The student-led movement to end mass atrocities.

So You Want To Be Communications Coordinator?

Fast Facts: Sonia Sen is STAND’s amazing Communications Coordinator. She attends the University of Arizona, where she’s majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Spanish and Geography (she’s the definition of worldly). She also is lucky enough to have the cutest dog in the world, Teddy.

Why did you first get involved in STAND and how have you been involved since then?
I got involved in STAND my freshman year in high school in 2006 (whoa, that was a while ago..) while in a geography class and encouraged by my awesome teacher. I’ve stayed involved in my high school and college chapters throughout the years from benefit concerts to fashion shows. My first experience with STAND National was when I got to go to STAND Camp in 2011 and I met some of my best friends ever <3

What has your experience being on the MC been like?
Nothing short of amazing. It has definitely been overwhelming at times but I wouldn’t choose any other organization to be so involved with. The things that we get accomplished as a group of college students across the nation over email honestly blows my mind. And we only get better at it everyday. Everyone on the MC is such a great person on top of everything I’m really glad that I’ve got to know everyone through being on the MC.

Can you tell us a little about what you do in your role as Communications Coordinator?
Sure I can, but I’m not very communicative. JK. I basically get to “ok” what STAND says. So everything from facebook to twitter to emails to blogs, goes through me–and sometimes I help out in the content. My main job is just making sure that people know what STAND is up to on the national level but also locally on chapter levels as well.

What’s one thing you’ve learned from your time in STAND, whether as a result of your experiences with your chapter, or being involved on the national level?
That people really do care about the big picture. I think it’s easy to assume that no one cares about issues because all you hear about is Justin Bieber (literally, it’s been four years people–my whole entire college career) or whatever fun fad is going on. But with STAND I’ve met people at my own university and across the nation that are so passionate about STAND and all sorts of issues beyond. Moreover, not only do they care but they act too. I can never actually feel sad about our generation not caring because of the very existence of STAND.

Interested in joining our Student Leadership Team next year? Apply today! 

Stand for Sudan by Supporting the Sudan Peace, Security, and Accountability Act

This post was written by Rachel Finn, from the Enough Project. STAND and the Enough Project are co-hosting an online workshop on lobbying for the Sudan, Peace, Security and Accountability Act (H.R. 1692) this Wednesday at 8pm (eastern) as part of our Stand for Sudan campaign


One of the best ways to have a voice on U.S. policy is through a face­-to-­face meeting with an elected official.  An in-­district meeting with staff members of one’s Representative is a really important step, and one of the most effective, that can be taken to move H.R. 1692, the Sudan Peace, Security, and Accountability Act of 2013 forward.


Lobbying your elected officials can have a real impact. In Alabama, for example, a September meeting with an activist helped Congressman Bachus, a previous advocate for Sudan unaware of the new legislation, become a cosponsor of H.R. 1692 just five days after the meeting.


While it’s completely natural to be nervous about meeting with a Member of Congress, it’s important to keep in mind that it is their job to meet with you and represent your interests. An in-­person meeting is at its core just a conversation, and not something that needs to be very intimidating.  The short term goal of such a meeting is to get the elected official to take action on the ask you present and to educate the representative, while the long term goal is to develop a relationship with the office.


If you offer yourself and your chapter as a resource that can make their job easier, STAND can have a lot of influence in the future.  Even as a college student who may be leaving in a year or two, developing a strong relationship between your STAND chapter and the office is an important legacy to pass on to future students and will enable this to remain a priority in the town where you went to school long after you graduate.


A meeting with the staff of a Representative on H.R. 1692 would typically be structured as:

  1. Introductions of yourselves and groups to which you are connected.
  2. Thank the staff member for their time, and for the Member of Congress’ past support on any relevant issues such as Sudan, mass atrocities, or human rights.
  3. Someone in the group shares his or her personal story explaining his or her connection to the issue and why it is important.
  4. One or two group members will give a (very brief) overview of the conflicts in Sudan and what the current situation is. It might be a good idea to begin by asking the staffer how knowledgeable he/she is on Sudan and proceed from there.
  5. Make the ask- Urge the Representative to cosponsor and support H.R. 1692, and/or ask their colleagues in the House to do the same.
  6. Thank the staff member again for his or her time, and set a date to follow up.


To help you along the way, keep in mind the following points:

  • Inform yourselves. Read and understand the bill, brush up on the legislative process, read these FAQs, and get up to date on the renewed violence.
  • Go prepared. Write out a script (or customize a version available online) and divide up the talking points ahead of time. Print out one-­pagers such as those here to leave behind with the staff. Here’s a helpful step-by-step guide of how to set up a meet and make sure you’re ready!
  • Do your research. Know the Representative’s history of support for these issues, what their motivations might be for cosponsorship (moral? national security/practical? etc.), some of their
  • personal background (i.e. hometown and alma mater, in case there are any connections), and any relevant committees on which they sit.
  • Act professionally. Be on time, be polite, and dress appropriately.
  • Keep it short. Plan for only about 15 minutes, and be flexible if the staff has less or more time to give you.
  • Identify yourselves. The more influential you demonstrate yourself to be (through connections in the area such as family or school, and national reputation as STAND), the more likely it is that the Representative will take action on H.R. 1692.  Telling that short story about yourself makes the conversation more personal, relatable, and helps to build a relationship.
  • Ask for a firm commitment.  Ask if they plan to cosponsor H.R. 1692.  If yes, thank them, if no or unsure, ask if they need additional information to help them decide.  Ask when you can follow up (and by phone or email) ­ should be no more than one or two weeks later.
  • Follow up. It is the most important part of the meeting.


On December 4th, I’ll be discussing these and other key tips for preparing for, having, and following up on an in­-district meeting.  Be sure to join us for the online workshop at 8pm EST to get excited about moving H.R. 1692 through Congress!


These tools should ensure you will be ready to lead the conversation on Sudan during your meeting. We are also always available for you to contact if you need help along the way or have any questions about scheduling a meeting.


Email Rachel Finn ( or Sean Langberg ( for more information.

One Small Step for DRC peace, One Giant Leap for UN “Peacekeeping”

This blog post is an update on the current situation with the armed group M23 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  It is written by STAND’s Education Coordinator, Sean Langberg who you can reach at

The Congolese military and United Nations intervention brigade defeated the M23 armed forces this month.  On November 5, the M23 leadership announced their armed insurgency would end after losing its final two strongholds, Tshanzu and Runyoni, near the border with Uganda and Rwanda.  The defeat was likely brought about by pressure on Rwanda to cease its support of the insurgency, internal divisions, enhanced FARDC performance, and, perhaps uniquely, an aggressive mandate given to the intervention brigade.  The M23 plagued civilians in eastern DRC for the past twenty months.  Human Rights Watch, among others, reported the group executed civilians, raped women and girls, and abducted men and boys to fill its ranks.


Undoubtedly, the M23’s defeat is a step forward for DRC.  However, much work remains, including finalizing a permanent ceasefire.  Martin Kobler, commander of MONUSCO forces, said attention will now turn to the Rwandan-backed FDLR, a group that existed long before the M23.  In addition, there are several other long-term challenges in eastern DRC such as a litany of other armed groups, widespread poverty, weak loyalty to the FARDC, and limited access to justice services, particularly for victims of crimes other than sexual violence.


Perhaps the most important element of the M23’s defeat is the role of the UN intervention brigade.  The inaction of UN “peacekeeping” forces is a perennial criticism the organization receives from advocacy organizations, contributing states, and civilians they are mandated to protect.  The DRC intervention brigade is the first offensive combat force and it could be used as a model for other UN missions.  The benefits are clear.  Scenes of “peacekeepers” watching Hutus slaughter Tutsis would be less likely to be seen again.  However, it could have tremendous drawbacks such as abandoning the UN’s foundational neutrality principle which, in turn, could affect its ability to negotiate peace deals.  Moreover, conflicts involving UN missions are often not morally or tactically one sided.  For instance, the FARDC is notorious for its propensity to commit war crimes and Kabila is a chronically corrupt and ineffective leader, yet MONUSCO operations support both the military and the executive.


The future of peace in eastern DRC and UN missions remains unclear, but the end of the M23 will have major implications for both issues.  The extent to which the FARDC and intervention brigade can capitalize on their current momentum will likely determine the fate of other armed groups.  Meanwhile, the willingness of UN leadership and contributing states to approve offensive missions will have dramatic implications for how the mass atrocity community approaches high-level international advocacy.


Photo courtesy: ai Kurokawa / European Pressphoto Agency

Education Update: Top Updates in Mass Atrocity Prevention


On Sunday November 17the Sudanese Air Forcebombed the town of Buram, south of the capital of South Kordofan. The reported Sudanese AF plane dropped two large bombs, which resulted in the deaths of two local children ages ten and seven and injuring many other civilians, damaging homes, and farms. Bombings against civilians have been continuous throughout South Kordofan for the better part of 2013 as the Regime in Khartoum continues their attempts to suppress opposition groups within the region and vie for greater influence from a civilian population that identifies with the South. Yasir Arman, Secretary General of the SPLM-N gave the following statement regarding this most recent bombing:

“To all those who continue to appease the Khartoum regime and ignore the solid facts on the ground, the Khartoum regime is targeting civilian populations in Sudan, committing war crimes, and killing the very children who need to be vaccinated. For the families of these children, the air and ground attacks by the Khartoum regime are more visible threats than polio. Many in Africa and in the international community circles are deliberately ignoring this fact. Admitting it would require them to provide civilian protection as per international humanitarian law.”


Two weeks ago, the M23 rebel group announced that, after a nearly two-year rebellion and weeks of unsuccessful talks with the Congolese government, it was prepared to demobilize its forces and turn its full attention towards political negotiations with Kinshasa.

The DRC was expected to sign a peace deal last week with representatives of the rebel group, which would detail the process of demobilization, including addressing the situation of reintegration of rebel troops into the Congolese army. At the last minute, however, the Congolese government refused to sign it, following an argument between the two sides over whether the document would be called a “peace agreement” or merely a “declaration.” The United Nations, the African Union, and the United States all expressed regret that the deal had not been signed.

M23’s decision to lay down its arms has inspired other rebel groups to do the same. Following M23’s declaration of disarmament, several other Congolese militia groups have expressed potential willingness to demobilize their forces.


The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) approved a plan last Friday to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons by the end June 30, 2014. All chemical substances and precursors except isopropanol are supposed to be removed from Syria by February 5. Isopropanol is also widely used as a solvent in addition to making the chemical weapon sarin. Thus far, the OPCW has inspected 21 out of 23 sites and 39 out of 41 facilities at those sites. The remaining two sites were deemed too dangerous to enter, and the chemical weapons equipment there was supposedly moved to other sites which were inspected. The OPCW stated that 60% of Syria’s declared unfilled munitions have been destroyed and plans to destroy all unfilled warheads and bombs by January 31. Finding a country to destroy the chemicals themselves has proved illusive. Albania and Norway have both declined to destroy the chemicals. The United States is now considering a plan to destroy the precursor chemicalsat sea.

Infighting and human rights abuses have been increasing in factions of Syria’s armed opposition groups. In the north of Syriaattempts by the Islamic jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq and the Sham (ISIS) to establish hegemony have been met by hostility by Free Syrian Army (FSA) units and other groups, including the Islamist jihadist group Jabhat al Nusra and Ahrar al Sham. These two Islamist groups are reportedly also taking territory from weaker FSA units as well. A move last week by Kurdish groups to declare an autonomous region of “western Kurdistan” has also been met by hostility from various rebel groups in Syria. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch released a statement Tuesday detailing human rights abuses conducted by extreme rebel factions in late October during an offensive on a Christian village 100 kilometers north of Aleppo, and urged the UN Security Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.


Last Friday, November 11, the Myanmar government announced they would be releasing 69 political prisoners as part of President Thein Sein’s promise to have all political prisoners released by the end of the year. There are still believed to be more than 60 political prisoners in jail following the recent amnesty. The release nonetheless illustrates the progress, however limited, the country has made considering that only three years ago there were more than 1000 political prisoners behind bars.

Fighting between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Myanmar military continued over the weekend and displaced more than 2000 people according to sources cited by The Irrawaddy. These recent clashes come as Kachin and Myanmar government representatives recently agreed to hold talks to discuss a possible ceasefire.

Central African Republic

As a result of increased political violence in the Central African Republic, France will be sending a hundred more troops in an attempt to instill security in the state. The French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius warned that the crisis in CAR is “on the verge of genocide.” MISMA, the current peacekeeping force in CAR is said to be severely under-trained and unequipped to bring about stability in the nation. An estimate of 400,000 persons are now internally displaced. In the coming week, the United Nations Security Council is scheduled to vote on a resolution that would permit the intervention of the African Union and France in the Central African Republic.

Protect the voiceless

This blog post is a continuation of our series on Burma.  It is written by Maung Maung (Tony) Than and Mya Nandar Aung, 2013 Oak Human Rights Fellows at the Oak Institute at Colby College.

Realization and appreciation of democracy in Burma can only be possible when all ethnic minorities, including the Rohingya, enjoy their rights equally as their fellow Buddhist Burmans. However, decades of anti-Muslim propaganda instigated by the military-ruled Burma had a huge effect on Burmese, pushing many Buddhists to become racists and extremists.

As a result of the violence in Rakhine State last year, about 140,000 Rohingyas have been forcibly displaced into camps that systematically segregate them from the rest of the community. Thousands of Rohingyas’ homes have been burned or destroyed and thousands had to abandon their properties and businesses with little hope of regaining their previously peaceful lives. The Rohingyas who remain in their original houses are living in terror. Rohingyas have been and continued to be subjected to systematic discrimination such as population control, restriction of movement, denial of access to health services, and education. They are always at the risk of arrest, beatings, physical harassment, sexual harassment, forced displacement, forced labour, and arbitrary taxation. Put simply, the Rohingya have been subjected to expulsion from their own birthplace since 1978.


Be one to call for action by condemning the following:

  • illegal detainment and sentencing of Dr. Tun Aung and over 850 other innocent Rohingya held in prisons since June 2012
  • ongoing gross violation of human rights against Rohingyas, including acts of ethnic cleansing and other large-scale atrocities
  • forceful registration of Rohingyas as “Bengali”
  • ultranationalist campaign of creating “Muslim free zones”
  • anti-Muslim movement led by the extremist monk, Ashin Wirathu
  • systematic segregation, severe forms of discrimination, anti-Muslim racism, and terror
  • obstruction of humanitarian assistance to Muslim internally displaced person (IDP) camps
  • amend the 1982 Citizenship Law to grant full citizenship to Rohingyas
  • bring back normalcy for all displaced Rohingyas


“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” – Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1


Let us give Rohingya children a well-deserved dream for the future.

Education Update

This week we compiled a series of Storify presentations about our perennial conflicts as well as two “emerging” conflicts.  Storify collects information from all over the web (e.g. tweets, articles, videos, etc.) and presents it in narrative form.  To see a presentation, simply click on the conflict you want to learn more about.  As always feel free to provide your additions, comments, or critiques in the comments section or email  Happy reading!


Mozambique Update

This update is by STAND’s Education Task Force members Colleen Fonseca and Sagal Hashi.


For the past several weeks, the two main political parties in Mozambique have been clashing. Frelimo, the current political party in control has currently engaged in a potential conflict with the leading opposition party Renamo. The conflict gained limited international attention in late October when Renamo announced it’s withdrawal from a Peace Accord. As stated by Renamo spokesperson Fernando Mazanga: “Peace is over in the country, the responsibility lies with the Frelimo government because they did not want to listen to Renamo’s grievances.” Renamo, a former anticommunist rebel group is now Mozambique’s largest political opposition party. There are currently heavy clashes between Renamo and government forces. According to Renamo, the Frelimo led the government in monopolizing political power in Mozambique through the complete control of multimillion dollar foreign investments.


In addition, there are recent reports of armed conflict between the two opposing parties. The government occupation of the Renamo base located in the Sofala province, north of the capital Maputo, had resulted in clashes between government and Renamo forces. Government forces were said to have occupied the Renamo base after the ambush of government security by Renamo militia.


As a result of the clashes between government forces and Renamo militia, civilians have fled their homes. The Mozambique army issued a statement encouraging all those who fled to return to their respective provinces. The president of Mozambique, Armando Guebuza, issued a statement to the leader of the Renamo political party, Afonso Dhlakama, to meet on Friday, November 8. The proposal for peace talks was denied by Renamo as they have officially commenced the boycott of local elections that are to happen later this month.


In order to understand the complexity and importance of the recent calling off of the 1992 Peace Accord, one must understand Mozambique’s recent war-torn history which began in 1964-74 with their war for independence followed by a war with Rhodesia from 1976-80, and 1981-92 during a Cold War proxy conflict. The political climate was shaped largely by its armed liberation struggle from Portugal. Frelimo emerged as a response to cruel Portuguese colonialism. Founded in 1962 and in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, the movement began orchestrating military attacks in 1964. These continued for most of the 1960’s, and in the early 1970’s the movement garnered public support for its expansion of health and educational services. Frelimo, the only liberation movement in Mozambican history, finally signed a peace agreement in 1974 with its colonial ruler. The Peace Agreement was soon followed by independence when the Portuguese government collapsed in 1975.


After gaining independence, Mozambique’s geographic location proved to be problematic. Bordering both Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa, where apartheid systems were prevalent, racist systems threatened the stability of the newly emerged country. Mozambique’s involvement with housing and supporting Rhodesian independence fighters created conflict between the two nations. In response to Mozambique’s imposed sanctions on Rhodesia and support of independence fighters, Rhodesia launched an anti-Frelimo guerrilla force formally known as Renamo. The opposition combatants consisted of former soldiers and Mozambicans who were repressed in the new Fremlimo political systems. As economic instability ran rampant in regions within Mozambique, many citizens grew frustrated with Frelimo. Infighting within the party also contributed to increasing numbers of Renamo fighters.


After Rhodesia emerged as the independent nation now recognized as Zimbabwe, Renamo was handed over to South Africa. At this time, the United States and Soviet Union were competing for budding African nations. The Cold War proxy war’s concentration fell on the continent due to the race for democracies for the US, and communism for the Soviet Union. Simultaneously, Ronald Reagan was taking his place as president, and backed and helped to create armed opposition forces to nations like Mozambique due to its communist leanings. South Africa, who firmly opposed communism, supported Renamo forces in shipping them into Mozambique.


All of these outside forces that previously supported and pressured Mozambican’s are no longer present. Joseph Hanlon, an academic studying Mozambique, stated: “It’s not a return to war because neither side could wage a war.  If you go back to the 1990s, Renamo was supported extensively by apartheid South Africa and informally by the United States; they had substantial military capacity. Now, Renamo is composed of aging guerrillas who are now in their 50s and 60s and Mozambique opted after the civil war to have a very small military, so it does not have strong military capacity either. So neither side can go back to war.”


Nonetheless, the fact that the Renamo political opposition party has decided to boycott the upcoming elections this month should not be taken lightly. The Renamo are demanding electoral reform from the government all while clashing with governmental armed forces and civilians. The recent clashes have resulted in the displacement and killing of civilians. As a warning issued by the president of Mozambique, Armando Guebueza, unrelenting political violence in Mozambique has the potential to cause destabilization of the state.

The Colonial Origins of Hate Speech in Burma

This blog post by the Sentinel Project‘s Steven Kierson is a continuation of STAND’s Burma Blog Series. 

Situation of Concern Lead – The Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention

In past instances of genocide, hate-speech has drawn its power to inspire violence from some kind of popular appeal. In many cases, its purpose is to dehumanize to facilitate inhuman action. In Rwanda, Tutsis were referred to as “cockroaches;” in Burma, prominent monk Wirathu has referred to Rohingya Muslims as both “African catfish,” and “wild elephants”. More powerful, however, are terms that draw on long-remembered historical grievances. These terms have the ability to draw on a shared social memory of past injustice, real or imagined, which can only be righted by action, usually extreme and final, against the offending group. In Burma, the most popular hate-speech terms used against Rohingya, “kalar” and “Bengali,” both have roots in the colonial period of British rule from 1824 to 1948.


Along with administrative and cultural changes, British occupation brought overwhelming numbers of immigrants to Burma. According to Thant Myint-U in the book The River of Lost Footsteps: Histories of Burma, at the turn of the 20th century, a quarter million people per year were being brought into Burma by the colonial government, displacing locals and creating tension in the region. Because many Burmese lived in fear of the British, they did not dare protest British rule directly – many riots in the 1930s took the form of anti-Muslim violence for this reason. It is from this period that the racial slur “kalar” appeared, roughly equivalent to “nigger,” referring to anyone with a darker, Indian-like complexion. This slur is so commonplace now in Burma it has even appeared as a descriptor for Rohingya in state media.


The term “Bengali” is more nuanced and complex in origin and more insidious in its use. At the sunset of British rule in 1946, the diverse region, comprising some 135 distinct groups, seemed poised to transform itself into a federal union characterized by semi-autonomous states. This did not happen, and instead, a nationalist-socialist government led by General Ne Win seized power in 1962, founding the “Burmese Way to Socialism” characterized not by federalism, but by nation-building via forced assimilation.


While the orientation of Burma’s government alienated most ethnic minorities and created the conditions for civil war, the nationalist bent of the government did hit on one important populist theme for Burmese: rejection and atonement for colonial rule. Because of the significant role Muslims had played in the administration of Burma during British rule, the group became a pariah for nationalist Burmese who denied their long history in the region and alleged their illegal arrival during British occupation. Nationalists, especially in Rakhine State, would see no difference between long-established linguistically Bengali Muslim communities in the region and immigrants from Bangladesh, referring to all Rohingya Muslims as “Bengalis.” Because of the supposed privileged status of Muslims under British rule (which actually only applied to Muslim administrators) and mutual massacres between Rakhines and Rohingya during the Second World War, the hatred is characterized by a sense of deep historical injustice, the power of which cannot be underestimated in its ability to inspire popular violence.


When, in 1982, the Burmese government legislated the removal of the most important legal protection of a person, citizenship, the government based its decision on whether or not people had arrived as a by-product of British colonial occupation. The targeted group was Rohingya Muslims, a minority in a country that is both primarily Buddhist and had suffered at the hands of the Rohingya’s coreligionists during colonial occupation. Popular myths are circulated that the Rohingya have an “alarmingly high birthrate,” that Rohingya immigrate to Rakhine State for economic gain, and that there exists a Muslim plan to take over Burma; all of which have been discredited as false.


The threats to affirming the existence of Rohingya have been grave. At an October 2013 meeting, a Maung-Daw township administrator was quoted as saying:

“You, Bengali people, entered Myanmar yesterday. Despite that, you people are annoying us a lot by claiming yourselves ‘Rohingya or such and such’ and making us at our wits’ ends. Don’t claim so and be fussy during the forthcoming 2014 Population Census. If you happen to claim ‘Rohingya’, we will punish you according to the law. No matter how much you scream, we will not give you even citizenship let alone thinking of ethnic rights. You may just get third-class citizenship. We are telling you in advance. Don’t create drama by claiming yourselves as ‘Rohingya’ or whatsoever.'”


Despite mountains of evidence showing the Rohingya’s legitimate history in the country, much of it now available online thanks to the efforts of prominent activist Dr. Maung Zarni, many nationalist Buddhists use the term “Bengali” to imply that the Rohingya are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and have never had an official status in Burma. The term “Bengali” is used to de-legitimize the presence of Rohingya in Burma, and perhaps worse, deny their very existence. Hate-speech in this sense itself forms a recognized stage of genocide – denial. Denial of genocide does not always have to occur after a genocide takes place, but as is seen in present-day Burma, can actually serve as a cover to deny that a current genocide is ongoing – because the group subject to extermination does not have a basis in reality and thus cannot be targeted.


Both “kalar” and “Bengali” are ubiquitous in Burmese parlance, but of the two terms only “Bengali” serves to deny the existence of conflict and its near-universal use by both the Burmese state and private nationalist news agencies stands in the way of any considerations of reconciliation or peaceful coexistence, should these options even be possible. Only when “Bengali” is eliminated from official and popular channels can the historical grievances it implies begin to recede and stability returned to civil society.

Education Update: This Week in Videos

This week, sit back and watch three short videos that summarize the week’s biggest events in mass atrocity prevention.

Mozambique violence increases: 

DRC army wins a series of battles against M23:

Some people in the disputed Sudanese border region of Abyei participated in a referendum to decide if they should become part of the north or south, but neither country officially sanctioned the vote:

Education Update: This Week in Pictures

STAND has decided to highlight the most important events of the past week by using pictures of important moments, meetings, and life throughout our conflict zones. We have pictures going over events in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Syria, Burma, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan.


DRC: Talks between the Congolese government and M23 stalled this week, just days after M23 announced an imminent breakthrough in its negotiations with Kinshasa. The two sides have settled on terms for eight of twelve articles in a peace agreement between them, and agreed to reconvene in the near future to resolve the final four. The United States denounced this break in negotiations, blaming the rebels for intentionally holding up the peace process.

DRC: Two helicopters belonging to the UN peacekeeping force in the DRC came under fire at different points in the last week from M23-held territory. Mary Robinson, UN special envoy to the Great Lakes Region, condemned the attacks, blaming them on M23, though the rebels deny any involvement.

Mozambique: In Mozambique, Renamo, a former rebel group and the largest opposition party cancelled its peace accord with the current government in power. The current party in control of the nation, Frelimo has attempted to maintain control as Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama has initiated a campaign of violence. The ongoing confrontation stems from demands on electoral reform.

Mozambique: The deteriorating security situation in the nation has raised serious concerns of a backslide into civil war. This Monday ,Frelimo the party in control, attempted to preserve it’s legitimacy by attacking a Renamo base. Conversely, the outcome has been a full declaration of war from Afonso Dhlakama. Renamo spokesman Fernando Mazanga states, “Peace is over in the country… The responsibility lies with the Frelimo government because they didn’t want to listen to Renamo’s grievances.”

Syria: The Geneva II peace conference for Syria, meant to take place in late November, has been running into troubles as of late. The mainstream Syrian opposition, the National Coalition, has said it will not attend the talks without the removal of President Assad and several other conditions being met. The other conditions included safe passage in beseiged areas, the release of detained men, women and children, and setting a fixed timetable for all the phases of negotiation. President Assad stated in a recent interview that he does not “see any obstacles to being nominated to run in the next presidential elections”, indicating it would be unlikely for him to step down any time in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, the core group of the the National Coalition’s international support group Friends of the Syrian People expressed support for the opposition group to attend Geneva II on October 22. This core group, termed the ‘London 11′, put forward a communiqué on Tuesday endorsing several of the Coalition’s key demands, including the removal of President Assad and his associates.

Syria: According to a classified report from the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Syria has become “by far the most attractive location for jihadists.” On Tuesday, the al-Qaida-linked group Jabhat al-Nusra, or Nusra Front, battled the regime’s army to retain control of a Christian town they had stormed the day before. Opposition activists reported that the town, Sadad, was stormed for strategic reasons, as it is located next to several weapons depots and the Nusra Front rebels used the opportunity to seize medical supplies from its hospital. Sadad is located in central Syria between two of Syria’s major cities, Homs and Damascus. Jihadist rebel groups and government forces also clashed in the east of Syria in the city of Deir Ezzor. The militants reportedly executed 10 government soldiers after taking several neighborhoods of the city last Friday. A senior military intelligence officer, Major General Jamaa Jamaa, was also killed in Deir Ezzor city.

Burma: In Burma, nine separate explosions in cities across the country have left 3 people dead and 10 injured in the last two weeks. One bombing in particularly garnered international attention when an American woman was injured as a result of the blast while staying in a luxury hotel in downtown Yangon. Several people tied to the bombings have been arrested. The Myanmar police claim that the explosions were aimed at scaring away foreign investors. When the country was ruled by a military dictatorship, bombings were more common with the government blaming disenchanted rebel groups while others blamed the government itself.

CAR: The United Nations is scheduled to send troops to the Central African Republic in an effort to restore security and stability. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon recommended 560 troops to be sent to CAR. The UN Security Council is expected to endorse the security force on Friday.

CAR: A recent survey conducted by the United Nations Children Fund indicated that most children in the Central African Republic have not returned to school since the conflict started in December 2012. According to UNICEF, seven out of 10 students are currently out of school.  65 percent of schools examined in CAR are said to have undergone looting and destruction.

South Sudan: According to the UN news centre, a recent cattle raid in Jonglei State has resulted in several deaths and dozens seriously injured. Cattle raids have been on the rise in Jonglei as different factions vie for a greater influence in the region. Cattle is the primary source of wealth and income for a majority of Southern Sudanese citizens. A spokesperson from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) stated that they “wish to convey its deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of those who lost their lives during the attacks.” The mission went on to say that a follow-up investigation is being carried out to find those accountable, however, as conflict continues to rage within Jonglei and numerous other Southern Sudanese states cattle raids like this will persist.

The weekly Education and Policy Update is brought to you by:

Cara Reichard (DRC)

Colleen Fonseca (Emerging Conflicts)

Samuel Reichman (Syria)

Alexander Colley Hart (Burma)

Sagal Hashi (Emerging Conflicts)

Baylen Campbell (Sudan, South Sudan)