Vigil pays tribute to thousands killed on Gaza Strip

By Amy Rowe Correspondent | Daily Targum – News

Published: Friday, January 21, 2011

Scott Tsai / Staff Photographer

Scott Tsai / Staff Photographer

Students light candles and share a moment of silence on the steps of Brower Commons on the College Avenue campus last night to remember the lives lost during the Gaza massacres. Several attendees wore traditional scarves to symbolize solidarity for Palestine.

Scott Tsai / Staff Photographer

Scott Tsai / Staff Photographer

BAKA member and School of Arts and Sciences junior Murtaza Husain speaks on the violence civilians experienced during the Gaza massacres. The vigil commemorated more than 1,000 lives lost.

A vigil commemorating the second anniversary of the Gaza massacres in which 1,400 lives were lost was held last night on the steps of Brower Commons on the College Avenue campus.

A crowd of 54 people stopped to listen to speakers from organizations including BAKA: Student United for Middle Eastern Justice, Journalists for Human Rights and Psi Sigma Phi men’s multi-cultural fraternity.

“We want to spread awareness about Palestine and the brutal, criminal siege that killed hundreds of nonviolent civilians in Gaza,” said Hoda Mitwally, BAKA public relations officer. “The injustice continues today, and it must stop.”

BAKA ran and co-sponsored the event along with the Arab Cultural Club and the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund.

Members of BAKA wore traditional Arab keffiyeh scarves to symbolize the solidarity of Palestinians, said Mike Dunican, BAKA treasurer and a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

In his speech, BAKA member Murtaza Husain gave attendees an idea of the brutality that occurred in Gaza.

“Israel’s campaign in Gaza included burning people down to the bone with white phosphorous,” said Husain, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. “It also left permanent emotional scars. Most children in the area have post-traumatic stress disorder, with 30 percent suffering from involuntary urination.”

Other speakers read poems including “A State of Siege” by Mahmoud Darwish and “The Coffin Maker Speaks” by Lisa Suhair Majaj, which attested to the everyday lives of civilians in Gaza.

Talissa Patrick, president of Journalists for Human Rights, said she hopes students will take action and promote social justice for all.

“I truly and honestly believe that all humans are inherently good,” said Patrick, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. “Knowing what we know about Gaza, we must take action and be a force to be reckoned with.”

While the speakers took turns spreading awareness about the massacre, the names of 350 children killed appeared on a projection screen.

“The experience of seeing the names is very emotional,” said Renee Coppola, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student. “It shows that these were people, each had their own life and story. They aren’t just numbers.”

Following the speeches were a candle lighting ceremony and a moment of silence. The names of children lost in the massacres — each represented by a lit candle — were also read aloud.

“One death is a tragedy but 1,000 deaths is a statistic,” said Banan Abdelrahman, a member of BAKA and a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. “I hope people will realize these are victims who should not be thought of as statistics.”

School of Arts and Sciences first-year student Amal Ahmad was surprised to see a vigil for the massacres on the Gaza Strip at the University.

“I’m Palestinian and I have family living in Palestine, so it means a lot to know they’re holding this,” Ahmad said. “I wouldn’t have expected to see this at Rutgers, but I think it’s great.”

After a moment of silence for the lives lost in Gaza, BAKA aired a video of Roger Waters’ cover of the protest song “We Shall Overcome,” which he recorded specifically for Gaza freedom.

“Gaza is just one example in a sea of injustices and trespasses on human integrity,” Husain said. “I hope those that attended can see connections between the atrocities in Gaza and others in the world.”

Mitwally, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said she hopes the vigil’s awareness will turn into activism.

“We’re not policymakers,” Mitwally said. “We want to spread awareness and create a sense of activism within the student body. The knowledge of issues and those lost will hopefully turn into concrete results.”

Vigil pays tribute to thousands killed on Gaza Strip – Daily Targum – News.

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