Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
As the violence rages on in Syria, Swat STAND urged Swatties to show their support for the Syrian people with a simple phone call.
“Come, make a call, save the world, and eat pizza,” said Swat STAND member Sam Bennett ’13.
Swat STAND hosted a pizza party in Shane Lounge on February 23rd and 24th in order to encourage students to call their senators in support of the Syria Human Rights Accountability Act of 2012. Proposed by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY-D), the act aims to hold perpetrators responsible for human rights abuses, regulate the transfer of goods and technologies often abused by the Syrian government, and combat the censorship of the Syrian people.
“We are raising awareness about the conflict and inspiring change by putting pressure on US representatives in Congress and the Senate,” said Marie Rousseau ’12.
For close to a year Syrian civilians demonstrating against the harsh regime of President Bashar al-Assad have endured violent backlash from the government, resulting in over 6,000 civilian deaths and thousands of detentions.
The White House has issued statements condemning President Assad’s actions but has yet to take direct action. The relationship between US and Syria has become increasingly more complex as the public has discovered American technology has been aiding the government’s oppression of the Syrian people. Companies including HP, NetApp and Blue Coat have been inadvertently been linked with Assad’s regime as their technologies have been implemented in Syria to establish internet surveillance and quash protests.
The Swarthmore chapter is part of the national STAND organization, the student arm of the Genocide Intervention Network, which was started in 2005 by Swarthmore alums. STAND is committed to spreading awareness on college campuses about genocide and other human rights violations.
Many students participated in the call-in as they passed through Parrish. Each was given a short prompt urging their senator to support Gillibrand’s bill and a slice of pizza for their time.
“The call-in has been really successful. Students understand what is going on in Syria and they want to help,” said Bennett.
“Right now our focus is on Syria. Our overall goal is to improve general education and raise awareness on the human rights issues that get less media attention,” said Swat STAND member Sierra Eckert.