Black Student Union holds sit-in
With hopes of drawing attention to the victims of genocidal atrocities in Darfur, Sudan, the USF Black Student Union organized a “Sit In for Darfur” from 2 — 4 p.m. at the University Area Community Center on Sunday. “The word ‘sit-in’ I used in the title is a play on words. The people in attendance of this event are sitting in for the people who cannot be here; i.e. the victims of the Darfur genocide. We used the words ‘sit in’ to mark the urgency of the situation,” said sophomore Edwin Cadet, the ambassador for BSU. The event, Cadet said, was organized to inform USF students and Tampa residents of the ongoing crisis in Darfur and encourage people to become involved in providing aid for civilians. During the event, excerpts from Hotel Rwanda were shown and Edward Kissi of the Department of Africana Studies and Festus Oheagubulm of Government International Affairs were guest speakers.
“In the history of the world, it has taken a few human beings conscious enough to set in motion processes that have led to change in human society,” said Kissi, who throughout his speech discussed the moral importance of spreading awareness about the victims of Darfur.
“Let us not be so selfish that we cannot think about the plight of people who are not related to us,” he said.
Kissi said that there are various causes for the dire situation in Sudan, but he brought more attention to international policies that move the global economy.
“Many things have caused the Sudan crisis. International extraction of oil is one of the several reasons why we are here today,” he said. “The question is, how have we obtained resources we need to function in a global economy? In the process of extracting resources, what has been the aftermath of that extraction?”
Kissi explained that in Sudan, there is an imbalance between the extraction of resources from the land and economic development. The profits being made from resources are not being put towards developing an economically sound province.
Sudan, the largest country in Africa, is located in the northeastern part of the continent. The region of Darfur, located in Sudan’s western area, is roughly the size of California. In the past, sporadic bouts of conflict over resources have risen between the farming communities and nomadic groups of the region.
According to Amnesty International, the conflict mushroomed when Sudanese rebels, after years of claiming political, economic and social marginalization, took arms against the Sudanese government in February 2003. These rebel groups are made up of the tribal farming communities of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa.
The Sudanese government retaliated by arming Arab militias called the Janjaweed (gunman on horseback) to rein over the region and clear population bases suspected to be supporting the rebellion. The Janjaweed are responsible for attacking farming villages, rape, murder, looting, kidnapping, poisoning water and livestock slaughter. As a result, it has been documented by the United Nations that four million civilians have been displaced. An analysis from the Washington Post has reported the death toll reaching 400,000.
While the United Nation labels the situation in Darfur as a ‘crisis,’ many others, like Cadet and members of BSU, label the genocide as similar to that in Rwanda.
“In my eyes, it’s extremely urgent because we have an example in (the) Rwandan genocide of ’94,” said Cadet. The sit in, aside from informing students of the Darfur crisis, also collected donations. BSU will continue to take donations at its office on the second floor of the Phyllis P. Marshall Center. Donations made will go to the Genocide Intervention Fund.