The Syrian Army took over Aleppo, one of the country's largest cities, killing hundreds of citizens in the streets Monday. Now, UW-Madison students aim to aid the people of Syria by acting locally.
UW-Madison students Ali Khan, Omer Arain, Sara Easa and Rama Shoukfeh are organizing a call-in day Friday. They are encouraging students, faculty and staff of the university to call Wisconsin legislators, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and share their concerns about how the U.S. is handling the situation in Aleppo.
“This is such a global issue, it's tough to see how we can make a tangible impact, especially just as students,” Khan said. “But here at least we are reaching legislators, which could actually take action and it is still unifying it and drawing attention to the issue.”
Participants can call legislators with others at the Associated Students of Madison Friday, following an informational session that will explain what is happening in Aleppo. The group will offer a script for people to use, which will also be posted on the event Facebook page so individuals can call from other locations. They said it is important for calls to be concentrated in one day because high call rates will prioritize a response from the legislators.
The group hopes calling the legislators will urge them to take action and speak out on the issue. Easa said they also want to mobilize people to show their support.
“What we need is for cities across the world, and certainly across the U.S., to consider how much power is granted to U.S. citizens and American people,” Easa said. “We just want to see people show that they condemn these things, that it is a new era and that we will not stand for it.”
The group wrote legislation through ASM that calls on the UW-Madison community to acknowledge that a genocide is occurring in Aleppo and urge them to act by contacting legislators. Arain said the legislation recognizes that this conflict is affecting millions of people’s lives and highlights what Madison, as a capable government, can do to help.
The students said the situation in Aleppo is a humanitarian crisis that they have to aid.
“We thought the crisis would be responded to after there were images of a Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish shore, but it wasn’t,” Khan said. “This silence validates all the actions as being OK. It's our time to not be silent anymore.”