In the next one hundred days, some of the most important events in Sudan’s history will take place. South Sudan will decide in the January referendum, as part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, whether or not to become an independent nation. This referendum has the potential to be a significant step towards peace, but an even greater potential to cause a return to civil war between North and South Sudan and the bloodiest war of this century. Violence in Darfur is also increasing rapidly, and with the upcoming referendum, the international community seems to be turning a blind eye. The United States government needs to take an active role in ensuring peace is established throughout Sudan, including Darfur. Our government will only take action if we create pressure.
For this reason, from October 18-22, Bellarmine University’s STAND chapter sponsored a week of events dedicated to raising awareness about genocidal violence in Darfur and South Sudan perpetrated by the government in Khartoum. The emphasis was on why now is such a critical moment for Sudan, and what every individual can do to help create peace. The week’s events were designed to increase individual understanding of the conflict, encourage activism and raise money for Bellarmine’s Sister School in a refugee camp, Djibal, in Chad for Darfuri refugee children. Below is an explanation of some of the events that took place and why they had such an impact.
Monday Oct 18- Panel of speakers
There were over 50 people present at this event that included guests Phil Nippert, a local activist and expert of Darfur and Sudan, Bob Brousseau, founder of the Kentuckiana Interfaith Taskforce on Darfur, James Malou, a Sudanese man who now lives in Louisville and works for Kentucky Refugee Ministries, and Peter Thiong and Ngor Biar, also from South Sudan. It was an honor to also have Buol Lual Mayen present to speak and answer questions. Buol was one of the peace negotiators and officer of the Addis Ababa agreement in 1972 and also joined the South and North armed struggle during the civil war. He was the former Chairman of Kakuma Refugee camp in Kenya, where many of the “Lost Boys of Sudan” were resettled from. James Malou had actually been in Kakuma Refugee Camp as a young boy and was resettled in the United States with the help of Buol. It was truly incredible to hear from those who have actually lived through the atrocities that are still being committed in Sudan each and every day. Each Sudanese man that was present had his own story of how the horrific practices of the Sudanese government had affected him. They told of their entire families being murdered by their own government. This kind of inhumanity must not continue, which is why we must speak out against it. It was truly an informative and powerful event.
Tuesday Oct 19- Day of action and activism
A banner with “Hands for Sudan” written on it was available for students, faculty, and staff to stamp their hand on in paint as a way of showing their support for the people of Sudan and their opposition to the government in Khartoum. The banner was hung up in the café and has now been sent to President Obama along with a letter, urging him to take concrete action on Sudan. We want our government, particularly our president, to know that we care about what is going on in Sudan and are watching to make sure our government does what it can to end and
prevent further violence.
Over 200 people signed a petition urging Senators McConnell and Bunning to vote for and cosponsor Senate Concurrent Resolution 71 for genocide prevention. There was also a mass call-in to our Kentucky Senators and Representatives, as well as 1-800-GENOCIDE to pressure our government to take action on Sudan and be more active in bringing peace. One phone call and one signature really make a huge difference, and we had over 200! If our government knows we care enough about these issues, it will take action. We sent them a message, now it is their
time to listen and respond.
Wednesday Oct 20- “Silence for Sudan” day of silence
A large group of students refrained from speaking for an entire day in solidarity with those who have been silenced by genocidal violence. The day closed with a Breaking the Silence Prayer Service in the Grotto under the Chapel. We were silent, but now pledge to speak out against genocide and atrocities in Sudan and around the world.
Thursday Oct 21- The New Sudan movie showing
The New Sudan is a documentary by the Louisville-based film company NADUS. The director of the film, Coury Deeb, who had just returned from Sudan, was present afterwards to answer questions and talk about his experience filming the movie. There was a great group of people present, and it was an awesome closing event to the active and impacting Sudan Week on campus.
Save Darfur t-shirts were for sale throughout the week. Over $1,000 have been raised for our Sister School in Camp Djibal, Chad. This $1,000 will go directly towards providing Darfuri refugee children with a quality education. After all, it is the children who will rebuild Darfur. There are a limited number of t-shirts left, and if anyone is interested in purchasing one to support our Sister School, please contact Katie Chal at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you missed out on the week’s events and want to know how to take action or have any questions about STAND, Sudan Week, or the current state of affairs in Sudan, please contact Katie Chal.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the week’s activities. You have truly contributed to bringing peace to Sudan. Be sure to continue to follow Sudan in the news and on the web; our action must not stop now.
– Katie Chal
STAND, the student-led division of the Genocide Intervention Network, empowers student leaders with the tools to prevent and stop genocide. Born out of the fight to stop the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, STAND seeks to unite students around the world in a permanent anti-genocide constituency.