The student-led movement to end mass atrocities.

When It Comes to Darfur, the Finish Line Is Far Off

February 16th, 2011 by Joey Cheek

Five years ago this week, I won an Olympic gold medal in men’s speed skating.

I won by the largest margin in that event in more than 20 years. This is the shining line on my resume – both literal and social. Every day for the last five years I am not introduced as just “Joey Cheek,” but as “Olympic Gold Medalist Joey Cheek.”

However, as much as that moment changed my life, I’ve learned that what we achieve for ourselves rarely provides long-term pride when compared to the things we achieve for others.

Americans love the Olympics… when they are on. The Olympic spotlight is brief, but when that light is upon us, it burns brightly. I knew that if I won the gold, I would have only a few seconds to capture the world’s attention. I had to make it count.

After I won, I announced that I would be donating my winnings to support the people of war torn Darfur and encouraged others to do the same.

Today the word “Darfur” remains synonymous with the murder of hundreds of thousands of people, but when I made my announcement the issue had not yet fully blossomed into the national consciousness. At the time there were hundreds of activists toiling in anonymity hoping to bring a bit of the world’s attention to the plight of innocent men, women, and children.

In February 2006 I was just one of what would become a torrent of passionate and organized voices begging the world community to utilize its vast resources to end the genocide in Darfur. I believe the efforts of groups like the Save Darfur Coalition and others have moved our policymakers to act and in doing so, have helped to quell some of the violence. I was lucky enough to contribute a small amount, but frankly, we’ve not done enough.

In the past weeks we have seen the well executed and reasonably safe vote for succession in the south of Sudan – an historic feat that followed decades of civil war between the north and south. Unfortunately, during this same time the situation in Darfur has deteriorated. There are reports that more than 40,000 people have been driven from their homes and UNAMID (the international peacekeeping force in Darfur) has been blocked from investigating and even threatened with expulsion. This has to stop, and we can be the catalyst to do so.

Five years ago, I attempted to address the injustice of the events in the Darfur region. It remains my proudest moment.  Every one of us has that same opportunity and it’s vital we take it and take it now. Because while I am the most proud of my moments on the podium after the meet, it’s the gold medal that’s considered a success.  When it comes to the more important matter at hand, we have a ways to go before we reach the finish line.

The chance to give others the opportunity for safety and security is the most important thing we can do in life and while I have many times fallen well short of that ideal, every day I wake up gives me another chance – please take that chance with me.

I used my Olympic spotlight to raise awareness about the crisis in Darfur. We are all capable of being better and bigger than we thought possible.  All we have to do is make the effort.  The people of Darfur still need protection.  In the world of geopolitics progress happens slowly, but it does happen.  It happens when we demand it.

Provided by the Save Darfur Coalition


Stacey Toth Wins STAND’s 2010-2011 Design Contest

The results are in. We have a winner for STAND’s 2010-2011 Design Contest! After much deliberation by the STAND MC and the popular national vote, STAND now has an awesome design which will soon be featured on new merchandise.

We would like to congratulate Stacey Toth of San Francisco, CA, the artist of the winning design and STAND’s Webmaster. Look out for new merchandise featuring the design soon.


Protesting Used as a Tool to Fight Oppression

 Written by Aaron Alberico

People first took to the streets in Tunisia to topple a tyrant, then in Egypt cries of freedom overturned oppression, and now in Northern Sudan people are protesting for peace. Inspired by the events in both Tunisia and Egypt, thousands of young Sudanese braved violence and potential arrest to protest against the Khartoum Government and President Omar al-Bashir. The coordinated movement, spurred by a Facebook group called Youth for Change, has widespread throughout Northern Sudan, spanning from Khartoum to smaller cities along the banks of the Nile.

Demonstrations first sprang up on January 30, focusing on the poor economic climate and political oppression. On university campuses in Khartoum, hundreds of students gathered in bold opposition of the government, eventually taking their march to the streets. Students and civilians alike were met by police opposition as they gathered on a main street in Khartoum. Those involved, along with witnesses, described police and security forces “viciously beating people” while some affiliated with the ruling party “chased students while carrying knives, iron rods and other weapons of intimidation.” Other similar protests, ranging from a few dozen to a few hundred people, have continued to take place throughout the country.

Government reaction to the protest included cracking down on student activist and opposition media, detaining journalists and students. Government spokesman Rabie Atti disagreed with the premise of the protest, stating “we don’t have one small group that controls everything. Wealth is distributed equally. We’ve given power to the states.”

Despite many Sudanese objections to Atti’s claim, notably from those in the war torn region of Darfur, many fear police responses to the demonstrations. However, with growing discontent among Northern Sudanese, there is possibility, however small; the uprisings could echo the results of Tunisia and Egypt.

1 “Young Sudanese Start Protest Movement,” New York Times:

2 “Protesters Call for Ouster of Sudanese President,” Wall Street Journal:

3 “Sudanese activist Hope to Follow Tunisia and Egypt, Despite Different Circumstances,” Voice of American:–115212319.html


Help STAND Raise $500 Through 100,000 Clicks!


It’s not too often we can raise money just from the click of a button. Usually, it requires much time and effort to hold a fundraiser.

Well not anymore. STAND was selected by YouthNoise, a nonprofit project that promotes youth leadership and social action, to win $500 through their Just 1 Click Campaign. YouthNoise users nominated and voted upon STAND to be the featured organization for February.

Here’s how it works: If STAND receives 100,000 clicks in February, we will receive a check for $500. That’s it! Please help us get $500!

Don’t be shy! Go to this website, and put your mouse to good use because individual user clicks are unlimited — so everyone can click as much as they want! 

Help us get to 100,000 clicks today. Tweet your followers. Post it to your friends on Facebook. Call your grandma and tell her to go online and click. This is a great opportunity, and we need YOU to get to 100,000 clicks. 



This Week West Wing Reports: “Dispatches from Sudan”

We have been planning and preparing for the outcome of South Sudan referendum for years. Today, preliminary results were released, and it seems the majority, 97 percent, of people of Southern Sudan want independence from the North.  This news, as exciting as it may be for the South, means there is much work to be done in order to create a new nation. Issues concerned with secession such as border demarcation and resource division. Watch this video to see behind the scenes at polling stations from Juba to Khartoum , current conditions in Darfur and how the U.S. will commit to the peace in Sudan after decades of civil war. 

Get Excited! Spring 2011 Conference Coming Up!

Get hyped! You are about to be a part of something huge!

In November 2009, the Pledge 2 Protect conference brought 1,000 anti-genocide activists from all over the country together in order educate and empower the movement to end genocide and mass atrocities. Needless to say, Pledge 2 Protect was a major success, and this spring, STAND, Save Darfur Coalition and the Genocide Intervention Network will be hosting a conference bigger than any before.

This April, we want you to come to Washington, DC for the biggest conference on anti-genocide efforts yet. This will be the first national conference for anti-genocide activists organized by the newly merged Save Darfur Coalition and Genocide Intervention Network. The conference will take place at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown DC from Saturday, April 16th through Monday, April 18th (optional lobby day on April 18th),

Be ready for informative workshops, inspiring panel discussions, intense trainings, networking and a national lobby day!

Stay tuned for more information and registration opportunities. Don’t forget to save the date, April 16th-18th.

STAND, Save Darfur Coalition and Genocide Intervention Network have been shaking things up for over six years, and we are nowhere near ready to stop. We need YOU to truly create a world without genocide and mass atrocities. We have had the desire to change the world through our activism and advocacy, and really, we are only at the beginning of our movement.

Have questions? Contact your Outreach Coordinator, and check your email regularly! We will be sending out more information soon!

*The Renaissance Hotel is offering conference attendees a huge discount on room rates with a special price of only $149 (plus tax) a night. We encourage you to take advantage of this rate and make accommodations as far in advance as possible as DC hotels tend to book quickly and it will be hard to find another hotel offering this price.  To take advantage of this special, call the Renaissance Hotel and mention you are an attendee of the Genocide Intervention Network/Save Darfur Coalition Conference.



Ramsey High School STAND Participates in STANDFast


From January 17, 2011 through January 20, 2011, Ramsey High School’s STAND held a fundraiser to help victims of genocide in Darfur and the mass atrocities in Burma. While the nation-wide STANDfast was held on December 3, 2010, our chapter had to push back events due to scheduling conflicts; however, it is never too late to take a STAND.

STANDFast took place on January 20, but we started receving pledges on January 17 during our school’s three lunch periods. The pledges were placed on our STAND tree resembling leaves.

Our chapter advisor, Karen Vander Leest, spoke of the importance of this event,“Being able to sacrifice something in order to think about other people who suffer in Burma and Darfur can help raise awareness and allow students to contribute in making a change.” RHS STAND had hoped that not only would people help STAND’s cause, but they would also be able to sympathize with what people around the world go through by giving up something for the day. The event not only raised money but increased awareness at our school. Students pledging often asked about the conflict and were briefly educated as to what was happening and other ways in which they could help. The students at RHS were not the only ones affected by this event; STAND had many teachers and other faculty members interested in learning more about the conflict.   

In previous years the STANDfast had been a successful event and this year followed suit. We were able to raise over $100 to donate to STAND.
Written by: Emily McCabe and Neha Srivatsa





Host Omekongo at Your School!

Have you planned your spring events yet?  Do you want to find the perfect speaker for your school?

STAND is giving your school the opportunity to meet Omekongo, the award-winning Congolese-American musician, poet, author, motivational speaker and activist who empowers global citizens to take a STAND. Omekongo has inspired thousands of students across the country through his 1,000,000 Youth Campaign and his performance and attendance at STAND Camp.

This February through April, STAND National will help chapters across the U.S. host Omekongo. Apply today for Omekongo to come to your school.  STAND National will cover the speaking costs—you’ll only be responsible for providing housing, transportation, and for working with a STAND MC member to ensure your event is a success!

You can find all the information and the application  Just a tip, if your chapter is willing and able to hold an event in February, you will have a higher chance of securing Omekongo.

Apply now and contact your Outreach Coordinator with any questions. 


Your MLK Day Off (On!)

 Your Day Off (On!)

Written by Outreach Coordinator Alexandra Johnson

Yesterday, millions of people remembered. Millions of people marched in honor of the cause. And millions will sat on the couch watching Law and Order marathons. 

I won’t lie- my MLK day is usually spent sleeping in until whatever embarrassingly late hour I can get away with until my dad bangs on the door to wake me from what has turned into a 13-hour sleeping binge. This slumber is followed by consuming whatever contents in the fridge are left from the weekends’ meals and (starting and) finishing homework that normally would have been done Sunday night. Not terribly surprisingly, this is usually how the third day of my three-day-weekend is spent: reveling in my spare time.

I never felt like there was anything wrong with this, but I credit that to the fact that I never really stopped and thought about why I wasn’t in school that day. Dr. King’s story and the legacy of the movement he cared for so passionately have always been central to every lesson on civil disobedience I have even been given. I would hear the story and the words but would never really comprehend what they meant. I have lived in Atlanta ever since I can remember, but I’ve never been to the King Center downtown. Most of the time, I forget that he lived in my city, or rather, that I live in his.

Last year, I received an email from an Atlanta-based charity organization that was organizing service projects all over city in honor of MLK Day. The concept was foreign to me. Why would I want to go to community service when I could sleep in and watch six hours of trash television and eat all day? Then it finally occurred to me: MLK Day is not meant to be a day off. It’s meant to be a day on. What better way to honor Dr. King and his movement than giving back to the community?

I have always loved MLK Day. But now I love it for another reason. I love it because it reminds me of what is expected from me. I challenge you to think about this day as more than a homework catch-up day. I challenge you to really remember why you have today off from school and/or work. Will you be challenged in the future to transform your day off into a day on?


First Education Newsbrief of 2011



Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)


Areas of Concern


Pakistan and Afghanistan agree to have a peace jirga to negotiate peace deals with the Taliban.


Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, known for leading two uprisings against American forces following the 2003 US invasion, returned to Iraq on January 6 after a three-year absence.   


The policeman who assassinated Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab who opposed Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, told others of his plan before he was assigned to protect the politician.


The United Nations envoy for Somalia called on the Transitional Federal Government to help disperse aid to those affected by a severe drought.

Created by:
Ashton SimmonsSTAND Education Coordinator and Education Task Force