Students Spotlight Sudan Atrocities


    By Julie Espinosa

    In Darfur, more than 2 million people have been chased from their homes, at least 300,000 have been murdered and an untold number of women systematically raped by janjaweed militias that are backed by the Sudanese government.

    Meanwhile, the international community is at a standstill, blocked from helping by political disagreement.

    “How can I criticize bystanders to horrible genocides like the Holocaust or Rwanda, having done nothing for Darfur?” said organizer Julianne Parker, an art history major.

    Students at universities nationwide will be breaking the silence about Sudan”s crisis this week and BYU will join in-with an educational booth, a letter writing campaign, a free concert and a documentary screening.

    All week long a booth in the Wilkinson Student Center will be set up showcasing a list of villages attacked in Darfur. Students can write down the name of a village, the date it was attacked and the damage done. Other activities are planned to educate and involve.

    Admission to a benefit concert at 7 p.m. Saturday requires that each person sign or write a letter to their congressional representative about Darfur. Local performers such as Langston Blues, Heather Smith, Wynn Burton and Fresh Faction will play at a local home at 547 N. 700 East in Provo.

    Thursday, the anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, there will be a showing of the Frontline documentary “The Triumph of Evil” at 11 a.m. in W111 BNSN. The film details “how the West ignored warnings of the 1994 Rwanda genocide and turned its back on the victims.”

    “Rwanda needs to not only be remembered but should teach us what happens when we let extreme and calculated violence progress with minimal, if any, international intervention,” Parker said.

    In 1994, one million ethnic Tutsis were slaughtered in Rwanda over a period of 100 days, in an ethnic cleansing similar to the Darfur crisis.

    Parker said she hopes students will appreciate the situation in Sudan more once they are educated and that they will be compelled to act and inform others. She said these activities are a way to stop condoning the tragedy and to express disapproval of our national leaders standing by and doing nothing.

    Activists like Human Rights Watch and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof have expressed alarm that though violence went down in 2005, the situation of the displaced Sudanese is precarious because militias surround many refugee camps and access to supplies and food is limited. The violence in Sudan has spread to other countries, destabilizing the region.

    “Tony Blair actually said quite eloquently,” Parker said. “He said, ”The state of Africa is a scar on the conscience of the world. But if the world as a community focused on it, we could heal it. And if we don”t, it will become deeper and angrier.” I think that pretty much sums up our motives for this week.””

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