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Nationwide Divestment Efforts

Important Update on Vanguard Vote!

Dear Darfur Activist,

This week, millions of Vanguard proxy ballots will be mailed and emailed to American households. The ballots provide Vanguard customers with a unique opportunity to vote for genocide-free investing.  For shareholders of 30 of its funds, a vote FOR Question 3 indicates they do not want Vanguard to invest their family savings in companies that substantially contribute to genocide or crimes against humanity. 

HELP “GET OUT THE VOTE”

Whether or not you are a customer, we need your help to get out the vote.  Please forward this email to friends and family and also use other means such as social networking sites, blogs, group meetings, and bulletin boards to spread the word.  We need to reach as many voters as possible since many people ignore proxy ballots assuming they contain no issues of interest.  Click here for materials you can use to help spread the word.

VOTE YOUR VANGUARD SHARES

If you are a Vanguard customer, watch for your proxy ballots and vote your conscience on this important issue.  Look for
Question 3 on the ballot page.

Vanguard is urging customers to vote “against”
Question 3 stating that the company adopted a policy that is "substantially identical" to our shareholder proposal.  However, despite of the encouraging announcement about this policy, we were disappointed to learn from  Vanguard’s SEC filing on March 31 that they actually recently increased their holdings of PetroChina and other large oil industry partners of the government of Sudan which help fund the genocide in Darfur.  Vanguard offers no explanation for its choice to buy more stock in these companies.  Vanguard declines to release the policy adopted by its funds’ Board of Trustees, the names of companies about which it has concerns, or how it intends to implement the policy with problem companies.  Vanguard’s lack of action and lack of transparency fails to demonstrate the commitment that shareholders deserve to feel confident that their savings are not connected to genocide.

The voting will remain open up until the shareholders meeting on July 2.  All Vanguard shareholders can change their vote to be
FOR Question 3 right up until the meeting.  For instructions on how to change your vote or if you no longer have your voting materials, contact us at VanguardVote@InvestorsAgainstGenocide.org.

SEND AN EMAIL TO VANGUARD


Whether you are a customer or not, please
click here to send email to Vanguard telling them to immediately divest the problem companies and become more transparent about their policy on companies tied to human tights abuses.

This battle with Vanguard will be very hard to win, since most shareholders don’t bother to vote.  Vanguard’s ambiguous policy will make our work more difficult.  Please help us “get out the vote” for genocide-free investing.

Thanks so much all you’ve done and continue to do for the cause.

The Investors Against Genocide Team

























 

 

A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO DIVESTMENT

Ken Tartof, who has been part of Darfur Alert’s mutual-fund efforts, prepared this report.

Virtually all American-owned companies are prohibited by U.S. law from doing business in Sudan. However, it is still quite legal for American-owned mutual funds to hold shares of foreign companies that do business in Sudan.  These foreign-based companies are critical to the economy of Sudan because they provide substantial revenue that Khartoum uses to wage its campaign of genocide in Darfur.

            No caring American citizen wants his or her hard-earned dollars invested in support of genocide.  However, that is precisely what happens if you own shares in an American-owned mutual fund whose portfolio includes foreign companies with commercial interests in Sudan.  How so?

            Consider the case of PetroChina (PTR), a huge Chinese oil and gas exploration, development, and production company that also produces products refined from these raw materials.  The stock market values PTR at more than $230 billion, or just a bit less than it does General Electric ($270 billion).  This gives you some sense of the size and importance of PTR.

            It is estimated that 50-80 percent of Sudan’s oil is exported to China, and PTR is a major participant in this activity.  That is why PTR is so important to both countries.  Money from the sale of Sudanese oil goes into any number of private accounts -- and to the government of Sudan, which then buys arms and militias to carry out the mass murder and rape of unarmed civilians in Darfur.

            In addition to PetroChina, Sinopec (Chinese), ONGC (Indian), and Petronas (Malaysian) are some of the other major oil companies that partner with the government of Sudan.

Think this is not right?  Here’s what you can do.

First, view a video clip produced by the Boston affiliate of Fox News.  This video describes both the idea behind divestment as well as the actions some are taking to urge various mutual funds such as Fidelity to divest their shares of companies doing business in Sudan. You can view it by clicking here.

            Second, go to the web site of Investors Against Genocide (IAG).  IAG is leading a national campaign to pressure mutual funds to avoid investments that contribute to genocide by submitting shareholder proposals to more than 50 mutual funds requesting that these funds become genocide-free. The results of the first proposals have been very encouraging.

            At the IAG website you will find two ways in which you can participate.  You can submit a shareholder proposal to be placed on the next proxy ballot that seeks to ensure that your mutual fund becomes genocide-free.  Also, you can send a message to a variety of mutual funds that hold shares in complicit companies.  Just follow the links on the IAG home page.

            The folks at Investors Against Genocide make this as easy as possible. Here's how they describe the process:

            "We are looking for volunteers to submit a shareholder proposal, which we have drafted, to ask mutual funds and investment companies to stop investing in genocide. Contact us at info@InvestorsAgainstGenocide.org if you are interested in helping.

            "The SEC requires that shareholders own at least $2,000 worth of shares in a company to file a shareholder proposal. In addition, you must own the stock for at least one year.

            "For each mutual fund (or investment firm) here's all you would need to do:
    • Edit the text of the letter and shareholder proposal (that we will provide on request) to include your information in the highlighted areas.
    • Print and sign the letter.
    • Attach a copy of a financial statement from the investment firm (or whatever agent administers your account) showing that you’ve held at least $2,000 worth of that fund for at least one year.
    • Send the letter, the shareholder proposal, and the copy of the statement(s) to the investment firm by certified mail, at the address listed on our company contacts page.
    • Send a copy of the cover letter to us. (There is no need to send us a copy of your financial statement!)"

Join the growing movement to demand that American mutual funds shun stock in PetroChina and other multinational companies that are complicit in the Darfur genocide. As part of a national day of action, Oct. 15 2007, DAC's Advocacy Committee organized a demonstration outside the Philadelphia Stock Exchange to call loud attention to the fact that the Vanguard mutual fund, based in Valley Forge, holds hundreds of millions of dollars in dirty stock, primarily Chinese oil stock. We gathered hundreds of signatures on petitions, which we delivered to Vanguard HQ. We've also relayed our concerns directly to Vanguard executives. Though they're refusing to divest, they acknowledge that the pressure campaign has prompted them to directly relay concerns to PetroChina and the other targeted multinationals. It's a good start, but we need to keep up the pressure. Special thanks to Eric Cohen of Boston-based Investors Against Genocide for launching this movement and being part of our breakthrough phone conversation with Vanguard executives.

- PUBLICATION-

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