With the G-20 summit in our backyard last week, we, members of the University of Pittsburgh’s STAND chapter, knew that we had a unique opportunity to deliver our message to the world’s most powerful leaders. This message was that we, as members of developed economies, hold links to all genocides that make us complicit in their implementation and maintenance. These links also provide us with crucial opportunities to debilitate these genocidal regimes
We kicked-off our campaign on Thursday by joining with PDEC, the Pittsburgh Darfur Emergency Coalition, to put up an art installation directly in front of the delegates’ Thursday night dinner. The installation, which represented villages destroyed by genocide, caught the attention of many local news sources and was featured the next day on the cover of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It certainly caught the gaze of delegates Thursday night as well.
On Wednesday, we participated in the United Steelworkers Conference on Human Rights along with the Save Darfur Coalition. There, we had the opportunity to rekindled discussions that had begun with Sudan Divestment campaign years ago about the capacity for unions and other institutions to draw on their economic investments to leverage their influence on the governments of genocidal regimes. We found the Steelworkers to be very receptive, and some attendees expressed a serious interest in starting up socially responsible investment campaigns.
Later that day, we attended Save Darfur Coalition’s press conference. There, we had the opportunity to pass out press packets to attending members of the press. These press packets detailed how the countries of the G20 are connected the conflicts in Sudan, Burma, and the D.R.C.
On Thursday, we passed our message off to a most impressive ear—that of President Obama. With hands filled with flyers and signs and dressed in neon yellow Save Darfur shirts, the University of Pittsburgh’s STAND members crowded every possible entrance to the venue of the delegates’ dinner. At these entrances we paced backed and forth, awaiting the delegates’ arrival. As we traversed the sidewalks, we passed out flyers and spoke to onlookers and officials about our conflicts and how they relate to the G20. Around 6:00 pm, the delegates passed through the Boulevard of the Allies, a contingent of STAND students waved and cheered. There, they were undoubtedly seen and heard. Obama looked directly at one STAND member holding a sign and waved and passed of a firm nod of affirmation! Hopefully, equally firm policies will affirm our asks in the days to come.