The student-led movement to end mass atrocities.

STAND Conflict Update: November 2022

Northeast Africa

Sudan

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, visited Sudan on Sunday, November 13. Sudan was Türk’s first official visit since he became the UN High Commissioner. At the meeting, Türk met with the President of the Transitional Sovereign Council, First Lieutenant-General Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan Abdelrahman Al-Burhan. He also met with other representatives of the National Human Rights Commission, along with other regional officials in other parts of the country.

In addition, he held a news conference on November 16, the last day of his visit, in which he emphasized the human rights abuses that are still being committed. Türk expressed a great sense of urgency in ending crises that are currently taking place and how it is crucial that we take whatever actions we can to create change in the country. 

South Sudan

On November 21, the government of South Sudan withdrew from peace talks with rebel groups who did not sign the 2018 deal that officially ended the country’s civil war. These groups, both armed and unarmed, have maintained concerns about the country’s governance and have remained outside of the transition to democratic governance. However, some of the most prominent of the groups, including the National Salvation Front and the South Sudan United Front said on November 25 that they are still committed to the talks. It is unclear what the future of these discussions and peace agreements may look like.

Tigray, Ethiopia

The ongoing peace deal discussions between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken have not stopped violence and human rights abuses in the region of Tigray despite the truce on November 2nd. The Ethiopian military has set up detention centers to arrest anyone believed to have ties with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, and forces from the neighboring country of Eritrea have been allowed to kidnap, rape, and commit atrocities against Tigrayans. 

On a good note, aid deliveries have resumed following the truce and organizations like the World Food Program have sent food and fuel to people in need. However, two years of war has made road access difficult, and millions are still in need. The UN estimates that 90 percent of the nation’s 6 million people are dependent on food assistance, and the current deliveries are not enough to serve them all. Still, this is an important step forward that will help many.

Central Africa

Cameroon

Cameroon’s anglophone crisis has continued, with civilians often caught in the crossfire.  On November 4, anglophone separatists allegedly kidnapped nine health care workers.  A spokesperson for the Ambazonia Governing Council said that healthcare workers should be protected and that this was against their principles. However, the group has a long history of this type of behavior and continues to engage in violence that disrupts civilian life, including by closing down schools. Anglophones have also faced significant violence at the hands of the government. The UN has noted arbitrary detentions of anglophone separatists and violation of international human rights law. There has not been any significant progress towards ending the conflict or protecting civilians.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Armed conflict has been increasing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and is not letting up between the DRC government and other rebel groups such as the M23 group. This has resulted in bordering countries like Kenya sending in troops to bring peace to the mineral rich region in the eastern part of the DRC. As a result, many people have been forced to flee and many have been displaced, including children. This proves worrisome as rebel forces continue to push toward these towns where the camps are located, putting them more at risk of being harmed or killed. As the conflict has been brewing and escalating further with more neighboring countries joining in, it seems more difficult to end the hostilities. A ceasefire has been called for the fighting in the eastern part of the DRC, which initially was ignored by the M23 group. They said they will accept it conditionally on the condition that they talk with the DRC government. The DRC has also scheduled their presidential elections for December of next year, so hopefully something will change to address this harrowing conflict in the region.  

Southwest Asia 

Yemen

Although violence between the Saudi-led coalition and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels still continues to harm civilians in Yemen, there has been some recent development in economic reform within the country. On Sunday, November 27, the Saudi Press Agency reported that Saudi Arabia sponsored The Arab Monetary Fund, intending to support the Yemeni government in its efforts to improve its financial standing and economy. This is an economic and financial program with a one billion dollar agreement with the Yemeni government to expand the nation’s banking industry and stimulate its private sector. Priorities for the program include strengthening services for small and local firms, youth, and women in rural areas. Additionally, it will work to increase digitalization and the variety of payment options.

Syria

Ever since the Syrian Civil War began in 2011, many countries, including the US, have placed sanctions in order to dissuade the Assad government from cracking down on those who protested against him. Recently, a U.N. convoy has called to lift the sanctions imposed as it has worsened shortages in medical supplies and other necessities and resulted in catastrophic effects of unilateral sanctions across all walks of life in the country.” Some other human rights groups have argued that sanctions should only be lifted if the Assad regime ends its crimes against humanity against its people. Not only has this impacted Syria internally, it has also affected other neighboring countries. After a bombing in Istanbul, Turkey which killed six, Turkey retaliated by launching deadly airstrikes over the northern regions of Syria and Iraq escalating further tensions by putting the responsibility of the bombing on the Kurds. While a US official has called for a de-escalation of airstrikes between the two countries, the airstrikes have affected many communities living between the crossfire.

Palestine

The UN has reported on a surge in violence in occupied Palestinian land due to a stalled peace process, continued occupation, and economic challenges. Bombings, airstrikes, and violent attacks have resulted in the deaths of both Palestinians and Israelis, and negotiations have been challenging.

As a result, 197 organizations have written to the International Criminal Court to investigate and prosecute Israel’s human rights abuses. They argue that the ICC has the authority to intervene as an early warning to prevent further escalation.

Attention to the crisis has garnered worldwide attention as both Tunisian and Moroccan fans at the Qatar World Cup have displayed “Free Palestine” banners. This was done at the 48th minute of each nation’s respective matches as a symbol in memory of the Nakba– the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in 1948.

East and South Asia

Burma

On Thursday, November 17, the Burmese Junta released 6,000 prisoners in a mass amnesty including former British ambassador Vicky Bowman, and Australian economic advisor to the currently imprisoned leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, Sean Turnell.

Turnell was arrested a few days after the coup d’etat on Suu Kyi’s elected government in February 2021. This coup marked the end of a decade of democracy in Burma. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese pressured Thai and Cambodian leaders to pressure the Burmese military to release the prisoners.

Organizations like the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) have been documenting the Junta’s actions since the start of the coup. They believe that the Junta is using political prisoners as bargaining chips and released the prisoners to ease political tension. Nations of the prisoners, Japan and Australia have released statements and continue to pressure the Junta to solve problems peacefully and rebuild the democratic society of Burma.

East Turkistan (Xinjiang, China)

Cybersecurity researchers have discovered that a spyware program is targeting Uyghurs by masquerading as regular apps such as messaging services and dictionaries. This spyware is connected by a Chinese government hacking group in order to track those they suspect of engaging in religious activity that they view as extreme, which can lead to being sent to a re-education camp. This surveillance program allows human rights violations to occur that can be difficult to stop, as many unofficial apps are treated as genuine services.

After a deadly high rise fire occurred in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region, protests have been triggered over China’s COVID-19 lockdown strategy that has put the Xinjiang region in the longest lockdowns in the entire country. These events have in turn triggered many other protests in China and around the world calling for an end to the Chinese Communist Party’s rule and Xi Jinping to step down as leader. While many countries have passionately expressed their support for the Uyghur population, many companies have privately invested funds in other companies that are involved in Uygur forced labor and repression. Since many of these investments are privately funded, it is hard to tell where the money ends up going and who is ultimately benefiting from the investments. Establishing a list of banned entities and companies that are involved is crucial in ending further oppression and is what many countries must do to truly stand with the Uyghur people.

Kashmir

While there has not as of this month been any violent conflict in Kashmir, the weather has impacted many near the Indian and Pakistani borders in Kashmir. A brutal avalanche killed three Indian soldiers along the Himalayan frontier. With these tense conditions, as well as the difficult border dispute still being maintained by both countries by having troops stationed there, it still remains to be seen if tensions will decrease with both countries. As of a year ago on November 22, 2021, Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez, was arrested on political terrorism charges. Amnesty International and other human right groups are calling for him to be unconditionally released from custody and drop all charges for speaking out on human rights in Kashmir and working towards change. Being detained silences the work of human rights defenders who work to expose the human rights violations and it is crucial for Kashmir to have a voice on these matters to bring accountability, transparency, and justice when violations occur.     

North America

United States

Midterm elections in the United States were held early this month on November 8. While a “red wave” of Republican elections was predicted, no such event occurred. Republicans now control the House with a narrow margin, and Democrats control the house with only one seat. This sets the stage for future political decisions over the next two years.

The United States has a long history of genocide against Indigenous people, a practice that may continue with the possible overturn of the Indian Child Welfare Act. This law, which has been in place since 1978, requires Indigenous children in foster care or adoption agencies to be kept with Indigenous families in response to the family separations and cultural assimilation forced upon them throughout history. With a recent challenge in Brackeen v. Haaland, this may change. There is concern over the Supreme Court’s political bias– a factor that may determine the outcome of the case. If overturned, this could pave the way for future limits on tribal sovereignty and put more Indigenous people at risk of cultural genocide.

Another relevant case being considered by the Supreme Court revolves around the deportation of undocumented immigrants. A lower court in Texas ruled that Biden’s policy of only deporting criminals who pose a threat was too narrow of an interpretation of federal immigration policy, and the case has now reached the Supreme Court. While the labeling of certain immigrants as threats often has prejudiced and racialized undertones, the Trump-era policy of deporting everyone is certainly worse for human rights. This case will have wide-reaching repercussions for national immigration policy, and the bias of the court will likely play a key role.

Grace Harris is a sophomore at UCLA studying International Development Studies. She contributed to the Tigray, Palestine, and United States portions of this update.

 

Jerry Harris is a recent graduate of George Mason University with a BA in Psychology. He contributed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, East Turkistan, and Kashmir portions of this update.  

 

Mira Mehta is a sophomore at Brown University studying Economics and International & Public Affairs. She contributed to the Cameroon and South Sudan portions of this update.

 

Alishba Waqar is a junior at Westfield High School. She contributed to the Yemen portion of this update.

 

Seng Hkawn Myitung is a sophomore at Albemarle High School. They contributed to the Burma portion of this update. 

 

Allison Weiner is a sophomore at DePauw University. She contributed to the Yemen portion of this update.

 

Thanksgiving: Taking and the Aftermath – November 2022 Lesson Plan

STAND’s Education team, with the help of the United States Action Committee, has put together a lesson plan that includes resources and activities designed to introduce students to key concepts relating to the United States priority area and Indigenous issues throughout history and today. Since November is Native American Heritage Month and Thanksgiving is well-known for misrepresenting the colonialism and genocide that formed this country, we thought this would be a timely theme for the month! STAND encourages advisors and chapter leaders to adapt the plans to your own context (high school vs. college, focus on particular regions of the world, etc.).

Download the lesson plan hereCopy of November 2022 Lesson Plan1024_1Copy of November 2022 Lesson Plan1024_2Copy of November 2022 Lesson Plan1024_3Copy of November 2022 Lesson Plan1024_4Copy of November 2022 Lesson Plan1024_5

STAND Conflict Update: October 2022

Northeast Africa

Sudan

October 25th of this month marks one year since Sudan’s military coup, where General Abdel-Fattah Burhan and General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo took control of the country instead of allowing it to peacefully transfer to civilian control. This was a major violation of the terms of the 2019 agreement following the uprising against former President Omar al-Bashir. In the year since then, public support for the military has decreased due to the deaths of protesters and the continued use of militias that committed the Darfur genocide in 2003.​ 

Tens of thousands of Sudanese people came together in a protest on the capitol to demand that the military relinquish control. They were met with tear gas, internet blackouts, and one protester was run over by a security truck and killed. The military is currently in negotiations with the pre-coup civilian organization Forces of Freedom for Change (FCC), but there are many who doubt that they will ever give up power willingly.

On the 29th, a separate group of thousands of protesters, including many still loyal to Bashir, joined together in support of the military government and against UN influence in their country. They seek to reject the FFC and any possible democratic processes in favor of religious rule. This only adds to the complexity of Sudan’s political system at the moment, with so many clashing ideas of how the country should be run.

At the same time, 220 people were killed in a land dispute in the south of Sudan between the Hausa and Berta people. An estimated 7,000 people were forced to flee, joining the 211,000 displaced by general conflict over the last year. Political instability has only worsened the violence.

South Sudan

On October 22nd, the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) removed the country’s First Vice President Riek Machar and former Secretary General Pagan Amam from their party and leadership. Both people led separate wings of the party, and the SPLM declared that this decision was crucial to unify the SPLM in accordance with its constitution.  However, there are also concerns about the consolidation of power and the elimination of opposition opinions.

At the same time, humanitarian conditions have worsened, with many criticizing the international response because it has only worsened the crisis. In September, the African Energy Chamber called on the US to lift its oil sanctions on South Sudan. They noted that the initial stated goal of sanctions was to end the war, and the war has officially ended, with the formation of a unity government in 2020. Moreover, the sanctions have exacerbated economic difficulties in the country– which is now at risk of famine– and may be causing more harm than good to civilians.

In addition, aid workers in a UN camp have been accused of committing sexual abuses against residents. An estimated 5,000 more people are expected to come to the camp in the near future, raising concerns about further sexual abuses and dangers for these people.  The allegations began in 2015, and despite a UN-led task force meant to combat this problem, many new reports of such abuse have continued to surface.

Tigray, Ethiopia

Peace talks have begun, organized by the African Union between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front: the two main forces at war for two years in the Tigray region of Northern Africa. While August’s ceasefire collapsed with the deaths of thousands and the displacement of even more, a spokesperson for Tigray’s forces has expressed a desire for a non-military solution with an end to hostility, unrestricted humanitarian aid, and a withdrawal of forces. Despite this hope, the ongoing humanitarian situation remains bleak. 

Genocide watch has deemed Ethiopia’s persecution of Tigrayans a genocide, with massacres of thousands of Tigrayans, mass rape, and forced ID cards. The Ethiopian government denies involvement in this and claims to minimize civilian casualties, but as conflict intensifies, so do humanitarian atrocities. Six million people living in Tigray have lost access to healthcare due to the closings of the vast majority of health centers, blockage of humanitarian aid, and shortage of medical supplies. In addition, access to food and hygiene have been limited. The combination of physical violence with this humanitarian structural violence has culminated in the current crisis despite little international attention.

Central Africa

Cameroon

October 1st marked five years since anglophone separatists declared their independence from Cameroon as the Independent Republic of Ambazonia. During this time, violence has escalated, and 4,000-6,000 people have died. In addition, the military has been accused of committing extensive human rights abuses against civilians living in the anglophone region of the country. For the first time, Cameroon’s military has publicly arrested several of its own soldiers for torturing suspected separatist fighters. However, they have denied accusations that these soldiers hurt civilians in the fighting and have not yet provided any details about how many soldiers were arrested or what consequences they will face.

Civilians have also faced violence from separatist fighters. On October 22nd, nine people who had been captured over a month prior were released. They expressed gratitude that they had been released without a ransom, but the group had demanded that their church pay throughout most of the time they were held captive. This has sparked fears that more similar incidents will occur in the future in order to fund separatist groups who are seeking more resources to match Cameroon’s government.

Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has seen widespread amounts of torture from victims in the conflict areas of the country. The United Nations has reported that  responsibility for these cases of torture rest with both the DRC’s security forces and other armed militia groups. Due to the low number of reports filed, the sheer amount of torture that has been afflicted upon victims has been underestimated. As violence has been brewing between armed groups, families have been separated and many people have been displaced from the country to escape being attacked.

While violence in the DRC has been happening for years, recent violence has seen a high number of deaths after the resurgence of rebel groups to try to take back control against security forces and UN peacekeepers. Tensions are rising as the DRC has accused Rwanda of alleged support for the rebel groups– a longstanding issue that stems back to the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. As recently as yesterday the Rwanda ambassador has been expelled from the DRC after rebel forces captured a town in the country. While other East African countries are discussing ways to de-escalate the conflict, it remains difficult to see if there will be any cooperation from these countries to curb out violence in the region.

Southwest Asia 

Yemen

Since April, the UN has led a truce in Yemen between the Yemeni government, backed by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition, and the Houthi group, backed by Iran. This truce that once marked a hope for an end to the war expired at the beginning of this month, and the two parties failed to extend it. Conflict has not yet escalated, and the UN hopes to negotiate a ceasefire, but this is a very precarious moment for Yemen. There is a much greater risk of war now, concerning both the international community and the people of Yemen who will be directly affected by it.

There has been no end to Yemen’s humanitarian crisis. Half of Yemen’s hospitals have been destroyed or are non-functioning, 2.2 million children are hungry, and food and fuel prices are on the rise due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, cutting off important supplies. Even during the truce when fighting ceased, vulnerable Yemenis still suffered from a lack of basic human necessities. 

Syria

The United Nations in a recent statement said that Syria is facing acute violence due to a worsening economic crisis and a cholera outbreak that has resulted in over 24,000 cases and at least 80 deaths. Conflict remains ongoing despite a stalemate, preventing a peace process between government and opposition forces. The cholera outbreak has been worsened by Syria’s water shortage, causing high malnutrition rates. As winter approaches, Syrians are desperate for aid to help them, but programs are severely underfunded. This is further complicated by suppliers who benefited from UN contracts despite involvement in human rights abuses.

Recently, Israel has conducted airstrikes on Damascus as part of their efforts to stop Iranian-backed groups from funneling weapons to their country. This array of security, health, and economic crises have affected Syria daily since the start of the civil war in 2011. Many Syrians are struggling to survive, and recent events show that these cycles of crises are not letting up for their communities.   

Palestine

Since the killing of an Israeli soldier earlier this month by a Palestinian armed group called the Lions Den, the city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank has been under a blockade with multiple military attacks. There has been a siege on a refugee camp, an attack on a school, and a raid that killed six and injured 21, affecting countless innocent people not involved in the fighting. These are just a few incidents among a long history of the brutal treatment of Palestinians by Israel’s military.

The UN Middle East Peace Envoy has also rated this the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank. Since January, 32 have been killed and 311 have been injured in military raids and crackdowns on protests, along with 63 who were injured when they were attacked by Israeli citizens. On the other hand, 2 Israeli soldiers were killed and 13 were injured in attacks by Palestinians. The violence remains ongoing.

The long-ongoing occupation of Palestine has been deemed illegal under international law by a UN Commission of Inquiry that has pushed for the International Court of Justice to address it. Members have stated that occupation of land in war must be temporary and cannot take away state sovereign power– two rules Israel has violated. In addition, the exploitation of natural resources, lack of access to water, and forced displacement have greatly hurt the people of Palestine. This international recognition of the harm of Israel’s occupation of Palestine is an important step forward.

East and South Asia

Burma

On the night of October 23rd, an air raid by the Myanmar Air Force targeted the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Kansi village in Hpakant Township. Witnesses reported that three bombs were dropped as villagers were celebrating a concert to mark the 62nd anniversary of the KIA’s founding. The attack resulted in 50 deaths and injured 100 people, including the musical performers. The military junta has denied killing civilians in the air strike, and said the attack was a counterinsurgency operation. The Myanmar Army has blocked humanitarian aid and first responders from treating the victims, making the death toll rise even further.

This attack marked the deadliest attack on civilians since the start of the civil war that occurred after the military coup last February. As a result, anti-government resistance has increased, especially in Kachin State with the KIA. While the attack has been condemned both internationally and domestically, a meeting will be held in Indonesia by Southeast Asian ministers to consider the peace process for Burma. This will prove difficult however, as the junta have ignored any previous attempts to bring about peace and end their oppression.      

East Turkistan (Xinjiang, China)

With the human rights abuses that have been inflicted on ethnic minorities in China, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has now been using social media influencers to whitewash and deny that these human rights abuses have taken place. While Chinese propaganda has been viewed as unconvincing, using individuals in the Uyghur community to deny that abuse was happening on social media gives an authentic feel to convey a false sense of what is actually taking place. This form of propaganda appears casual enough that it is hard to prove if it is scripted or if influencers have any links to the CCP, making it easier to convince others to support the CCP narrative of Uyghurs living in peace and not concentration camps.

Despite of this, the UN has reported that what China has been doing to the Uyghur Muslim community in the Xinjiang province amounts to crimes against humanity. This has led the international community to investigate and put pressure on China to end and acknowledge what has been done to the Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities. Uyghurs have also put pressure on other countries to take strong action, such as how U.K. Uyghur groups have challenged the government to ban the import of cotton products produced using forced labor.   

Kashmir

Starting this month, a cinema opened in Kashmir for the first time in fourteen years as the Indian government seeks to normalize tensions brought about after imposing direct rule in 2019. However, few moviegoers decided to show up, which stems from the long insurgency that Kashmir and India have faced where many cinemas in the past have been attacked or bombed. Ever since direct rule has been imposed, the region has come under new laws and restrictions, making tensions more volatile. This has even led India to stop a Kashmiri photojournalist from flying to receive the Pulitzer Prize.

With these difficulties with India as well as Pakistan, Kashmir has faced dual problems, making peace ever more difficult. But there is a sense of hope among some with the recent appointment of the next U.K. prime minister. Rishi Sunak, who has Indian and Pakistani roots, hopes to forge a solution to stop the hostility in Kashmir. Both countries have embraced him and it remains to be seen if Sunak can bring better cooperation and understanding to the region.    

North America

United States

October 10th was Indigenous People’s Day, a day of remembrance of the genocide of millions of Indigenous people and a day to celebrate and honor those still here fighting for their rights today. In our work for atrocity prevention today, it is important to remember the atrocities of our past and uplift survivors today.  

Earlier this month, the UN Human Rights Council held a meeting discussing police violence in the United States and across the world. Speakers called for the US to bring down historical and systemic barriers to equality and to hold systems of law enforcement accountable for the harm they have brought to Black communities. It has been over two years since the murder of George Floyd, but police brutality and systemic injustice within the entire police and prison system continue. 

Additionally, the US Supreme Court’s removal of nationwide abortion rights with the overturn of Roe v Wade in June continues to affect millions of women and other people who can get pregnant. Thirteen states have complete bans with few exceptions, and even more have harsh restrictions or bans in progress. While the United States claims to support international human rights, it has been criticized by members of its own Congress for the hypocrisy of this restriction of human rights by its own legal system. 

There is also a heightened fear of political violence as the 2022 elections approach. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s husband was attacked by a right-wing conspiracy theorist who was one of many posting violent rhetoric online. Ever since the attempted coup on January 6th of last year, the number of threats against American political figures have only increased.

Grace Harris is a sophomore at UCLA studying International Development Studies. She contributed to the Sudan, Tigray, Yemen, Palestine, and United States portions of this update.

Mira Mehta is a sophomore at Brown University studying Economics and International & Public Affairs.  She contributed to the South Sudan and Cameroon portions of this update.

Jerry Harris is a recent graduate of George Mason University with a BA in Psychology. He contributed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, Burma, East Turkistan, and Kashmir portions of this update.  

Changes to STAND’s Structure and Leadership

STAND’s model has changed many times since our founding in 2004. Since 2015, STAND has operated as the U.S.-based Youth Department of the Aegis Trust, with one full-time staff person dedicated to supporting STAND’s student leaders. Due to a lack of funding, STAND and the Aegis Trust have decided to terminate the Program Director full-time staff position effective November 1, 2022. The youth Managing Committee will continue to direct STAND as an independent volunteer organization, under the leadership of the co-Student Directors. 

To ensure continued support and mentorship, the STAND Advisory Board will be expanding to include designated Program Advisors for each area of STAND. This new model will be more decentralized, but it will also offer more STAND alumni and partners an opportunity to directly engage with the youth leaders. The current Program Director, Laura Strawmyer, will stay engaged with STAND through the Advisory Board and the alumni network.

STAND has always upheld the values of youth-led organizing. We’ve mobilized thousands of youth over 18 years, often with very limited resources. We’ve led grassroots advocacy for several monumental policies, including the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act, the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act, and the Global Fragility Act. We’ve also shaped lives in less countable ways—by building lasting friendships and instilling a sense of hope in the face of daunting global challenges.

We’ve studied the history of movement organizing, and we know progress comes in waves. At the STAND Summit in Washington, DC, in June, we reviewed every element of STAND’s strategy, including our values, team structure, and activities. Building on examples from other youth movements and input from our advisors and alumni, we have updated our programs for the coming years. We will be building an even stronger sense of STAND membership at all levels, including through our recent orientation and a national campaign on genocide education.

We greatly appreciate each and every one of our supporters and hope that you will continue to participate in this community however you can. STAND has withstood many changes to the atrocity prevention advocacy community. While we are proud of what we’ve accomplished, there continues to be an urgent need for our work.

With guidance from the Advisory Board, STAND will continue to raise funds for youth leader stipends and in-person events. Individual donations are critical to making participation accessible for all youth. It’s a great time to make a donation to ensure our students can continue this work.

We always welcome feedback, ideas, and questions from our community. You can reach us at info@standnow.org. We look forward to working with you for years to come!


The Managing Committee is STAND’s central decision-making body.

STAND Orientation September 2022

Thanks to everyone who joined the first national Orientation on September 24! If you missed it, here are the slides, and here is the recording:

To get more involved with STAND this year:

Goodbye, grads! | Class of 2022 Farewell

The 2021-2022 STAND Managing Committee is so grateful for the wonderful team we had this year, notably our two graduating seniors: Aisha and Jordyn! As two longtime STAND members, we are constantly in awe of their dedication and passion, and cannot wait to see what else they’re able to achieve. Thank you for your wonderful presence with STAND! We’d like to wish you well with a proper send-off.


Aisha Saleem (co-Yemen Lead and University Outreach), Barnard College

unnamed

Aisha, where do I even begin? You are such an incredibly smart, funny, and kind person, and I am so lucky I’ve gotten to work with you and have you as my co-lead. The first time I ever spoke to you, you immediately offered to help me with the college application process. You are always helping somebody and checking in with us, and that generosity and supportiveness is what makes STAND feel like such a family. When we work on issues as heavy as we do, it’s important to be able to bring joy to the experience too. Watching you come up with creative ways to take action and call out companies is always a treat. You are our Spotify, meme, and STEM queen, and this will truly not be the same without you. As much as I’ll miss you, though, I am so proud of you and can’t wait to see what you do next. Congratulations! –Mira Mehta, Policy and co-Yemen Action Committee Lead


Aisha!! Bestie!! I have loved every moment of working as your outreach co-lead. You taught me everything I know about my role, and I really don’t know where I’d be without you. You’re so kind, so smart, and are always doing so many cool things. Go off woman in STEM!! Your classes sound terrifying to me but it’s so impressive. I love your creative ideas, and your dedication to STAND’s projects and campaigns. You’re literally so cool and so fun to spend time with. It’s so sad to see you go, but I know you’ll do great things in the future!! You 100% have to keep us all updated with how your life is going, I know you’ll do great!! -Grace Harris, co-Outreach and co-Fundraising Lead


Aisha, I’m so unbelievably proud of you and everything you’ve accomplished in the three years I’ve worked with you. Gillibrand LobbyWhen I joined the MC, you were the very first person I ever worked with, and I will never forget how welcoming you were. You are honestly one of the best people I’ve ever met, and I feel honored to know you and call you a friend and STAND colleague. Thank you for all of the hours of effort and energy you’ve put in to this organization since you were a high schooler- I can truly say that STAND wouldn’t be where we are today without you and your contributions. You are leaving such a legacy, and I can’t wait to see all you will accomplish in the chapters that lie ahead. Thank you for being my STAND Sister and for always giving 100% to this team– we love and appreciate you more than you know! -Claire Sarnowski, co-Fundraising and State-Level Genocide Education Lead


Image from iOS (15) (1)I can’t imagine a Managing Committee without Aisha! I’m so proud to have worked with you these three years in all of your roles. You have been incredibly reliable and a great team player. You always have a joke and a kind word for every member. I know you made all of the new recruits, chapter leaders, and Yemen Action Committee members feel welcome and empowered to grow in their activism. You always have a new idea to create more impact, and I’m sure you’ll be successful in whatever sciencey role you land!

-Laura Strawmyer, Program Director

 

Jordyn Galvan (SAL Lead, co-Policy Lead, Communications), Texas State University 

unnamedOmg Jordyn!!! My fellow STAND member tragically stuck in a southern state. I still can’t believe you already graduated back in December and am so so happy you stayed on with us for the rest of the year!! You’ve been doing so great with leading the SALs, and absolutely killing it with the graphics! I always look forward to collaborating on a project or even just talking and hanging out!! I, and everyone else here, will miss you so much, but I know you’re going to do great!! Please keep us updated about your life, you’ll do amazing things I’m sure of it! -Grace Harris, co-Outreach and co-Fundraising Lead


Jordyn, I am so grateful for the time we were able to spend together on the STAND MC. It has been a pleasure working with you, and I am going to miss you so much!! You brought amazing ideas to the MC, and everything you said was always so insightful. Thank you so much for always coming through with the graphics for various STAND events because I am so bad with technology lol. I really hope we are able to meet in-person someday!! Stupid covid lol. I know that you are going to flourish with whatever you decide to do after college. Again, thank you so much for just being you, and I feel so fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to work with you. Please stay in touch!! -Allison Weiner, co-Burma and co-East Turkistan Action Committee Lead


Screen Shot 2020-08-03 at 4.38.02 PMJordyn, I can not even begin to express how much you have impacted my life and so many others through your advocacy work. Whenever I need motivation or am in a space where I forget why I do this work, I always look to you. You have taught me what it means to be passionate about what you do and for that I will forever be grateful. My favorite memory of us is when I asked you to speak on the Indigenous Peoples’ Day panel and you just went above and beyond and brought together so many voices to make that event so impactful. I think about instances like that and just am in awe of how you are able to go above and beyond for everyone. Your compassion and love has taught me to be kind to everyone but most importantly, it has taught me how much potential I have to make change especially if I have the passion. -Ishreet Lehal, co-United States Action Committee and co-Education Lead


4You are truly a one-of-a-kind soul, and we’ve been so lucky to have your voice these last two years. Thank you for taking on so many different roles and finding all the *intersections* among them. You have shaped forever how STAND will work on domestic issues, especially Indigenous rights, as well as our social media standards and color theory! You always show up fully in every (virtual) room you are in, and I feel like I’ve known you in person for years. I’m sure we will cross paths again, and I can’t wait to follow your journey!  -Laura Strawmyer, Program Director

Genocide Declarations: Burma and East Turkistan

By Grace Harris, Mira Mehta, and Allison Weiner, members of the Managing Committee


As Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month comes to an end, it is important to continue to recognize ongoing genocides, the progress that has been made to oppose them, and the work that remains to be done. While many individuals have recognized genocides going on around the world, it is often a long and difficult process for the United States and other governments as well as international bodies like the United Nations to recognize something as a genocide. When they do so, however, they give greater attention to the situation and provide a pathway for greater action. There have been two notable declarations in the past year. Learn more about definitions for different atrocity crimes in STAND’s FAQ.

Burma

After many years of advocacy from Rohingya groups and other Burmese activists, the United States government formally declared on March 21, 2022, that the Myanmar military’s actions against the Rohingya people amounted to genocide. In 2017, Myanmar’s military began a crackdown against the Rohingya people, an ethnic and religious minority in the Rakhine state. In the first month alone, 6,000 people were killed. Since then, violence has only continued, with hundreds of thousands of people displaced from their homes. Many Rohingya refugees are living in overcrowded camps in Bangladesh without access to adequate resources. Food, education, health care, and other crucial services are inaccessible to most of the Rohingya people still living in the Rakhine state, who continue to face violence from a military that has only been emboldened since they took power in a coup in February 2021. The genocide declaration is meant to put pressure on the military, but the U.S. cannot end its support for the Rohingya people there. Taking more concrete action through policies like the BURMA Act, which recently passed the House of Representatives, can help build on this momentum and limit the power and resources the military has to continue to oppress the Rohingya and other Burmese people.

East Turkistan

The atrocities committed against the Uyghurs by the Chinese government have gained a lot of attention in recent years. On January 19 of last year, the United States government officially declared that this crisis is a genocide and called upon the Chinese government to put an end to it. The Uyghurs have faced a history of brutal oppression where they have been labeled terrorists for their religion, faced mass surveillance programs, and been forced into camps for “re-education” and cultural destruction for so-called suspicious behavior. Forced sterilization, imprisonment, deportation, and labor are all ways in which the Chinese government has attempted to destroy the Uyghur population over the last few years, with a major crackdown beginning in 2017 that has its roots in historical oppression since the beginning of the People’s Republic of China itself. This crisis has received international condemnation, and within the U.S., policies have been passed such as the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act of 2021 and the Uyghur Human Rights Act of 2020. By rightfully labeling this what it is, a genocide, the U.S. has taken another important step forward in helping the Uyghur people and ending the injustice enacted upon them.


To advocate for continued action in these and other regions, join an Action Committee.