Darfuri refugees, leaders of anti-genocide groups and even a Holocaust survivor were among a crowd of more than 100 protestors who marched in Amnesty International’s Global Day for Darfur rally Sunday. The group also included members of Georgetown’s Student Anti-Genocide Coalition and anti-genocide activists from surrounding schools.

Around 15 protesters, holding signs outlining steps they wanted President George W. Bush take to stop the genocide in Darfur, were arrested to cheers on the sidewalk along the fence of the White House after they refused to obey police orders to leave.

STAND chapters from high schools and local universities, students sporting sweatshirts from as far away as Illinois and Texas and a core group of Georgetown’s STAND chapter members joined others in the march from the National Mall to the White House.

On the Mall, participants and passersby saw an African drumming demonstration and other cultural displays, children’s activities, petition signing, a speaker program and an Amnesty International exhibition entitled “Displaced.”Displaced” is “an interactive human rights exhibition focused on the everyday lives and rights of 2.6 million Darfuris displaced by the conflict” according to an Amnesty International press release. The event was co-sponsored by Amnesty International USA, Save Darfur Coalition, Genocide Intervention Network and the Student Anti-Genocide Coalition.

Speakers on the Mall included Darfuri activists Garelnabi Abusikin and Niemat Ahmadi, Amnesty International USA’s executive director Larry Cox, Save Darfur Coalition’s senior director Amjad Atallah and STAND’s executive director, Brown University junior Scott Warren. Additional speakers in Lafayette Park were less formally organized by STAND.

Atallah spoke of the international solidarity of the Save Darfur Coalition, a coalition of 180 faith-based organizations celebrating Global Day for Darfur across the globe in 33 countries.

“Across America, there are events just like this to bring a voice to the people in Darfur,” he said. “When genocide happens in one place, it impacts every single place on earth. We are helping to prevent the next genocide,” he said.

He also talked about conditions on the ground: 100,000 Darfuris have been displaced and moved to Internally Displaced Persons camps since the United Nations began its involvement in the nation, he said. Furthermore, he said, government planes painted white to look like U.N. relief planes used to commit atrocities against the people.

“You will meet fathers outraged and humiliated that they can’t protect their families,” Atallah said. “The reason that the people [in the Capitol], and the reason that the people in the White House care is because you care. The moment you turn your eyes away is the moment they turn theirs.”

Banners displayed during the march included several that named genocides of the past century along with death totals, including “1939 Holocaust, 11 million,”1975 Cambodia, 1.7 million,” 1992 Bosnia, 200,000″ and “1994 Rwanda, 800,000.” Network news cameras rolled as protestors approached the White House. Around half an hour later, a growing number of police officers and police trucks arrived on the scene to clear the crowd.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.