Supporters unite with I am Syria
David Crane has seen the worst of mankind. As an international war crimes prosecutor, it comes with the territory. He said he has seen hundreds of crimes against humanity in Syria alone. But the report of one crime in particular hit close to home for the Syracuse University law professor.
“The one that really stuck on me was Syrian special police moving into the University of Aleppo and just going into a dorm just like Skytop and just started throwing students out of windows,” Crane said. “That’s what got my attention.”
Now, Crane is trying to turn the world’s attention to Syria, where nearly 23,000 civilians have died since opposition to President Bashar Al-Assad began last March.
The result is the I Am Syria campaign that Crane conceived along with the Syrian National Congress in Europe in March, which launched in Buffalo this summer and is now spreading across the world.
The next phase is reaching out to the SU community, Crane said. He already has plans to table around campus, and there are “tool kits” online with printable posters for people to start on their own.
“Basically, our goal is to show everyone around the world to stand in solidarity with Syria,” said Melody Osterstuck, a senior at the State University of New York at Oswego and associate program coordinator for I Am Syria.
We just want to echo back to the people of Syria, the victims of Assad, that they are not alone and we are standing with them. That’s all this is about.
David Crane, Syracuse University law professor
The concept is simple: Take a video or photo of yourself with a sign that says “I Am Syria” and post it to the group’s Facebook page. As support for the Syrian people grows, Crane said, the pressure is put on politicians to find a solution.
Part of the simplicity of the campaign — and what sets it apart from other support groups — is its neutrality and removal from politics, Crane said. That doesn’t mean Crane supports the Assad regime, but he wants the campaign to be more about awareness and support than a particular agenda.
“There are plenty of places where you can voice your political opposition,” Crane said. “We just want to echo back to the people of Syria, the victims of Assad, that they are not alone and we are standing with them. That’s all this is about.”
For third-year SU law student Emilee Gaebler, it’s about the common denominator of human emotion. It’s about giving the Syrians a sort of shoulder to cry on.
“I think pushing a political idea and resolution is obviously what most people jump to, and that’s what they want to hear,” said Gaebler, the managing editor of Impunity Watch, a College of Law publication focusing on international violations of human rights. “But at the same time, issues like just having natural empathy and showing that I feel your suffering, that’s a huge step that kind of gets overlooked.”
Since the website launched in late June, the I Am Syria Facebook page has received more than 650 likes from people all around the world.
But Crane said the numbers aren’t important to him. He called the campaign a work in progress and said when people learn what the campaign is about, they jump on board.
“It’s not about numbers as far as popularity of ‘look at us, look what we’ve done.’ It has nothing to do with us,” Crane said. “It has everything to do with the people of Syria. If we just change one mind, we’ve succeeded.”
Contact Lorne: email@example.com
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