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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    March aims to teach about Darfur genocide

    UA and Tucson high school students will join together Sunday night for an event meant to bring attention to the humanitarian crisis affecting more than 2 million people in the Darfur region of western Sudan.

    Concerned students say it is the conflict that will affect this generation the most, and like the tragedies of the Holocaust and in Kosovo in the 1990s, it could be forgotten.

    “”It’s ridiculous that humanity is letting this continue,”” said Naomi Brandis, an event organizer from the Hillel Foundation. “”Some people have already taken a defeatist attitude towards the situation, and it’s not the right one to take.””

    The event starts at 8 p.m. on the UA Mall main stage, where three prominent speakers will address the crowd, including John Thon Majok, one of the “”lost boys of Sudan”” who came to the UA in the fall of 2003 from the war-ravaged country, said Brandis, a political science senior.

    Each speaker will reflect on his or her experiences on the affected region and why people should act now for change. From there, participants will march from the Mall stage toward North Campbell Avenue with glow sticks in hand to represent “”the fire within”” to affect change, Brandis said.

    “”The community is coming together and making a statement,”” she said “”We’re trying to get everyone to act on the situation. Everyone will be standing in solidarity together.””

    Brandis added that there will be information booths near North Campbell Avenue to elicit responses from the public.

    While there has been a relatively minor global response, more than 400,000 people have been killed and more than 1 million have been displaced by Sudanese government-backed militias known as the Janjaweed, according to www.savedarfur.org.

    Villages are being razed, women and girls raped and branded, men and boys murdered, and food and water supplies targeted and destroyed, according to the Web site.

    Tiffany Tom, an event organizer for UA Students Taking Action Now, Darfur, said she thinks UA students are more aware of the tragedy than they were a year ago, despite the United Nations not recognizing the ongoing crisis as genocide.

    “”The tragedies are pretty comparable,”” said Tom, a junior majoring in history and environmental science, in reference to the Holocaust. “”The people in the Darfur region are human beings as well. We should all care about this tragedy.”” Last semester, a group known as the Concerned Students to Save Darfur sold green bracelets on the UA Mall for $5, helping to benefit humanitarian organizations that sent money to the Darfur region and to educate students about the cause.

    While Brandis said she and others might not be able to get students to care, education and awareness is the best way to start. She said the event isn’t meant to raise funds but to bring awareness to cause others to take a stand.

    “”We all hope to arm students with more information on what they can do,”” Brandis said, adding that students can get involved by writing letters to their local congressmen and senators to elicit a better national response.

    The UA will be part of an all-day national campaign Sunday, when world-renowned author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and Hollywood actor George Clooney speak about the catastrophe in Washington, D.C., among many other events nationwide.

    The Tucson community coalition includes Catalina Foothills High School STAND, UA STAND, the Hillel Center, the YWCA of Tucson and the Jewish Community Relations Council.

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