The student-led movement to end mass atrocities.

Meet Johnny Strange

Johnny Strange, the youngest person ever to climb the Seven Summits, is Genocide Intervention Network’s newest spokesperson.  Earlier this week, he appeared on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien – check out his appearance!

While on the show he mentions and what a great cause it is.  Strange has gone to great lengths to support the anti-genocide movement; he delivered a "Stop Genocide" sign to the top of Mount Everest. 

This summer, you can be one of the People Who Move the World like Johnny – take part in STAND’s People Who Move the World Challenge!


Massachusetts student push for genocide education

Massachusetts students took their call for genocide education to the Massachusetts State House in Boston on Tuesday.  Several students – including MacKenzie Hamilton and Andie Ramirez of Harwich High and Emily Cunningham of Cardinal Spellman (and last year’s Northeast High School Regional Outreach Coordinator) – testified before the Joint Committee on Education.  Before testifying, Emily and the members of Harwich STAND lobbied Senator O’Leary of the Committee, and over 30 people joined them at the Committee hearing to show support for the bill.

Check out this excerpt from Emily’s testimony:

The lessons, stories, and common threads among the Holocaust, Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Burma, and Sudan should echo from the blackboards and lecterns of every middle and high school across our Commonwealth. If not, for what have these millions upon millions of innocent mothers, fathers, and children died over the past century?

Samantha Power, genocide scholar and advisor to President Obama states

"No US President has ever made genocide prevention a priority, and no US President has ever suffered politically for his indifference to its occurrence. It is thus no coincidence that genocide rages on."

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel tells us that "the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference." I urge you as legislators not to be indifferent to the opportunity to create a place in the curriculum framework for genocide specific education which shows the connection between the past and the atrocities that continue to take place in Congo, Burma, and Darfur today. You have a unique opportunity to breed a generation of political will in Massachusetts that will continue to stand up against human rights abuses everywhere.

And see the full testimonies here

Joseph Kony’s Revenge in Faradje

World is Witness, a project of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, has featured a powerful story on the Lord Resistance Army’s (LRA) attacks in Congo.

Here’s an excerpt from the story of Marie, a teenage girl who was captured by the LRA during its attacks on Faradje, Congo:

I was at home with my family when I saw them. I ran with the others, but the LRA caught up and hit me in the head with the butt of a rifle. I was taken to the market and tied up with at least a hundred others. We saw them killing people in front of us with machetes and clubs, one by one

Read the full post here.  If you want to know more about what’s going on in eastern Congo, check out the Learn section of the STAND website.

STAND Leadership Team: A Learning Experience

If you’re a regular reader of the STAND Blog, if you get our action alerts and newsletters, or if you’re in contact with your Outreach Coordinator, then chances are you’ve already heard a lot about some of the amazing positions STAND is offering to students next year.  The reason we just won’t shut up about these positions is that the STAND Student Leadership Team is committed to passing the torch to an even stronger group of leaders next year.

Within STAND, students literally do it all.  When I first became Communications Coordinator two years ago (with the scary feeling that I was in over my head), I immediately began researching effective marketing techniques, best practices team management, and press outreach tips.  Two years later, I can now say I have extensive experience in media relations, mass communications and marketing, and volunteer management. I’ve helped STAND appear in USA Today, The Washington Post, and CNN.  I’ve run media advocacy workshops for hundreds of students all across the country. And, perhaps most importantly, I’ve been an integral part of STAND’s organizational development over the last 2 years.

Believe me, I’m not saying any of this to show off.  Two years into the job, and I feel like there’s still way too much left to learn.  What you should take from this is that a position on the STAND Leadership Team is going to force you to improve upon important skills, ones that you can use in future jobs, internships, or just life in general.  So don’t think of the positions as just a few hours of volunteering every week – they’re much more than that, and they’ll do much more for you.

Talk to anyone on the STAND Leadership Team to find out more about the positions available; we’re all happy to get you more info about any of them.  Even after hearing about them for weeks, you probably don’t have a grasp of the sheer number of opportunities there are for you.  On the Communications Team alone, we’re looking for a Marketing Coordinator, a Media Coordinator, Regional Media Coordinators, a Messaging and Editing Specialist, a Video Specialist, and a Social Media Specialist.  So keep looking into the best position for you, and apply soon!

Kristof comments on the expulsion of aid groups from Sudan

Earlier this week, we reported on the Government of Sudan’s expulsion of aid groups in Darfur. The news came after the ICC issued its arrest warrant for Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir and could be devastating for Darfuris.

Check out Nick Kristof’s op-ed on the removal of the aid groups and what the Obama administration can do.

"Our greatest problem in responding to Darfur is that we have never held either carrots or sticks. It’s difficult at this point to offer carrots, but the United States and other countries can wield some sticks."

When you’re done reading, take action by texting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at 90822 and demanding that the State Department responds to the expulsion of the aid groups. Secretary Clinton will be reading these messages and responding online, so we must let her know that ending the genocide in Darfur needs to be a top priority.

Peace and Punishment in the Papers

Two op-eds this week take on the issue of peace and justice in Sudan, a popular topic lately because of the ICC’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir today.

In the New York Times, Desmond Tutu, the well-known Nobel Peace Prize winner of South Africa, wrote about the need for African leaders to support the arrest of Bashir.  "Because the victims in Sudan are African," Tutu writes, "African leaders should be the staunchest supporters of efforts to see perpetrators brought to account."  

His final words are worth sharing: 

The issuance of an arrest warrant for President Bashir would be an extraordinary moment for the people of Sudan — and for those around the world who have come to doubt that powerful people and governments can be called to account for inhumane acts. African leaders should support this historic occasion, not work to subvert it.

Tutu takes on Africa’s leaders, and in the San-Diego Union Tribune, John Prendergast and Omar Ismail take on the academics and diplomats speaking out against the arrest warrant:

According to the arm-chair academics and Chicken Littles, the move by the ICC – its first charges against a sitting president in that institution’s young history – will make peace impossible. Beyond the basic ridiculousness of the argument that we should not act against war criminals for fear of upsetting them, this line of reasoning is painfully detached from the reality on the ground.

Prendergast, Ismail, and Tutu are looking to tomorrow’s news with renewed hope, and we should too.  In just a few minutes, the ICC will hold a press conference at the Hague on its decision on the arrest warrant for Bashir.  You can watch it online here at 8 am EST, a chance to watch history being made. 

A great reason to take a break

Apologies for the short hiatus we took from posting the last few days.  Don’t worry, though; we had a very good reason.

A few of our regular bloggers – Nina and me, for instance – were retreating with some of the most dedicated upSTANDers in the country.  Nina headed down to Texas A&M University, while I joined the Mid-Atlantic activists at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. 

It goes without saying that I had an amazing time – it’s always great to meet new people, reunite with friends from past conferences, and talk about STAND for hours on end (my favorite topic of conversation, hands down).  But my favorite part of the retreat was the extremely honest feedback I heard from the people I met.  People were critical about everything – the national and local resources STAND as an organization provides, the way we run our own chapters, and what we do individually as activists.

This tendency to be criticial is the nature of the student.  While in classes, we’re trained to examine what’s taught with a critical eye, never accepting anything as a given.  That’s why STAND activists are some of the most effective out there; we always strive to make things better than they already are.

I’m heading to Chicago (my hometown) next week for the Great Lakes Chapter Retreat at Northwestern University, and I hope I’ll see some of you there.  If you haven’t signed up for a Chapter Retreat yet, do it now.  It’ll be one of the only chances you get to take a break and focus on how to improve your chapter and to push the anti-genocide movement forward.

March 10th is Day 50

Only a week after a successful Day 25, and Day 50 is approaching quickly.

On March 10th, the 50th day of President Obama’s administration, activists across the country will get online and fax a progress report to the Obama administration over the Internet.

President Obama and his administration need to know that we are paying attention to U.S. policy on Darfur and genocide prevention.  Talk to your Outreach Coordinator for more info on our Day 50 action.

Get on the call: Lord’s Resistance Army in DRC

As we noted on this blog last month, increases in violence from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has made DRC one of the deadliest areas in the world for civilians.

Tomorrow, Thursday, February 19th, you can join Paul Ronan, a Senior Policy Analyst at Resolve Uganda, and  Joshua Kennedy, Education Assocate at Genocide Intervention Network, for a discussion of the retaliatory attacks on civilians near the Congolese town of Dungu.

You can join the discussion by calling (712) 432-1601 at 2:30 pm EST on Thursday, February 19th. Enter passcode 259123# to hop on the call.

Can’t make the call but have a ton of questions on the LRA?  E-mail STAND’s Education Coordinator Nina McMurry at!

Weekly News Brief: 02.09.09 – 02.16.09

In this week’s issue: A false alarm from the ICC amid a continued escalation of violence in Darfur, another attempt to engage the Burmese junta, and a regional reunion in DR Congo.

Featured: This week, an announcement of a decision to issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir turned out to be a false alarm. Still, the warrant is expected any day now. To learn more about the potential implications of the ICC proceedings, check out the ENOUGH Project’s new report, entitled "What the Warrant Means: Justice, Peace, and the Key Actors in Sudan." 

Questions? Feedback? Contact STAND’s Education Team at or leave a comment!


Reports that the ICC had decided to issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir rocked the international community this week. While the ICC was quick to deny that an official decision had yet been issued, the news caused significant reactions across the international scene, ranging from offers of protection for Bashir to calls for cooperation, to warnings, to disclaimers.

Instability continued to increase in Darfur, with several attacks reported on UNAMID, and displaced residents of Muhajeriya, South Darfur continuing to stream into camps in North Darfur. Humanitarian aid agencies are currently blocked from Muhajeriya itself.

Meanwhile, talks between Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebels and the Sudanese Government commenced last week in Doha, Qatar. JEM denies that any deal has been set and even accused the Sudanese government of undermining the talks by advancing on JEM positions.

The Doha peace talks have been dismissed by both Abdel Wahid al-Nur and Minni Minawi, as well as displaced Darfuris.

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations committee held a roundtable discussion on the situation in Sudan. Panelists, including Special Representative on Sudan Roger Winter, ENOUGH Co-Chair John Prendergast, and Save Darfur Coalition President Jerry Fowler discussed a number of topics, including the ICC, future of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), and the feasibility of a no-fly zone. A video recording of the full hearing can be viewed here.


Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN envoy on human rights in Burma, arrived in the capital city of Rangoon on Saturday. Mr. Quintana plans to conduct a 6-day mission to assess developments in Burma’s human rights situation since his last visit in August. Given ruling junta’s blatant disregard for Quintana’s previous recommendations, rights groups in Burma are not optimistic about this visit’s prospects for success. 

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left Sunday for Asia, on her first official trip as Secretary of State. During her visit to Indonesia, she is expected to discuss closer collaboration with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to address human rights issues in Burma. Based on statements from the Obama administration, it is likely that Clinton will discuss the situation in Burma with China as well.  

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva admitted on Friday that refugees fleeing west Burma may have been forced back out to sea by the Thai military in "some instances." Hundreds of refugees, members of a Muslim minority group known as the Rohinya, have been rescued in Indian and Indonesian waters in recent weeks after being expelled from Thailand.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Human Rights Watch reported on Friday that Rwandan Hutu rebels known as the FDLR have killed 100 civilians in eastern DRC over the past three weeks. The killings are thought to be in retaliation for a joint Rwanda-DRC operation to track down the FDLR that began in late January. HRW has also accused Rwandan forces involved in the mission of committing sexual assault in North Kivu province, a charge which the Congolese government rejects.

Congolese military officials announced that air strikes conducted by the joint mission last week have killed at least 40 FDLR fighters. At the same time, Rwandans living in eastern DRC continue to flee the operation and seek repatriation in Rwanda. According to border officials, nearly 2,000 Rwandans have been repatriated since the end of January, including some former FDLR combatants.

Meanwhile, the Congolese government announced on Sunday that it has granted the Ugandan military an indefinite mandate to remain in DRC as part of a joint mission to track down the LRA. The mission’s mandate was initially set to expire at the end of February. While Ugandan officials claim the operation is going as planned, it is widely blamed for the LRA reprisal attacks against civilians.

In a new report detailing atrocities committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in northeastern DRC since December, Human Rights Watch urged the UN Security Council to send reinforcements for MONUC, the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC. An additional 3,000 troops authorized by the Council in November have yet to deploy.

At the Mobile World Congress opening in Barcelona, London-based Global Witness highlighted the link between minerals used in mobile phones and the ongoing conflict in eastern DRC, and called on mobile phone companies to examine their supply chains in order to ensure that that they are not purchasing from mines controlled by armed groups.