February 7, 2009 (WASHINGTON) – Student protesters marched around the US State Department on Friday calling for stronger intervention in Darfur.
- Student protesters demonstrating in front of the US State Department (ST)
The protest was part of a campaign called “Darfur from Day One” organized by three main activist groups.
The ten students held signs saying “Protect Muhajiriya,” a reference to a South Darfur town of 30,000 residents targeted by Sudanese warplanes since a rebel incursion on January 15.
Humanitarian aid officials say that the recent hostilities in South Darfur displaced 30,000 people in Muhajaria and Shearia localities. The total number of Darfuris displaced in the conflict is about 3 million, including those who have fled across the border to Chad.
“President Obama, Secretary Clinton, and Ambassador Rice have shown that they can talk a big game on Darfur. Yet, they appear to be failing what is clearly Khartoum’s first test of their resolve,” said Sean Redding, a student activist spokesperson.
The student demonstrators chanted “Hillary, protect Darfur, it’s our responsibility” and “Protect Darfur, protect the IDPs,” a reference to more than two million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who are mostly concentrated in urbanized camps.
Most of the students were from the George Washington University chapter of STAND, an anti-genocide activist network originally founded under the name Students Taking Action Now: Darfur.
Similarly sized groups of student activists demonstrated at the confirmation hearings of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Ambassador Susan Rice.
According to a spokesman for STAND’s parent affiliate, the Genocide Intervention Network, the student movement has over 800 chapters at high schools and universities across the country.
UN official estimate that some 300,000 people have died as a result of the Darfur conflict. Sudan blames the Western media for exaggerating the figures and puts the death toll at 10,000.
The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al Bashir faces an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to be released as early as next week.