Students hold vigil in response to Syria air strike decision

A vigil in solidarity with the Syrian and Iraqi peoples was called last night on Cornmarket Street. It was organised in response to yesterday’s vote in parliament for Britain to join the coalition of nations conducting airstrikes against Isis militants in Syria.

The vigil was was called by the Oxford Students’ Arab Cultural Society, Rhodes Must Fall Oxford, Oxford Campaign for Racial Awareness and Equality, Oxford Students’ Palestine Society, and is being supported by Oxford University Labour Club and Momentum Oxford, a successor organisation to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership campaign. 155 people clicked ‘attending’ on the vigil’s Facebook event, with a further 197 ‘interested’.

The event description on Facebook declared, “Tonight we stand in solidarity with the people of Raqqa, Deir Ez-zor, Aleppo, Sinjar, Mosul, Haditha, Kirkuk, Kobane, Al Hassakeh, Baiji, Idlib, Mayadin, Al Anbar, Homs, Latakia, Mar’a, Ayn Isa, Nineveh and all the cities and towns across the Arab world facing bombing, with those who have been made homeless fleeing tyranny and those who struggle against it.”

Dan Iley-Williamson, a spokesperson for Momentum Oxford, told Cherwell, “We wanted to express our solidarity with those in the Arab world whose lives and families are now threatened by coalition bombs, and to show that many people across Oxford – residents and students alike – condemn Cameron’s race to war as unjust and counterproductive.”

He added, “With Jeremy Corbyn, we call for a fundamental change our country’s policy towards the Arab peoples. We also join with the wider labour movement in honouring our duty to welcome those fleeing for their lives to our country.”

A spokesperson for OUSU’s Campaign for Racial Awareness and Equality (CRAE) told Cherwell, “CRAE stands in solidarity – always – with brown and black bodies under attack. We stand in solidarity with the people of Raqqa and all cities bombed by the coalition – in whatever capacity we can.

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“The decision taken by parliament yesterday shows that brown bodies cannot co-exist with imperialism. We must fight this logic on all fronts. They, the ones with the bloody hands, will hear us, because the humanity of people of colour is louder and brighter than them. They will hear us because we will make ourselves heard. We will make ourselves heard because we must – to recognise, celebrate and protect the humanity of the brown bodies in the Middle East against the imperialist coalition that would see them destroyed. They will not win because we will not let them win. The vigil tonight is an opportunity to stand in solidarity, for the dignity, humanity and courage of all people under attack by the coalition.”

A demonstration against the bombings was also held last night by the Oxford Stop the War Coalition.

Rhodes Must Fall and other organising groups have been contacted for comment.