Wednesday morning, about 40 students from the Yale Coalition for Peace staged a “die-in” in the Woolsey Rotunda to protest a potential ground invasion of Iraq.
Coalition member Ruth DeGolia ’04 said members of the coalition, clad in black clothing, played dead in the rotunda at about 11:20 a.m., while 20 “mourners” passed out approximately 500 fliers to passing students. About 20 minutes later, the mourners helped the “dead” proceed out to Beinecke Plaza, where they held a memorial service to remember people who have been affected by U.S.-Iraq tensions since the Persian Gulf War.
DeGolia said the coalition members, both undergraduate and graduate students, blocked pedestrian traffic to mourn the Iraqis and Americans who died during the first Gulf War, casualties from U.S.-enforced sanctions and to represent violations of Iraqi-Americans’ civil liberties.
Tuesday night, members of the coalition risked being hit by cars as they lay in the middle of Elm Street to trace chalk body outlines.
The coalition is devoted to preventing President George W. Bush’s proposed war on Iraq and ending the devastating U.S.-enforced economic sanctions, DeGolia said.
She said the die-in was to designed to make people think more about the effects of war on Iraqis.
“We believe, strategically, a war in Iraq does not make sense. We’d be invading a country that has not attacked us,” DeGolia said. “It’s the whole idea of a pre-emptive strike.”
DeGolia said most members of the coalition agree Saddam Hussein is “bad” and the United States never should have supported him. But, DeGolia said, people remember that the Gulf War and Afghanistan had few American casualties and forget the devastating effects on Iraqis.
“Bush wants to have a regime change through graduate invasion of Iraq,” DeGolia said. “At this point, there’s no way Bush can secure regime change through a ground invasion without there being an unacceptable number of civilian losses.”
Coalition member Kate Franklin ’05, who acted as one of the dead and then gave the introductory speech at the memorial ceremony, said that a young man accused the coalition of being hypocritical and asked rhetorically why the coalition didn’t do the same thing after Sept. 11, 2001.
DeGolia said the criticism was ironic because the Yale Coalition for Peace was developed in part as a response to Sept. 11, 2001.
“At first we figured we’d just lay there until a member of the Yale administration told us to move,” Franklin said.
But that never happened. The group shifted from die-in to memorial service after about 20 minutes.
Franklin said she thought the die-in was not to protest a coming war, but to protest a war she said some believe is still going on.
“[Some of us think] the U.S. has been at war with Iraq for 12 years,” Franklin said. “[The die-in] is a memorial to that.”
Franklin said there were some touching demonstrations of support from a few professors and students saw the die-in and lay down next to the “bodies.”
Speakers at the memorial service included University Chaplain Frederick Streets, Ward 1 Alderman Ben Healey ’04 and ethnicity, race and migration professor Alicia Schmidt Camacho.
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