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Friday, April 08, 2005

Darfur news

This week, 2 bits of news about genocide in the Sudan caught my eye.

First, from the top, down: The UN Security Council passed a French-sponsored resolution last week that recommended the International Criminal Court pursue the case. The BBC:
The UN has given a sealed list of 51 people suspected of carrying out atrocities in Sudan's Darfur region to the International Criminal Court.

Last week, the UN Security Council passed a resolution referring the situation in Darfur to the tribunal.
The list apparently includes government officials, as well as army, militia and rebel leaders.

The Sudan refuses to hand over any suspects, and it refers to the Bush administration's refusal to accept ICC jurisdiction to defend its position:
[Sudan's President Omar] al-Bashir swore "thrice in the name of Almighty Allah that I shall never hand any Sudanese national to a foreign court", he is quoted as saying by AFP news agency.
This would be the ICC's first case. It's potentially a big one since 200 to 300,000 people have died.

Second, from the bottom up: In response to student activism, Harvard has divested its investments in a Chinese oil company that does business in Sudan. This news was in the Globe, April 5:
Under mounting pressure from student activists, Harvard University announced yesterday that it will sell an estimated $4.4 million stake in PetroChina, whose parent company is closely tied to the Sudanese government, accused by the United States of waging a genocidal campaign to suppress rebels in Darfur...

"Divestment is not a step that Harvard takes lightly, but I believe there is a compelling case for action in these special circumstances, in light of the terrible situation still unfolding in Darfur and the leading role played by PetroChina's parent company in the Sudanese oil industry, which is so important to the Sudanese regime," said a statement released by Harvard's president, Lawrence H. Summers.
The article points out that Harvard is out in front on this issue, but that the University never fully divested from South Africa during the apartheid era. In 1990, however, Harvard divested from tobacco company stock.

Harvard owned $4.4 million worth of stock in the Chinese company, in its $23 billion endowment. Student groups are a bit worried about other companies that do business in the Sudan. Harvard's press release didn't mention any of them.

Given how worked up some Bush administration officials have been about the possibility that Europe might lift the arms embargo against China, Harvard's decision might not be about Darfur at all.

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