Archive for September, 2013

We Are STAND

Posted: September 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

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Three years ago, birthed through an intro-level Anthropology paper, STAND Against Genocide formed a chapter here at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Over the past three years, through clashes with faculty, collaboration with student orgs, impromptu late-night vigils, graffiti forays, and other adventures, OU STAND has grown to become what a professor recently praised as one of the most active and respected student groups on campus.

So, who are we?

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We are the Ohio University chapter of STAND Against Genocide. STAND is a national, student-run organization that was birthed from the activism surrounding the Save Darfur movement. STAND originally stood for “Students Taking Action Now in Darfur,” but has since grown to encompass so much more. Focusing on international human rights and genocide specifically, we are present on campuses across the nation as a voice for the unseen atrocities happening all around the world right now.

And they are happening right now.

  • As most people know, significantly more than 100,000 individuals have been killed in the scattered battlefields of Syria. Well more than 2 million refugees have fled the country and that number grows every day. (#syriasly?)
  • Two revolutions have erupted in Egypt in the past two years, which is unheard of in the history of revolutions.
  • The “Arab Spring” slew of uprisings in northern Africa and the Middle East has spawned enormous body counts as well as huge misunderstanding when it comes to revolution, religion, government, and conflict.
  • A little less known are the mortalities and atrocities of the Great Lakes Region in Central Africa, more specifically Sudan, South Sudan, Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Estimates vary, but somewhere between 5 and 6 million people have been killed in the stagnant violence that has plagued the region since the early 90s.
  • According to a 2011 UN report, 1100 women are raped every day in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo where sexual violence is used as a weapon of war to destabilize whole communities.
  • Sexual terrorism is certainly not limited to the DRC. Cases of sexual violence as a terror tactic have been turning up in the Central African Republic, Burma (Myanmar), Syria, the Sudans, and others.
  • In the obscure, south-Asian nation of Burma (Myanmar), political prisoners have been held for years under oppressive and unjust laws as the Rohingya people have been constantly abused.

… and these are just the issues we have focused on in the past. There are other areas we will address as the years roll on.

And how do we address these things? Our mission is two-fold.

  • First, we want to be a voice on campus, raising awareness about what is happening around the world. We want students here in the US, specifically on campus at Ohio University, to know both how we affect the issues happening now, and how we can affect the outcome and be a small part of bringing about solutions. We do this mostly by staging events around campus such as film screenings, artistic demonstrations, speakers or guest lecturers, performing artists, teach-ins, etc., but also through our individual interactions with students and faculty here on campus.

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  • Second, we are striving to be advocates of those who are oppressed by approaching our academic and political institutions. Conflict Free Campus Initiative, or CFCI (read about CFCI here), has been our primary focus over the past two years. The process of becoming a conflict-free campus/institution has been both frustrating and rewarding, but it is a process that continues to this day at OU. Aside from CFCI, we have also lobbied state and national representatives with phone and e-mail campaigns, bombarding legislators and sometimes the White House with recommendations for policy focuses.

Finally, we at STAND strive to be engaged citizens in everything we do. This branches from our convictions on international issues, to activism here at home as we advocate for those who find themselves downtrodden here in our own society. While we tend to focus on issues outside of the United States, we acknowledge that there are real issues here at home that must be addressed.

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I think that our focus on the international issues in STAND stems from their very invisible nature. Here in our guarded US community, our ignorance as a culture inspires us in STAND to go against that norm and care deeply about those we can’t see and try to fight against those atrocities we can’t really comprehend. We want to be a community of global citizens capable of feeling empathy for those far from us as well as those who live on the same campus as us.

We are STAND Against Genocide, and we are actively deciding to STAND up for those for those who do not have the opportunity to live in peace. STAND with us and follow along.

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