Rally calls for action in Darfur


Acts of genocide in Darfur, Sudan, have spawned local and national action. In response to a national rally, University groups, Twin Cities religious churches, synagogues, mosques and community organizations came together Sunday afternoon on the mall of the state Capitol to send a message to legislators that action by the United States and Minnesota governments is needed in Darfur.

The University’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Human Rights Center and Institute for Global Studies were among the University involvement that supported the event.

Minneapolis Rabbi Sim Glaser was one of the afternoon’s speakers who addressed the hundreds in attendance.

Glaser said he compares Darfur to the holocaust because of the mass devastation.

The event at the Capitol was not going to take place, he said, but through the actions of the community, the groups were able to put together an event because Minnesotans wanted to bring attention to the acts.

“We’ve got to call local, national and international attention to this,” Glaser said.

Among the signs saying “Save Darfur: Stop Genocide,” and “Stop the Genocide,” students and community members stood watching groups sing songs of hope and various speakers discuss the need for action.

University students who live in Bailey Hall took action by providing a vehicle for students in the residence hall who wanted to attend the rally, global studies junior Chelsie Frank said.

Frank worked on a poster with Bailey Hall director Sarah Sampolinski to hold during the rally.

“My concern is there has been very little media attention,” Sampolinski said.

She said she hoped the rally would help make Darfur more noticeable in the media.

Politicians were some of the highlighted speakers of the event.

U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., said he was happy to see so many people out on a wet and cold day.

“It is great to have so many of the next generation (here),” he said.

Dayton placed blame on the Bush administration for not taking action in Darfur.

It is time for the United States to take action and “come to our senses,” he said.

Dayton said one of the ways people can show their support is writing letters to their legislators and making their voices heard.

“It is our responsibility to turn this world over to the next generation in a lot better shape than it is in now,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., also spoke and thanked the crowd for showing their presence and commitment.

“The time for action is now,” she said.

McCollum said it is time for food, medical aid and justice to be brought to the people of Darfur.

She said the misery of the situation is real, and the United States must have the courage to step in.

The event brought in Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders to speak, said Julie Swiler, public affairs director for Jewish Community Relations Council for Minnesota and the Dakotas.

She said different faith groups got involved because the acts of genocide in Darfur include political, religious and ethical issues.

“It gets to the core of the issue of how you should treat your fellow human being,” she said.