Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Santa Barbara held a candlelight vigil in solidarity with Palestinian liberation and to honor lost Palestinian lives on Nov. 9 at Storke Lawn.
Around 50 students, faculty and staff of the UCSB community gathered on campus at 5 p.m.
The event was for “honoring and remembering those that have been killed by the occupation, currently and in the past 75 years,” according to Student for Justice in Palestine’s (SJP) event description.
The vigil laid out next to over 2,000 miniature red, green, white and black flags, creating the Palestinian flag — placed on Storke Lawn earlier that week — with the names of Palestinian children killed in the Israeli bombing campaign of Gaza written on each flag.
“May our movement continue to be carried on from our youth to our elders, from Palestine to occupied Turtle Island,” an Instagram post by SJP read.
SJP has continued to organize on campus as the siege of the Gaza Strip by the state of Israel continues. Communication and internet networks in Gaza are expected to be cut off by Nov. 16 due to infrastructural damage and fuel shortages, Ramallah-based State of Palestinian Minister of Communication & Information Technology Ishaq Sider told the Washington Post. Over 3,600 children were killed in Gaza during the first 25 days of the siege according to AP News.
The Health Ministry of Gaza reported the death toll in the Gaza Strip as over 11,000 as of Nov. 13, according to Aljazeera.
SJP members lined the stairs up to Storke Tower with flowers and candles in honor of the lives lost, with this setup leading to a square-shaped assembly of flowers. An individual saged various SJP members on top of the steps while attendees gathered on the lawn.
Participants were given candles and masks before the vigil began, and a Palestinian flag laid wrapped near the flower assembly.
The event started with poems led by representatives from organizations affiliated with SJP. Mauna Kea Protectors UCSB began with a poem on the meaning of āina, and the Afghan Student Association (ASA) followed with a poem about the ruins of war.
“I want to kiss the ground where homes once stood … beauty erased by the ruins of war,” the ASA representative said.
Another speaker then recited a similar poem in honor of the children of Gaza.
“Friends become statues … You learn that night is a gun, [and] it could be your turn,” the speaker said.
“The land is for all, you have the right to not be dead,” the speaker continued.
Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) concluded the poems with their own recitation.
“Enemies might triumph over Gaza … but [we] will not say yes to invaders,” the YDSA representative said. “[Gaza] will continue to explode … It is Gaza’s way to declare that it deserves to live.”
Attendees were then encouraged to place a flower or candle at the assembly on top of the stairs as the names of lost lives were called.
“Put them in the center to show community and show how many names we are listing off,” an SJP speaker said.
A version of this article appeared on p. 1 of the Nov 16, 2023, print edition of the Daily Nexus.