My turn: Divest from companies in Sudan

Posted: Thursday, April 03, 2008

I am writing this column in support of Senate Bill 227, which calls for divestment of Alaska Permanent Fund Investments in Sudan.

Sudan is engaged in acts of genocide against the people of Darfur. We cannot support such activity, as to do so would subvert and violate the very principles by which we as a state and as a nation hold most sacred. We simply cannot afford to go down that road of degradation and dishonor. It is important for us to show decency, compassion and common sense. We must hold fast to our foundational values, despite the challenges.

I well recognize that tampering with investments with the permanent fund is very serious and can be very dangerous.

The permanent fund provides Alaskans with additional and often much-needed income to deal with our very high costs of living in this rugged north country. This fund is of most value to the state's lower income population. To cause damage to this fund would also violate important values that we share.

In addition, the permanent fund increases needed cash flow in the state and local economies. The permanent fund is a special feature of our unique resource rich state.

Therefore, your deliberations on the bill are admirable, as they raise important issues and concerns.

It is for this reason that while I totally support the bill, language must be included to recognize that the horrors occurring in Darfur represent a unique situation that simply goes beyond any reasonable standard of ethics, morality and decency.

We cannot turn our backs and worse yet, be supportive in any way of such actions on the part of Sudan.

We must send a message that is clear, simple and just. Divestment works and has been shown to work. It also works for us because it gives us the opportunity to assert our common values and honor, and it is a privilege to do that. We are an energy rich state with strong business principles and a message from us can and will be powerful, and can and will be something we can be proud of.

We must also safeguard the permanent fund so that it does not become the target of a wide series of social and political pressures. This is a very unique case that simply goes far outside what is in any way tolerable. What is occurring in Darfur is utterly disgusting.

I urge you to act in practical and reasonable good conscience, and in so doing support the bill.

• Aaron Hozid is a resident of Juneau.

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