Refugee, filmmaker to speak on genocide

By Jordan Freisleben

A Sudanese refugee and a documentarian will speak during Genocide Awareness Week next month. The Darfur Awareness Activism and Training Club organized Genocide Awareness Week, which will take place from Nov. 9 to 13, to spread consciousness about the inhumanity of genocide, DAATC co-president Jake Gutman ’10 said. Sudanese refugee Elizabeth Kuch, who will speak at class meetings, is one of the “lost boys and girls,” a group of Sudanese children whose parents were killed during the Sudanese Civil War and who eventually made their way across the desert into refugee camps in Chad.

The other speaker is filmmaker Paul Freedman (Christopher ’12), who will discuss the current genocide in Sudan at an all-school assembly Nov. 12. Freedman is the director of the HBO documentary “Sand and Sorrow,” a film that focuses on the genocide that has been taking place in Darfur for the past several years. The week will also focus on other past genocides, Gutman said.

“We’re hoping not only to get the awareness out about what’s going on now in Darfur, but also past genocides that might not be as well-documented or [well-known],” Gutman said. “There have been so many that people, especially our age, just don’t know about.”

During Genocide Awareness Week, posters containing information regarding past genocides will be put on display around campus, and some history teachers will incorporate the issue of genocide into their classes, Gutman said.

“We’ve talked to a few history teachers about using that week to discuss genocide and the Americans’ political response in AP U.S. History and AP Government,” Gutman said.

Genocide Awareness Week will also include a bake sale and the selling of T-shirts on Nov. 13 to raise money for a Jewish World Watch project which provides solar cookers for Sudanese refugees. The project also funds the donation of aluminum sheets that women in refugee camps can use to heat water and cook food so that they do not have to leave camp to collect firewood.

“A lot of people don’t even know [the refugees] exist, what happened, why did it happen, how many people were killed, what were the implications,” Gutman said. “We vowed after World War II and after the Holocaust to stop it, yet time after time again it happens and there’s no one there to stand up and say ‘no.’”

“We wanted to get to the fact that it’s just not about Darfur,” Gutman said. “Unfortunately that’s what’s going on right now, but people neglect to realize that genocides have been going on forever and they haven’t been recognized. While our name is the Darfur Awareness Activism and Training Club, we also want to be a genocide awareness club and speak about other things, not just Darfur.”