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March 27, 2006

The World Outside Our Windows: Learning about Displacement and Resettlement

Source: http://www.powerhousebooks.com/photos/8199157-550px.jpg

"There's a world outside your window / and it's a world of dread and fear" - from "Do They Know it's Christmas?" by Sir Bob Geldof, et al.

As students of the Holocaust, we know something about the horrors of genocide . . .

From The Citizenship and Civic Engagement Initiative:

Since 2003, there has been a war between the Sudanese government and two rebel groups in this western region of Sudan. The government forces and the ethnic militias called "Janjaweed" have systematically attacked the Darfurian civilians, killing unarmed people, burning their villages, stealing their livestock, and forcing them to flee. The government forces and the Janjaweed have also terrorized these displaced people in their refugee camps. The Janjaweed are using rape as a weapon to further demoralize and destroy the social fabric of the Darfurian peoples. These brutal actions have been called "ethnic cleansing" and "genocide."

Last week the IUP (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) student newspaper, The Penn, ran the following article about the humanitarian crisis in Sudan (see below). Dr. Marveta Ryan-Sams, in a campus-wide email, said "There is a genocide taking place in the Darfur region of Sudan. Thousands of Sudanese citizens are being killed, raped . . .

Author Mohammed Yahya

. . . and forced from their homes by government-backed militias. Mr. Mohamed Yahya is a refugee from Darfur who personally experienced this disaster. Today, he leads others to speak out and take action to end the humanitarian crisis in Sudan.

In light of other works about crimes of hate and crimes against humanity that have been explored this year in my college writing class, this important lecture seemed relevant and applicable to the discourse. If you would like to comment on this article or have heard (or plan to attend) the lecture by Mr. Mohamed Yahya, please offer your remarks in the field below this entry.

Reprinted from The Penn, 23 March 2006, by Bill Harder:

Events to focus on Sudan crisis

The Pan-African studies program is making the voices of two individuals involved in the humanitarian crisis in Sudan heard.

“An Experience of Displacement and Resettlement” will be presented tonight at 7 p.m. in the Allegheny Room of the HUB.

“The Humanitarian Crisis in Sudan” will be presented as part of the Six O’Clock Series Monday in the Ohio Room of the HUB.

Tonight’s event focuses on the “Lost Boys” of Sudan, a group of thousands of orphans forced to travel for 14 years in order to escape war. One of the lost boys and current IUP student James Garang (junior, international studies and political science), will tell his story.

Civil war drove as many as 20,000 boys from their homes in 1987. The boys fled to Ethiopia, walking thousands of miles through African wilderness. Many of them died on the journey.

“In Ethiopia the U.N. collected us, about 16,000,” said Garang. “We lived under our own care. There were no elders in charge.”

In 1991 a civil war in Ethiopia forced the boys back into Sudan, where they were attacked by Sudanese forces, said Garang.

“They saw the 'Lost Boys’ as a threat to liberation,” said Garang, “and so the forces followed their every step.

“War followed us wherever we went.”

The boys arrived in Kenya in 1992. More than half of the boys had lost their lives by this point.

Almost 4,000 “Lost Boys” came to the United States in 2001.

“We had been so used to war following us,” said Garang. “When many of the boys saw the events of 9/11, they immediately thought it was still our war following us.”

The event Monday night takes a look at the genocide occurring in the Darfur region of Sudan through a first-hand account.

Mohamed Yahya, a refuge from Darfur who experienced the genocide, will speak at the event.

Yahya works to raise awareness about the events occurring in Darfur that go mostly unnoticed by Americans.

“There is a genocide going on today,” said Spanish professor Marveta Ryan-Sams. “There are systematic attacks by government-backed militias.

“We need to raise awareness; this is a humanitarian crisis, and there is little to no press coverage because of the restricted press in Sudan.”

There will be information tables on Sudan in the HUB food court outside the Delaware Room on Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m.

Amnesty International will also sponsor “Torture and the Darfur: An Amnesty International Teach-In” tomorrow at 6 p.m. in 118A Sprowls Hall.

Original article found HERE.

From the CCEI Website:

Educate yourself! See the blog and photo journal posted by the NBC Today Show’s Anne Currie about her trip to Sudan at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11199306. The blog also has links to organizations serving in Sudan and/or raising awareness about it.


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Posted by lhobbs at March 27, 2006 09:19 AM

Readers' Comments:

Professor Hobbs,

Mohammed Yahya’s lecture really caught me off guard. As my roommate and I were entering the Ohio room, I asked her what sort of crisis was going on in Sudan. I admit that I do not follow the news that well, but I would have never imagined that the situation was as bad as Yahya described.

I lost one person over two years ago that was really close to me. I’m still not over it. I feel so overdramatic compared to Yahya, who spoke of his home village being attacked while he was away studying in Egypt. During this attack, seventeen of his family members were killed and three of his best friends, all in one day.

Yahya and his friends tried to help prevent future attacks. This can be related to “Generation 89” in that they both deal with college students trying to prevent terrible things from happening in their countries.

It is absurd to have genocide in the 21st century. As of right now I do not see anything being accomplished in changing the way things are if they have not been changed already. I think that it should be brought to a higher authority’s attention and keep telling people until something is done to fix this mess.

Angela H.

Posted by: Angela H. at March 29, 2006 01:47 AM

Hello Professor Hobbs,

During Mohammed Yahya's talk about the "Crisis in Sudan", I couldn't help but feel a connection with what he was going through. My neighbor died of lung cancer during my first month at IUP last semester and it was very hard for my family and me. He was a very close friend of the family, and he and his wife have been there for my sister and me during some rough personal times. It felt as though everything was changing beyond my control once I moved to Indiana from Pittsburgh. Although a 45-50 minute drive doesn't seem long, it put a great distance between what was happening at home and my new life at college. I felt like I should have been there when the cancer took my neighbor's life, but I knew that I couldn't bring back the past.

Mohammed Yahya did not only lose one close friend, but he lost many of his family members along with three of his friends. He was studying in Egypt at the time of the attacks on his village. Just as how I felt when my neighbor had passed, Mohammed Yahya knew that he had to do something about the terrible attacks.

I believe that his talk could be connected with all of the subject matter covered in our English course thus far. Each and every piece of subject matter had one main thing in common; process. There is a process to everything in life. Even life is a process in itself. Yahya had to go through the grieving process due to the loss of loved ones as well as the process of finding a way to fight back. He did not want genocide to occur anymore. He took a firm stance on the issue and got as many involved in the fight against these horrific attacks as he possibly could. Now, going around campuses, he teaches us of values and to honor what we as American's have. Although we all do have rough times, things are better than they seem to be. In speaking to college students, professors, and anyone who will listen, Yahya completes one more step in the process of bringing an end to the genocides in Sudan, and bringing happiness to his people.

Missy Z.

Posted by: Missy Z at April 3, 2006 07:40 PM

Professor Hobbs,

During Mohamed Yahya’s presentation, “The Humanitarian Crisis in Sudan,” a lot of emotions and feelings ran through my body. As Yahya spoke, I could feel his passion and concern for his country and family. He explained how his people were being murdered just because they were Sudanese. The events taking place in Sudan remind me of the Holocaust that took place in Germany many years ago. I think that it is terrible how the Sudanese are being exterminated, and I wish I could do something to resolve the problem. We talked about this situation in some detail in my health class, and we came up with a few solutions.

The Sudanese have a ruthless government, which is run mainly by the military. Since the military has a large contribution to the government’s rule, the Sudanese residents are forced to abide by the rules or be shot. The United States has made efforts to help the Sudanese by flying aid packages over the country, but they were confiscated by the government during the attempt. Organizations such as the Red Cross and UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund), have set up relief plans to help the situation in Sudan, so our class decided to make cash donations. Mr. Yahya said that by being aware that there actually is a problem is a part of the solution. He thanked everyone who attended, and he called the American people caring. He also stated that he loved being in America, but he still wishes to return to Sudan to rescue more natives.

Yahya said that living in America has taken some getting used to. Throughout the presentation, the only thing that I could think about was, “what if I was in his situation?” What if I was here in America, and my family and friends were thousands of miles away suffering? How would I deal with that? I could not come up with an answer, and I just sat there in complete amazement. Actually hearing a first-hand account of what was happening in Sudan gave me a clearer understanding of just how serious this is. Yahya did an excellent job of putting the audience in his shoes. His voiced explained his disgust, pain, and compassion for his country. I know that if I was in Yahya’s place, I would be angry and upset. No one deserves to be harmed because of their ethnicity, and more people need to take an initiative to resolve the problem.

I am glad that I attended Mohamed Yahya’s presentation of, “The Humanitarian Crisis in Sudan.” I gained a lot of insight about the problem currently going on in Sudan. Yahya gave great examples explaining what it was like while he escaped from the Sudanese government. His account was very moving and inspiring. Now I feel that it is my responsibility to raise awareness about the problem, and to do something to be a part of the solution. Anyone who is interested in fixing the problem in Sudan should look into non-profit organizations contributing to Sudanese relief funds.

Kashiff M.

Posted by: Kashiff M. at April 18, 2006 06:41 PM

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