Students stand up and speak outabout Darfur crisis
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With the humanitarian crisis in Darfur provoking indignation from around the world, a group of students have organised a campaign to add their voices to the global slanging match between China and western countries. Led by Heather Lynn Pickerell, a Year Ten student from German Swiss International School (GSIS), the young campaigners set up STAND (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur) last year to raise local students' awareness of the genocide.
As the death toll from the ethnic conflict mounts, socially-conscious celebrities from around the world have intensified their condemnation of China's involvement in the crisis.
Among the celebrities leading the charge is Oscar-winning director Stephen Spielberg, who gave up his role as an Olympic Games consultant over Beijing's policy on Sudan last week.
In spite of the vast cultural and geopolitical differences between Africa and Asia, the young activists from GSIS still believe the massacre is relevant to Hongkongers.
'Genocides have long been a scourge on humanity. The Holocaust during the second world war and the genocide in Rwanda remain etched in our collective psyche,' said Heather.
'The Darfurian issue has also provoked heated debates across the globe. As senior students at our school, we think we should bring the issue to the attention of junior-form students.'
The controversy about China's role in the conflict also makes the topic more relevant for the students.
'Accused of abetting the genocidal violence by providing weapons and development aid to the Sudanese government in exchange for their rich natural resources, China is vehemently condemned in the international community.
'As we are living in Hong Kong, which is a part of China, we think we should ponder over the role played by the Chinese.'
A series of debates, writing sessions, guest talks and movie screenings related to the contentious issue has been arranged on campus.
'We are going to stage a screening of Darfur Now starring Hollywood actor George Clooney to give students an introduction to the crisis. Portraying the events happening in Darfur, the film is easy for students to understand,' said Heather.
With the Sudanese crisis involving complex geopolitical and diplomatic issues, Heather hopes the activities can arouse students' interest in international affairs.
'A couple of debates on the merits of international intervention in the crisis have been planned. The debates will give a valuable chance for students to hone their oratory skills and make their voices heard on the issue.'