ACTIVIST LEADS GROUP TO HELP BRING PEACE TO DARFUR

National Public Radio (NPR)
SHOW: Weekend All Things Considered 1900-2000
April 30, 2006 Sunday

Anchors: Debbie Elliott
Debbie Elliott, Host:

One group that has come up with a concrete and immediate response to
the carnage in Darfur is the Genocide Intervention Network. It's the
brainchild of students at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and now
extends to more than 250 schools across the country. The group has
raised money to fund the African Union Peacekeeping force serving in
Darfur. It's leader, Mark Hanis, joins me in the studio now. Hello,
Mark.

Mr. MARK HANIS (Genocide Intervention Network): Hi, how are you doing?

ELLIOTT: Good. Tell me, how did you get interested in the Darfur issue?

Mr. HANIS: Several reasons. The first one is four of my grandparents
were Holocaust survivors and reminding us always never again. So this
had a huge impact in my life. And another component was reading about
all of the past genocides. We've gone from Armenia, the Holocaust,
Cambodia, Rwanda. Once I heard about Darfur I simply said we can't
let this happen again.

ELLIOTT: Now, how is your group different from the dozens of other
groups that have taken up this issue?

Mr. HANIS: Lots of organizations look at humanitarian aid and raising
awareness, which are both extremely necessary, but what we want to
fill is that critical gap, the civilian protection gap. We need to
talk about genocide as a security issue. The victims, the Darfurians,
these people aren't running away to get this aid. What they want
is security. So that's where Genocide Intervention Network wants to
focus on: the security.

ELLIOTT: How much money have you raised for the African Union
peacekeeping forces?

Mr. HANIS: We've raised over a quarter of a million dollars and that's
come from grass roots efforts across the country. Cornell University,
for example, showed Hotel Rwanda one night, raised 5,000 dollars. Three
high school students in Mamaroneck, New York, did a Jam for Sudan,
a sort of battle of the bands in their gym and they raised 3,000
dollars. A piano teacher in Salt Lake City gave us two weeks of her
proceeds, so we've just been getting checks from ten dollars all the
way to 5,000 dollars.

ELLIOTT: Now, help me understand how you go from all of these people
at different schools around the country to actually getting the money
into the African Union Force's hands?

Mr. HANIS: We've been working with Gail Smith, who used to be the
Senior Director of African Affairs at the National Security Council
under President Clinton. And she knew all the African Union top
brass. She flew over to ask the African Union: A bunch of students
want to stop genocide and want to help you guys out, can we raise
money for you? And they said yes, and we drafted a contract and none
of the money will go to any lethal means, guns and bullets, and we're
now in negotiation with them and hopefully we'll complete it by the
end of this summer.

ELLIOTT: No guns and bullets? Why is that?

Mr. HANIS: Well, two reasons. One are the negative consequences. What
if a peacekeeper had killed a civilian and we helped raise money
for that gun and bullet? But more importantly is, the African Union
is not asking for guns and bullets. What they need are boots, they
need more people, they need maps, they need satellite phones and
walkie-talkies and they need cargo planes to transport all the people
and the resources.

ELLIOTT: I imagine that they're used to reaching out to governments.

Mr. HANIS: This is unprecedented. The African Union has only received
money from donor governments so we provide citizens the opportunity
to directly support civilian protection in the face of genocide.

ELLIOTT: Now, did you have to get any special permission from the
U.S. government to do this?

Mr. HANIS: Yeah, we did need to check with the U.S. Government
and other governments and we are okay. We're not at all replacing
the government's role. We need the governments to fund the African
Union and to increase the force size. We're shaming, we're leading
by example. We're not just going to complain and say you need to do
this. We're gonna say, I'm willing to put money where my mouth is,
what about you?

ELLIOTT: Mark Hanis is the Chief Executive of the Genocide Intervention
Network. Thank you for coming in to talk with us.

Mr. HANIS: Thank you very much.