2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the genocide of the Tutsi people in Rwanda. The world’s leading authorities on genocide remembrance, study, and prevention have launched a commem- orative program called “Kwibuka20” with a mission to “remember, unite, and renew” global efforts to make “Never Again” a reality.
Click here to learn how CANDLES is supporting Kwibuka20 and to download the 2014 Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month Toolkit.
"The Letters to Darfur " Campaign
A Report to America
We are extremely grateful to those of you who participated in our recent "Letters for Darfur" campaign. We had no idea what to expect when we set our goal of 100,000 letters, but we knew we had to do something for the people of Darfur. We ultimately received about 4,000 letters from the US and Canada, which included 17 different states and 60 schools from Maine to Texas to British Columbia. The letters were powerful and provocative.
True to our word, we attempted to deliver the letters in person to the Chinese Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York on June 19 and to the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC on June 20. Not surprisingly, we were unceremoniously turned away by Chinese officials at both places.
In New York, a Chinese man came out of the locked building to ask us the nature of our business. We were explaining to him what these letters were and why they were written, but he refused them and told us we could not leave the boxes of letters on their steps. New York Police arrived almost immediately after we did to tell us we could not leave the boxes and we would have to do something else with them. We went to a local FedEx Kinko's to ship the boxes to the Chinese Mission, hoping they would accept them if they were presented by the FedEx courier. No luck--they were refused again and returned to us here in Indiana.
In Washington, we stood outside the embassy for about 90 minutes, holding signs of protest and reading the letters aloud. We were not able to stand directly outside the embassy to protest because recent protesters had vandalized the building. So we did our demonstrating across the street, then took all the letters to the front door in hopes they would grant us entry to deliver the letters. Again, no luck--they refused to let us in. Just as in New York, we went to a local FedEx station and shipped the letters to the embassy. This time, they were accepted!
We hope the officials in DC read the letters and were impacted by them. But in any case, we should not measure the success of our efforts by the immediate results. In this situation, when we are confronting such a large, international network of dehumanizing policy, our obligation is to unmask the evil, bear witness to it, and name it for what it is.
We thank you all for helping us in this process. We are encouraged in our work to know there are so many concerned and passionate young people. We are currently considering publishing the New York letters in book form, with proceeds to benefit Darfuri refugees. CANDLES is also considering another Darfur project on the horizon, so stay tuned! We have posted a couple of photos on this page, but see our Photo Gallery for more.