Saturday, November 06, 2010

Carl Wilkens to speak at UNC tonight!!

One of my personal heroes, Carl Wilkens, is coming to speak at UNC Chapel Hill tonight. He has an incredible story of staying in Rwanda throughout the genocide and helping people. His stories are powerful and the message poignant. Stop by and check it out if you are within striking distance of Chapel Hill.

When: Nov. 6 at 6 p.m.
Where: Hanes Art Center 121, UNC campus

See you there!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Has Obama forgotten Darfur?

Has Obama forgotten Darfur? This thought-provoking question is posed by Nick Kristoff in his latest op-ed in the New York Times.

This is a must-read reminder that Darfur is "still a crime scene" and that violence is steadily increasing. I will admit, I've enjoyed the lull in violence and let my own mind wander from this conflict. A bit of me wants peace so bad that it celebrates the "no news is good news" policy. Well, Kristoff reminds us that in the case of Darfur, no news does not mean good news - it just means we are ignoring the news and forgetting about the situation.

We need to wake up to the impending violence with the upcoming vote in Southern Sudan on independence. I pledge to not forget Darfur, not forget Sudan and not to forget my friends and their families.

Read more.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Video: Elon 4/11/10 rally montage

Way to go Elon!

Elon University in North Carolina held an anti-genocide rally on April 11. It was organized by the local STAND chapter and had several partners. It was great to see so many bright, young men and women spend a gorgeous day indoors to learn about ways to prevent genocide. Although the turnout wasn't as high as the organizers wanted, the local student paper showed up and covered the event and my talk.

Check out this great article by The Pendulum:

The power of the media will help this positive message spread beyond the walls of the rally. I always enjoy speaking at events like this because it inspires me to keep working to end the suffering in Darfur.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

March Madness in Sudan

In North Carolina, there's no mistaking what March Madness means. The fervor of basketball fans pushing their favorite teams to victory surrounds and seduces us all. In Sudan, March Madness stands for the craziness of pushing forward with elections already marred by bloodshed and opposition boycotts. The Sudanese elections coming in April are close to being a complete sham and sending the region back into violence and chaos. For all the warning signs, the Obama Administration has remained remarkably muted.

It is increasingly critical that Congress and the Administration pay closer attention to the situation in Darfur, ensure to their greatest ability that the national elections are free and fair, and pressure the International Criminal Court to hold al-Bashir accountable for crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity. Rep. Brad Miller and Sen. Richard Burr need to step up and be leaders in this area. They’ve been briefed on the Obama Administration’s Sudan Policy, issued in late 2009, and are in a position of influence.

So as this year’s March Madness wraps up, let’s work together to ensure that people around the world have the freedom to cheer on their favorite teams and political leaders to victory without fear of violence.

Pick-up the phone and dial 1-800-GENOCIDE on Monday, April 5, and we’ll connect you with your Senators and Representatives. Tell Congress and the Obama Administration that the situation in Sudan cannot be ignored for much longer.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Introducing CGAN

One of the biggest frustrations I had with my time as a fellow with the Genocide Intervention Network was the lack of communication among local genocide activists. I would hear about cool events AFTER they were over. I talked to people all over the Triangle region of N.C. who felt they were alone in their genocide prevention efforts, when just around the corner there was another person feeling the same way.

So, how can we stay connected? What about a wiki - a web site that anyone can edit - to create an online presence?

Thus, the idea for the Carolina Genocide Action Network (CGAN) was born. The CGAN is an informal, low-maintenance community of men and women who care about genocide prevention issues. It's targeted to people who live in North and South Carolina, but all are welcome.

So check it out, join the wiki, leave an update and let me know what you think. Is this the right direction for us to go?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Two positive recent developments - dare we hope?

In the world of genocide prevention advocacy, we’re used to bad news. In fact, we sort of brace ourselves for the worst even while hoping for the best. That’s a trait beat into us from years of seeing oppressors escape justice for mass atrocities while the general American public blithely ignores what is happening.

Well, take heart. There have been two recent developments of note in regard to Darfur. It’s too early to declare victory on either one of these, but hopefully they are the early signs of a positive turnaround.

1. International Court Paves the Way to Charge Bashir with Genocide
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir could face genocide charges in the International Criminal Court (ICC) after a legal ruling over his role in the conflict in Darfur. Bashir, who already faces an arrest warrant on seven charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes, is now eligible to charged with genocide after an appeals court overturned a previous ruling stating there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him with genocide.

If the ICC decided to bring charges of genocide against Bashir, it would be the first time it has done so against a sitting head of state. It goes without saying that this would be monumental on many levels, including sending a major warning shot to other oppressors interested in similar tactics. Read more here.

2. New Truce Between Major Rebel Group and Government
The major Darfur rebel movement JEM is set to sign a truce with the Sudanese government in Doha, Qatar, this week. This agreement would mark just one in a ling string of ceasefires – but observers have high hopes for this one. Among other reasons, the Sudanese government (and Bashir in particular) is under particular pressure to demonstrate progress given item #1 above and the upcoming April elections in Sudan. If the truce holds, it will lead to more detailed peace talks in March on issues such as power sharing. Can we hope for this to be a baby-step in the right direction?

Of course, JEM isn’t the only rebel group fighting in Darfur and therefore this peace deal is limited in scope. Success will also be determined by the extent that Sudan and JEM can include the other groups and not alienate them in this process. Read more here.

So, here are two positive recent developments – dare we to celebrate? Not yet. History is littered with false starts.

We’ll keep a close eye on both and keep praying that they ultimately lead to the end of suffering in Darfur and Eastern Chad.

Monday, January 25, 2010

State of the Union: Will Obama mention genocide?

As a Triangle resident who grew up in Sudan, I won’t be drinking shots every time President Obama says “jobs” as I watch this week’s State of the Union address. Nor will I scrutinize every word for subtle signs of socialism. I will be looking for a young president to live up to his campaign promises of change as it pertains to the most egregious of all crimes: genocide.

President Obama has chosen to deliver his first State of the Union Address on same day as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This provides him with an incredible opportunity to be the first president to declare a commitment and plan to abolish genocide.

Further, President Obama should specifically call on the nation and the world to redouble its efforts to prevent atrocities and bloody war in Sudan. Prevention is easier and cheaper than intervention.

So - what are the odds that Obama mentions genocide during his address?

Friday, January 15, 2010

New Genocide Intervention Network web site

The Genocide Intervention Network (GI-Net) is leading the national anti-genocide movement and has grown dramatically in the previous five years. Started by a small group of college students, this organization has grown to be a formidable presence in Washington, D.C. with a million dollar budget dedicated to the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities.

As readers of this blog know, I had the privilege of serving as a GI-Net Carl Wilkens Fellow in 2009. I intend to remain active and connected with GI-Net in the years to come.

This is one of the main reasons I am excited to see GI-Net update its brand and its web presence. As a senior communications specialist in my “day job” I understand the importance of a good web site and strong identity. I hope the new web site will foster the global genocide prevention movement by being easy to follow, easy to engage and easy to take action.

Check out the new site: What do you think? Does it meet the needs of our growing movement?