When BET producer Greg Branch visited Quinnipiac to premiere a 22-minute documentary on the genocide in Darfur, he emphasized the fact that “on a geo-political scale, it is an issue… we can’t afford to ignore.”

Branch said his reporting team was actually “invited by the government of Sudan, which is the only way to get into Sudan.” He said that he was immediately “very skeptical” and “thought it was propaganda” until the ambassador said “they would give [the journalists] a certain amount of freedom… one-on-one time with the president of Sudan,” which Branch promised to include in the film.

Although Omar Al-Bashir, the president, spoke for over an hour and a half, they could only “touch on a bit of it.” The BET journalists’ ultimate goal really was “to be able to talk to Darfurians that were still there,” as most Darfurians have been pushed out to Chad.

Branch pointed out that the conflict in Darfur is one we must pay attention to, because it will have an impact on an international scale. He said that although “wars in Africa don’t tend to be wars we’re used to fighting… it could be as important.”

He said that it will be “fought over oil,” the type of fierce fight we know all too well of.

“Other world governments like the Chinese and Russians are involved in this,” Branch added. “As things get worse in the Middle East, the oil supply is beginning to shift to the African continent, which has the largest supply of oil.”

Branch said that Sudanese ties with China became very apparent first when he “saw all these Chinese on the way to Khartoum… when we got there, we understood why.”

Families with money in Khartoum have their children educated in “Mandarin and/or Cantonese,” Branch noted. “They are not learning English.”

He also said that “if this doesn’t stop soon,” which he doesn’t see happening, “there is going to be an entire generation of Africans that will be undereducated.”

Branch compared that condition “to slavery here,” in the sense that “everything these people know about their family and cultures and traditions are being taken away from them because they are living in this camps.”

Branch said that although humanitarian groups like Doctors without Borders have “a presence” in Darfur, “the situation changing over the next five to ten years really depends on international interest.

“As long as Bashir and his government can get away with what they are getting away with, there is no reason for it to stop.”

On Tuesday November 13th Greg Branch, an executive producer at BET and Darfur advocate, came to Quinnipiac University to debut the networks newest documentary “Life and Death in Darfur.” The film, a self-proclaimed “Darfur for dummies” makes a distant conflict become far too real. Reporter Jeff Johnson was the host and interviewer throughout the film, and traveled through the war torn country did an amazing job showing details of the crises that we here in America could never imagine. The compelling film created a very “real” feel to an international crisis that seems like nothing more than second page news in a country that is more concerned with the availability of Nintendo Wii this Christmas, than the end of genocide.

After showing the moving film, Branch discussed the documentary process with aspiring journalists hitting on the obstacles faced trying to report on a war zone. He told stories of difficulties in the film making process ranging from issues with travel to safety. The dangers were not the only concern for the film makers. Problems with translation during interviews, subjects being afraid of repercussions for speaking out, and a biased administration were all road blocks in reporting the truth for the filmmakers. The final objective of the group was to educate and infuriate the everyday American to get up and do something. Branch said the problem isn’t as much awareness as it is apathy. He said that the majority of Americans are more concerned with life state side than they are with the state of a foreign country where they have no ties. He says that the solution is to make people more aware of the actual details of the occurrences in Darfur and get influential people behind the cause, leading to a public outpour of support. Captivating the hearts of America is the only way that we here in the U.S. are going to begin to make a difference in the seemingly forgotten country.

Later in the interview Branch speaks more on war between the North and South if the South is able to secede and take the oil that helps bring money in to the rest country. This helped the audience put the crises into terms we can understand, relating it to our own current war.

The bottom line of Branch’s presentation was that change needs to be made. Americans need to become more aware, and serious strides towards progress in Darfur have to be made. If not, the destruction we see now could continue for years to come.

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Greg Branch, a BET producer, came to Quinnipiac University last week to talk about his latest project.

In an effort to spread awareness for the political and social crisis going on in Darfur, Johnson spoke to students in QU’s “Reporting for the Web” class about his 30-minute report “Life and Death in Darfur: Jeff Johnson Reports.”

The documentary takes on the view of people living in the region and the effects it is having on the nation. It marks the feelings, the truth, and the events of the crisis in Darfur and reflects the U.S. response to these events.

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Although college students are often criticized for being “apathetic” to world news, it is evident Quinnipiac students were deeply moved by Johnson’s visit.

“I thought it was kind of schocking to see the images that they had there,” said junior broadcast major Ryan Nicholsen. “They didn’t hold anything back. There were skulls and dead bodies. They really showed what was going on in Darfur.”

BET did not plan to publically air Johnson’s report until two weeks after their visit to QU, allowing students to be the first in the nation to see it.

“I thought it was pretty cool. It was really cool to see something before everyone else, even if it was just a rough cut,” said Kendra Butters who plans to write for a newspaper after college. “But it was a different type of premier. It was more serious.”

Although students took well to BET’s message, it seemed that for some, it just wasn’t enough.

“I think they could have done a lot more. As far as the time they actually aired it, it wasn’t even primetime. It wasn’t sufficeint,” Jacqueline Rumore said.

It wasn’t only the air-time on BET that troubled students, but the length of the overall report.

“They could have done a whole hour,” Rumore said. “No one will watch a two-hour documentary. A twenty-two minute documentary is too short. Everyone would watch an hour.”

Darfur-college

November 6, 2007

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Students can make a difference. We have all seen it. The real question though, is do they want to make a difference? Do students have the time, the knowledge and most importantly the heart to do all that they are capable of doing for Darfur?
As we saw from our previous post, most students do not seem to know much about Darfur at all, but that does not mean that they don’t want to make a difference. It also doesn’t mean that every student does not know about Darfur. According to a survey we posted for Quinnipiac students about Darfur, most students are in the know. Almost everyone knew the basic facts about Darfur, such as its location, and that it is a genocide. Also, and overwhelming 69.2 percent said that they did care about Darfur and they rated the topic of Darfur most popular at school or on campus instead of at home, at church or even in the media.
Darfur does matter to students, even at Quinnipiac, which was recently rated the nations second most apathetic campus in the nation. Sophomore Lindsay Michaelson is one of the leaders of QU Stand. STAND is a student anti-genocide coalition with different branches at different colleges and universities all over the world. Lindsay has put hours of time and endless amounts of effort into trying to raise money for Darfur. Her and the small amount of members in QU Stand have done everything from making and selling shirts to covering the campus in balloons to writing huge messages in chalk on dorm road. According to her, neither the administration nor the student body is very cooperative or receptive of their efforts. However, she still believes that given the chance, students can without a doubt make a difference in Darfur.

Click here to take our survey.

There are clearly students at Quinnipiac who know about Darfur, and they believe that they can make a difference. Students are very passionate people and often it takes just one of them to make a difference. Even one student can make a difference. However, the key to making a big difference is getting more students involved. Students do know and they care, they just need to be found and persuaded to help make a difference.

Ashley Balogh, print journalism
Jacqueline Rumore, print journalism
John McKenna, broadcast journalism
Eric Turcio, broadcast journalism

Click to see a map of Darfur and find out where genocide exists today


Gail Ostrow, of the Connecticut coalition of Save Darfur, believes that “genocide is something people do.”


Ostrow’s “first big wake-up call” came in 2003 when she began reading the New York Times columns of Nicholas Kristof, who she says was “the only one who was writing about Darfur at the time.”


She says that she had an “Aha! Moment,” that she “had lived long enough to understand how the Holocaust had happened.” Osgow, who practices Judaism, says that “it was a very low moment” when she realized, “here I am, having dinner at a local restaurant while there’s a genocide going on.”

Ostrow is an adjunct professor at Fairfield University and Housatonic College, and says she “teaches history and life disguised as English 11 and 12.” As a person who works with all kinds of people, Ostrow knows that “there’s a lot of apathy… certainly here,” since “we’re about as far away from Africa as you can get.”

Ostrow traces the roots of modern-day genocide back to the Holocaust in Europe. She says that the word “Holocaust” is of Greek origin, and means “burnt offering.” According to Ostrow, Jews find this phrase highly offensive, because there was no “burnt offering”: “they were destroyed.”

Instead, Jews prefer the phrase “shoah,” which means “great destruction.” According to Ostrow, this “great destruction” was a continution of 2,000 years of Christian anti-Semitism, “a creation of Jews as something other than human.” Ostrow says this is “something you have to do- you have to de-humanize your enemy.”

The word “’Holocaust’ was coined after World War 2, in conjunction with the Nuremberg trials and laws created so that genocide wouldn’t happened again;” however, as Ostrow clearly states, “genocide is not a Jewish problem, it’s a human problem.”

According to Ostrow, in the “Rwanda [genocide] , we had no national interest” and she doesn’t believe that “we have interest in Africans or people of color, period.”

Even though the “United Nations is severely ineffectual,” Ostrow has talked to several people in the ground agencies, and says that they are “very knowledgeable, very concerned, and would fix it if they could.”

Ostrow sees her job “as planting seeds.” She condedes that “maybe a student won’t do anything,” but points out the fact that “they now know about Darfur and someday that might lead to something.”

Click to hear more from Gail on the topic of genocide in the twentieth century:

Tell us: How involved would you become in resolving this crisis?

What Do People Really Know?

November 5, 2007

 

 

What would happen if you were to interview everyday people off the street about Darfur? How much would they know? What information would they be able to provide?

Well, we tried just that and it was more surprising than we had imagined.

On Saturday, November 3rd we decided to go into Hamden, Conn. to see what the average Wal*Mart shopper knew about Darfur. However, many refused to speak on camera unless they were given prior information regarding the genocide.

Despite this, two people were willing to be interviewed. One man, Mike, was more than willing to talk. Mike’s church group pays particular attention to the genocide, and even said they pray for those in Darfur being subjected to these inhumane acts daily.

But as discussed in our podcast, how far will prayers go to save a race being subjected to genocide?

Another person, Tyler, is a senior at Quinnipiac University. Tyler admitted to not being knowledgeable on the subject, however was still willing to speak on camera regardless of his lack of information.

In our previous post, we gave simple ways to take a stand: wristbands, banners for buildings, t-shirts, etc. However, it is clear people need to educate themselves on what is going on.

In fact, educators can take advantage of means to inform others. Darfur Diaries is an account of three filmmakers who went to the Sudan to give the people a chance to make their stories known to the world. People are able to obtain screening rights in order to show the documentary to those in their communities. Additionally, there are also step-by-step instructions and tips to send out press releases and inform communities.

Not only this, but in Connecticut alone there is a Coalition to Save Darfur which holds weekly meetings, attends conferences, maintains a blog and also updates talking points important to society.

Though our society today may be ill-informed of this disgusting time in mankind’s history, we would all be equally horrible to not take a stand and at least try to inform ourselves on ways to help.

How do You Feel?

Map of Darfur and Neighboring Chad

Eric Turcio
John McKenna
Jacqueline Rumore
Ashley Balogh

The genocidal conflict in Darfur is a developed crisis which will surely endure if the world fails to recognize how serious this situation is.

Allyn Brooks-LaSure, spokesman for “Save Darfur,” says his group is really a coalition of 180 other Darfur organizations. They formed together in hopes of promoting a greater advocacy of a domestic and international voice for change.

The prevalence of genocide in Darfur is largely due to the lack of direct assistance from other nations, as well as the fact that any intervention thus far has been unsuccessful. Brooks-LaSure stresses the fact that the longer this disaster endures in Darfur, the more difficult it will be to resolve. He also pointed out that since the crisis began, rebel organizations have multiplied; in turn, multiplying the difficulty in countering the problem.

There is evidence of violence and war in the Darfur region. Rebel groups are expanding and spreading their violence by bombing villages and raping women. However, the Sudanese government has been known to commit these same crimes. These acts of violence make it difficult for organizations, such as “Save Darfur,” to really make a meaningful and effective contribution to ending this crisis. Primarily, raising awareness is the best this group is doing at the moment.

Brooks-LaSure feels fairly certain that the United Nations is doing all it can in helping this catastrophe in Darfur. However, it’s up to organizations like “Save Darfur” to help set the primary focus on this particular atrocity. The U.N. deals with global-related issues everyday, and can’t practically funnel all of its resources into just one particular issue in the international community. In fact, genocide and other humanitarian crimes are committed all over the world- Darfur is the location of just one of them. Having organizations working along with the U.N. helps with addressing the issues and advocating the rights of the people affected. The U.N. has deployed troops to Darfur to help aid the safety of the civilians. Recent reports released say it’s tougher for humanitarian workers to provide relief and aid to the civilians as well due to the harsh conditions. Peacekeepers, journalists, and local residents alike have been killed or tortured as a part of the conflict.

The United States, France, and the United Kingdom all have played a significant role in the fight to help Darfur. Brooks-LaSure cited France, especially, as the new president Nicolas Sarkozy, has devoted much time and effort to this cause. He also said that the United States government has given much devotion and finances in funding this project; in fact, the U.S. was the first country to label the crisis in Darfur “genocide.” Brooks-LaSure said that “Save Darfur” needs the aid of China; a nation which he believes has a responsibility and the ability to do more to help. In fact, China has been implicated in the supplying of arms to rogues responsible for the massacres his organization is trying to end.

Not only does “Save Darfur” try to recruit the support of nations, but it enlists the help of other major groups, as well. States, universities, and other municipalities have been called upon to do their part. Brooks-LaSure finally stressed that the financial endorsement of these groups is imperative in helping fight against this genocide.

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The conflict in Darfur has been growing at an exponential rate for years now. With thousands dying each year, people there need help.

 

Despite the talks of a peace treaty, it appears now that peace in the Sudan is becoming more intangible.

In fact, CNN.com has reported that “The ruling party of autonomous southern Sudan suspended its participation in a national unity government with the north on Thursday, the worst blow yet to a fragile peace deal that ended years of civil war in the country.”

Although Americans are not fully informed on the subject, many are making an effort. With “not on our watch” signs hanging on houses and in storefronts, people everyday try to take a stand and inform others.

However, other actions must be taken. Colleen Driscoll, a political science professor at Quinnipiac University, said that people can start with very basic ways to reach the higher-ups in the government about this serious issue.

Holding protests or even writing letters to a congressperson are easy ways to take a stand. The impact one can have by writing a letter is far greater than many think Driscoll said.

Yet if the American people are not informed, it will be difficult to take a stand. Americans must educate themselves on Darfur in order to become concerned.

There are various websites raising awareness, however www.eyesondarfur.org allows people to go to the region and see before and after pictures of the mass destruction of land and people.

Jason Levin, the programming manager for Q30, said that the media is focused on leads that “bleed.” Levin said that Americans are so enthralled with morbid stories that it is surprising there are not more Darfur-related stories.

But it is important for the US, as a world super power, to take a stand. Driscoll believes that the US needs assess not only the human aspect of this conflict, but also the monetary aspect. The $106 million allocated by the US is not nearly enough.

Furthermore, Driscoll thinks that the US is concerned with the copious amount of oil that is located in the region. Because of this, the US does not want anyone else touching it.

DARFUR ON THE COLLEGE BEAT

There is a massive genocide in western Sudan, but do college student really know anything about it? On the college campus of Quinnipiac University in Hamden Conn. most students seem to be living in the dark. Many students at the school are not aware of the situation in Darfur. Why you might ask? Well, students say they have not been educated about the topic. Therefore, students don’t have any idea what Darfur is. The educational curriculum is not offering students the chance to learn about other current cultures. In many college history classes current events are not discussed. The only way students can learn about Darfur is by educating themselves. There are websites, Podcasts, and news stories released everyday in regards to Darfur. All people really have to do is view it.   

            One student on the campus said the only education she had about Darfur is from high school. In high school speakers came into the environment to discuss the horrible genocide. Since high school she has not been given any information regarding Darfur. Is the problem the students or the college campus? 

            Some students at Quinnipiac University say there are small protests on the college quad. Other campus organizations have also posted signs in order to spread awareness of the problems in Darfur. Besides these small acts of protest according to most students, the university has done nothing substantial to get involved in the fight AGAINST Darfur.

            What can be done to help stop Darfur? What has been done to help stop Darfur? Why do most college students not know anything about Darfur?

            If college students around the world are changing the actions in Darfur why can’t Quinnipiac University students do the same? Is it that they are just not given the chance too make a difference?

            But students can make a difference. If they have not already then they can start now. Protests, signs, and awareness are all the major keys to the fight against Genocide.

Hear what students are saying…..   

John McKenna, Ashley Balogh, Eric Turcio, and Jacqueline Rumore discuss some of the major issues both the international and African communities are facing in dealing with the genocide in Darfur.

In 2003, the Sudanese government sent troops and the Janjaweed militia to systematically destroy the lives of Darfurians by bombing and burning villages, looting any economic resources, and murdering, raping, and torturing innocent civilians.
The Sudanese government denies backing the Janjaweeds.
These attacks are supposedly in response to the rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Army and Justice and equality movement; however, most people affected are not a part of these groups.
It was not until 2004 that the United States declared the issue in Darfur genocide. In addition, there is no official death rate count because the government will not allow for that. There have been between 200,000 and 400,000 deaths in Darfur. These deaths include foreign peace keepers, journalists, and the natives. At least 2.5 million people have been displaced due to violence and face constant threats of rape, assault, and death.
The crisis in Darfur is portrayed simply as the war crimes by the Sudanese government—they claim it is a gross exaggeration.
The conflict in Darfur can be attributed to the natural resources available in the country. Other countries are supporting the corrupt Sudanese government in exchange for its rich resources.
Countries such as China and Russia are economically entrenched in Darfur. These countries aid the government by supplying arms and exploiting the country for oil. 50% of China’s oil comes from Sudan. Though Russia publicly denounces the acts of genocide and hope they will cease, they are still supplying arms.
China and Russia have blocked most sanctions placed against Sudan to maintain economical stability.
Although many countries benefit economically from the resources in Darfur, many companies are selling their investments to show that they do not support genocide. These many companies, universities, and individual investors have formed a force: the Divestment Task Force.
Another issue being faced in Darfur is environmental issues. Overpopulation, desertification, and the exploitation of environment—chopping down trees, burning villages and fighting over land- all have contributed to the genocides occurring in Darfur.
The United Nations backed a movement to deploy 26,000 peace keeping force African troops– African Union volunteers, UN volunteers and African troops. Many people fear the UN’s involvement may be too little, too late. Since the Sudanese government opposed foreign involvement, the conflict has grown. Many also believe that peacekeeping forces will not solve this crisis.
Many people are unaware of the holocaust occurring in Darfur. Some say it is too far away and there is nothing they can do; however, knowledge is the first step. Because of the War on Iraq, all attention has been placed there, because that affects the United States more apparently. It is also extremely dangerous to report in Darfur, so information is scarcely available. The United States and the United Nations are obsessed with war on terror in the Middle East. They have failed to properly address the crisis in Darfur.
To learn more information on the Crisis in Darfur visit Standnow.org or Do Something.org. Educate yourself.