STAND Members Team Up to Tackle Issues of Genocide

Phillips Academy students in Students Taking Action Now for Darfur Group (STAND), a anti genocide student group, teamed up with STAND chapters across the country to tackle issues of genocide and human rights abuses. This past weekend, six Phillips Academy students travelled to the Pledge 2 Protect 2011 conference, sponsored by Genocide Intervention, Save Darfur and National STAND organization, in Washington D.C. At the conference, Phillips Academy students talked to activists who focused on the Libya intervention, previous U.S. genocides and the conflict in Darfur and Libya. The first day at the conference closed with John Prendergast, an author of “The Enough Moment” and an eager human rights activist. The second part of the conference started with Bec Hamilton, author of “Fighting for Darfur: Public Action and the Struggle to Stop Genocide”. She reflected on the movement of the nations trying to prevent the Darfur genocide. “The conference was valuable to me, because we not only made great connections with other activists, but also became better advocates and organizers, skills that we can bring back to PA community,” said, Co-Head of Phillips Academy STAND chapter, Matt Lloyd-Thomas ’12. Students were also able to work with the Stanford STAND chapter for the Conflict Free Campus (CFC) movement at the conference. The CFC movement mainly works to have companies take responsibility for the “conflict” minerals they use in their electronics. “Conflict minerals” refer to minerals that come from regions with armed conflict or human rights abuses. Stanford STAND is one of the most active participants of the CFC movement, and by working with them, Phillips Academy students gained more insight about the program. Omekongo Dibinga, a rapper and human activist, spoke during the STAND conference. “You see people digging tons of dirt to find one ounce of gold, so I ask you to remove tons of hurt and uncover one ounce of your soul,” he said. MJ Engel ’13, a member of STAND, said, “This conference gave me a chance to rediscover why STAND is so important to me. Seeing so much enthusiasm and feeling the momentum that the conference built reminded me that grassroots movement such as STAND and people as young as us really do have a voice and can make change.” Phillips Academy’s STAND chapter strives to raise awareness about genocides and work towards helping countries with genocide. In past years, the club has hosted speakers such as Carl Wilkens, the former head of the Adventist Development and Relief in Rwanda and the director of “World Outside My Shoes”. The club raised more then 1,300 dollars through for the sister school in the Eastern Chad for Darfurian refugees. STAND also encourages the government to prevent present and future genocides by writing letters to senators, asking them to keep supporting anti-genocide related matters, such as the separation of Sudan. In January, members of STAND travelled to Washing D.C. to meet with congressmen and lobby with human rights activists against the use of conflict minerals. The club also hopes to hold a conference between high school chapters of STAND in the future.