Students and Tempe residents from many nationalities gathered in front of Old Main at the Tempe campusSundayevening to hold a vigil for all of the world’s oppressed nations.
Speakers and students discussed issues going on in these nations and held a moment of silence to reflect on the events, people and nations being effected by oppression.
Under Somali Skies United, a student organization dedicated to supporting international refugees living in Arizona, hosted the vigil.
USSU President Noor Raad introduced the speakers and spoke about oppression going on around the world, as well as the importance of events like these.
“Events like this seem to only happen when tragic events happen,” she said. “This event is for all oppressed nations and to have them come together, unite and converse.”
Raad, a biological sciences senior, said the idea behind the vigil was to bring countries and nationalities together to unite in solidarity and show people do care about what is going on.
The participants of the vigil varied widely in nationalities. Countries represented included Bahrain, Somalia, Palestine, Pakistan, Algeria, Mexico, Lebanon and the U.S.
Tempe resident Ibrahim Barbour, who attended the event, said the most striking part of the evening was the diversity.
“Good to have people of different nationalities come together,” he said.
One of three speakers of the evening, ASU alumnus Saiaf Abdallah, spoke of events going on around the world and how these events affect families living in the U.S.
“It is important you don’t let the oppression around the world affect you to where you feel you’ve lost hope,” he said.
Tempe resident Salma Sadeddin, who was representing her Palestinian and Syrian heritage, echoed Abdallah’s message. She said the people of her country just want what Americans already have.
“We want to live safe, be happy and have peace no matter what country you’re from,” she said.
The three speakers offered their own perspective on oppression. ASU alumnus and poet Myrlin Hepworth performed two original poems about events he has witnessed or been a part of and added an emotional punch to the event.
Hepworth discussed the difficulty of creating diverse events and the success of the vigil.
“It’s extremely difficult to create events where you’re encouraging people to unite around an issue that is general like oppression,” he said.
Retired Marine Matthew Papke recited his own poem about oppression he has seen in America.
Sustainability junior Ali Alhayki said he thought the three different speakers added an extra element to the event.
“Having three speakers from such different backgrounds shows us to come together,” he said. “You rarely find events where speakers say come together as human beings.”
Business law senior Rayan Hamze said the event was especially personal as he still has family living abroad in the nations being represented.
“I live here and my whole family lives in the Middle East,” he said. “They’re going through so much violence and hate and we’re here acting like everything is fine.”
Raad said she and other members of USSU viewed the vigil as a success and plan to hold more events in the future.
“It is important to discuss events and problems and this was an event for the people,” Raad said.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @joey_hancock