Open invitation to save a life in Darfur

By Brian Pierce

One year ago, I wrote about a village in the Darfur region of Sudan called Donki Dereisa and the six young children there who were thrown into a blazing fire by Arab militiamen and burned alive as part of a systematic massacre that was as methodical as it was horrifying.

I wrote again last semester of the ongoing divestment effort to persuade the University of Illinois to remove from its endowment any funds that are invested in any of the approximately 100 public companies operating in association with the government of Sudan.

That effort is still ongoing, though University President B. Joseph White has expressed willingness to go forth with a divestment plan and has put things in motion to carry that plan out.

Time will tell whether the University will ultimately follow through and the student body will have to remain vigilant until our tuition dollars are no longer being indirectly funneled into a mass murder. To urge President White to finalize the divestment plan as quickly as possible, you can e-mail him at [email protected]

I write again for the third time about the genocide in Darfur not to continue haranguing the University about its endowment funds. I write instead to harangue you.

Action Darfur, which is the University of Illinois chapter of the student anti-genocide coalition STAND, will be holding a Week of Action next week from the 16th to the 22nd.

Throughout the week you will see members of Action Darfur on the Quad raising awareness of the genocide and urging individual action.

You will also be able to head down to Qdoba for lunch, which is cooperating in a fundraiser where proceeds will go to a genocide intervention network that supports the roughly 2 million Darfur civilians that have been displaced from their homes.

On Wednesday, April 18, you will perhaps be wondering why bells across campus from various churches will be ringing at 9:15 p.m. The answer is that it will be part of a commemoration that night that will begin with a candlelight vigil at 8:45 p.m. outside Altgeld Hall.

So far not much effort from you is required, unless you consider eating a delicious burrito ‘effort.’ Not much more effort is being asked of you aside from closing out the Week of Action by attending the Dance for Darfur on Sunday, April 22 at 6 p.m. in room 112 of Gregory Hall.

Organizers are anticipating a large audience that will gather to dance, enjoy (or at least tolerate) the performances of several a cappella choirs and dance groups and send some cash toward the aforementioned genocide intervention network.

It is a special kind of luxury to live in a climate where the sacrifice expected of you is attendance at a college party. Indeed, most of us sacrifice as much every weekend and all we get in return are a few beers.

It should be no great feat to expend the same effort and at the end of the day know you have helped to fight against one of the greatest human tragedies this world has ever known.

So consider yourself invited. And if you can’t make it, you can still put your liberal guilt at ease by going to www.standnow.org and donating online.

We all still possess the knowledge that this genocide will continue unabated in large part until a serious outside force steps in. I do not pretend your attendance at a dance next Sunday will change that.

But while it may be clich‚, it is also accurate to point out that what little help students at this University can provide could mean life or death to a Sudanese refugee.

So keep the face of a single refugee in your mind next week, and do a little something to help him or her out.

For more information on the Week of Action or how to help the victims of the genocide in Darfur, contact the president of Action Darfur, Katie Flamand, at [email protected]