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Kobe Bryant takes a stand for the people of Darfur. In a public service announcement issued through Los Angeles-based non-profit Aid Still Required Bryant calls for a united action to stop the genocide. The PSA was aired March 5, 2007 on ESPN, just in time for the NCAA tournament hype.

“In Darfur, hundreds of thousands have been murdered, mutilated–families torn apart,” says Bryant. “We have the power to save lives, to restore lives, to change the world.”

15 NBA players have taped public service announcements, all calling for support in Darfur. “Please take a stand with us. Together we have the power to change the world,” Bryant says on the PSA.

Bryant joins the fight for Darfur with NBA notables Steve Nash, Tracy McGrady, Luol Deng, Derek Fisher, Baron Davis, Grant Hill, Emeka Okafor, Andrew Bynum and many more in speaking out about the atrocities. Others involved in Darfur advocacy include Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Sheryl Crow, Mia Farrow, Common, Ellen DeGeneres, Donovan McNabb, Jessica Biel, Don Cheadle, Desmond Tutu, and Barack Obama.

We need Oprah’s name on this list. We could use her help.

Aid Still Required

Aid Still Required (ASR) is a non-profit, humanitarian organization focused on rebuilding communities through sustainable solutions in the aftermath of natural disasters and human crises. “We believe everyone, everywhere, is entitled to live in dignity, health and peace. We view post-crisis situations as opportunities to do just that. By approaching restoration on an ecologically friendly basis and utilizing a region’s native environment, Aid Still Required ‘builds back better’ and builds back green,” ASR states in its mission statement.

Please visit ASR’s website at www.aidstillrequired.org

Photo from http://www.hiphop-elements.com

Athletes speak out against the atrocities in Darfur. An international coalition of athletes known as Team Darfur is committed to raising awareness about the crisis in Darfur. The organization is supported by over 200 athletes from Angola to the U.S. Team Darfur promotes a campaign that aims to educate the global public of the conflict in Darfur leading up to the 2008 Olympics.

Team Darfur was co-founded by Olympic gold medalist speed skater, Joey Cheek, and UCLA water polo player, Brad Greiner. Cheek raised over $1 million in 2006 when he announced that he would donate his bronze medal to relief in Darfur. Cheek then encouraged other athletes to do the same. At the same time, Greiner realized that if athletes wore a symbol acknowledging the Darfur conflict, people of the world would notice and support efforts to raise awareness and support relief funds for Darfur. Supporters can wear Team Darfur sweatbands and bracelets to show their concern for Dafur.

Team Darfur’s Website includes a list of athletes, a pledge to sign, and a place to purchase Team Darfur products to show support. The athletes’ coalition maintains a positive message that “calls for a celebration of the Olympic spirit, not a boycott.”

The Lane County Darfur Coalition has invited Team Darfur to attend the U.S. Olympic Trials in hopes of putting the spotlight on Darfur. These efforts will have a great impact on the success of the Lane County Darfur Coalition’s campaign, “Bring the Olympic Dream to Darfur.”

Here’s a list of a few of the U.S. Athlete’s that support Team Darfur:

Joey Cheek – US, Speedskater
Jon Rankin – US, Track and Field Athlete
Grace Taylor – US, Gymnast
Peter Cipollone – US, Rower
Nikki Stone – US, Aerial Skier
Genai Kerr – US, Water Polo Player
Maria Cruz Garcia – US, Speedskater
John Naber – US, Swimmer
Amber Stachowski – US, Water Polo Player
Nathaniel Mills – US, Speedskater
Jessica Mendoza – US, Softball Player
Jonathan Page – US, Cyclist
Jennie Finch Daigle – US, Softball Player
Allison Wagner – US, Swimmer
Kelsey Kooreman – US, Triathlete
Philip Dunn – US, Race Walker
Jarrod Shoemaker – US, Triathlete
Doug Lennox – US, Swimmer

Go to http://teamdarfur.org to join the team and sign the charter.

Photo can be found on http://www.teamdarfur.org

 

 

Over the past four weeks, I have been working with the Lane County Darfur Coalition to plan events around the Olympic Trials in Eugene. In hopes of inviting Darfur groups from around the nation to the U.S. Olympic Trials, LCDC is busy with proposals, organization and plans.

We have found it to be incredibly difficult to create awareness when the general public does not understand what the term “genocide” means. Others are not knowledgeable about the crisis in Darfur. In addition, the public does not understand the connection with China and Sudan. And then, people can’t grasp the parallel of the Beijing Olympics to the Nazi Berlin Olympics of 1936.

It has become a PR challenge. The mission is to create awareness of China’s involvement in Sudan surrounding the Olympic Trials. LCDC realizes that this may be the last chance to have an impact on the crisis in Darfur. LCDC does not want to be seen as the radical activists on the other side of fence.

How do we create a positive message when the circumstances are incredibly horrific in Darfur? The stories are not pretty. People are suffering and dying. Each day, the people of Darfur fight to stay alive without the proper health care, food or water. It will continue unless China allows the U.N. to deploy peacekeepers in Sudan. China also needs to pull out economically from Sudan and stop suppling military weapons. The issue is complicated, yet at the same time I find it simple. It’s a humanitarian issue. People are dieing for reasons of greed and power. How far have we come from the Holocaust? It is 2008, and genocide still continues.

LCDC has created a campaign, “Bring the Olympic Dream to Darfur,” to place a positive spin on this deadly issue. It will be necessary to educate the 200,000 spectators and sports fans of the large influence China has in Sudan. LCDC will create easy ways for people to help, including writing to government officials and Olympic sponsors, signing a petition, and wearing a wrist band or t-shirt to show support.

LCDC wants to use this opportunity to spread awareness by sending a positive message about the chance China has to be the change.

If only China could hear the words of Gandhi; “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

It is a difficult lesson to learn, but keeping the dream alive is hard.

Take a look at LCDC’s website to learn about upcoming events http://lcdarfurcoalition.org

Photo was taken Jan. 20, 1986. Photo can be found at http://www.mlkonline.net

 
You can help at http://www.24hoursfordarfur.org

24 Hours For Darfur is a campaign for people online to volunteer, donate and spread support around the world about the issues in Darfur.

This Website contains an online video library of leaders calling for support to Darfur. 24 Hours for Darfur collects individual videotapes from civilians to display on its Website to create awareness about the conflict in Darfur.

World leaders such as Barack Obama, John Edwards, and Mia Farrow have videos featured about their thoughts about the action needed to support the people of Darfur. Leaders ask for political action and humanitarian aid.

You have the option to view videos and then send them to political leaders, such as President Bush, US Congress, and UN Security General Ki-Moon.

You can also watch Darfurian’s testimonies and learn what is really happening on the ground and in the displacement camps in Darfur.

This is a great way to become involved.

When China heard about Steven Spielberg pulling out as artistic advisor for the Beijing 2008 Olympics China sent out an envoy to visit Darfur. China has come under increasing pressure to use its influence in Sudan to end the crisis in Darfur.

The Chinese envoy for Darfur began a five-day visit, beginning on February 26, to Sudan to promote peace and stop the fighting. Chinese Government for Darfur Ambassador, Lui Guijin, visited Sudan on Tuesday, the fifth anniversary of the start of the conflict which the U.N. estimates has left 400,000 dead and 2.5 million displaced.

Liu has stressed the importance of Darfur to Beijing.”My message to the media and the world is that the Chinese government and people are ready to help Sudan and to help the international community to find the solution of the Darfur issue,” Liu said in a joint news conference with the Sudanese Foreign Minister, Deng Alor. Liu wants to stress the importance to the media and international community to show that China is playing a positive role in Darfur.

This week China has provided 11 million in humanitarian assistance. It seems while China is in the spotlight it wants to use this opportunity to show that it is taking action. But China will continue to sell military weapons to support the Khartoum government.”There are seven other countries selling arms to Sudan. So even if China stopped its sale, it still won’t solve the problem of arms in Sudan,” Liu said.

China can give humanitarian aid and support financially, but it will still continue to provide weapons to the Khartoum government. China seems ready to help, but the issue is complicated and money can’t buy peace in Darfur.Funding for humanitarian aid always is helpful, but the problem is bigger.

Peacekeepers and aid-workers cannot help without protection, and the Khartoum government threatens their safety while standing right outside the displacement camps, while burning camps and all supplies. China can’t buy its way out of women not being able to walk the 20 miles to reach water and resources and along the way is raped and mutilated by militiamen.

Let’s hope that Liu will pressure Sudan to cooperate on the deployment of more UN-African Union peacekeepers, yet let’s hope that China will stop supplying military weapons to Sudan and supporting the Khartoum government that is killing innocent people.

For recent news about China’s envoy go to http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-02/28/content_7682256.htmPhoto of Lui Guijin and Den Alor at news conference by Abd Raouf (AP Photo)

My professor e-mailed me an interesting article about the controversy surrounding the Beijing 2008 Olympics and sponsorships responsibilities. I would like to dissect the words of the responses from the largest Olympic sponsors because I have questions for these corporate sponsors.

Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Anhueser-Busch were asked by Minky Worden, media director of Human Rights Watch and author of the forthcoming “China’s Great Leap: The Beijing Games and Olympian Human Rights Challenges,” about their responsibilities as an Olympic sponsor.

They had to say the following:

Coca-Cola: “It’s not the role of our company to directly involve ourselves in the internal policy decisions of sovereign nations. We do believe we can have a positive impact by our continued sponsorship of the games.”

Kailyn questions, What do you mean Coca-Cola when you say you will have a “positive impact by…continued sponsorship of the games?” Do you mean continued sponsorship would have a positive impact on an increase in market share and profits for your oh-so-large corporation?

McDonald’s: “We continue to feel strongly that the only real progress that can be made in Darfur is at the United Nations and government levels.”

Kailyn thinks, “real progress” needs to happen. But real progress is not happening in Darfur. China has the largest influence in Sudan than any other nation at the current time. McDonald’s is no real happy meal. Inside each happy meal you can find a corporation following the pack and not supporting basic human rights for an increase in profits. Inside each happy meal lies children, mothers, fathers and families suffering because only government officials are able to do something?

Finally, Anheuser-Busch: “The situation in Darfur is abhorrent, and we support efforts to bring awareness to this crisis in order to increase diplomatic discussions between governments within the United Nations. We have expressed our position on this topic with the International Olympic Committee.”

Kailyn astonishingly thinks: The words “we support efforts to bring awareness to this crisis” are the fundamentals of a latent corporation doing nothing to show how they support. Actions speak louder than words Anheuser-Busch. What are going to do about it?

Minkey Worden, Human Rights Watch, asked the top 12 Olympic sponsors about their reactions to China’s involvement in Sudan. Worden said that all 12 have not changed or created any new marketing plans for their sponsorship.

Sponsors need to practice corporate responsibility and issue statements regarding their involvement in the Beijing Olympics. Creating new strategies to address the importance of human rights and implementing new marketing concepts surrounding human rights is the least these sponsors can do.

Sponsors should issue financial support to Darfur groups. These corporations can say they support peace efforts in Darfur and they can claim to support human rights, but they must act upon this thinking and act upon their own words.

Take a look at this article about sponsorships responses: adage.com/article?article_id=125143

I hope you are as astonished as I am.

Image from Coca-Cola Company

China is feeling the wrath right-about-now. On Tuesday, Feb. 12, Steven Spielberg announced he would not be involved with the Beijing 2008 Olympics due to China’s influence in Sudan and its non-responsiveness to the suffering in Darfur.

Spielberg was planned to be the art director for the opening-and-closing ceremonies of the Olympics.

Spielberg said he could not consciously invlove himself in the Beijing Olympics because China has not done enough to help end the crisis in Darfur.

“At this point, my time and energy must be spent not on the Olympic ceremonies, but on doing all I can to help bring an end to the unspeakable crimes against humanity that continue to be committed in Darfur,” Spielberg said in his statement.

“Sudan’s government bears the bulk of the responsibility for these on-going crimes, but the international community, and particularly China, should be doing more.”

And this is what President Bush had to say about it:

   

“That’s up to him. I’m going to the Olympics. I view the Olympics as a sporting event,” Bush said in an interview with British Broadcasting Corp. television.

While Bush makes his stand on his two feet, and that’s about all, Spielberg has made a humanitarian decision. He has put aside money and fame for the support of human lives.

When China discovered Spielberg’s pull-out on the Olympics, Chinese government officials denied that Spielberg’s decision had ties to Sudan. China also believes its just a sporting event and will continue to buy two-thirds of Sudan’s oil and supply the Khartoum government with military weapons.

Spielberg joins Mia Farrow, actress, and other activist groups to pressure the Chinese government to use its influence and end the continuing suffering in Sudan.

“China’s economic, military and diplomatic ties to the government of Sudan continue to provide it with the opportunity and obligation to press for change,” Spielberg said.

With Spielberg’s position and other rights groups pressuring China, I am just wondering if its a matter of time. Or will the suffering continue in the hands of politics.

My friend actually sent me an article on Spielberg bailing on the Olympics. Check it out at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7242016.stm

Although the crisis in Darfur is very complex, I am going to attempt to explain what is going on in Sudan to help others understand.

The Sudanese government, Khartoum, an oppressive regime led by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, saves the majority of the country’s resources for an elite few.

The goverment publicly denies any relationship with the Janjaweed militia, but has armed militia with weapons and finances. The government and Janjaweed have targeted rebel groups and communities using bombe, rape, and ground attacks.

Janjaweed forces are almost all Arab, fighting against non-Arabs.

The current crisis has been built upon a complicated history. A complex government history, colonialism, drought, conflict, and inequality has occurred in the past.

Ultimately, the international community has failed to sufficiently help and intervene with the conflict in Darfur. The death tole continues to rise, and civilians are continually displaced.

The U.N. has estimated that more that more than 400,000 people have died during the conflict, and more than 2 million have been displaced, not being able to safely return home.

Refugee camps lack the basic survival needs and the UN is desperately seeking peacekeepers.

The violence in Sudan still continues today.

For information regarding the current conditions in Sudan and the involvement of the UN please read Louis Charbonneau’s article, UN’s Ban says situation in Darfur is Deteriorating, at
http://africa.reuters.com/wire/news/usnN20458803.html

Photos by Daniel Pepper

What is going on in Darfur is wrong, and the world must act.

Here is a list of small steps that you can do to help.

Educate

Educate yourself and others about the conflict in Darfur.

Learn about your elected officials record on Darfur at http://www.darfurscores.org.

Continue to follow what’s happening in Darfur.

ACT

Pressure elected officials to act.

Support Sudan divestment campaigns to build economic pressure.

Sign petition at savedarfur.com

Donate

Learn about organizations that are working in Darfur and donate money to support them.

Check out www.savedarfur.org 

Photo by Daniel Pepper

The phrase “Made in China” is one that every American deals with everyday. Some may not notice the labels of the cotton under-shirt, or the silverware in their hands, or their new LCD television, but the truth of the matter is that the U.S. imports more than $25 billion from China, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Most of the materials worn on the backs of Americans and bought at the big-box store known as Wal-Mart come from the land of China.

It can be difficult to otherwise buy anything made in the US for most Americans. The terms globalization and cheap labor comes to my mind.

With the recent controversies of rat-poisoned-pet-food from China and the lead in children’s toys, some consumers are deciding to purchase items not made in China.

A few websites are preaching their response to Chinas human rights’ issues by “Boycotting China.”

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