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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Students ‘die-in’ to protest genocide

By Ryan Shelton

U students held a demonstration Friday to protest and raise awareness about genocide in Darfur.

In what was called a “die-in,” students laid on the ground and pretended to be dead in the Marriott Library Plaza to represent the nearly 400,000 people estimated to have been killed in Darfur.

“A lot of students don’t really know what’s going on in Darfur,” said Vanessa Johnson, a senior international studies major and member of STAND, a nationwide student ani-genocide coalition that organized the event. “We’re trying to raise awareness and educate students so that hopefully they can help stop the killing. Some people even ask us, ‘What is genocide?'”

Darfur is a region in western Sudan that has been in turmoil since early 2004, when government troops and militia groups called the Janjaweed moved to suppress rebels who complained that the region’s black population had been abandoned by the country’s Islamic central government. Violence escalated to genocidal levels over the next three years, causing the United Nations and several member national groups to impose economic sanctions on Sudan that have had little effect.

An international peacekeeping force took over for the fledgling African Union forces at the beginning of this year, but bureaucratic delays have stopped forces from entering conflict areas.

Rebecca Simmons, a member of the Salt Lake Saves Darfur group and U alumna, spoke at the protest and said that pressuring China to stop supporting the Sudanese government with billions in investments is the best way to stop the killings.

“China responds well to shame,” Simmons said. “The Summer Olympics in Beijing are providing a great stage for protestors around the world to pressure China to change its policies regarding Sudan.”

As the Olympic torch makes its way around the globe, thousands of demonstrators have protested China’s relationship with Sudan. On Sunday, the BBC reported that more than 30 protestors were arrested in London as the torch made its way through Great Britain’s capital city.

Political science professor Tim Chambless praised the students for their efforts to raise awareness on campus and said that modern technology, such as satellite imagery, allows governments to confirm the killings in Darfur, making any official denials of the genocide unsubstantiated.

“If we’re going to call ourselves civilized, then we have to stop the genocide,” he said.

[email protected]

Thomas Nelson

Abby Ellis and Cappi Hansen feign death to bring attention to genocides taking place around the world. The Protests took place on the Marriott Library Plaza Friday afternoon.

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