April 15, 2005
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—Mohamed Yahya, a refugee from the Darfur region of Sudan and chairman of the Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy, will give a talk titled “Death and Indifference in Darfur: A Survivor Speaks” at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 21, in the Cole Assembly Room at Amherst College. Sponsored by Humanity in Action, the Amherst College Democrats and the Office of the President at Amherst College, the event is free and open to the public.

Born in a village in Darfur, Yahya knows the racism of Sudanese society. Like the other black students in his school, he was beaten for speaking his tribal language instead of Arabic. Living later in Khartoum, he witnessed the practice of kacha, in which black men are abducted by Sudanese police and army officers. In 1993, his village was among the first attacked by the Sudanese government's Arab militia raiders, the janjaweed. Yahya was studying at Al-Azhar University in Cairo at that time, but his village was destroyed and its inhabitants—and many of his relatives—were killed, raped or burnt alive in their huts. Hearing that his parents had been spared, Yahya decided to take action to save the black African Sudanese from annihilation. He founded an organization that would eventually become known as Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy, the first group to reach out to the international community about the genocide in Darfu.

Eric Reeves, a professor of English language and literature at Smith College, will introduce Yahya. Presently at work on a book on the international response to the ongoing war and human destruction titled Sudan: Suffering a Long Way Off, Reeves has spent the past six years researching and analyzing the situation. He has testified several times before the Congress, has lectured widely in academic settings, and has served as a consultant to a number of human rights and humanitarian organizations.