Human Rights Bake Sale helps Syrian refugees

Photograph by Amy Leong

One of the newest clubs on campus, the Human Rights Society, is raising money to send to Syria to help citizens during the revolution. The club had a bake sale on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 29 and 30. On Wednesday they also hosted a speaker, showed a documentary and held a henna booth. The proceeds from the bake sale go to Syria.

“All the innocent people are being killed because they want basic human rights like everyone else,” said Maye Ismail, one of three co-Presidents of the Human Rights Society. The other co-Presidents include her sister, Lena Ismail, and their friend, Ferdose Idris.

The bake sale offered items such as brownies, lazy cakes, kunafah, baklava and cupcakes, all neatly tied with green and red ribbons, two of the colors of the Syrian flag. Entitled “BBC’s The Syrian Revolution,” the documentary was held at 1:30 p.m. in the Garden Room.

“It [the documentary] shows what they’re going through and what’s going on,” Ismail said.

All the proceeds will go to either the Life Organization or Zaka Organization; the club hasn’t decided which yet. The organization will then send the funds to Syria to help citizens with food, clean water and other basic needs.

“We made over $400 yesterday, which we weren’t expecting, so we raised the goal to $1,000,” said Ismail, pointing to their sign that showed how much money was raised.

At 1:00 p.m., the second ongoing event of the day began: Henna tattoos. The club brought in some professional henna design artists to perform elaborate tattoos for a comparatively inexpensive price – between $2 and $10. There were three tables set up for this activity, including one inside the Garden Room, where, thirty minutes later, the documentary was introduced by Syrian Zeina Askar.

Askar explained the origins of the revolution: It all started with protests surrounding the kidnapping of children who wrote what was taken to be anti-government sentiments on the wall of their schools, more than a year ago.

“Imagine when a government like the Syrian regime takes your children, and you know they are going to be tortured and raped,” said Askar.

The children had their fingernails pulled out, along with many other forms of torture and rape. This resulted in an uprising of citizens demanding the release of their children – and that was all they demanded. But this resulted in massacres, and it began the Syrian revolution.

“They had nothing to lose,” said Askar. “They had nothing to begin with.” She went on to describe the conditions of prisons in Syria: Two hundred people standing in a room no bigger than the Garden Room, crammed together so the captives have to lift people up in order for anyone to sleep. There are no bathrooms in these prisons, either.

“And when it comes to torturing and killing children… It ends there,” said Askar. “Fifty-two children. Children! What kind of people are these? Animals don’t even act this way!”

She concluded by explaining the mission of the Syrian revolution: “We’re really asking for Bashar and his thugs to be removed,” she said.

With that, she introduced the film: “BBC’s The Syrian Revolution.” This film showed real footage taken from Syrian protestors and observers – massacres of protestors, snipers on buildings, military control. However, it also showed that a rebel army was being formed – but it was still uncertain whether this army could pull together enough forces to prove a challenge for the Syrian army, relying entirely on defects.

The film lasted about 30 minutes, then students had time to comment on it.

“I think it’s really important for emphasis on the root causes,” commented Sophia Trinh, ASG Vice President of Equity and Pluralism. “A lot of people in the US don’t know what’s going on in the world.”

After this session, the room dispersed back to the bake sale, which would last until 4:00 p.m. or 5:00 p.m. that day.

The Human Rights Society holds meetings once a week on Wednesdays from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Currently they have 13 members.

“It’s open to everybody. We want people to come. This is our first quarter and our first event,” said Ismail. “Now we’re planning something for Africa and something for Europe.”