Jodutt Basrawi’s family in Syria has to be careful not to discuss the ongoing civil war during Skype or phone calls with him because they said the government is monitoring them. The second-year geology student, worried about the conflict still going on in Syria, said he wanted to take action to remind people about the war.
“This protest is another reminder that people are still being killed in Syria and I felt we were obligated to have a protest,” Basrawi said.
With the Syrian civil war entering its fourth year, the United Arab Society at UCLA held a silent protest on Thursday as part of a week of solidarity to honor lives lost in the conflict.
“The Syrian Revolution has entered into its fourth year and many people do not know what is happening there,” said Omar Attar, a second-year computer science student and president of the United Arab Society at UCLA. “The United Arab Society at UCLA is hoping the silent protest raises awareness about the issues occurring in Syria.”
In March 2011, turmoil began in Syria, with protests against President Bashar al-Assad in which thousands of Syrians demanded reform of their government. Many were unhappy about the country’s economic stagnation, as well as a perceived lack of political freedom and government corruption. Violence arose between the protesters and Assad’s government forces.
Estimates of people killed as a result of the civil war range in the hundreds of thousands, while estimates of the number of people displaced range in the millions.
Many college students throughout the U.S. have held events to stand in solidarity with the Syrian people and commemorate the ongoing crisis. Most campuses held these events during the third anniversary of the Syrian revolution that occurred on March 15, but since that conflicted with finals week at UCLA, the event was postponed, Attar said.
During the silent protest, members of the United Arab Society stood along Bruin Walk and held up signs that contained facts about the number of Syrians killed. Some signs read “22 million Syrians have been denied freedom for over 40 years now” and “Cities are under army siege: No food or water, no electricity, no humanitarian aid.”
The Muslim Student Association also participated in the silent protest. The association’s president Neyamatullah Akbar, a fourth-year biology student, said the protest is important because it has been four years since the war began and there has not been much progress in ending it. He added that he thinks more people need to remember the war is still happening.