Students and faculty join global community in calling for humanitarian justice
The University of Regina Students for Justice in Palestine club organized a peaceful walkout for Gaza on Thursday, November 2. Protestors demanded an immediate ceasefire and an end to the blockade of humanitarian aid into Gaza.
The Israeli-Hamas war has become the ground for ugly, heartbreaking scenes of suffering; civilians are caught in the middle of the conflict. As per CNBC’s November 6 report, according to the Hamas-operated Palestinian Health Ministry, more than 10,000 people have been killed in Gaza. In Israel, over 1,400 people have been killed, the majority in the Hamas terror attack of October 7.
Israel’s retaliation of bombings of schools, hospitals, universities, camps, and ambulances on Palestinian lands are claimed to be justified by the Israeli state which believes these are hiding places for the members of Hamas. In the Globe and Mail on November 1, former president of the Supreme Court of Israel, Aharon Barak, stated that he saw no evidence to date that his country had violated international humanitarian law despite warnings of war crimes received from multiple international organizations including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Israel acknowledges their duty to minimize citizen casualties, but claims that their tactics are covered by the rules of collateral damage.
This has been met with protests and uprising across the world. Protests were organized in major cities around the globe including London, Berlin, Paris, Rome, Bucharest, and Ottawa. November 4 was an organized national day of demonstrations in Canada and protests supporting Palestinian civilians were held across the country, including Regina. CBC reported on November 6 that even as far as the northern territories of Canada, people marched in the streets calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and demanding that governments support an end to the conflict.
The walkout at University of Regina on November 2 began at the Administrative Humanities Building with students and faculty members addressing the participants. Andrew Stevens, Business Administration faculty, said, “You’ve recognized that the forced displacement of thousands of civilians is an atrocity as is the cutting off of water, electricity, and communications in Gaza.”
“You’ve recognized that we must listen to the call of Palestinian people to demand a ceasefire, which in very normal circumstances is a very simple and humane request, but somehow that very simple call for peace has been compromised.”
“You’ve recognized this injustice and you’re willing to speak out for that, and being a member of the faculty here at the University of Regina, I am very proud of what you’re doing. Keep it up.”
Emily Eaton, Geography and Environmental Studies faculty, also participated in the event and addressed the audience. “What makes me really happy today is to see how many students are out and that the movement is growing, and you’re standing beside hundreds of thousands of people the world over. “
People originating from many different parts of the world showed up at the event with fliers and slogans in support of the people of Palestine. From the Administrative Humanities Building, participants walked to the John Archer Library through the Education Building, circling to the Riddell Centre and ending the march outside the Riddell Centre along Wascana Parkway and Kramer Boulevard. Participants chanted “End the Genocide” and “Free Palestine” among other rallying cries as they walked the hallways.
People stood together despite ethnic, racial, and religious differences, demonstrating that what has been termed quite often as a community-specific crisis is in fact a humanitarian crisis.
The diversity of participants was noted by a representative of the University of Regina Muslim Students Association (UR MSA) who is working closely with the University of Regina Students for Justice in Palestine to organize more such events. “We had to gauge how we’re able to give a voice to the students who are affected by the conflict, and not just the Palestinian or the Muslim students, because what is occurring in Palestine right now is a humanitarian issue. As seen, there was a vast diversity of students present at the protest.”
“What these protests achieve is that more and more people are made aware, and we are able to give a collective voice to all those who stand for the cause.”
Speaking about the next steps needed following the walkout, they told the Carillon, “At a university level, we’re looking at how we can operate with what resources are available. The first steps in terms of what students can do on- and off- campus is to start with first learning the history of the geographical location and that’s something that UR MSA will be looking to provide the resource for.”
“Going forward, we will focus on making more and more people aware and dispelling misinformation and organizing more such events where our voices can be heard.”
It has been said time and time again that nothing new ever happens under the sun, and that history repeats itself. History is rife with instances of unwarranted atrocities committed against innocent lives. However, there is a difference this time. The world is watching, and a global community of citizens see the injustice and inhumanity occurring. What began as a right to retaliation against a terrorist attack has started to look a lot like a directed apartheid and wipeout of an entire nation under the veil of self-defence. Protests like the campus walkout for Gaza show that the world is not watching in silence anymore.
In the National Post, Amer Marwan El-Samman, spokesperson for the November 4 rally in Fredericton, NB, stated that he is hopeful about the future despite the long and complex history of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
“It might be next year, it might be two years. You never know how things can change,” he said. ”The next generation, the youth shows me a little bit more promise. […] So we’ll see.”
For University of Regina students affected by the terrible suffering that we are witnessing, the Carillon encourages you to follow advice from Student Affairs and reach out to Student Counselling or contact the staff at UR International who have a toll-free emergency help line at 1-(855)-874-1700.