The student-led movement to end mass atrocities.

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye to our MC Seniors!

So much has happened this year in the world of atrocity prevention – from the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act being signed into law, to the passage of the Yemen War Powers Resolution, to the introduction of the Global Fragility Act, ongoing political transformation in Sudan, peaceful handover of power in DRCongo… the list seems to go on and on. While in this field, we often say there is rarely good news, we have made vitally important progress for others to build on in future years. The role played by our seniors this year – many of whom have worked on these issues for years through their work in chapters, as interns, and through research – is difficult to understate. We will miss them dearly, and hope to continue to work with them as they enter various careers and professional fields. We can’t wait to watch what y’all do next!

Casey Bush, Student Director, Clark University

Image from iOS (4)Casey! I remember sitting down next to you at my very first STAND conference in the fall of 2015, terrified to be seated next to a college student. You immediately made me feel so welcome and at home. Fast forward to my very first MC retreat… Again, a bit scared and very much unsure of what to expect—but there you were again, sharing a hotel room, and making me feel like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Through the entirety of my time with STAND you have been there as a rock, a friend, and the source of too many laughs to count. I am so lucky to have spent this last year as SD with you. There is truly no better partner in crime. I cannot begin to explain the number of times I opened slack to see you had fixed all our problems or stayed up all night creating an inconceivable number of documents. I continue to be impressed by all the work you have done in and outside of STAND. Thank you for being the most amazing role model and friend! It has taken everything not to beg you to stay with me, but I know you’re going to do so many wonderful things! —Grace Fernandes, Co-Student Director

Image from iOS (5)Caseybee🐝, I hope you know how much STAND is going to miss your leadership next year. You were—and have always been—such a rock, willing to learn, willing to put in extra time even when you didn’t have any, and willing to find creative solutions to any difficulty that arose. From day 1 of meeting you at the fall conference back in 2015 (?!), it was clear that you would become a STAND superstar. I remember Francesca whispering to me as we packed participant folders late into the night, “that girl is gonna be SD one day.” She was right and I am so thankful! From leading Clark STAND to stepping into the Midwest Field Organizer role, to Development Coordinator, and then SD, you entered each role humbly, with a deep sense of responsibility to those affected by atrocities clear throughout. Outside of STAND world, I have loved getting to know you and learn from you through your academic work, drinking beer and witnessing Krampusnacht with you in Prague, and witnessing your hilarious sense of humor through your finsta. I know it’s been a tough year in many ways, but you handled it with g(G?)race and composure throughout, and I am so appreciative to have had you at the helm through everything. Much love always, and I can’t wait to rendezvous in DC or Europe soon! —Mac Hamilton, Executive Manager

Hannah King, Campaigns Coordinator, Clark University

Image from iOS (7)You have been a STAND queen for as long as I have known you! Casey and I have been so lucky to have you throughout this year as you flawlessly lead so many committees and campaigns and offered your off-the-charts organizational skills! I can’t imagine having done it without you! I will always treasure our “Grace and Hannah take NYC” trip and wouldn’t want to spend hours on a train with anyone else! Oh and there was also that time we met Joe Kennedy! Hannah, you have blown me away over and over again with your dedication to STAND and your constant willingness to take on more (and more… and more), simply because you care so much. I will miss being a part of the MC with you so so much but know you won’t be able to stay away entirely!!! Sending you off with so much love! —Grace Fernandes, Co-Student DirectorImage from iOS (8)

Hannah, although we constantly like to give each other a hard time, I consider myself lucky to know you. Since our call at the beginning of the year, you have continued to inspire me by the action you take and the dedication you give to any role you play. From these characteristics, I know that you will be immensely successful wherever your life takes you, and all I ask is that you keep us posted on where that is. Good luck in the next phase of your journey. You always have your STANDfam for support. —Zachary Gossett, Field Organizer

 

Isabel Wolfer, Communications Coordinator, The George Washington University

IMG_7981Congrats on graduating Isabel! You’re such a hard worker and deserve it all. Even though I’ve only known you for a short time, it’s clear you’re a dedicated and genuine person who gives 100% to whatever it is you do. I greatly appreciated your college wisdom during the Winter retreat, and always love to hear what you have to say. You’re extremely well-spoken and educated, and listening helps me gain insight to a lot of new things. I know I speak for the entire MC when I say that we all appreciate how gracious and kind you are. I remember working with you on several projects throughout the year and you would always message me with a thank you. I wish you the best of luck in your post-undergrad plansI know you’ll be amazing in whatever it is you decide to do. Thank you for making STAND a better place. I’ve always looked up to you and will miss you a ton! —Caroline Mendoza, Field Organizer

mc1819
I’m so sad to be losing you as a member of the STAND MC, and am very thankful to have gotten to know you and work with you this year. I won’t lie – I was worried when your Cambodia flight fiasco happened how you would get on with the rest of the team without having met them in person. It speaks volumes to who you are that you fell right into step and that everyone immediately adored you. In fact, watching you work with your Task Force with such care was a huge highlight of my year—it’s clear how much you bonded and how much they learned from working with you. In addition, your willingness to offer space in your apartment for MC members to stay during the January retreat was so kind and so appreciated, and gave me such peace of mind knowing our MC members were in good hands. I know I speak for many when I say how deeply I appreciated your willingness to lend a hand on policy statements and national emails, as well as your commitment to ensuring STAND cover Sudan as the protests grew and Bashir fell. I don’t know what we’ll do without you. Thank you for everything this year – I can’t wait to follow your next steps!
—Mac Hamilton, Executive Manager

Alison Hesser, National Outreach Coordinator, Stockton University

IMG_7994Alison, you are literally such an amazing person. I’ve always wanted an older sister, and you really showed me what I was missing. Apart from your trademark sense of humor, which has made every retreat, call, and lobby meeting so enjoyable, you are such a genuine, kind person, and I feel so lucky to have gotten to know you. You are so honest and personable—I remember that you were the first one to greet me during fall retreat, and I immediately loved how chill you were. Thank you for picking me up from the airport in freezing weather, letting me room with you at the end of the very, very long hallway, and always being there for me. I was going through college application season this year, and you were always so supportive and loving even when you didn’t have to be. I’m going to miss you so much…but you are not off the hook!!! Please keep in touch with us. We will never forget you :) You are so successful already— completing your masters, giving a killer graduation toast, and being an awesome aunt (love your FB posts)—don’t forget that we are here for you always if you need anything! —Vishwa Padigepati, Advocacy Coordinator

Alison, you are #old. I can’t believe that this time last year I barely knew youIMG_7274, and now you’re someone I can’t imagine not talking to. You’re super fun to be around, whether it be during long MC calls or in the cafeteria between lobby meetings. Winter retreat was beyond a highlight; I’ll miss our hotel room jokes and listening to your hilarious rants. I love your sense of humor and brutal honestyit’s something I think makes you extremely welcoming and personable, and something I greatly value in a friend. I appreciate your genuine kindness (picking Vishwa and I up from the airport, paying for all of our Lyfts). STAND won’t be the same without you ;( I know you’ll do well wherever you end up and I hope you get the job of your dreams and work with lots of awesome and interesting people. Congrats on your Master’s, keep your dogs safe, and you better not forget about me when you’re rich and successful!! —Caroline Mendoza, Field Organizer

Conflict Update: March 2019

 

This week’s conflict update covers events since the beginning of 2019 in STAND’s key focus areas: Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Yemen, Syria, Burma, and the escalating crisis in Venezuela. We are thankful to STAND Action Committee members Grace Harris and Maya Ungar, as well as STAND Managing Committee members, Grace Fernandes, Isabel Wolfer, Hannah King, Vishwa Padigepati, Caroline Mendoza, and Zachary Gossett for researching and writing pieces of this brief.

 

Sudan and South Sudan

Sudan

Weekly protests every Thursday calling for the end of the al-Bashir regime continue as they enter their fourth month. These peaceful protests, which originally began in December to protest the rising costs of basic goods and shortages of fuel, have resulted in dozens of civilians killed, hundreds injured, and thousands detained as Sudanese security forces responded with extreme force, including tear gas, batons, and ammunition. The Sudanese Professionals Associations (SPA), one of the primary groups coordinating the marches, named the demonstration on March 21 the “Procession for Justice” as a memorial for war crimes committed by the government. Although the government has reduced the excessive use of force against demonstrators, between 30 and 50 protesters have been killed since December 2018.

On February 22, President Omar al-Bashir declared a yearlong State of Emergency in an effort to quell the protests. The legislature has since cut this to six months. Earlier this month, Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes in Darfur, delegated leadership of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to Ahmed Harun, who is also wanted by the ICC for war crimes in Darfur.

Earlier this month, an emergency court sent eight people to prison for participation in anti-government protests. The Democratic Lawyers Alliance, a group supporting the protests, reported that at least 870 protesters were brought before these emergency courts that were established due to al-Bashir’s declaration of a national emergency.

Interested in learning more about current events in Sudan and how you can support peaceful demonstrators? Join our webinar on Thursday, March 28 at 7 PM EST – click here to register!

South Sudan

Violence in South Sudan continues despite the peace deal signed by President Salva Kiir and rebel leader and former Vice President Riek Machar last fall. The UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, stated last month that the peace agreement has done little to deliver immediate improvement for civilians or enhance accountability measures, noting an increase in arbitrary detention, torture, execution, and gender-based violence. Notably, more than 10,000 people have been displaced since January due to violent clashes between government forces and armed groups. Violence has been particularly severe in Central Equatoria State, where the National Salvation Front has clashed with the government army. Thousands of refugees displaced by this unrest have fled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo over the past eight weeks. A UN report released last week concluded that South Sudan’s population is the least happy in Africa.

In late March, an almost $185 million spending deal was approved by the transitional government. This decision sparked criticism from observers claiming that the peace deal continues to suffer from a lack of funds due to corruption. Last December, the government allegedly authorized over $135,000 to renovate private residences owned by First Vice President Taban Deng Gai and the late revolutionary leader John Garang. Experts have expressed concern over an increasing lack of financial transparency among government officials and warned that international donors may not contribute to the depleting transition fund as consequence.

Great Lakes of Africa

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

Controversy surrounded the long-awaited DRC elections in December 2018. In addition to internet and text messaging shutdowns, signal cuts of Radio France Internationale, and voter intimidation and coercion, voting was postponed for voters in three opposition areas, restricting voting for over a million Congolese citizens. Over 1,000 polling stations in Kinshasa were closed due problems with voting machines and voter lists, and election observers were unable to access many polling stations and vote tabulation centers. In the wake of these events, at least 10 people were killed and dozens wounded by security forces during protests against the victory of Félix Tshisekedi. Notably, the Catholic Church, one of the most trusted institutions in the country, leaked results based off of their voter observation efforts that Martin Fayulu, another opposition candidate, had won by a landslide. Fayulu has challenged the results in court, but to no avail.

Concurrently, Congo has suffered a grave Ebola epidemic which has exceeded 1,000 cases, making it the world’s second worst outbreak. Due to ongoing conflict in Eastern DRC, there is great deal of public mistrust when it comes to treatment of the disease, and armed groups have staged attacks on ebola treatment centers, inhibiting the response of health workers. Just last week, two Médecins Sans Frontières treatment centers were set on fire in such attacks, forcing them to suspend operations in these areas. According to UNICEF statistics, children represent a third of ebola victims, and women, who often serve as primary caretakers of sick children, have also been disproportionately affected.

On March 14, DRC held Senate elections in which former President Joseph Kabila’s party, the Common Front for Congo, won the majority of  seats while Tshisekedi’s party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress, won only 3 out of 100. There is evidence of at least 20 candidates who withdrew from races due to voter bribery efforts by provincial assembly members. As such, Tshisekedi has not allowed the newly-elected senators to take office, pending an investigation, and has indefinitely suspended the gubernatorial elections that were scheduled for next week.

Middle East

Yemen

At the end of 2018, there was cautious optimism for the situation in Yemen as the warring parties met in Sweden for peace talks. They agreed to a ceasefire in the strategic port city of Hodeidah, as well as a prisoner exchange. However, the condition of ordinary Yemenis remains bleak, with 80% living in poverty and 110,000 suspected cases of cholera. Since the war began, the World Bank estimates that 35% of businesses have closed, with household income plummeting due to inflation and currency devaluation. While the ceasefire has lead to short respites from violence, civilian deaths remain high and both parties blame the other for violations. The agreed-upon prisoner exchange has yet to occur and relatives of those imprisoned are calling for the parties to uphold the agreement. The continuation of peace talks has been delayed and some say time is running out. Additionally, some from southern Yemen are threatening a new conflict if they are not included in the talks. There have been calls for independence in southern Yemen since the unification of Yemen in the 1990s, as the ruling north has sidelined local economic and political concerns.

The United Nations is seeking $4.2 billion for the continuation of humanitarian work over the next year. Last month, they regained access to the Red Sea Mills, a food storage center pivotal to efficient food distribution in the region. Despite their active involvement in the war, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have pledged $2.6 billion dollars to fund the UN humanitarian plan for Yemen. However, the full funding goal is, as of now, unmet.

In the United States, the House and Senate voted this year to end assistance to Saudi Arabia’s efforts in Yemen, each passing a version of the War Powers Resolution. However, since the language is not identical, the House must vote on the Senate version before being sent to the White House to be signed into law. President Trump has threatened to veto this legislation if passed.

Syria

As Syria enters the ninth year of civil war, Syria’s refugees and internally displaced peoples have suffered another harsh winter. Over 37 internally displaced children were frozen to death, both in Rukban Camp, and fleeing from Hajin, an ISIS-held bastion further north. In late January 2019, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey revived the idea of creating safe zones along Turkey’s border to protect civilians. Concerns remain as to whether refugees may be forcibly returned as a result, and how safe zones would affect Kurdish civilians. Turkey has long has tensions with the Kurdish people, who have long fought for political autonomy in Turkey and throughout the Middle East. Since the beginning of the conflict, over half of the country’s pre-war population has been displaced, with 5.6 million people living as refugees and 6.2 million people displaced internally. Half of those affected are children.

On March 23, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces announced a military victory over the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), who once held a third of Syria and Iraq’s territory. Following this victory, the top military commander in Syria’s Kurdish territory, who led anti-ISIL efforts, urged President Bashar al-Assad to pursue dialogue and in order to reach a political solution towards an autonomous Kurdish region. In response to the announcement of the defeat of the ISIL, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany said they would remain vigilant of the group’s “sleeper cells” that still pose terrorist threats. Amongst military strategists, concerns remain that victory will be fleeting, and that ISIS will regroup once troop withdrawals are complete.

Southeast Asia

Burma

Content Warning: This section describes sex trafficking and sexual violence.

The situation of the Rohingya has continued to worsen in 2019. The Rohingya, a primarily-Muslim ethnic and religious minority group, have long been persecuted by the Burmese government. Since August 2017, thousands have been killed, driving hundreds of thousands across the border to Bangladesh, sparking international outrage and leading to the creation of the largest refugee camp in the world. Overcrowding in the camps has led to further problems. Bangladesh, already a very poor country, has struggled to handle the influx of refugees, and are seeking to move Rohingya refugees to an island in the Bay of Bengal. This island is remote, frequently hit by cyclones, and is considered uninhabitable. Experts worry that this forced movement will lead to further problems for the vulnerable Rohingya population.

Conflict continues against ethnic minorities due to Burmese military activity in the Kachin and Shan states. These conflicts have increased the vulnerability for exploitation of Kachin and Shan women. While men fight, women must take increasingly risky job opportunities to support their families, some of which lead to human trafficking. A massively incriminating report released by Human Rights Watch last week uncovered the human trafficking of Kachin women forced to become wives in China. Originally promised jobs in China, these women discover upon arrival that they were instead sold to Chinese families. They are locked away and repeatedly raped until they become pregnant. After having a child, the women either remain as sex slaves or are returned to their families, sometimes after years of abuse.

Emerging Crises

Venezuela

The Venezuela crisis began in January when the opposition-led National Assembly declared Juan Guaidó the interim president of the country. For years, Venezuela has suffered from hyperinflation, food shortages, and increasingly totalitarian policies at the hands of Nicolás Maduro’s government. While the U.S. and the majority of the EU and Organization of American States support Guaidó, Russia and Cuba, long-time Maduro allies, continue to support the current government.

Early on March 21, Venezuelan authorities apprehended Guaidó’s chief of staff, Robert Marrero, marking a significant escalation in the political crisis. His arrest mirrors similar crackdowns on dissent by Maduro’s government. Venezuelan doctors also face government pressure after attempting to alert the UN to the dire shortage of essential medicines. Michelle Bachelet, the UN Human Rights Chief, has criticized both the Maduro regime for cracking down on dissent, and US sanctions for exacerbating the conflict.

The US claims that these sanctions are meant to target government activities alone, yet many argue that they are hurting the most vulnerable Venezuelans. Along with sanctions, the US has increased intelligence sharing in the region, providing information to Colombian authorities about insurgents who have been strengthened due to the Venezuela conflict. While unconfirmed, experts speculate that Maduro is allowing insurgent activity in order to prepare for possible military intervention. If true, these actions would simply be the latest example of the Maduro administration’s transgressions.

Recent US-Russia talks over Venezuela have stalled due to the differing visions of Maduro’s role in the nation, and on Monday, Russia landed two military planes in the country, a move the U.S. denounced as a “contradiction of both Nicolas Maduro’s and Russia’s calls for non-intervention […] [and] a reckless escalation of the situation.”

Grace Harris, who contributed to the Sudan section of this brief, is a sophomore at Tampa Preparatory School in Florida, where she serves as the president of her STAND chapter. She joined STAND after learning about the Darfur genocide in my World History 1 class during her Freshman year, seeking an opportunity to take action and make a difference in the world. In addition to leading STAND at Tampa Prep, Grace serves on STAND national’s Sudan and Yemen Action Committees.

Isabel Wolfer, who contributed to the South Sudan section of this brief, is STAND’s Communications Coordinator and a member of the Sudan Working Group. She is a senior at The George Washington University in Washington, DC and a former intern for the Darfur Women Action Group.

Hannah King and Vishwa Padigepati, who contributed to the Yemen section of this brief, are members of STAND’s Managing Committee and the Yemen Action Committee. Hannah is STAND’s Campaigns Coordinator and a senior at Clark University in Massachusetts and Vishwa is STAND’s Advocacy Coordinator and a student at Fairmont Preparatory Academy in California.

Maya Ungar, who contributed to the Burma section of this brief, is a junior at the University of Arkansas and is serving as STAND’s Southeast Asia Coordinator for the 2018-2019 academic year. She is currently studying abroad in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Grace Fernandes, who contributed to the DRC section of this brief, is a junior at Simmons University in Boston, Massachusetts, and one of STAND’s Student Co-Directors. She leads STAND’s Indigenous Peoples Action Committee.

Caroline Mendoza, who contributed to the Syria section of this brief, is a junior at Cerritos High School in California, and serves on the STAND Outreach Team. She is a member of the Burma and Yemen Action Committees.

Zachary Gossett, who contributed to the Venezuela section of this brief, is a sophomore at Butler University and a member of STAND’s Outreach Team, He serves on the Indigenous Peoples and Burma Action Committees.

STAND Condemns Attack on the L’Simcha Tree of Life Synagogue

STAND is deeply saddened by the shooting at the L’Simcha Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Saturday. The attack, which took place during Shabbat services, resulted in the murders of eleven people and emotional and physical harm to many more. We condemn this anti-Semitic and xenophobic act of terror and stand with our Jewish members, friends, and colleagues in this moment of intense sadness and fear.

The alleged perpetrator had previously openly expressed hatred for Jews, and witnesses told police he shouted, “All Jews must die” before opening fire. Unfortunately, this is far from an isolated event. The shooting took place at a time when the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has reported a sharp increase in anti-Semitism in the US – including a 57 percent increase in 2017. The ADL has called this attack the “deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.”

The alleged perpetrator was driven by misinformation, as well as a hatred and fear of immigrants and refugees. Earlier this month, the L’Simcha synagogue hosted a National Refugee Shabbat sponsored by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), a Jewish-American refugee resettlement agency driven by the biblical concepts “Welcome the stranger. Protect the refugee.” As a partner in refugee resettlement advocacy, we have long valued HIAS’ commitment to supporting resettlement of refugees of all identities. This attack, specifically aimed at the critical work of HIAS, is a clear manifestation of the links between xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and white nationalism.

As an organization that educates students on historical and contemporary cases of identity-based violence both domestically and internationally, STAND strongly condemns the L’Simcha synagogue attack and emphasizes the need to urgently address the factors that have allowed such attacks to be carried out. We remember the victims and their families and celebrate all those who are working to combat anti-Semitic and xenophobic violence at home and abroad.

May the victims’ memories be a blessing.

Joyce Fienberg, 75

Rich Gottfried, 65

Rose Mallinger, 97

Jerry Rabinowitz, 66

Cecil Rosenthal, 59

David Rosenthal, 54

Bernice Simon, 84

Sylvan Simon, 86

Daniel Stein, 71

Melvin Wax, 88

Irving Younger, 69

Featured photo by Andrew Stein/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP.

STAND News: Spring 2018 Semester in Review

STAND student activists have completed another successful semester of advocacy and action! From advocating for ending arms sales to Saudi Arabia and fundraising for displaced Rohingya, to making calls and lobbying on Capitol Hill, STAND students continue to lead in the fight against genocide. As we settle into summer, we applaud our students for their continued activism and achievements by highlighting some important moments of this semester.

 

From Remembrance to Action: Together We Remember

Db0qUn9XcAAYIbD
STAND was excited to take part in the 6th annual Together We Remember campaign in which communities around the world held name readings, vigils, and other events to commemorate those affected by genocide and mass atrocities in the 20th and 21st centuries. This year, we helped organize
over 40 vigils across 8 countries, and we even got a shout out on the House Floor by our friend and long-time partner in atrocities prevention Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts!

Students practiced turning remembrance into action by coupling their TWR events with advocacy for the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act. By writing op-eds and Letters to the Editor (like this one by former Co-Communications Coordinator, Ashley Morefield, published in The Sentinel!), signing petitions, and making calls to their legislators, STAND students advocated loud and proud for this historic act. Recently, the legislation was voted out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, marking an important victory for genocide prevention advocates!

 

#RiseForRohingya

As the plight of the Rohingya worsened in the fall, STAND prioritized the #RiseForRohingya campaign, a partnership with The Nexus Fund, to raise funds to support on-the-ground peacebuilding efforts in Burma. On Giving Tuesday alone, we raised over $1,600! Additionally, STAND chapters spread the love with Roses for Rohingya where upSTANDers sold roses, candy, and other Valentine’s goodies, while educating their peers on the Rohingya crisis.

1930888_10156279866412049_4630290978365236511_n 28056192_10156279866402049_3796208902520148003_n

STAND released some killer merchandise (PSA: we’re still selling them!!) created by our very own Grace Fernandes Proceeds were split 50/50 towards our #RiseForRohingya campaign and operational costs for STAND. Here are some of our STAND superstars rocking their #GiveAShit and #CaringIsCool gear.

STAND also advocated for the BURMA Act of 2018 (H.R. 4223/S. 2060) through lobby meetings and call-in days. This legislation would ensure that senior-level Burmese military officials are held accountable for mass atrocities against the Rohingya. The hard work of activists around the country paid off, as the act was voted out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in May!

 

23736157_10156008379622049_7605303592362175728_o

Yemen War Powers Resolution

In February, STAND, along with a number of partners, stood behind a landmark resolution – S.J.Res 54, to convince the Trump Administration to end U.S. involvement in Yemen’s Civil War. Though it was voted down, this vote showed a strong bipartisan message: that U.S. military support for atrocities in Yemen must end.

Check out some of the op-eds written by our incredible STAND members! Former Student Director Savannah Wooten and Executive Manager, Mac Hamilton, published an op-ed in The Raleigh News & Observer. In addition, Kelly Choate was published in The Keene Sentinel in New Hampshire and Bridget Rhinehart was published in the Portland Press Herald in Maine.

 

Protecting Syrians

The No Assistance for Assad Act (H.R. 4681), led by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY-16), passed the House this April. This bill would prohibit U.S. reconstruction funds from going to Assad-controlled territories until there are assured steps taken towards ensuring freedom and security in those areas.

 

Looking Forward

STAND welcomed the introduction of The Global Fragility and Violence Reduction Act of 2018 (H.R. 5273) in March. This bill, supported by numerous partners such as the Alliance for Peacebuilding and Mercy Corps, would establish an interagency Global Initiative to Reduce Fragility and Violence. This group would analyze 10 pilot countries and develop strategies to reduce levels of violence and improve its abilities to prevent future violent conflicts.

17884445_10212561699940408_4790748620734334164_nAshley Morefield is STAND USA’s former Communications Coordinator, and a graduate of Dickinson College with a B.A. in International Studies and French and Francophone Studies. In her post-STAND life, Ashley will be heading to Côte d’Ivoire on a Fulbright Fellowship.

 

 

101Casey Bush is one of STAND USA’s Student Directors. She is a senior at Clark University, where she studies History and Holocaust and Genocide Studies. She has previously served in several roles with STAND, including as a summer intern and as Campaigns Coordinator, and she has also served as the chapter president of Clark’s STAND chapter. Casey is currently interning at the Buchenwald Memorial, a former concentration camp in Weimar, Germany.

 

MC Seniors 2018: Baby Bye Bye Bye

To our smart, hardworking seniors who are about to go out and change the world – from Med School to Fulbright to TFA to who the heck knows what’s next (we all been there – you’re gonna do great!), we are so proud of all you’ve helped STAND accomplish this year, and are excited to follow your adventures. For everything you’ve done to help progress atrocities prevention over the past year (and for many of you for several years!), we offer our deepest gratitude.

Savannah Wooten, Student Director, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Savvy Sav, what can I say – Even before meeting you at the Lemkin SummIMG_2433it in 2016, I knew STAND had to have you! Reading your application to attend was all I needed to know you’d be an amazing addition to our team – and jeez was I right. While many join STAND wanting to put their skills to use, I’ve watched you welcome and grow from taking on so many roles with us – even when they weren’t your first choice. Your intellect, humor, and empathy for others have helped us form stronger and harder-working teams, and the sheer amount of time, love, and energy you’ve put into growing this organization will be so sorely missed. Thanks for always lobbying a million Members of Congress, listening to my rants (and often ranting with me), and staying up well past both of our bedtimes before retreats and conferences to make sure everything was perfect. Throughout your time at STAND you’ve felt more like a sister to me than a coworker, and having you as a support system in my life has been so meaningful. I can’t wait to watch & analyze more Bachelor(ette) with you, swap more sangria, and hang out at more dawg parks together when you move back up to DC. I love you so incredibly much, and am so excited to see where life takes you next. 

– Mac Hamilton, Executive Manager

Oh Savannah, I have no idea where to start. You are such a brilliant, ambitious, caring, compassionate woman. I feel as if I have learned more from you these past 3 years than almost anyone. You have helped me during the most difficult times in my life— with school, relationships, expressing my feelings, developing my leadership skills, and feeling confident about myself in every aspect. I am always so amazed at the way you express yourself— both in professional and personal settings— and I work hard to emulate your thoughtfulness and compassion. You will never begin to understand the impression you have made on me and am very much looking forward to our future matching STAND tattoos 😉

– Casey Bush, Development Coordinator, Clark University

IMG_4653Sav Woot, your presence in STAND has inspired me since long before I even joined the M.C. At my first STAND conference you complimented me and it made me feel so welcome and so special. You continue to have this effect on me and so many others every year, always making everyone feel important and cared for. I am inspired by your empathy and social practices. In my time at STAND it has always been a goal to live up to your passion, drive and ability to befriend all. From your wealth of knowledge that becomes apparent in lobby meetings to your love for head pets and singalongs, I have been so impressed and thrilled to have become your friend. We all know you will do great things but you continue to do one of the greatest of all each day by being a terrific and thoughtful friend who is always there. We’ll all miss Auntie Sav – but all the energy you have put in and all you’ve done to inspire others will never leave STAND.

– Grace Fernandes, Digital Media Coordinator, Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Bethany Vance, Campaigns Coordinator, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Bethany, you are hands down the funniest person IMG_0635I have ever met. You never fail to make everyone in the room smile and you bring such a positive energy to STAND. I have thoroughly enjoyed working on the MC with you for the last two years and am so sad to see you graduate. Whether it is being the Campaigns Queen or filming crockpot videos for Rise For Rohingya, you never cease to inspire me. I can’t wait to see what you accomplish in the future!

– Ellen Bresnick, Washington University of St. Louis

Bethany Kathleen Vance, I was absolutely terrified of you upon first joining the MC. And now I consider you one of my dearest and funniest friends. Having been a sheltered Cape Cod girl who had never met anyone from the south, you truly opened my eyes! I am so sad to see you graduate but also so excited to see everything that you will do. I don’t know what I’m going to do at retreats without you sitting next to me… but I suppose I’ll make it. You are one of the hardest workers I have ever met, yet you never cease to keep things fun. I hope that the post-grad life is the best life and I promise if I ever travel south of D.C. I’ll come visit!

– Grace Fernandes, Digital Media Coordinator, Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Ashley Morefield, Communications Coordinator, Dickinson College

IMG_0451Dear sweet Ash (I only learned 6 months into knowing you that Ash is what your friends call you smdh), it has been such an absolute pleasure getting to know you and work with you over the past year. Not only are you one of the hardest workers I know, but you are also such an incredibly thoughtful person, always asking the right questions and pushing our team to work harder and do better. The work and care you’ve but into STAND that goes well beyond your position’s stated responsibilities is remarkable – from planning and running our first (hopefully annual?!) STAND Drag Bingo, to mentoring our bloggers, to getting some of our first Letters to the Editor written and placed, you’re someone who truly understands STAND inside and out and how important it is for every team member to do both their own role and personally commit to living out STAND’s values and theory of change in our day-to-day lives. Your patience with me reading blog posts for the 15th time after a 4 month hiatus, readiness to change track and volunteer for tasks, and constant kindness and laughter will be so missed. I can’t wait to hear all about your Fulbright experience – and hopefully get in some hang out time in DC before you leave!

– Mac Hamilton, Executive Manager

DSC_0826-54Ashley! Working with you this past year has been incredible, and I couldn’t ask for a better other half to this communications dream team! Thank you for speaking French with me, keeping me sane during STAND retreats, and repping Maryland as hard as I do. You are without a doubt one of the most talented and committed people I have ever met and I cannot WAIT to see where you go and what you do next. You may be leaving the MC, but you will always be in my heart and I know we’ll stay in touch!

– Nick Shereikis, Communications Coordinator, The College of Wooster

Justin Cole, Policy Coordinator, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

IMG_3328Where do I even begin? From late night fast food runs to Game of Thrones, from Harry Potter trivia to convincing everyone that you’re actually Mormon, working with you has been a wild ride. There are so many different things I could talk about here – from Quidditch to Mulan – but my favorite Justin memory is without question sprinting around D.C. in business dress, holding two very dead cell phones, trying to find the rest of the MC. Your ability to keep things light even while really digging into the policy aspect of our work and holding everyone accountable is a mix that is incredibly unique, and one that I’ll be lucky to ever find again. I am beyond glad that we met, and I wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors.

– Nick Shereikis, Communications Coordinator, The College of Wooster

Justin, it has been great to get to know you during the past semester! Unfortunately we did not get a full year together, but it was so nice to hang out at the spring retreat! You are such a smart guy who not only knows so much about policy issues, but also knows more about Harry Potter than I could ever imagine anyone knowing. I’m so excited to hear about all the great things that you will accomplish in your future and thanks for explaining that being a Hufflepuff really isn’t all that bad.

– Casey Bush, Development Coordinator, Clark University

Farida Ettefa, National Outreach Coordinator, University of Maryland at College Park

DSC_0831-58Farida, you are so sweet and I am so lucky to have you as a mother/big sister/friend. Thank you for being a wonderful outreach leader – you are so smart, organized, and efficient and it’s been a pleasure to work with you. You are an incredible role model and constantly inspire me. I can’t wait to see everything that you accomplish!

– Amala Karri, Advocacy Coordinator, Hunter College High School

Farida, I’m so glad I’ve had the opportunity to work with you on Outreach this year! You are one of the smartest, most dedicated, and funniest people I’ve met. Thank you for all the advice you’ve given me for both STAND and life in general. And most importantly, thanks for jamming out to Taylor Swift with me during Lobby Weekend (and for letting me borrow your straightener during retreats!) I’m so excited to see what you do in the future, and I know you’ll do great in med school!

– Ugo Ndife, Field Organizer, University of PennsylvaniaDSC_0740-4

Faridz, you’ve been cracking me up ever since I learned that your twitter handle is @LetFARIDomring. You’re such an incredibly hard worker, and it’s been so valuable to have some non-PoliSci students on our team letting us know what’s too “wonky” and what works for the rest of the world. Your joy and warmth always shine through, and have helped build such important relationships with our grassroots, especially in the Mid-Atlantic. Thanks for always working around your crazy lab schedule for retreats and calls, chatting with visiting STAND students to DC, helping us pronounce things in Arabic, and for at least ~trying~ to teach us some belly dancing skills. We’re gonna miss you terribly, and can’t wait to see what you do for public health in the future. So much love, and please stay in touch! <3

– Mac Hamilton, Executive Manager

STAND Statement on Chemical Weapons and Civilian Protection in Syria

The following statement is issued by STAND’s student-led leadership teams in the United States, the United Kingdom, and France.

STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities strongly condemns continuous violations of international law in Syria, including the recent suspected chemical attack in Douma. We call for a renewed effort to protect innocent civilians.

On 7 April 2018, Syrian civilians were attacked with chemical agents in Douma, a formerly rebel-held town east of Damascus. According to human rights watchdogs, between 40 and 70 civilians were killed, and over were 500 impacted in total, including those wounded and still in critical condition. Hundreds more remain in need of medical and humanitarian aid. Although drastic, this attack is not surprising – it falls within a dangerous precedent and pattern of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime and tacit permission from Russia, its ally in the conflict. The attack perpetuates a reigning culture of impunity in the conflict and underscores the Assad regime’s disregard for civilian lives and international law.

As student leaders advocating against genocide and mass atrocity crimes, we are deeply concerned about the massive civilian harm in Douma and condemn the attack with the utmost severity. We recognize that while this attack has particularly captured the attention of the international community, that chemical attacks are only one of a wide host of tactics that have been used against Syrian civilians for the past seven years. Throughout the conflict, civilians have been continually targeted by barrel bombs and double tap strikes. Siege warfare has also been systematically employed to starve civilians and prevent them from accessing medical care.

While we remain vigilant and wary of military responses to the conflict, we also recognize the relative absence of viable alternatives in a bloody, ongoing conflict that has already claimed the lives of thousands. We stand with our Syrian counterparts in our belief that we must explore every avenue to bring this conflict to an end.

As citizen advocates from three of the five permanent United Nations Security Council countries, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, we commend our national leadership and international representatives for swiftly condemning this attack on the behalf of both the victims and the international community at large. In light of the subsequent punitive military airstrikes conducted by the three states, we strongly insist that all future actions taken to address the crisis in Syria are multilateral in both design and implementation, to ensure effective and sustained pressure to prevent further use of both chemical and conventional weapons against civilians by all parties to the conflict. Additionally, we call on the legislative bodies of each country to stay engaged and committed to upholding international law and the protection of civilians.

Failure to sustain diplomatic and political pressure would maintain the dangerous precedent that the international community has shown time and time again: that such attacks can continue with impunity.

STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities, was founded in 2004 by students at Georgetown University. Since then, STAND has expanded to high school and college campuses across the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. Originally an acronym for “Students Taking Action Now: Darfur,” STAND’s mission quickly expanded to ending and preventing genocide and mass atrocities wherever they may occur. Today, STAND focuses on Sudan, South Sudan, Burma, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, and Yemen, as well as on emerging atrocity issues such as those in Burundi and the Central African Republic, and on comprehensive atrocity prevention and peacebuilding policy.

For comment or for further information, please contact our country contacts, below:

Savannah Wooten, STAND US Student Director, swooten@standnow.org

Charlotte Massey, STAND France Student Co-Director, cmassey@standnow.org

Daisy Goodall, STAND UK Student Director, dgoodall@standnow.org

Click here for a PDF of this statement.

Goodbye’s the Saddest Word: We love you, MC Seniors!

To STAND’s graduating MC seniors – It’s been an incredible year with all of you, and we are absolutely in awe of your hard work and dedication to this movement. STAND is stronger because of you and your beautiful hearts, commitment, late nights, and strategic thinking. We have learned so much from each one of you and can’t wait to build upon your efforts in the coming year. We love you, we will miss you, and we can’t wait to see how you move and shake the world!

 

Giulia Duch Clerici, Southeast Regional Organizer, Tulane University

giuliamacAlthough your time on the MC was short, you left a large impact! I am so thankful I got to spend time with you in both DC (at the National Conference) and New Orleans. You radiate kindness and grace and are someone who comes to mind when I think about “walking the walk”. I felt so heard and understood by you when we talked about balancing school and activism. Thank you for what you gave to me and to STAND and for your passion on these issues. Much love!

– Savannah Wooten, Student Director 

Giulia, we have been friends for such a long time! I don’t even remember how many years we have known each other but they have been filled with us awkwardly being the older siblings at all our younger siblings’ events and ceremonies. No matter how much time we spend apart, when we catch up, it is as if no time has passed! I love bonding over our love of salads (or half salad and half pizza #ModernMarket), the Mediterranean, sunshine, Dolcezza (we need to go soon please), and of course, our passion for human rights. Recruiting you for STAND was possibly the best late night idea I have ever had because you are an incredible, hard working, and dedicated addition to the team. Hit me up when you are back in Btown so we can hang out at one of our favorite spots!! Love you to the moon and back, forever and always!

– Farida Ettefa, outgoing Mid-Atlantic Regional Organizer, incoming National Outreach Coordinator

Sweet lady, I am so incredibly happy that we met at the Rally for Refugees this past summer! It has been amazing to get to know you and your passion for humanitarian and service work. You are such a thoughtful and loving person, friend, and activist, and I know you are going to do amazing things. I’ve loved what you’ve brought to the team over the past semester, especially within our policy discussions on Syria and the refugee crisis. I’m so grateful for you letting me crash at your home in New Orleans, and for all of your NoLa recommendations. Forever glad to have had you on the STAND team, and I can’t wait to see what you do next and keep cheering you on! See you in DC so soon!!

– Mac Hamilton, Executive Manager

Tim Hirschel-Burns, Policy Coordinator, Swarthmore College

Timmy1Timmy, you are one of the kindest people I know. I am so happy that we have become friends over the past year and a half—I wouldn’t want to have been the “New Kid in STAND” with anyone else. It has been such an honor to see you open up from the quiet and shy RO to the sassy and hilarious Policy Coordinator! You are always the first person to reach out whenever someone needs help and I am so thankful for all your kind gestures. We are all going to miss you on the MC but know you will be one step closer to single-handedly changing the world in Benin! Best of luck in all you do!

– Casey Bush, Campaigns Coordinator

When I first met you this summer I found you both intimidating and hysterical. Thank you for always being there to answer my overwhelming number of questions and tell me what you really think. When I see someone and know I want them to be my friend I tend to jump right into making fun of them… (solid game plan right?). So naturally I spared no time in spreading rumors that you dye your hair. Thank you for being a good sport and letting me photoshop you into countless memes. My favorite Timmy memory is the Women’s March which I don’t think I would have made it through had you not been my “buddy.” Thank you for keeping me with the group and dragging me through crowds. I will forever be in awe of your knowledge and passion. I’m glad we decided to join forces and end our rivalry and I feel so lucky to have gained you as a friend.

– Grace Fernandes, Digital Media Coordinator

Ahhhh sweet Timmy, I know I am going to find this very hard to distill into a short blurb, but I shall try. From getting to know you as a summer intern, to having you on the MC, you have consistently been one of the hardest workers of the STANDfam I have ever met, bringing so much heart to the team, while also bringing your a-game sarcasm. I have loved getting to know you both as a friend and as a colleague, and getting to debate policy and campaign strategy with you over the years. You’ve been such a rock, and we’ve all come to rely on you so much, and I’m sure the new STAND team will also look to you for guidance during your limited times of internet access. I will really miss your thoughtful analysis of US foreign policy, your ability to roll out a policy brief in record-breaking time, and sharing laughs and eye-rolls over DC politics. Please know you always have a home in DC when you come visit. I can’t wait to hear your reflections from your time in Benin, and thanks for an amazing few years!

– Mac Hamilton, Executive Manager

Elisabeth Huh, Communications Coordinator, University of Chicago

Elisabeth2We are so lucky to have snagged you for your final year! We’ve loved your thoughtful contributions to MC calls, your “big vision” understanding of STAND, and your heart for both the team and the organization. You bring light and care to those around you and you operate with drive — traits that will take you anywhere you want to go after STAND. We can’t wait to see what you do next and will always be thinking of you!

– Savannah Wooten, Student Director

You are one of the most inspiring, driven, and beautiful people I have ever met – and that is no exaggeration. Talking to you about your high school, gap year, and college experiences left me absolutely mesmerized! I cannot believe that someone could have done so much so well; you have forever left an impact on my perspectives and thoughts. From listening to your TEDx talk (which is one of the most beautiful talks in existence) to hearing your voice and opinions on MC calls, your articulate and passionate words have made me think about different sides on many subjects. I am so thankful that I have been able to listen and learn from your inspirational words and gotten to work with your driven self. Organize the Midwest conference and hearing attendees’ reactions truly showed me your driven vision. All that you did, from getting food to getting the most amazing speakers, made that conference absolutely amazing for everyone. I am so honored that I got to participate in that with you. In that conference and numerous other times you have been the most beautiful soul and person I have ever met. Your way of interacting with people and talking to them is unbelievably kind and gentle. Your heart is truly made of gold and anyone who has met you could easily say that you are truly a beauty (inside and out) like no other! Thank you so much for talking to me and listening to my high school self and thank you so much for making me feel like even I had a place on a table of such intelligent and amazing people. You are truly the most inspiring, driven, and beautiful person I have ever met Elisabeth – thank you so much for being you!

– Harleen Kaur, outgoing Midwest Regional Organizer, incoming Field Organizer

It has truly been a privilege to work with you on the MC this year. You are such a kind hearted, compassionate person and it is evident in all the work you do. It was so much fun planning the conference at UChicago with you, and even though we didn’t think it would end up happening, it did! It was such a successful event and I was so proud of what you, Harleen, and I accomplished. Not only have you been an amazing person to work with, but your lighthearted spirit always makes for entertaining times. It has been so amazing working with and getting to know you this year. You have such great things ahead of you, and I can’t wait to see what you accomplish next!

– Ellen Bresnick, outgoing Midwest Regional Organizer, incoming Education Coordinator

STAND Applauds the Introduction of the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act

Bipartisan Bill Prioritizes U.S.-specific Tools to End and Prevent Genocide

Washington, D.C. – The Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2017 was introduced yesterday by Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). The bill seeks to make genocide and atrocities prevention a priority for the U.S. government, and to increase its capacity to work towards mass atrocity prevention around the world. STAND welcomes the timely introduction of this bipartisan legislation.

The bill, named after Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, is meant to honor his legacy of human rights advocacy and genocide prevention, and allow the U.S. government to move from remembrance into action.

The bill establishes a Mass Atrocities Task Force that will increase coordination on atrocities prevention between the Department of State, the National Security Council, and other government agencies. The bill requires atrocities prevention training for Foreign Service Officers, and authorizes the Complex Crises Fund, an existing fund used for on-the-ground atrocities prevention programs in places deemed at-risk of genocide or other atrocities. In addition, the bill requires annual reporting by the Director of National Intelligence and the State Department on countries or regions that are at-risk for atrocities.

STAND’s Student Director Savannah Wooten believes the bill is particularly relevant in the current historical moment. “In recent years, civilians have been increasingly targeted in conflict worldwide. It is reassuring to see bipartisan consensus in the Senate on the importance of investing in mass atrocity prevention through diplomacy and development.”

The world is more connected and interdependent than ever, and atrocities in one nation are not isolated incidents. The devastation, loss of life, destruction of infrastructure, and political and economic instability that accompanies genocide and mass atrocities are never neatly contained in one region, as the crisis in Syria has shown, and as history has repeatedly proven. It is in the United States’ moral, political, and economic interest to monitor nations around the world that appear at risk for violent outbreaks, and to invest in long-term prevention and peacebuilding efforts to prevent violence before it happens. The Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act is essential in ensuring that the U.S. Government has the ability to invest in these prevention efforts in an informed and responsible way.

Dozens of non-governmental organizations support the Elie Wiesel Act, including STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the Armenian National Committee of America, Invisible Children, Oxfam America, Refugees International, Search for Common Ground, International Crisis Group, Church World Service, and Jewish World Watch.

Original co-sponsors of the Elie Wiesel Act include Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Gary Peters (D-M.I.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

###

STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities supports a grassroots network of student and youth activists across the U.S. to advocate for proactive policies to end and prevent genocide and mass atrocities. Established in 2004 in response to the Darfur genocide, STAND now also focuses on ending ongoing conflict in Sudan and South Sudan, Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burma, Burundi, and Yemen. To find out more, please visit us at www.standnow.org.

For more information, contact Savannah Wooten, Student Director at (480) 626-3733 or swooten@standnow.org.

Statement on U.S. Missile Strike on Shayrat Airbase in Syria

On Tuesday April 3, 2017, 86+ civilians were killed in a chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib. While STAND has issued statements [1] condemning the attack and mourning the civilians who were brutally killed, we also seek to clarify our position on the U.S. decision to strike regime air facilities in response to the attack.

As our Syrian-American partners have noted for years, the international community has failed to adequately alleviate the immense suffering of the Syrian civilian population throughout six bloody years of conflict. Despite the proliferation of extremist groups, the Assad regime remains by far the largest perpetrator of attacks against civilians, using torture, chemical weapons, barrel bombs, and strategies such as double-tap strikes and siege to cause vast civilian harm. The Assad regime’s apparent use of sarin gas is a clear violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2118, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the 2017 Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons, which called for the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons by mid-2014. STAND unequivocally condemns the use of chemical weapons, and maintains unremitting support for the international norm banning their deployment. We encourage an independent investigation into the April 3 attack, and applaud the work of organizations such as Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, and the Center for Documentation of Violations in Syria (VDC) in documenting such attacks by all parties to the conflict.

As an organization committed to civilian protection, we will continue monitoring the Trump administration’s policies in Syria and urge the Trump administration to handle relations with Russia with caution, as escalating conflict would yield particularly devastating consequences for Syrian civilians.  Moving forward, all military action taken by the U.S. to reduce civilian harm must take part within a broader, long-term diplomatic strategy aimed at securing a political solution to conflict. Additionally, the U.S. should seek Constitutionally-mandated Congressional approval for any future military action against the Assad regime, and should work multilaterally with international partners in both diplomatic and military spheres, if necessary, to address root causes of the conflict while pushing Assad towards the negotiating table.

In addition to the recent missile strike, American airstrikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq have caused hundreds of civilian casualties in recent weeks, and we emphasize the need to use the highest possible standards to ensure that only military targets are hit. We urge a robust and independent investigation into these recent air strikes by the US military.

Finally, STAND calls on the Trump administration to take decisive measures to support those uprooted by conflict by providing adequate funding for humanitarian aid and for refugee resettlement, both in the region and in the U.S. Though the Trump administration has said the strikes were conducted out of concern for Syrian civilians, current policies on refugee resettlement and humanitarian aid suggest otherwise. The administration must recognize the immense human cost of its current stances on foreign aid and refugee resettlement and immediately reverse these policies.

[1] https://www.facebook.com/STANDNow/posts/10155248122747049, https://www.facebook.com/STANDNow/posts/10155258933252049

This statement was issued by the STAND Student Managing Committee, STAND’s national decision-making body. Please contact STAND Student Director Savannah Wooten at swooten@standnow.org or STAND Executive Manager Mac Hamilton at mhamilton@standnow.org for any additional information. Click here for a pdf of the statement.

Never Say Never: Taking a Chance on the STAND MC

I am at once intensely critical and hopelessly idealistic, which is why it surprises me sometimes that I grew to love STAND as much as I do. I was incredibly skeptical at first, I will admit, when I went to my first meeting. I think I had a bitter taste in my mouth since I dealt with resume-filler clubs in high school, and truthfully, I feared labelling myself as yet another white woman from the suburbs with the weight of the world on my shoulders, blindly throwing solutions at problems that I will never fully grasp. In my mind, nothing would replace the local, grassroots social justice open forum I grew up with at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville.

The jury is still out on whether I am really just another white woman with the weight of the world’s problems on my shoulders, but STAND truly has, most definitely, defied my cynicisms from the very first chapter meeting. Never have I encountered such thoughtful, genuinely passionate individuals so willing to adapt than the people I have met through STAND.

Over the past year or so, as chapter leader and as West Regional Organizer, I have met organizers, students giving up their free moments to learn and advocate, policy experts, and most importantly, survivors. Listening to women from Rwanda, Cambodia, Nigeria, Darfur, and South Sudan tell their stories of resilience shook me to my core. They reminded me of the power of the human soul like no religion class in my 13 years of Catholic schooling ever did.

Engaging with survivors, on-the-ground activists, and youth organizers to lead actions and campaigns has placed STAND and its leadership team at the front lines of a growing global youth network. It is a network of individuals ready to act, to hold even the most powerful human rights abusers accountable, and to provide students with the tools they need to make a difference. Taking part in this network has been the most fulfilling part of my STAND experience.

IMG_0617

Beyond the concrete skills I have gained lobbying congressional offices and attending conferences and retreats, I have gained the support of amazing people in this movement to inform and uplift me. The best part is that, as a Managing Committee (MC) member, I get to welcome more student leaders into our network of solidarity and empower them with the tools to make us the Never Again Generation. Afterwards, I get to watch us all work together towards tangible policy goals at home and abroad.

Like I said, I was incredibly skeptical at first, but I shouldn’t have been. Every meeting and every conference I have attended was filled with leaders as eager to teach as they were to learn. Perhaps I could have gotten more involved sooner, and met these people earlier. That is my only regret. I am so grateful that I found a home at STAND, and cannot wait to see what we can accomplish next.

Check out available STAND Managing Committee positions for 2017-2018 here. Applications are due Friday, March 31 at 11:59 PM.

darcyDarcy Gleeson is a sophomore at the University of Southern California and is originally from Louisville, KY. She is the Vice President of her STAND chapter at USC and STAND’s West Coast Regional Organizer for the 2016-17 school year.