Mr. Montgomery might find it worthwhile to put words to action by joining this campaign. We should hope his words represented a sincere desire to end the tremendous suffering in Sudan.

Benjamin Elberger, Co-Leader of the Stanford University Divestment Campaign