HOUSTON, TX (June 21, 2007) – Texas has joined 16 other states in barring some state investments in international companies that do business in the African nation of Sudan, a move aimed at pressuring the Sudanese government into stopping the ongoing genocide in its Darfur region.
Before a standing-room-only crowd on hand for ceremonies June 21 at Holocaust Museum Houston, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 247 into law. The bill will require two of Texas’ biggest pension funds, the Texas Teacher Retirement System and the Texas Employees Retirement System, to divest from international companies doing business in Sudan.
“Human rights are more important than business policies,” Perry said in signing the bill as more than 240 people watched.
“The brutal attacks on the people of Darfur are sickening, and what is worse, they are coming from the very body that should be protecting them: the Sudanese government,” Perry said.
“State by state, pension fund by pension fund, we will not support your genocide,” said Adam Sterling, director of the Sudan Divestment Task Force and who joined Perry at the ceremonies.
The atrocity in Darfur has been labeled “genocide” by the United States government, marking the first official use of that term to describe a conflict while it is still ongoing.
The genocide in Darfur began in February 2003, and since then, more than 400,000 Sudanese have been killed and 2.5 million displaced, according to the task force.
Other officials who joined Perry for the signing included Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams; state Sen. Rodney Ellis (the bill’s Senate sponsor); and Rep. Corbin Van Arsdale (its House sponsor). Also on hand were Fred Zeidman, chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum; Israeli Consul General Asher Yarden; Cristiano Maggipinto, consul general of Italy; Rainer Münzel, consul general of Germany; and more than 30 other state and local legislators.
The ceremony also included a live performance from Darfur humanitarian and Grammy nominee “Big Kenny” of the country music duo Big & Rich.
The bill takes effect January 1, 2008 and requires the state Comptroller’s Office to publish a list of prohibited companies and provide a timeline for them to discontinue business with Sudan or face divestment.
Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.
The Museum is free and open to the public and is located in Houston’s Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004. For more information about the Museum, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.
For more information on the crisis in Darfur, visit www.savedarfur.org or the task force Web site at www.sudandivestment.org.