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The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Student group joins ‘die-in’ for Palestinians

Northwestern students stood up for an issue by lying down in Chicago’s Federal Plaza on Wednesday afternoon.

Members of NU’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine and other Chicago-area groups attended a “die-in,” where they lay down silently to symbolize past deaths and protest current conditions in Palestine.

The national student organization, which recently started an NU chapter, wants to fight against human rights violations in Palestine, with a focus on the Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip, said group member Dulce Acosta-Licea, a Weinberg sophomore.

The growing group meets weekly to discuss upcoming events and ways to spread the word on campus.

“The group started this school year, but it hasn’t been that active because people haven’t started to know about it until now,” Acosta-Licea said.

The group plans to bring in two speakers Wednesday, April 23, to share information about Palestinian history and their own experiences.

In spreading information about the new group around campus, the members want to make sure people understand its correct message, Acosta-Licea said.

“I hope when people hear of our organization they don’t think it’s anti-Semitic or racist,” she said. “That’s not it at all. It’s about the violation of human rights and standing up for that.”

Wednesday’s die-in was one way for members to try and bring public attention to the region and encourage people to act, McCormick sophomore Shireen Mirza said. Mirza, whose father lives in the United Arab Emirates, is Muslim and thinks the focus should be on Palestinians rather than Muslims, she said.

“Nothing seems to be getting done,” she said. “It’s a stagnant position where it’s always the same.”

Mirza and two fellow group members, Weinberg junior Dave McPike and Weinberg and Music sophomore Hugh Roland, donned all black and joined about 50 other protestors lying down in the plaza.

The protestors symbolized the 101 people who had died within a month of attacks made on the Gaza Strip, said Julia Salameh, the organizer of the die-in. Salameh helped tape flyers with facts about the people who had died to protestors’ backs.

Although the protestors knew they would stand up and go home after the event, the Palestinians they represented never had that option, she said.

“We wanted the world to see that this is a reality,” Salameh said. “I just hope that people will read the signs and understand what’s going on halfway around the world.”

Passers-by stopped to read protestors’ signs with information on the recent deaths in Palestine.

Ahmad Joudeh, a junior at the University of Illinois at Chicago and member of UIC’s SJP, wore a Palestinian flag draped over his back like a cape as the “superhero of justice,” he said.

With a mother who was raised in Lebanon and family members that speak Arabic, Roland has been interested in Middle Eastern politics since he was in middle school. The human rights issue has always been very important to him, he said.

“Even though it’s controversial, it’s still something that’s worthwhile to take a stand on,” Roland said. “Our side hardly ever has a voice.”

There wasn’t any trouble at the event, but Chicago police officers came to protect participants from “counter-protestors,” police officer Michael Bozan said.

When McPike saw the police, he said he wanted the onlookers to remember the protest.

“I hope we get arrested,” McPike said.

Although the protestors were lying on the cold ground with wind blowing dust and pieces of trash around them, McPike said he tried to focus on the seriousness of the issue they represented.

“I’m just thinking about how many innocent Palestinians have actually been in this situation, except not doing it for show,” McPike said.

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Student group joins ‘die-in’ for Palestinians