mia

PHOTOGRAPHS
EDITORIALS
LINKS
WHAT YOU CAN DO
DIVESTING
FEATURES
VIDEOS
POWERPOINT
DARFUR TIMELINE

-

 

Mia Farrow logo

 

Published in The Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2007
Sudan’s Enablers


By JODY WILLIAMS and MIA FARROW

We met in Abeche, eastern Chad, in February of this year. We were both working for the United Nations, focusing on the violence in Darfur and how it has spilled over into local and refugee populations in Chad and the Central African Republic. We had something else in common as well: Both of us had been inadvertently funding the atrocities we were trying to stop. This funding came through our holdings in investment companies such as Fidelity, which has major holdings in PetroChina and Sinopec—two Chinese oil companies that have poured billions into Khartoum’s coffers. At least 70% of Sudan’s oil revenues have been used by Khartoum to purchase attack helicopters, Antonov bombers and small arms used to kill and inflict immeasurable suffering upon the population of Darfur.

After discovering our indirect complicity in Khartoum’s crimes, we moved our pension plans into investment companies that are not enabling mass atrocities. We also resolved to become more involved with the various efforts to divest from companies doing business with Sudan. Fidelity has not been the only, or even the largest, U.S. firm enabling the slaughter in Darfur. Earlier this month, Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway, which has roughly $3 billion invested in PetroChina, voted not only against divesting, but against taking any shareholder action on the issue.

Mr. Buffett points out that only PetroChina’s parent company, China National Petroleum Company (CNPC), operates in Sudan. Since subsidiaries generally do not have control over parent company operations, Mr. Buffett argues that targeting PetroChina for CNPC’s transgressions is misguided. But PetroChina and CNPC are two faces of the same entity. The management of the two overlaps: The president of CNPC is the president of PetroChina, and the CFO of CNPC is PetroChina’s CFO as well.  Billions of dollars are routinely transferred between the companies. PetroChina is CNPC’s largest customer and accounts for at least 63% of CNPC’s total assets. Furthermore, PetroChina was explicitly set up to shield CNPC from investor scrutiny and complaints about the underwriting of atrocities in Sudan. Mr. Buffet states that the real problem in Sudan is with China, not CNPC and PetroChina. But China’s interests in Sudan are represented almost entirely by CNPC/PetroChina, which exports between 50% and 80% of Sudan’s oil to mainland China.

Finally, Mr. Buffett claims that if PetroChina/CNPC withdrew from Sudan, Khartoum would take its oil business elsewhere. But the more likely result of pressure from Mr. Buffett would be that China, which has nothing to gain from withdrawing its oil interests, would instead use its leverage to pressure the Sudanese Government to halt the atrocities in Darfur.

Mr. Buffet has been justly lauded for his generous contributions to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. But it is difficult to comprehend how a man can be a true humanitarian while offering billions of dollars to a company that is underwriting Khartoum’s crimes. Only China invests more money in PetroChina/CNPC than Berkshire Hathaway. How many more Sudanese villages will be destroyed? How many more hundreds of thousands will be displaced? How many more women will be raped? How many more families will be torn apart? How many more children will die of violence, disease and hunger? How much longer will the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway ignore their moral responsibility to discontinue their support of a company so intimately connected to crimes against humanity?

Ms. Williams, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, recently headed a U.N. Mission on Darfur. Ms. Farrow recently returned from her fourth trip to the Darfur region.


  6/22/2011
Are We Witnessing the Next Darfur?
  4/20/2011
The Birth of a New Nation in Africa
  3/28/2011
Protecting Civilians and Promoting Peace in Sudan
  8/4/2010
Educated Children are Africa's Future
  5/25/2010
Obama Ignores Sudan's Genocide
  4/7/2010
Sudan's Sham Election Has U.S. Support
  3/16/2010
There's a Famine in Chad
  1/19/2010
Time for a U.N. Crisis Corps
  1/14/2010
What you can do for Haiti's children
  1/12/2010
The Two Percent: Farewell and Thank you to a Hero
  4/6/2009
Beware of the U.N. Human Rights Council
  9/6/2008
Now Sudan Is Attacking Refugee Camps
  7/13/2008
why he (BUSH) should stay home
  5/15/2008
The Way Forward on Darfur
  5/1/2008
The Darfur War Crimes Test
  4/24/2008
Olympic Sponsor Report card. Most flunk
  5/1/2008
The Darfur War Crimes Test
  2/19/2008
One Olympic Victory
  1/29/2008
The U.N.'s Human-Rights Sham
  10/5/2007
China Can Do More on Darfur
  7/27/2007
No Hopes For Us
  6/21/2007
Darfur's Forgotten Rebel
  5/23/2007
Sudan�s Enablers
  3/28/2007
The 'Genocide Olympics'
  3/27/2007
Get Massachusetts money out of Sudan
  2/5/2007
You Too Can Divest from Sudan
  11/28/2006
Blood flows as red in Chad as in Darfur
  9/26/2006
International Community Paralyzed By Khartoum
  9/19/2006
Darfur's need for help can be seen in refugees' eyes
  8/10/2006
China's Crude Conscience
  7/25/2006
World must not turn away from Darfur's desperation
  7/4/2006
Yahia's question: Who will protect Darfuris?