Students gathered under Tommy Trojan on Wednesday night to show solidarity with Aleppo University in Syria, which was bombed Tuesday by the Syrian government.
As others stopped to look on, participants held signs and lit candles, which were placed at the foot of the statue to form the word “Syria.”
“I think it’s really nice that students are coming together in solidarity for this event, even though it happened so many miles away,” said Nashwah Akhtar, a junior majoring in communication and one of the event’s participants.
Zade Shakir, a junior majoring in international relations and biological sciences, believes the tragedy is particularly significant because college students were targeted.
“The victims were university students,” Shakur said. “We’re university students. To think kids that were going to get an education — innocent people — were killed in a bombing … It could have been anybody.”
The bombing, which killed at least 82 people according to Syria’s U.N. ambassador, Bashar Jaafari, marks another violent outbreak in Syria’s civil war, which began in March 2011.
After hearing news of the bombing from various news sources, USC students decided to gather in support of the victims. The vigil, which took place from 6-7 p.m., was organized on Facebook by Asmaa Albaroudi, a junior majoring in human development and aging. After hearing about the bombing, Albaroudi felt she needed to act.
“I was born and raised [in the United States], but my parents are Syrian,” Albaroudi said. “I’ve had family members imprisoned in Syria, so when I saw university students being killed, I thought I could raise awareness here.”
Albaroudi believes that the events in Syria constitute a humanitarian crisis, one that is often overlooked by the media. She also believes that the university was targeted because of its students’ opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has been accused of human rights abuses by groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
“The people who are demanding their freedom right now, a lot of them are the youth,” Albaroudi said.
Albaroudi said the vigil was not political, but she said the cause of the bombing is clear.
“This is just a humanitarian event, but it’s pretty obvious who the perpetrators are,” Albaroudi said.
One of the signs at the vigil read: “On January 15th, the Syrian Regime bombed the University of Aleppo in Syria: 80 dead, 150 wounded.” Others included pictures of the rebels’ flag, which has a green stripe at the top to replace the red stripe of the Assad regime.
Syria’s civil war, often associated with the Arab Spring uprisings, has been more protracted and bloody than its counterparts in other countries. Samer Rashad, a junior majoring in neuroscience and an attendee of the vigil said the Syrian conflict requires as much public awareness as its counterparts in Egypt and Yemen, because of its violent nature.
“After the Egyptian revolution, people assume that this is similar,” Rashad said. “But in reality, it’s more of a civil war. Syrians are killing each other.”
When asked if it’s time for international involvement in Syria, Albaroudi said it is time for the world to act.
“Other countries need to take more involvement in what is going on,” Albaroudi said. “Over 60,000 people have died in Syria. This doesn’t include the people that have been displaced or wounded. It’s time.”