Twelve students feigned death midday Monday by lying down near Porter Gate on Cross Campus in response to the recently escalated civilian death toll in Fallujah, Iraq.
The Yale Coalition for Peace organized the 30-minute “die-in” demonstration to highlight current conditions in war-torn Fallujah. Coalition members passed out flyers describing today’s Fallujah: “Without adequate food, running water, electricity and medical supplies, the 50,000 remaining residents of this now utterly smashed city face a future of terrible hardship and suffering,” the flyers read.
Coalition member Ishaan Tharoor ’06 said the demonstration was not meant to be a protest since the group did not make any demands.
“It’s more of a lamentation than a protest,” Tharoor said.
Tharoor said he hoped the die-in would spread campus awareness of the current living conditions in Fallujah. The flyers detailed actions of the U.S.-led forces in Iraq that the coalition said caused civilian casualties, including the destruction of Fallujah’s Nazzal Emergency Hospital and the use of imprecise weapons that damaged civilian neighborhoods.
“We want to build a greater awareness of the hopelessness and futility of the occupation,” Tharoor said.
Emma Clune ’07, one of the students who participated in the die-in, said the “horrific” nature of the situation in Fallujah compelled her to participate in Monday’s demonstration.
“I think the things our country is doing in the name of freedom are terrible,” Clune said.
Reaction among students who passed by the demonstration was mixed. While most students expressed support for the cause, some were not aware of the motivation for the die-in, and others said they doubted its effectiveness.
“It’s interesting, but not particularly revolutionary or insightful,” said Jonathan Dach ’08, who added that he approved of the anti-war message.
Steve Whittaker ’08 said he found the demonstration to be “powerful.”
“It definitely grabs you,” Whittaker said.
But Adam Dunlop-Farkas ’05 said although he agrees with what the die-in stood for, he doubts if the demonstration had been interpreted correctly.
“Pro-war elements could say this is an act that supports the enemy,” Dunlop-Farkas said.
Tharoor said the demonstration was one of the coalition’s first steps to reinvigorate itself since President George W. Bush’s reelection. The coalition was founded in response to the beginning of the war on terror in 2001, but its membership and campus presence have been in decline as of late, Tharoor said.
“Elections were a huge stumbling block for student activism,” Tharoor said. “This is one of the first steps toward reconstituting the YCP.”