Colgate Students Join Global Fight Against Genocide In Darfur

Ben Johnson

United Nations (UN) Secretary General Kofi Annan appointed a five-member panel Friday to investigate whether genocide has taken place in the western Sudan region of Darfar. The commission has beengiven three months to report its verdict on events considered genocide-related by the United States. An estimated 50,000 people have died and 1.4 millionpeople have been displaced from their homesin the past year and a half in Darfur. The Janjaweed, a group of Arab militants, are accused of killing thousands of black African civilians and empty villages as part of a campaign against civilian militants in Darfar. These civilian militants are primarily composed of agricultural groups,who formed in response to what they saw as the Sudanese government’s failure to intervene in conflicts between farming communities and nomadic groups. The connection between the Janjaweed and the Sudanese government is reportedly unmistakable, as the government has been accused of bombing villages right before Janjaweed attacks. TheJanjaweed are now equipped with government-provided uniforms. Amnesty International, a leading human rights organization, has been monitoring the situation in Darfur and has witnessed the devastation caused by the Janjaweed. As a result, Amnesty International hasplaced continued pressure on the UN and the world community to fight these atrocities against humanity.Under the leadership of sophomores Bethann Weick and Michelle West, Colgate’s chapter of Amnesty Internationalhas been fundraisingto support people in Darfar. Over the past couple of weeks, Bethann and Michelle have had a Coop table with a photo display, combined with petition signing, in conjunction with the Amnesty effort. Amnesty International is also getting ideas from STAND (Students Take Action Now for Darfur),a new group working to organize Darfur efforts on college campuses. Bethann and Michelle are also participating in the Holocaust MemorialMuseum’s online forum on Darfur. Next week,a Coop table with petitions will be signed and donations will be collected for the Amnesty International fund for Darfur. In exchange for donations, green ribbons will be handed out with the slogan STAND. Ribbons will be sold in the Colgate Bookstore, andall of the proceeds go to the humanitarian efforts in Darfur. In addition to petitions and fundraising, the Amnesty group at Colgate has spent a lot of time advertising the crisis through chalking sidewalks, posters, ads in student distributions and ribbons. So far, their effort has been pretty successful as they look to raise an increased awareness of a tragedy that is going on at this very moment. “It is important for people to be aware that even today something as horrible as the mass destruction, rape, torture and murder of tens of thousands of innocent peopleis possible,” Michelle said, “and that something must be done about it.”