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Tuesday, May 28
The Indiana Daily Student

campus student life

Protesters make Mother’s Day garden, chalk artwork at continuing encampment

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Among about 19 tents and four canopies, protesters of the pro-Palestinian encampment built a garden for Mother's Day on Sunday in the middle of Dunn Meadow.  

The garden is a way to honor "martyrs” in Gaza — people who have lost their mothers and mothers who have lost their children, Sidd, a protester, said.  

Sidd said it is “mind blowing” how quickly organizers got resources and people from the encampment together to build the garden after the Indiana State Police came to the encampment to take down tents and arrest 57 protesters April 25 and 27, after IU changed its policy on structures less than a day before the encampment started. 

Protesters created a sign which read, “Sabiha and Bassem Abu Rahmah’s Garden.” It is named after a Palestinian protester, Bassem Abu Rahmah, who was shot in the chest by an Israeli soldier with a tear gas canister and killed in April 2009 in the West Bank, and his mother. His mother then started to build a garden and grow plants out of tear gas canisters in memory of her son, Sidd said.  

In the garden in Dunn Meadow, protesters have planted tomatoes, basil, marigolds, blackberries, raspberries and milkweed, Sidd said. 

Sidd said if IU administration decides to take the garden down, it will be a disregard of humanity, and he hopes the building of the garden will demonstrate the protesters are not leaving. Bryce Greene, a leader of the IU Divestment Coalition which organized the encampment, told the IDS on May 8 that protesters intend to stay throughout the summer. 

Sidd said he wanted to reiterate their demands, which include the university divesting from Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division — a U.S. naval installation southwest of Bloomington; the resignation of IU President Pamela Whitten, Provost Rahul Shrivastav and Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs Carrie Docherty; IU’s adherence to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement — meaning the university would wholly financially divest from Israel; and full financial transparency from the university.  

Another demand that the IU Divestment Coalition told the IDS is the creation of Muslim and Middle Eastern cultural centers at IU.  

The encampment is attempting to implement regular activities to continue their solidarity with Palestine and resistance of “genocide,” Sidd said. 

The International Court of Justice issued a preliminary ruling in January stating there was “plausible” evidence Israel was violating portions of the 1948 Genocide Convention. While the court ordered Israel to increase aid in Gaza and prevent acts of genocide, it did not order a ceasefire in the war. However, Israeli officials rejected these allegations and argued representatives from South Africa, who brought the case to the court, were “weaponizing” the international convention against genocide. 

In addition to the gardening, they offered a session to support each other’s mental health and to understand one’s own nervous system. They also host regular movie screenings, he said.  

Jess, a protester, said the garden is a symbol of the struggles connected to land and geography, like in Palestine.  

“Gardening to me is a way of reclaiming some parts of those connections,” Jess said.  

On the sidewalk behind Franklin Hall along Dunn Meadow where the encampment can be found, a local Bloomington artist chalked two pieces of artwork. One, which was made Sunday, is in red and says, “THERE ARE NO UNIVERSITIES LEFT IN GAZA.” The left side was chalked in red, green, black and white, the colors of the Palestinian flag. It was chalked in the style of a keffiyeh, which is a type of headdress that has become synonymous with Palestinians.  

The local Bloomington artist who drew the piece said they are in support of the encampment, and it's a reminder of how people here, like at IU, have the privilege to draw on sidewalks, but there is nothing left in Gaza. They asked to remain anonymous. 

The second one is a chalked Palestine flag with a portrait of Adnan Al-Bursh in the middle. The red part of the flag has handprints within it. “DR. ADNAN AL-BURSH REST IN PEACE" is written in red and green chalk to its right. It was made Saturday. Adnan Al-Bursh died in an Israeli prison May 2 after being held for more than four months. He was head of orthopedics at Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City and a prominent surgeon in Gaza.   

The artist said the chalked portrait is a way to remember him and serves as a reminder of his significance even though he was not someone famous.  

“While he saved so many lives, he went down as with all the other martyrs,” the artist said.  

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