In response to the 11 victims killed in Gaza this week, students gathered last night on the steps of the Michigan Union for a candlelight vigil to remember the losses.

Shabina Khatri
An unidentified man cries next to a shrine in honor of Rachel Corrie during a protest outside the Israeli consulate in downtown San Francisco yesterday. AP PHOTO

One of the victims was 23-year-old Rachel Corrie, an American student killed in Gaza on Sunday when she was run over by an Israeli bulldozer. She had been protesting its use in the destruction of Palestinian houses. The Israeli military said her death was an accident.

At the vigil organized by Student Allied for Freedom and Equality, students held candles and paused for a moment of silence. SAFE member Fadi Kiblawi addressed the crowd, describing the deaths of the victims in detail.

“After these deaths, there has been silence from the American government, giving us the message that any life taken by Israeli forces is not worth talking about,” Kiblawi said. “The loss of humanity is something that needs attention.”

Art and Design freshman Kaitlin Freewind said after she read about the deaths, she wanted to express her frustration with the deaths in the Middle East.

“It’s American tax dollars that are supporting these tanks that are killing people,” Freewind said. “This gathering will show that people don’t approve of the American tax dollars funding the killing of civilians.”

The vigil was held an hour after President Bush stated that Saddam Hussein and his sons have 48 hours to leave Iraq or face “military conflict.” Some vigil participants expressed their disappointment in U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East.

“Bush’s statement shows that the deaths of so many in Gaza doesn’t affect the agenda of the U.S. government,” LSA freshman Wajeeha Shuttari said. “But the candles show the unity and that Rachel is not alone. She was a girl just like me, someone who wanted peace.”

Within hours of being killed by the bulldozer, Rachel Corrie was honored by the peace activists of her hometown in Olympia, Washington, where several hundred people gathered for a candlelight vigil Sunday evening.

“It’s very important to stress that all humanity is important,” Kiblawi said. “At this point I just feel helpless – all we can do is stand in solidarity.”

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