The Fresno State Coalition to Save Darfur will hold a demonstration — Refugee Village — from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 29, that will include a “Die-in” at 1 p.m. to demonstrate solidarity with those who suffer in Darfur.
Presented in commemoration of National Genocide Prevention Month in April, the event is part of the Diversity Week observance under way on campus from April 23-May 2. It is free and open to the public.
The demonstration, which will take place in Memorial Court, in front of the Kennel Bookstore near Memorial Fountain, is intended “to remember those who have suffered the evil of genocide by speaking out against the ongoing tragedy in Darfur, Sudan,” said coalition member Mellissa Jessen, who is the assistant director of the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning, one of several university programs and organizations in the coalition.
The Fresno State Coalition to Save Darfur consists of students, faculty and staff seeking to engage the campus and community in action calling for a stop to genocide, Jessen said.
The coalition was established in February with members representing various recognized campus clubs and organizations such as the student chapter of Amnesty International, the Anthropology Club, Black Students United, the Armenian Students Organization, Campus Peace and the Political Science Honors Society.
Refugee Village is sponsored by Associated Students, Inc. and co-sponsored by the Department of Literacy and Early Education (Kremen School of Education and Human Development) and the Jan & Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning (Academic Affairs).
“The coalition has organic beginnings rooted in conversations between concerned Fresno State students, faculty and staff who decided that it was time for action,” said Rebecca Miranda of the Fresno State student chapter of Amnesty International.
Jessen said the coalition is hosting Refugee Village to spread awareness of and motivate action for Darfur.
She said that since 2003, at least 300,000 men, women and children have been brutally murdered in Darfur, Sudan, and up to 2.7 million Darfuris have been displaced.
“The government of Sudan has supplied paramilitary forces called the Janjaweed with guns and equipment to engage in a murderous rampage,” Jessen said. “The African Union has observed the atrocities, and recently the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the president of Sudan, Omar Al-Bashir. In retaliation, Al-Bashir has expelled international aid groups that supply about half of the food and water to some 2.7 million refugees. If the United States doesn’t act now, many people will soon perish.”
The event will feature information on past genocides including the Holocaust and the Armenian, Cambodian and Rwandan genocides. An advocacy table will feature information on what Americans can do to speak out against the atrocities in Darfur.
Dr. Glenn DeVoogd, chair of the Literacy and Early Education Department and active member of the coalition, stressed the need for action.
“We have to do something to help those in Darfur who are being systematically killed by their own government,” he said. “One of the purposes of history is to not repeat mistakes of the past … we have had several genocides and yet we seem powerless to stop them.”