CoPIRG members gathered at the UMC to attract attention to Darfur conflict
A group of protesters wearing black armbands and carrying colorful posters gathered on the south side of the UMC today to draw attention to the conflict in Darfur, Sudan.
One sign read, “How many deaths makes genocide?” and another said “1 life can be forgotten / how about 400,000?” in reference to the number of estimated deaths in Darfur, as reported by www.savedarfur.org.
Jen Poitras, an independent consultant with a group called International Rescue Committee, came to speak to the group, organized by the CU student group CoPIRG.
“If people aren’t outraged about what’s going on in Darfur right now, quite simply you aren’t paying attention,” Poitras said to the group gathered at the 2 p.m. protest.
Poitras called for the U.S. to take action and encourage the U.N. to send a peacekeeping force to the region.
“The conflict in Darfur is a genocide,” she said after finishing her presentation to the group. “It’s very complex and not easily depicted in a sound byte; the media tends to refer to it as an Arab-African issue, which is a gross oversimplification. It involves culture, resources and race.”
Poitras said she has worked in international aid for the last eight years and that Darfur is “by far the most disturbing and gross violation of human rights” that she has seen.
She said it was incredibly disturbing that there is such a lack of interest and response from the international community.
“How much worse does it have to get before the international community responds in a meaningful way?” Poitras asked.
Poitras also said she was disappointed that so few students, about 12, showed up to the protest, though she added she was pleased with the dedication of those who did appear.
Kristin Grabarek, organizer for the CoPIRG student chapter, said that protests at CU will continue to occur over the next few days.
Grabarek said students plan to gather on Norlin Quad around 9 p.m. on Thursday. They will wear colors on their hands indicating “how they died,” to reflect how people in Darfur are being killed.
The event is called the “Commit to Die Sleep-In at Norlin Quad,” but Grabarek said the group was later informed they aren’t allowed to sleep on the quad, so will instead gather “for several hours.”
Grabarek said the event is “in conjunction with a week of action around the country,” and she hopes the combined effort will pressure the president to act.
“Bush said ‘Not on my watch,'” Grabarek said in regard to the president’s stand against genocide. “We’re asking him to live up to his words.”