On Sunday, April 13th, nearly 500 young activists with STAND (Student Anti-Genocide Coalition) marched on the White House in Washington D.C. as part of a rally to raise awareness for the genocide taking place in Darfur. They implored President Bush to “SEAL the Deal” and put pressure on the Chinese government to sanction Sudan in order to bring an end to the rampant genocide in the southwestern region of Darfur. The activists, who were primarily students from colleges and universities around the country, carried signs and chanted slogans criticizing President Bush on his lack of involvement in the situation.
Freshman Erin Roberts, a sociology major, and one of three St. John’s students who made the trek to Washington for the day, felt that the experience enlightened him.
“I remember picking up a sign that said ‘How much are 400,000 lives worth?’ That number, the realization of what that number meant, affected me profoundly.”
In these areas, disease and squalor are rampant and living-conditions are inhumane. Fewer than five gallons of water per person, per day are distributed, compared to the average American’s use of 100 gallons of water a day.
At the rally, speakers for and from Darfur delivered a powerful message that reverberated through the audience: the people of Darfur are looking to the West for help. The speakers noted that today’s youth has the power to change what is happening in the world.
China, as Sudan’s largest trading partner, has continued to furnish supplies, weapons, and money to the government and their militia. With the Olympics approaching this summer in Beijing, there has been a call for action from the international community.
More pressure has been placed on the Chinese administration to use its significant leverage in Sudan to pressure Khartoum to end the genocide in Darfur. Boycotts, divestment (the boycott of products from companies sponsoring the Olympics), and protests have sprung up globally.
St. John’s has their own chapter of STAND: A Student Genocide Coalition on the Queen’s campus. The group meets on Tuesdays during common hour, in St. John’s Hall room 111B.
For more information, about what students can do help stop the genocide in Darfur visit Standnow.org and AmnestyUSA.org