Students Organize 'Die-In' to Support Libyan Opposition

Photo: The Political Action Committee of the Muslim Students Association held a die-in at Sather Gate in protest of Libyan leader Moammar Ghadafi.
Summer Dunsmore/Staff
The Political Action Committee of the Muslim Students Association held a die-in at Sather Gate in protest of Libyan leader Moammar Ghadafi.

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Linking elbows to demonstrate solidarity for the Libyan opposition movement and opposition to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's dictatorial rule, about 25 students gathered under Sather Gate at noon Tuesday.

Lasting just over an hour, the "Die-In for Libya," as the event was called, was organized by the Muslim Student Association's Political Action Committee in an effort to raise awareness at UC Berkeley about the rebellion in Libya.

"Libya was the hot topic for about a week," said junior Tuba Nemati, a participant from the campus organization Afghans for Peace. "This die-in is to gain momentum back, to show the Libyan people that we have not forgotten about them."

The demonstrators silently held signs that read, among other things, "Liberate Libya," "People before oil for a sane foreign policy" and "Qadaffi" with a red line through his name.

As passersby took pictures of the demonstration, some observers stood and watched and others clapped while walking by to show their support for not only the die-in participants but also the Libyan rebel forces.

"We hope that, like it did for the Egyptians, seeing people demonstrate for their cause in the United States will give the Libyan people strength," Nemati said. "They'll see that people care for their cause."

While protesters met on Sproul on Tuesday, major media outlets reported as of press time that in Libya, Gadhafi's forces defeated the rebel stronghold of Ajdabiya, leaving the opposition with no line of defense between Gadhafi's forces, as they were heading eastward, and the rebel capital of Benghazi. In response, the U.N. Security Council has begun to review a resolution by British, French and Lebanese diplomats authorizing a no-fly zone over Libya.

Freshman Mahidda Tabraiz, an organizer of the die-in on Sproul and member of the political action committee, said that in organizing the die-in, she wanted to demonstrate the immediate international attention that the Libyan revolution needs.

Junior Fatima Mekkaoui, co-head of the political action committee, said the committee had originally planned for participants to lie on the ground under a tent, symbolic of the deaths of innocent Libyan civilians. However, the rain dictated new plans.

"People kept walking through the tent, and they didn't realize that it was a symbol of a funeral," Mekkaoui said.

Reaching its peak at around 12:45 p.m., the die-in had about 25 participants, none of whom were Libyan. However, most of the die-in participants were Muslim, a fact that many said helped them relate to Libya's primarily Muslim population.

"I can relate to Libya's situation more because it affects the Muslim community, and I am a Muslim," Tabraiz said. "But it's not a matter of nationalism or religion - it's a matter of humanity."

The political action committee's 11 members also organized a demonstration supporting the Egyptian revolution in February and are working to organize a fundraiser for Japan in the wake of last week's earthquake and tsunami. The committee will also host a political poetry slam on Thursday.


Contact Amruta Trivedi at [email protected]

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