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Idaho Investments Linked to Darfur Genocide Under Scrutiny

February 27, 2007

Members of Idaho's state retirement plan are telling their fund managers today they want to divest ownership in companies that support a government-sponsored genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

Members of the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho (PERSI) will hold a rally today at PERSI headquarters, demanding managers closely scrutinize investments for any that are linked to the genocide. Members also plan to speak at today's board meeting about their concerns, moved by reports from several faith groups and the Idaho Human Rights Education Center, that their retirement money is invested in companies with documented links to the genocide.

John Sullivan is with the Idaho Task Force for Divestment.

"The real issue here is it's morally reprehensible to be enabling the genocide, and to profit from it."

Sullivan says inspiration for exerting international financial pressure came from former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Republican Senator Bill Frist, who has visited the Darfur region several times and documented the humanitarian crisis there.

"We need to remove the fuel for this genocidal engine. Sudan is highly dependent on foreign direct investment."

Oregon, California, Colorado and Texas already have pulled genocide-linked investments out of Darfur. A PERSI staff report has concluded there is "no investment rationale" for changes because Sudanese investments are profitable.

The demonstration at PERSI headquarters, 607 N. 8th St., begins at 7:30 a.m. A PERSI member addresses the board at 8:30 a.m. A news conference will be held at 11 a.m. An example of Senator Bill Frist's accounts on Darfur at www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070221/NEWS02/70221049.

Deborah Smith/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - ID