July 28, 2001
HOPE IN AMERICA TO END SUDAN'S WAR
Oil money is fueling new Muslim attacks in
southern Sudan on Christians. Since a new pipeline was built two years
ago, the government's military budget has doubled, according to The
Eyewitnesses say new helicopter gunships are
conducting a ruthless bombing campaign to drive tens of thousands of
southerners off their land. Why? The oil lies beneath them in southern
Sudan, and is now piped to the north to fund the government's war
against its own people. ''Human rights groups and aid workers say the
government has razed villages, bombed hospitals and churches and
supports the militias' abduction of southerners as slaves,'' the Post
This is an intensive new phase of the civil
war that in 18 years has already killed 2 million people, made 4 million
homeless, and enslaved at least 200,000 women and children.
Ironically, there is a strong new ray of hope
for southern Sudan in Washington, in an amendment to the Sudan Peace Act
passed by the House by a stunning 402-2 vote. The amendment, authored by
Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) would prohibit any company developing oil or
gas in Sudan from raising capital in the United States or listing
securities in American financial markets.
U.S. law already prohibits American firms from
drilling for oil in Sudan. But foreign companies, who are now pumping
200,000 barrels of Sudanese oil a day raise money for their ventures in
New York and are listed on stock exchanges..
''Think of the absurdity of it,'' Bachus told
me in an interview. ''We prohibit our companies from drilling for oil,
so they are not participating in genocide. Yet we allow the six
companies who do go there, to raise capital in our markets!''
When Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal
Reserve, was asked about the Bachus Amendment, he at first called it ''a
very minor issue.'' Then he added, ''The clear outcome of such a law,
would effectively be to move financing from New York to London....I am
most concerned that if we move in directions which undermine our
financial capacity, we are undermining potential long-term growth of the
The Bush Administration and the Senate agree
with his view. The Senate version of the Sudan Peace Act passed last
week, does not include anything like the Bachus Amendment.
House and Senate conferees will meet soon to
decide the outcome.
To Bachus, ''The issue is very basic: dollars
or lives? I am personally committed to ending the slaughter in Sudan. We
have a moral obligation to shut off the money supply that buys the guns
and finances the war machine. The United States must send a new message:
stop the killing, stop the murder and torture, end the terror or we end
The initiative was originally proposed by the
bipartisan United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
It asserted the U.S. Government ''should strengthen economic sanctions
against Sudan and should urge other countries to adopt similar policies.
The United States should prohibit any foreign company from raising
capital or listing its securities in U.S. markets as long as it is
engaged in the development of oil and gas fields in Sudan.''
Would such a sanction have any effect?
One of Canada's largest oil producers,
Talisman Energy Inc., would sell its 25 percent share of a Sudanese oil
project, to keep its listing on the New York Stock Exchange, Talisman
CEO Jim Buckee said, ''I don't think anybody could afford not to have
access to U.S. capital markets.''
In the past three months, Christian Solidarity
International has freed 6,706 Sundanese slaves by paying the price of
two goats per slave; 54,426 have been freed since 1995. Recent
interviews with freed slaves reveal Sudanese Government troops and Arab
militias rape, mutilate, beat and forcibly convert black Christian women
to be Muslim.
A 12-year-old said she was ''tied with a rope
to other children, and forced to march to the North. Many men
raped me. If you are not taken as a proper wife, they use you anytime of
the day or night. My master, Osman, cut my genitals.''
CSI's President Hans Stuckelberger backs
Bachus: ''The moral fiber of the United States, with its longstanding
tradition of liberty and justice would be gravely endangered if the
American government were to knowingly allow ''slave stock'' to be bought
and sold on Wall Street.
Bachus, a Baptist, quoted the Book of Esther
on the House floor, where Esther is asked by Mordecai, ''Do you think if
you hold your peace at a time like this that you shall escape
People of faith should contact their Senators.
Copyright 2001 Michael J. McManus.