A Vigil for Humanity - WASHINGTON, D.C. 

As part of my summer travels, I spent some time in Washington D.C. and developed a community of friends. One young lady I befriended, Mariela, is an advocate for Syrian human rights. She invited me to attend a vigil. A Vigil for Syria, a Vigil for Egypt. A Vigil for Humanity. 35mm film b&w and color © 2013 Marisa Sarto.

A year ago, President Obama declared that the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar Assad would cross a “red line for us” and might trigger a U.S. military response. Now, the president says it wasn’t his red line, but rather a line set by the international community and by Congress. That’s what the red jump rope stands for – the “red line”. The kids were jumping rope with it.

On August 21, 2013, several areas surrounding the Syrian capital of Damascus were struck by chemical attacks. Within hours of the attacks, dozens of videos were uploaded of large numbers of distressed and visibly sick adults and children with no external signs of injury. Even though there had been previous allegations of chemical attacks, this attack generated significant outrage in the international community. The brutality of the attacks and the graphic nature of the videos were so upsetting, and all of the Syrians that I knew were visibly depressed for days. At the same time, Egypt was also going through a tumultuous time during which the Egyptian military became increasingly oppressive, particularly with respect to the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters. In support of both Syria and Egypt, my friends and I went to a candle light vigil outside the White House. Written by Mariela Samamé.