The student-led movement to end mass atrocities.

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

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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.

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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!

 

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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.).

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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.

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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.

46 Local, National, and International Human Rights Groups Oppose Lifting of U.S. Sanctions on Burma in Lead Up to Aung San Suu Kyi Visit

Washington, DC – As the U.S. prepares for a visit by Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Burma, they must reconsider their decision to lift further sanctions on the country. Today, the U.S. Campaign for Burma and STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities have submitted a letter to President Obama, supported by 44 local, national, and international organizations in opposition to the lifting of sanctions on Burma.

In July 2012, in response to the country’s democratization efforts, the U.S. government began easing sanctions on Burma to support investment in the country. Today, the sanctions that remain are targeted at the richest and most corrupt members of Burmese society and do little to hinder the country’s overall development, rather limiting the military power of groups contributing to the destabilization of the country.

Of the letter, Myra Dahgaypaw, acting Executive Director at the U.S. Campaign for Burma stated, “Though there has been democratic progress in the past few years, there remain a number of pressing issues threatening the stability of the country and its most vulnerable people. In particular, ethnic minorities across the country continue to be abused at the hands of the Burmese military, who often deprive them of water, food, and humanitarian aid. There continue to be reports of sexual violence at the hands of the Burmese military, which the government has repeatedly failed to investigate. The U.S. government must continue to exert pressure on the Burmese government until ethnic minorities in Burma achieve basic human rights.”

Savannah Wooten, Student Director of STAND and a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, added that there are a number of benchmarks that should be met before the U.S. considers lifting further sanctions. In particular, “the Burmese army must cease violations of international humanitarian law; prioritize the inclusion of civil society, women, and youth in peace talks; and address the lack of citizenship for Rohingya as well as further efforts to protect this vulnerable group. The fact that several reputable international reports have concluded that genocide may have occurred or be ongoing against the Rohingya should be reason enough not to lift sanctions.”

Full text of the letter, as well as supporting organizations, is available here.

The letter is signed by ALTSEAN-Burma, American Jewish World Service, Arakan National Congress Party, Association Suisse-Birmanie, Burma Action Ireland, Burma Campaign UK, Burma Link (Thailand), Burma Partnership, Burma Task Force USA, Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK, Carl Wilkens Fellowship, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Franciscan Action Network, Free Burma Campaign (South Africa), Genocide Watch, Global Witness, Harry Potter Alliance, Info Birmanie (France), IFI Watch Myanmar, International Campaign for the Rohingya, Jewish World Watch, Just Foreign Policy, Fortify Rights, Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Kachin Peace Network, Kachin Women Association Thailand, Kachin Women Peace Network, Karen American Association of Wisconsin, Karen Association of Iowa, Karen Culture Organization of Arizona, Karenni-American Association, Peacebuilding Connections, Refugees International, Rohingya American Society (RAS), Rohingya Federation of Arakan (RFA), Rohingya National Coalition (RNC), STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities, Stop Genocide Now, Swedish Burma Committee, Tayovan Women’s Union, Together We Remember, U.S. Campaign for Burma, Wan-Lark Foundation, Watchers of the Sky Initiative, Women Peace Network-Arakan, and World Rohingya Organization (WRO).

ABOUT

U.S. Campaign for Burma (USCB) was established in 2003 to help build and channel political will for freedom in Burma. Since then, USCB’s work has delivered tangible results for the people of Burma. USCB are the only U.S. based advocacy organization devoted full-time to human rights, freedom, and democracy in Burma. Through public education, leadership development initiatives, and advocacy campaigns at local, national, and international levels, USCB works to empower Americans, resettled Burmese refugees, and Burmese civil society in Burma and throughout its border regions to promote freedom, democracy, and human rights in Burma, raise awareness about the egregious human rights violations committed by Burma’s military, and ensure international actors pursue policies that assist the promotion of democracy and human rights in Burma.

STAND, the Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities, was founded in 2004 by a group of students at Georgetown University. Since then, STAND has expanded to high school and college campuses across the United States. 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 and South Sudan, but also on Burma, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, and emerging atrocity issues such as those in Burundi and Yemen.

For more information, contact Myra Dahgaypaw at the U.S. Campaign for Burma at (718) 207-2556 or myradah@uscampaignforburma.org, or Mac Hamilton at (774) 722-2861 or mhamilton@standnow.org.

To our MC seniors, with love

To paraphrase Winnie the Pooh, “How lucky we are to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” We have had an incredible year thanks to our 2015-2016 Student Leadership Team, and our MC seniors have been such a vital part of all that we’ve accomplished.

Francesca, Jake, Emily, Zac, and Clara – we have learned so much from each of you, and you’ve contributed an incredible amount, not only to STAND, but to the genocide prevention movement as a whole. Thank you hardly seems enough for the time, energy, and passion you’ve given over the past year(s) with STAND, but we’re giving it a go!

Francesca Freeman, Student Director, University of Chicago

 IMG_5125Francesca, I have felt so incredibly #blessed to be your right hand lady this year. Your commitment, passion, and vision have made STAND stronger and more effective throughout the past year. You have truly gone above and beyond in every aspect: from overseeing our ~amazing~ summer interns while I was in Rwanda; to double-editing every single blog post, national email, and facebook post; to drafting countless social media posts and leading conference call after conference call, you have done us all proud. I deeply admire your selflessness, commitment, and mad organization skills and will so miss our multiple hour chats and your barrage of punny memes and gifs. I’ve learned so much from you as a colleague and a friend, and I cannot wait to cheer you on as you find your next adventures. Looking forward to many (many, many) more dollar frozen margaritas, genprev chats, and matzo ball soup. So much love!

Yay!

P.S. This is the first meme I ever got from you so we must frame it and cherish it forever.

– Mac Hamilton, Executive Manager

Francesca, I can’t believe I am about to pick up the torch from you for the 2016-2017 school year. Being SD is a huge role and responsibility and I have learned a lot from your passion and energy in the position. You are one of the people who first drew me to STAND and I find it touching and fitting that I’m now stepping into your shoes. Thank you for your faith in me as I was just getting started and for being such an instructional and invested team member throughout the last year. This organization is better because you were in it and I know STAND’s love for you will continue beyond your time as SD. Thank you for a wonderful year and for all you’ve done within the genocide prevention sphere — you are loved and appreciated.

– Savannah Wooten, outgoing Education Coordinator, incoming Student Director

Jake Ramirez, Campaigns Coordinator, University of Arizona

IMG_9254At least to me, Jake initially came off as quite unassuming. While quite a few people in STAND have the (endearing, of course) habit of making sure you know within 5 minutes of meeting them that that they identify first and foremost as an activist and want to do nothing else with their life but fight atrocities, Jake’s backward hat and basketball vibe was slightly different. However, as I got to know Jake it became clear that he was one of STAND’s strongest assets. Jake is dedicated to learning and making STAND as effective as possible. As anyone on the MC would tell you, having someone as funny, kind, and chill as Jake made the MC much more enjoyable to be a part of. It will take a long time for me to separate the names Jake Ramirez and Roy Hibbert in my head, but it will take much longer for STAND to get over the loss of such a valuable member. To conclude, there are only two things left to say: first, thank you, and second, bees?

– Timmy Hirschel-Burns, outgoing Mid-Atlantic Regional Organizer, incoming Policy Coordinator

Jake, I feel so lucky to have worked with you over the past two years. From the moment I joined STAND as a staff member, I knew we were going to be good friends. You were the first person to welcome me to the team individually, were always super responsive, and were the first to volunteer when the team needed anything, whether or not you knew how to do it. I’m thinking, amongst many other things: figuring out how to use our old website and set the stage for our new one, logging into MailChimp (how the heck am I ever supposed to teach that to anyone else?), learning and mastering PhotoShop in one night, and writing tons of national emails with wicked catchy sub-lines. I will really miss having you on the STAND team next year, but am excited to see what’s next for you–don’t be surprised if I continue to gchat you for national email advice! Can’t wait to have you as a guest speaker at our next conference, which may or may not be called “Kreating, Aiding, Nurturing Youth Evolution (KANYE).”

-Mac Hamilton, Executive Manager

Emily Collinson, Communications Coordinator, American University

BOOOOIIIIIII do I luuuuv Emily Collinson. I was so intimidated by you when I first met you, which only happens when I meet someone I am totally in awe of (which I was). When I found out I was going to be sharing a room with you during our first conference in DC I was pumped but also scared to death like I just wanted to make a good impression on you SO badly so I was trying to be cool but it’s kind of hard to be cool with someone you just met in a hotel room, but I think we hit it off pretty well. I feel SUCH a strong connection to you (wow this is sappy? are we dating?) and you have honestly become one of my best friends. As a part of STAND, you have provided comic relief and reason at the same time, not to mention a variety of skillz in COMMS and other things. I look up to you in every way and I can’t wait to come stay wit u in DC <3.

-Bethany Vance, outgoing Southeast Regional Organizer, incoming Education Coordinator

IMG_9304Emily, I am so thankful to know you and to have worked so closely with you this past year. You have brought your humor, grace, wit, and skill to STAND this year and have rocked our social media like no other. You are a light and a kindred spirit and the MC has been lucky to have you as both our Comms Queen and our friend. I have nothing but love for you and I know that STAND is just one of many stepping stones in your bright future. I hope you remember your year with STAND fondly — I know you made a huge impact on mine.

-Savannah Wooten, outgoing Education Coordinator, incoming Student Director

Zac Peloquin, Northeast Regional Organizer, Clark University

IMG_9327I am so lucky to have met Zac because, without his passion and excitement for STAND, I would have never joined such an amazing organization. Zac started out as my boss for my work study job at Clark University. Upon hearing that I was majoring in Holocaust and Genocide studies, Zac showed up to work during my shift one day to try to convince me to join STAND. I had no idea what he was talking about whenever he said “National STAND” but he was so passionate about it I couldn’t help but be intrigued.

After being in the club for about a month, Zac asked me to go to DC with him for a STAND summit. We spent about 20+ hours together on a bus to and from DC. Since then, ZP and I have become good friends and have worked together on many STAND events at Clark. It is so great to work with Zac because he is always ready with a creative and ambitious idea. Not only that but he is incredibly hard working–I have no doubt that he could put an entire event together in one night (which I’m pretty sure he did this past semester).

Zac is always the first one to help you when you’re feeling down. I can think of countless times when I was in the library having a rough time studying and he gave me a hug and tried to cheer me up. STAND will not be the same without the constant pictures of his adorable chinchilla, his huge appetite, or his commitment to genocide prevention. Thank you, Zac, for being a great Regional Organizer and friend!

– Casey Bush, outgoing Midwest Regional Organizer, incoming Campaigns Coordinator

As a former Northeast Regional Organizer, I am so so thankful for the incredible work you’ve done in strengthening and expanding our reach in the Northeast this past year. Your passion and work ethic are truly exceptional and I’ve loved watching your work throughout the year. From Day One, you pushed each and every MC member to stay up-to-date on current events, volunteered to be first during roundtables, and were always willing to help out whenever a hand was needed. I’ll miss your videos of chinchilla dust baths, your political commentary, and your giant hugs! Thank you for all you’ve done for STAND national, the Northeast region, and for Clark STAND over the past year – please stay in touch!

– Mac Hamilton, Executive Manager

Clara Lee, Digital Media Coordinator, St. Olaf College

12651224_10153949577312049_3439320654459187367_nI feel so lucky to have known and worked with you in a variety of capacities, first as a delegate to Global Youth Connect’s Rwanda Human Rights delegation, before I became STAND’s staff member, then as a STAND intern, and finally as a STAND MC member! You have the biggest heart and the most contagious kindness I’ve ever seen. Your thoughtfulness, curiosity, and willingness to try new things have added so much to our team over the past semester. Thanks for your friendship, hard work, and endless tiny tweaks to our graphics (I know my perfectionism isn’t always the easiest to work with). I love you lots and know you will rock whatever comes next for you!

– Mac Hamilton, Executive Manager

Clara, you are actually the sweetest, kindest person on this whole MC. Okay not even just on the MC, you’re one of the nicest people I’ve EVER met and we were SO lucky to have you. I feel like there were times where we would have fallen apart without your amazing work ethic and dedication. I know you are going to have an incredibly bright future in whatever you choose to do because everyone is going to love you immediately after meeting you, just like we all did. Also, you totally kill the graphic design game. Also thank you for following me on instagram and liking all my pics, it’s a great confidence boost u da best.

– Bethany Vance, outgoing Southeast Regional Organizer, incoming Education Coordinator

“Our Generation is Gone”: The Islamic State’s Targeting of Iraqi Minorities in Ninewa

By Brooke Chambers and Sean Langberg

In the summer of 2014, the self-proclaimed Islamic State carried out a violent campaign against civilians in Ninewa province in northern Iraq, home to many of Iraq’s ethnic and religious minorities. In less than three months, IS decimated millennia-old communities and irrevocably tore the social fabric of the once-diverse region, with 800,000 individuals displaced, thousands more kidnapped, and at least one thousand people were killed.Capture

In September 2015, the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide undertook a Bearing Witness trip to northern Iraq to learn about the atrocities that had occurred there, assess the current situation, and understand the future risks to ethnic and religious minorities and other civilians in the region. We found that IS targeted civilians based on group identity, committing mass atrocities to control, expel, and exterminate ethnic and religious minorities in areas it seized and sought to hold. IS committed crimes against humanity, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing against Christian,Turkmen, Shabak, Sabaean-Mandaean, and Kaka’i and perpetrated genocide against the Yezidi people.

We met with individuals and families who had been forced to flee with little more than what they were wearing. Yezidi men wrote name after name of their missing family members—wives and daughters, who they believed were kidnapped, and sons and brothers, whose circumstances they did not know. Villages and towns that have simply ceased to exist. Minority communities that helped to shape Iraq’s rich and diverse history and today face exile and extinction in the country. As one man told us, “We have no future. Our generation is gone.”

The Way Forward

The US government has specifically stated that preventing mass atrocities—all atrocities, not just genocide—is a core national security priority. As such, the United States and other countries combatting IS should articulate, as part of their broader coalition strategies, efforts and tools that they can employ to address and minimize the ongoing threats to civilians. In the immediate term, this should entail assisting targeted populations in achieving two main goals: (a) protecting civilians and (b) improving accountability for past atrocities.

Protecting Civilians

The current counterterrorism and counterinsurgency paradigms do not prioritize an assessment of, or compel a response to, the unique threats and risks of mass atrocities that local populations and individuals may face. IS will continue to pose a threat to local populations. Countering the group necessitates an ongoing assessment of both IS’s motivations, organization, and capabilities for committing atrocity crimes, and of the vulnerabilities of at-risk communities, as well as their resiliencies that can be strengthened.

Protecting civilians also entails ensuring that those engaged in counter-IS efforts do not harm civilians. The tactics used to win the war to defeat the group and liberate the territory it holds might very well contribute to future cycles of violence, displacement, and devastation. Iraqi security forces and affiliated militias, the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga, and local self-defense militias all have been accused of human rights abuses in the past. There is a risk that this will continue as IS-held territories are reclaimed.

Improving Accountability for Past Atrocities

Young displaced Iraqis wait for food distribution at a camp on the outskirts of Erbil. —Mackenzie Knowles-Coursin for the US Holocaust Memorial Museum

The culture of impunity that has prevailed in Iraq for decades is a key driver of violent conflict and mass atrocities today. The general lack of and mismanagement of investigations and prosecutions, and lack of accountability for perpetrators, send a strong signal to those considering taking up arms, whether in support of or against IS, that there are few costs to committing atrocities against minority communities. The Iraqi government’s limited capacity and lack of political will surrounding accountability issues also create significant barriers to transitional justice programs going forward.

There needs to be an immediate investment in transitional justice measures that address both current and past mass atrocities committed in Iraq. This includes documenting crimes perpetrated by IS and affiliated groups, as well as those committed during counter-IS efforts, for the purposes of understanding the full scope of atrocities in Iraq and future prosecutions of perpetrators.

Contact Sean Langberg (slangberg@ushmm.org) for more information

unnamedBrooke Chambers is an Intern at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide

 

 

 

 

17e20e3Sean Langberg is a Policy Assistant at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide.