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Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2007 03:11 pm

Lighting a fire

Blagojevich signs revised Darfur divestiture law

Untitled Document When refugees in the Darfur region of Sudan leave the camps to collect firewood, the men are killed by Janjaweed militias — so they send the women, who are often raped. It’s conditions such as these that have ignited an international movement for change in Darfur, including an international divestment campaign. On Sunday, Olu-Jimi Adeniyi, a Nigerian-born Springfield artist and gallery owner, hosted a fundraiser at First Christian Church for the Darfur Women’s Relief Fund to purchase solar cookers — devices equipped with reflective panels to heat food with the use of sunlight alone. “We might feel powerless to stop such an overwhelming tragedy,” says state Sen. Jacqueline Collins, who spoke at the event, “but it’s a growing human concern to more and more people worldwide.”
The government of Sudan is believed to be providing support for the militias, whose members have slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people since 2003. A combined United Nations and African Union force of 26,000 peacekeepers is expected to be deployed before the end of 2007. In February, Collins introduced legislation to prohibit Illinois from doing business with “forbidden entities” operating in Sudan. The bill passed both chambers of the Legislature, and Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed it into law in late August. The bill was revised from previous legislation, also initiated by Collins, that cut the state’s ties with corporations that had even the slightest involvement in Sudan. Several state pension funds and businesses represented by the National Foreign Trade Council blocked the state from implementing the law this spring [See R.L. Nave, “State’s wrong,” March 1]. Collins’ revised bill made technical changes to the original law — although many state agencies with holdings in Sudan had already divested — and became effective immediately.
Contact R.L. Nave at rnave@illinoistimes.com.
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