Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Sudan Civil Society Forum in Oslo - For a just and lasting peace - 7-9 April 2005

Sudan's future to be discussed in Oslo 7-9 April 2005. See the following copy of a recent Press Release:

More than 50 representatives from Sudanese organisations are to come together in Oslo from April 7, 9 to discuss ways in which civil society can contribute to a lasting peace in their homeland.

Minister for Development Hilde Frafjord Johnson will open the conference on Thursday 7th April at 18:00. Representatives from the parties who signed Sudan's peace agreement in January this year, the government in Khartoum and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), will be holding opening addresses.

Conference participants will represent a broad spread of political, cultural and religious groups both from northern and southern Sudan, and roughly half of the participants are women. The conference is a rare opportunity for civil society to meet and discuss common challenges for the years ahead.

The conference is open to the press, and there will be the opportunity to meet participants in person.

Participants are to elect four delegates to represent the voice of Sudanese civil society at the international Donors' Conference for Sudan that is to be held in Oslo 11, 12 April, which both Kofi Annan and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be attending.

The Sudan Civil Society Forum in Oslo has arranged by Norwegian Church Aid, Norwegian Peoples' Aid and Sudan Support Group. On Sunday, April 10 a press conference will be held giving details of the conference's findings. An invitation to this press conference will follow.

For more information, contact:

Stein Erik Horjen, Special Adviser - Peace and Reconciliation, Norwegian Church Aid
Tel. +47 22 09 28 43, Mob. +47 93 88 14 41

Laurie MacGregor, Press Officer, Norwegian Church Aid
Tel. +47 22 09 27 32, Mob. +47 47 41 31 15

Ivar Christiansen, Press Officer, Norwegian People's Aid
Tel. +47 22 03 77 62 Mob. +47 91 61 08 73

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100 Days of Action drumming up support and awareness for Darfur

From the Coalition for Darfur: 100 Days of Action.
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Spotlight on Darfur Week April 4-8, Harvard University, USA

From Jim at Sudan: The Passion of the Present: Spotlight on Darfur Week April 4-8, Harvard University. A distinguished panel will discuss "Darfur: Can the World Stop the Horror?"

Important UPDATES from Jim Moore at Passion of the Present April 6:

Harvard sells PetroChina stake
Dear Abby, Sudan could use your help..

Personally, I believe the Genocide Intervention Fund is the most important initiative now. Don't kid yourself -- NGO aid organizations can not stop the killing. Killers can only be stopped by some form of on-the-ground policing. And the GIF, sponsored by Swarthmore students and now being picked up by many many others, is the ONLY initiative truly focused on policing. Here is the announcement of their big event today: Today's kickoff for the Genocide Intervention Fund
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From Jocelyn Hanamirian at The Daily Princetonian: Drumming up support and awareness for Darfur.

American students drumming up awareness for Darfur
Photo by Willie Poor. Students watch a drum circle on the south lawn of Frist Campus Center on Monday afternoon as the first in a series of events to raise money for Darfur.

Students heading to late meal walked to a different beat last night, as a circle of students jammed on African drums on the south lawn of Frist Campus Center. Led by New Jersey-based artist Dorothy Sikora, about 20 students made the campus resound with the first sounds of Embracing Darfur, a week of events organized by the Princeton Darfur Action Committee (PDAC).

The week was scheduled to coincide with the anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, which began April 7, 1994. In November, PDAC organized An Evening for Darfur, a night of dance and vocal performances that raised more than $5,000 for Oxfam.
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Canadian students taking a stand for Darfur

April 7 Canadian Jewish News excerpt:

"Many McGill students were relieved to discover that attention is finally being paid to the crisis in Dafur, and STAND members were thrilled with the number of McGill students eager to join their group.

But this enthusiasm was not unanimous among students. Many responded with apathy, refusing to sign the petition, or even to pick up the information sheets being distributed. Several group members said that disinterest has been the group's biggest obstacle.

"Apathy has been our biggest challenge," STAND representative from Concordia, Josh Fisher, said. "Some people don't care because they don't know what's going on. Others don't care because they live in a country where their security is a given, and can't be bothered to help those who don't share that liberty."

To combat this feeling of apathy among students, STAND and Hillel Montreal are holding a benefit concert called Give It Up For Darfur, to raise awareness about the crisis and money for the victims. It takes place on April 7 at Just for Laughs Cabaret.
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USA: Harvard Divests From PetroChina Stock

Excerpt from an April 5 article at the Harvard Crimson by Daniel J Hemel:

"Harvard announced yesterday that it will sell its stake in PetroChina, bowing to pressure from students and faculty members who had denounced the Beijing-based oil company for its ties to the Sudanese government.

The Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility (CCSR) said in a statement yesterday that the decision "reflects deep concerns about the grievous crisis that persists in the Darfur region of Sudan," where government-backed militiamen have killed tens of thousands of black Muslim villagers."

Harvard Divests From PetroChina Stock
Photo: Crimson/Mitra Dowlatshahi. Chimnomso K. S. Kalu '07, Alexander D. Rafael '07, Felipe A. Tewes '06, and Vikram Viswanathan '06, along with 150 other students walked to Loeb House yesterday in a silent protest organized by the United Front for Divestment. Staff writer Daniel J. Hemel can be reached at
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USA: Darfur Action Group

Darfur Action Group is "an independent body that began as an umbrella organization to link different human rights sub-groups on Harvard's many campuses.

It has expanded beyond this original definition to offer its services to all Northeastern campuses in the US. By communicating through Darfur Action Group, the many student organizations coordinate and support each campus group's initiative to bring awareness of the Darfur conflict to their campus community. It is our hope that the unity of the organizers and organizations pushing to create an awareness and indignation of Darfur in their respective communities, will eventually reach the critical mass necessary to create the powerful hand of popular outrage and action to influence Congress and the world.

If your organization is in the Northeastern US and you would like to disseminate your information and activities to college campuses, please contact us. We will do our best to incorporate you into our community and together we will reach our communities and stop the killing."
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MTV brings Nobel laureate to students

Elie Wiesel talks about genocide in Sudan. By Megha Garg. Published April 5, 2005 at University of Miami Hurricane online. Here is an excerpt:

When students walked into the seminar room at the Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic studies on Tuesday, they knew class was going to be a little different than usual. Professors Sherri Porcelain and Miriam Klein Kassenoff had combined their classes and moved them to a different location, and there were cameras all over the room when students took their seats.

But when 1986 Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel walked in, the collective "Oooh!" displayed the awe and shock of the students sitting in the room.

"The class before we were talking about his book Night [Wiesel's autobiographical novel about his experiences during the Holocaust] and all of a sudden he just walks in there," Rajiv Nijhawan, sophomore, said. "It was totally unexpected."

Wiesel's visit was arranged by and taped for the mtvU series Stand-in, in which celebrities make a surprise appearance and take the place of the professor for the class.

Wiesel focused on the worldwide indifference toward the mass genocides occurring in Sudan and Rwanda, relating them to his experiences in the Auschwitz concentration camp during the Holocaust.

"The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference," Wiesel said. "An ethical person is one who is not indifferent."

He talked about suffering through the Nazi regime and finding out that the world was aware of what was happening.

"When we learned that people knew, it was easy to give up on humanity," Wiesel said.

Wiesel' advice to college students was simple."
"When you read about an injustice, always take the side of the victims," he said. "Your silence or indifference will never hurt the killer, only the victim."
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Lost Boys of Sudan relate survival stories

Two men recall war, horrors of Sudan life. By JJ Hensley at The Arizona Republic, April 5, 2005. Copy:

How do you quiet an auditorium full of rambunctious high schoolers in the grip of spring fever? Tell them one of the most enthralling stories they have ever heard.

Teachers at Dobson High School pulled off that feat last week with the help of two of the Lost Boys of Sudan, the name given to the hundreds of Sudanese children orphaned by war who spent years walking through southeast Africa and waiting to immigrate to the United States.

The Lost Boys are young men now, many in college, working to support themselves and raising money and awareness about their plight.

"Every time we share what we went through, it's a part of the process of healing for what we went through," said Jany Deng, one of about 500 Lost Boys living in the Phoenix area.

More than 600 Dobson students in a crowded auditorium experienced that catharsis Wednesday, though it was hard to predict that from the way the presentation started.

As the students watched a CBS-TV 60 Minutes piece on the Lost Boys, there were pockets of laughter when a frame of a Sudanese boy with a crooked smile flashed across the screen.

The boy had damaged teeth, but the air went out of their laughter when they realized how it got that way: It was the result of a decade-long diet of mainly of mud and meal.

From that point on, the students were eating out of the Lost Boys' scarred hands, sitting in silence as the video detailed a journey colored with war and famine the boys began at an age when many of these students were learning their ABC's.

"We didn't know where we were going, we just prayed to God," said Deng, 26, who started his trek when he was 6 years old. "If this person (dies), you just step over them and keep on walking."

Anecdotes like that shook the hundreds of high school students in attendance, drawing a collective gasp from the audience.

"To see everything they went through, it puts everything in perspective. It teaches you humility," Dobson senior Brodie Phillips, 18, said after the presentation.

Many of the more interesting aspects of their journey, from fighting off jungle animals and crocodiles, to learning to use a can opener and drive a car, were detailed in the video, but seeing two of the survivors in person made the experience more tangible, Phillips said.

"Most school assemblies, it's a joke. It's an excuse to get out of class," he said. "I think the story is just so powerful that you can't help but be amazed by it."

Despite the serious circumstances that brought the students together, there were some lighthearted moments, particularly when Deng and his counterpart, Gabriel Majok, 25, took questions from the crowd.

"When you came to America did you think we were, like, the fattest people ever," asked one observant student, noting the slim build of the Sudanese emigrants.

"It didn't surprise me that much," Deng said.

Their journey here had taken them through parts of Europe where residents were at least as hefty as Americans, he said. In a follow-up question, the student asked about his favorite food. It's pizza, for the record, a response that drew cheers and applause.

But the biggest response came at the end of the presentation, when the Lost Boys got a standing ovation.

"The message I wanted them to get from it is about how valuable education is, something that we take for granted," said Kim Klett, the English teacher who set up the assembly. "I am hoping that since spring fever has set in and many students aren't thinking so seriously about school, that this will rejuvenate them and make them realize how important school is."
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The Nairobi Declaration on the Final Phase of Peace in the Sudan

Please click here for the full text of "The Nairobi Declaration on the Final Phase of Peace in the Sudan" signed by Sudanese vice president and the chairman of the SPLM/A, on Sunday, January 9, 2005.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How can one continue to help "the Lost Boys" project? I was very moved to read in the NYTimes this morning about the graduation from Wagner College of Malual Manyok Duot.