Sunday, April 29, 2007

Darfur Die-In Report

The Darfur Die-In, Rally and March on the Boston Common today was an inspiring and powerful event, with moving speakers and an enthusiastic crowd of several thousand. As always, yet another sociopolitical movement is to a large extent powered by students---both high school and university---who use their burgeoning social and global awareness to focus their energy where it is needed the most. This is truly cause for hope.

As I have related in a previous post, the non-profit healthcare company for whom I work offers a 401(k) through Fidelity, a company which is the largest holder of stock in PetroChina. Chinese petroleum companies are the economic fuel for the Darfur conflict, purchasing the oil which the Sudanese government sells on the world market to finance its campaign of genocide. The task at hand is to convince my company to divest from Fidelity completely and offer us a socially responsible investment alternative. Failing that, I will convince as many of my colleagues as possible to pull their money from the 401(k) plan, despite the personal financial loss which that will entail. We all choose our battles in life quite carefully, and this is a fight which calls my name.

If you have not done so already, please visit this link to read about Fidelity's economic link to the Sudanese genocide, sign the petition to call for Fidelity's divestment from PetroChina and Sinopec, and consider calling Fidelity yourself to voice your demands. Whether you are a share-holder or not, you are certainly a share-holder in the human race, and our Sudanese brothers and sisters are being raped, slaughtered, or rendered homeless by the atrocities perpetrated by the Sudanese government and militias.

Having called Fidelity and registered your displeasure, you may want to research whether your state or province has already divested from Sudan. Fourteen states within the US have done so, as have dozens of colleges and universities, including Harvard. Consider whether your local institutions of higher learning have understood the implications of where they invest their money. Finally, consider examining your own mutual fund investments, understand where your money is going and who is benefiting from your savings, and to what end those funds are being utilized. Socially responsible investing is possible, and groups like Domini and Calvert have already paved the way in that regard.

The first genocide of the 21st century could be the last. Putting our money where our mouth is must be a crucial step on the road to peace in Darfur.
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