TERRE HAUTE —
Amid a damp, chilly wind, local activists took the fight against genocide to the streets of Terre Haute.
A Friday evening CANDLES Holocaust program featuring Rwandan genocide survivor Carl Wilkens was followed by volunteers disseminating posters about Joseph Kony throughout town. Terre Haute South Vigo High School students Sydney Twiggs and Elizabeth Morales were among the few opting to proceed with the street-by-street project as temperatures dropped into the 30s and 40s.
“We help people become aware of genocide and how to stop it,” Morales, 17, said of their school’s chapter of STAND, Students Taking Action Now for Darfur.
Kony, 51, is head of a Ugandan guerrilla group, the Lord’s Resistance Army, and stands accused of war crimes ranging from mass murder to child enslavement and the use of child soldiers. Labeled a terrorist by world agencies ranging from the International Criminal Court to the African Union, Kony remains the subject of an international search designed to capture and hold him for trial. As of March, the African Union reportedly had as many as 5,000 soldiers on the hunt, with backing from the U.S. pre-dating the administration of President George W. Bush.
Kiel Majewski, director of the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center, said the local group’s mission is to help raise awareness about Kony and prompt American politicians to do more in support of his capture.
“The way we’re going to arrest him is to make him famous,” he said, armed with hundreds of fliers with Kony’s name emblazoned across them.
Still on the run, Kony has been tough to track, Majewski said. But keeping the attention focused on African genocide and ethnic slaughter is the best way to ultimately bring him to justice, he said.
Meanwhile, the evening’s presentation by Wilkens went well, spilling over more than 21⁄2 hours as a packed room inside the museum kept questions coming. The only American to remain in, and survive, the Rwandan genocide in 1994, his stories seemed never-ending, Twiggs and Morales said.
Both born in 1994, the two said they were only vaguely aware of the details involved in the 100-day actions that resulted in 800,000 deaths there. But after spending the afternoon with Wilkens at school, and then listening later that evening, they were convinced of the value in laboring to stop the violence.
“I thought it was great,” Twiggs said of the night’s speech, adding she’d seen the movie “Hotel Rwanda” while in middle school.
Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.