Students mourn Syrian civilian deaths
Students gathered on the Quad on April 10 to protest American intervention in the Syrian Civil War. The protest opened with a statement from the event creator, Chase Caligiuri, a second-year history major, and was followed by chants rallying against the American military industrial complex, a march around the Quad and a six minute “die-in.”
During the die-in, the protest members laid on the ground in silence to represent the deaths occurring since the United States first mobilized against Syria in 2011, catalyzed by the Arab Spring. The students were specifically responding to President Donald Trump’s Syrian missile attack on April 6. This most recent act against Syria by the U.S. was prompted by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regime’s chemical warfare attack on April 4. In response to these incurred deaths, President Trump ordered 59 missiles to be launched at the Syrian Air Force’s Shayrat airbase on April 6.
The protesting students argued that the U.S. has fueled destabilization in Syria and the Middle East through military attacks, funding insurgents and mercenaries, regime changes and imposing Syrian economic sanctions. They also asserted that through an intense American effort to overthrow Syrian government, the forced regime changes, the funding of rebels, attacks and economic sanctions have created a refugee and humanitarian crisis.
Caligiuri, who led the event, voiced his outrage at American military involvement in the Syrian civil war.
“I’m really angry about the Syrian Civil War and that this is how America responds to it,” Caligiuri said. “Honestly, it’s a disaster. It’s disgusting, and now they’re trying to use the deaths of children to justify more bombing.”
The protest went from approximately 12:10 to 1:00 p.m., beginning in front of the Memorial Union with about eight people. Caligiuri opened the protest with statements asserting that U.S. influence, occupation and manipulation in Syria and the Middle East has further accelerated conflict and political instability.
The group of protesters chanted “No justice, no peace, US out of the Middle East,” “No war, no wall, Donald Trump must fall” and “When Syrians are under attack, what do we do? Fight back!”
Mario Jimenez, a fourth-year international relations major, joined the protest because he believes that the recent U.S. military attacks in Syria are potentially harmful for both Americans and Syrians.
“I’m here because I think what the U.S. government is doing in Syria is wrong,” Jimenez said. “The attack on the air base will lead to escalation with Russia that lessens the world’s security, and puts the American people at risk.”
This protest became a joint effort after Caligiuri initially created the Facebook event — he partnered with the Students for a Democratic Society at Davis (SDS).
SDS members distributed pamphlets with information about U.S. foreign policy and militarism within the Middle East which stated that there have been “over 4 million deaths due to US in Middle East since 1991.” The fliers also stated that “US is responsible for 1,000 civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria since Trump took office.” Additionally, the pamphlets put forth four demands of the U.S. government, such as “end[ing] the aggression against Syria, including illegal airstrikes and troops, and commitment to political resolution.”
Thomas Jara, a first-year biotechnology major and a member of SDS, believes the Syrian situation is being fueled by U.S. money and weapons.
“Knowing that Assad is backed by Russia, and by Iran, and the US has backed rebels leading to Isis and others,” Jara said. “We [the US] have been doing the same thing — which is the military industrial complex, just giving money and giving weapons. We’re not doing anything to solve war, we’re just doing stuff to keep it moving.”
Jara noted the impact of protests as an arm of progress and recalled the legacy of American protest in the face of injustice.
“Protesting is huge for me, as a part of Students for a Democratic Society,” Jara said. “Protests do matter, and I can look through history: at Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, the civil rights era, even Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglas. If you truly believe in something, you can do something to fix it.”
Written by: Aaron Liss — firstname.lastname@example.org