As the war in Iraq continued into its second day, students and community members gathered to express their concern for human rights in a candlelight vigil last night on the Diag. The vigil was organized by Amnesty International.

“The basis for our vigil is that it is a humanitarian one and not a political one,” Krisha Kinnersley, an organizer of the vigil and a RC freshman, said.

“(The University’s) Amnesty International group is neither condemning nor condoning the U.S.’s move to war with Iraq. Instead, we are urging civilian and human rights be kept as a first priority and that war be conducted according to international standards.”

The vigil’s focus on human rights and the need for the protection of civilians rather than the political aspects of the war appealed to many students.

“Amnesty’s policy of not taking a political stance and prioritizing the rights of the Iraqi citizens is more important than justifying or condemning the war,” LSA freshman Jennifer Yee said. “Humanity is more important than political arguments over the war.”

Comparing the vigil to the anti-war protest held earlier yesterday on the Diag, LSA freshman Catherine Carman said student protests should have more focus on human rights than politics.

“There’s a lot of division within the campus and nation whether or not this is a just war,” she said. “The focus should be on the human rights that are being violated by Saddam Hussein in Iraq which will also be violated during the war.”

Paola Amador, an LSA senior, also raised concerns about the increasing emphasis on politics over the civilians in Iraq. “I feel that most of the campaigns have been political,” she said. “We have to remember what people are going through. We have to show solidarity with the fear and uncertainty the (Iraqis) must be experiencing at this moment.”

Ann Arbor resident Mary Roth, who happened to pass by the Diag, decided to join the vigil. “It is important to witness civilization versus barbarism,” she said. “I feel very strongly about the arrogance of Bush. That kind of arrogance doesn’t solve anything.” Roth also added that “military solutions are problems.”

Despite the rain, Kinnersley said it was impressive to see people turn out for the vigil. “We have to keep an eye out on what’s going on in the news and letting our representatives know what we feel,” she added.

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