Andover STAND Attends ‘Dream For Darfur’ In Boston, Ibric ’06 and U.S. Representative Speak

Ten Phillips Academy students joined hundreds of people for the Dream for Darfur Olympic Torch event at Boston’s City Hall Plaza last Sunday. The Dream for Darfur event has occurred in three other cities in the U.S. and across the world, encouraging individuals to help end the suffering in Darfur and bring the Olympic Dream to Darfur. The Phillips Academy students in attendance represented Andover STAND, Students Taking Action Now: Darfur, a club on campus that hosts events and raises awareness for the genocide occurring in Darfur, Sudan. The event opened with a speech from Erich Cohen, co-chair of the Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur. In his speech, Cohen encouraged those concerned with the situation in Darfur to “keep the pressure on.” Cohen urged spectators not to believe the false promises from the government and the media about the situation in Darfur. Instead, he advised everyone to keep active in pursuing real results in the campaign against genocide. Cohen turned the microphone over to Congressional leader John Tierney, a Darfur activist who represents the sixth district of Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives. Tierney said, “To remain silent in the face of another tragedy is not the answer to the problem.” He encouraged everyone to stay active by writing to the U.S. Secretary General, writing to newspapers, hosting events and spreading awareness about the topic. Congressman Tierney then changed the focus of his speech to politics. Tierney criticized the Chinese for their continued investment in Sudanese oil, as these funds help pay for the weapons used in the genocide. The crowd responded with loud applause when Tierney said, “Put principles and humanitarianism before the almighty dollar!” Tierney also mentioned that since the 2008 Olympics will be held in Beijing China, China is in a position to lead the efforts to help Darfur. Tierney said, “‘One World, One Dream’ is the motto of the Olympics; so should the Olympic games serve as a catalyst to help end the tragedies going on in Darfur.” Still, Tierney did not exclude other governments in his evaluation of genocide prevention efforts. He argued that the United States, Japan, Russia and the European Union all “could and should do more.” The second portion of the Dream for Darfur event included speakers representing five different areas plagued by genocide in the past century. These speakers were survivors from the Armenian, Bosnian, Cambodian, Rwandan, Sudanese and Holocaust genocides. These speakers offered their personal stories about genocide and their hopes that the genocide in Darfur will end promptly and be the last genocide in world history. One of the genocide survivors that spoke was former Andover student Merzudin Ibric ’06. Ibric survived the Bosnian genocide, through a grenade injured his sister and a sniper killed his uncle. After telling the story of his uncle being buried by candlelight, Ibric said, “I hope the world hears the voice of those in Darfur. They need to know that we are listening.” Rosian Zerner, a survivor from the Holocaust, spoke next. She said, “The Holocaust should be a beacon and a lesson for humanity. I am horrified that in my lifetime I see a Sudan that has still not learned from the Holocaust.” The final genocide survivor to speak was Panther Alier, a member of the Lost Boys from Sudan, a group of Sudanese refugees recently featured in an eponymous film. Everyone in attendance rose for Alier’s speech as he said, “I was able to escape death but I was unable to escape the traumas that come with. I know that the people in Darfur need our support and they need our attention.” Following the genocide survivors’ speeches, each of the survivors held hands and lit a flame in the center of the stage. The event emcee announced that the flame represented the hope for an end to violence in Darfur and an end to genocide everywhere. After the lighting of the torch, the Executive Director of the Dream for Darfur Campaign Jill Savit spoke. Savit said, “China cannot sponsor genocide in Africa and the Olympic games at home.” Then, Savit led the entire crowd in repeating the organization’s motto, “China please, bring the Olympic dream to Darfur!” The program concluded with 15 individuals that are involved in Darfur committees and from various towns in Massachusetts that commented on the situation in Darfur. Daniel Glassberg ’09 spoke on behalf of Andover and said, “We all must continue to work as individuals, groups and together as one to put pressure on Sudan and China.” Kevin Ofori ’09 was among the Andover students to attend the rally in Boston. Ofori said, “It was a good experience because we were around people with a common goal of saving Darfur. [The event] also provided the opportunity for us to meet some groups that we may work with down the line.”