Dreaming for Darfur
' The United Nations estimates the Darfur conflict has left as many as 450,000 dead from violence and disease and 2.5 million displaced from their homes. The label of genocide is still disputed, however, after a UN report in January 2005 concluded that "the Government of the Sudan has not pursued a policy of genocide." '
"China please, save Darfur!" chanted a green-clad crowd of about 35 students Wednesday afternoon. The throng participated in the Dream for Darfur's Olympic Torch Relay that, in addition to the White Rose Society's continuing campaign, advocates an end to the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan, deemed a genocide by the U.S. government.
China, according to the organization's Web site, has the foremost responsibility to help end the killings as it is the Sudanese government's biggest foreign investor, arms dealer and political ally. To draw attention to this dependency, the organization and its partner, the Save Darfur Coalition, created a symbolic U.S. relay in addition to an international relay as Beijing prepares for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.
Leran Minc, government senior and the Apathy or Action Symposium chair for White Rose, said China's relationship with Sudan goes against the official slogan of these Olympics.
"The slogan, 'One World, One Dream,' shows that China is refusing to acknowledge its complicity with the Sudanese government," Minc said. "It is a matter of getting the key players in this situation motivated. The world is very slow to react because it is an area that does not carry much international interest. But if China stops, the Sudanese government will stop."
Colin Lowenberg, an electrical engineering senior and the White Rose's national advocacy chair, helped motivate the participants of the "peaceful torch walk," as it was led by several people, holding an ignited torch, down 21st Street to the steps of Gregory Gymnasium and then back to the South Mall. Lowenberg said it was one of the largest turnouts for a Darfur event that he has been involved in.
"I think this is a testament to how people do care about Darfur enough to come out for 15 minutes and participate in a small outlet to make a difference," Lowenberg said. "It's the only place on Earth that genocide has been declared to have taken place, and I won't stop until this genocide ends."
When the relay ended, one of the participants, communication studies freshman Alys Bryant, said the rally served a purpose that needs more attention.
"People around here have just heard the name 'Darfur' without really knowing what's going on there. The Holocaust is going on right now with people dying every day," she said. "That's why I think the White Rose Society should hold open forums, like my FIG program, and open the floor up. You can tell people all day about it, but they will still have questions."
The United Nations estimates the Darfur conflict has left as many as 450,000 dead from violence and disease and 2.5 million displaced from their homes. The label of genocide is still disputed, however, after a UN report in January 2005 concluded that "the Government of the Sudan has not pursued a policy of genocide."