S.T.A.N.D., others are actively working with lawmakers and students
On Oct. 23, student group S.T.A.N.D., Students Taking Action Now: Darfur, held a press conference with Democratic House Speaker Andrew Romanoff to change legislation in the Colorado Constitution.
The proposed change would effectively remove financial support from companies who invest in the Sudanese military. Last year, Colin Powell, the former secretary of state, classified the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan as genocide, making it the first genocide of the 21st century.
“We have a responsibility to take action against (the genocide),” said Andrew Han, sophomore international business and international affairs major.
Han serves as a representative and coordinator of “Let Your Voice Be Heard”, a student group on campus that works with S.T.A.N.D. to raise awareness of the situation in Darfur.
S.T.A.N.D. and Let Your Voice Be Heard became active in Spring 2006, and have held events to gain support and raise awareness of the Darfur genocide. Convincing the Sudanese government to accept a peacekeeping force continues to be a priority for the organizations that are working for Darfur.
“This movement will not stop until Sudanese people have freedom and basic human rights that everyone should have,” Han said.
On April 30, 2006, S.T.A.N.D held a rally on Pearl St. with over 800 people helping to protest the genocide. On Nov. 9, the group will be participating in a day of silence, and on Nov. 15, they encourage everyone to participate in a call-in day to state and national politicians that would help endorse legislation to help the people of Darfur.
Currently, the CU student group has been working with Divest Colorado to shift investments from companies that buy oil from Sudan to equally profitable companies that do not support the genocide.
‘Let Your Voice Be Heard’ have been collecting signatures from students who support their cause. As of last week, the group had more than 400-450 signatures.
Scott Wisor, member of Colorado Divestment and third year doctoral candidate for philosophy at CU said that the Sudanese economy is dependent on what are usually foreign energy companies that buy oil from Sudan. It is estimated that 60 to 80 percent of the income of the Sudanese government goes to the military budget that pays for the genocide. So far, the international community has been unable to do anything.
S.T.A.N.D., Let Your Voice be Heard, and Divest Colorado want to change state legislation to stop financial support or prevent future business with companies that buy oil from Sudan, making it an indirect, but effective effort.
If the legislation is passed, Colorado Pension Funds will be shifted to equally profitable companies that do not contribute to the economy of Sudan.
“(Divestment) is really the last best tool we have to stop the genocide,” Wisor said.
While locally, students have been rallying and lobbying, awareness is being raised nationally and around the world.
According to the Divest Web site, sudandivestment.org, 31 states in the country have already initiated a campaign, and some of those states have already passed legislation in support of divestment. Also, the United Nations is working to create a peace-force in Darfur to begin rebuilding the community and restoring peace.
The CU activities started in the spring of 2006, but nationally the effort has been going on since 2005. In Colorado, the bill was actually introduced to Romanoff, who is a primary sponsor of the bill, by students from Boulder.
“It has mostly been a student effort so far,” said Speaker Assistant Drew Iwanami, speaking about Colorado involvement in the international effort. “Students at CU Boulder have been key in making it a priority,” he said