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Darfur protesters take a STAND

Seventy activists ‘died’ on the cold bricks of Boston City Hall Plaza on Wednesday night to protest the genocide in Darfur.

‘Bashir is lying. Millions are dying,’ protesters chanted.

The protesters laid on the ground for about 10 minutes before getting up, chanting to ‘make the public aware’ of recent events in the Sudanese region, STAND Massachusetts State Outreach Coordinator and University of Massachusetts Amherst student Nikki Tishler said.’

Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir expelled more than a dozen international aid groups from Sudan after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the president for war crimes March 4.

STAND, which is the student-led part of the Genocide Intervention Network, and Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur organized the emergency rally in a conference call Sunday, Save Darfur Chairman Eric Cohen said.

The groups had little time to plan a response to the events of March 4, Cohen said. After deciding that the most important response was an immediate one, the coalition sent out a mass email and relied on its members to spread the word.

‘When the events happening are affecting 2.7 million people, there was no time for hesitation,’ Cohen said.

Students and adults raised signs, some computer-printed, some home-made, that read, ‘Genocide by Starvation’ and ‘Get up. Stand up. STOP Genocide in Darfur.’

Students from Lexington High School, Amnesty International members and Save Darfur members passed out fliers to people who walked through the area.

Passersbys stopped to ask about Darfur. Suffolk University senior James Twombly said he had never paid much attention to Darfur.

‘I’d like to see Fox 25 here,’ Twombly said. ‘More people should know about this.’

Protesters also asked onlookers and passersby to text ‘Darfur’ to the phone number 90822, a connection to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Earlier in the week, the main focus of the rally was to pressure President Barack Obama to send an envoy to Sudan, Save Darfur and Physicians for Human Rights member Joe Read said.’ However, Obama appointed retired Air Force General Scott Gration as a special envoy before the protest Sudan Wednesday.

‘That is only the first step,’ Lexington High School senior Caroline Davidson said.

Former Vietnam War protester Reuel Liebert said he has been socially active since he was in high school, and he had expected to see more students out supporting the cause.

‘Although the event was very short notice, Boston is filled with university students who have access to fast communication and can quickly organize,’ he said. ‘It’s somewhat understandable that adults might not find this issue to be the most important, what with this economic crisis, but students should be out here.

‘If you can’t get the young people, you’ll never get the old people,’ Liebert said.

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