STANDing up for Darfur

By Ana Breton, Rochelle McConkie

It may have been the picture of a dead man lying in dirt with no legs and an arm that was only bone, or the picture of a 1-year-old girl with a large open wound on her back where a bullet landed before puncturing her small lungs.

Or maybe it was both of the images taken in Darfur by photographer Brian Steidle that caught Tiffany Riddle’s attention.

Either way, Riddle, a senior in nursing, is trying to start a movement to make sure photos like that are never taken again.

Last March, Riddle started the U’s chapter of STAND–formerly known as Students Taking Action Now: Darfur–a student anti-genocide coalition dedicated to spreading awareness and stopping the genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

The genocide began when the government of Sudan began sponsoring attacks against the people in the Darfur region of Sudan. The genocide has taken more than 400,000 lives and displaced more than 2,500,000 people, according to the national STAND Web site.

And although the attacks began four years ago, the United States started calling it genocide two years ago.

Group member Erin Rogers said although many people have heard about Darfur, not every one of them knows exactly what the conflict is about.

“People may look at it and think it’s not a true conflict because both sides are black,” Rogers said. “But it’s not about skin tones; there’s a difference between the cultures.”

Darfur is one of the largest humanitarian crises to occur in a long time and awareness needs to be raised to stop the government from “turning a blind eye to its own people,” Rogers said.

“There are so many levels of suffering that these people are going through, like the children that have been damaged so much psychologically, they wake up in the night and just start running because they think the soldiers are coming,” Riddle said. “I can’t live with myself knowing that I did nothing about it.”

Riddle and the 21 members of the group are holding two awareness days (one held yesterday and one today) in an effort to educate people about the genocide in Darfur. The group handed out fliers and information in the Union Free Speech Area aiming not just to educate, but to recruit new members.

“Maybe we can’t solve everything, but if we continue to grow, we can make a small difference,” Riddle said.

Victoria Johnson

Tiffany Riddle, junior in nursing and president of STAND, gives out fliers and pizza outside the Union to educate students about the crisis in Darfur.