Students petition for aid

By Jen Bland

Some concerned NIU students are calling for other students to help them in their fight to gain arms for Bosnians from the United Nations.

The students have set up a table outside the Pow-Wow with a video and numerous pamphlets to inform students about the recent events in Bosnia.

The students are asking other concerned NIU students to sign petitions that will be distributed to President Clinton and Sen. Paul Simon, Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Claiborne Pell.

Right now the Bosnians have no arms to defend themselves from the attacking Serbians, said Samer Assof, co-coordinator of the effort. He said the students aren’t asking Americans to send arms, but to help persuade the UN to have other countries send arms to the Bosnians.

“Americans won’t intervene because there’s no personal interest in the Bosnians like there was when Kuwait was invaded,” Assof said.

He said everyone agrees that what is going on in Bosnia is wrong, but some people are afraid that giving the Bosnians arms will escalate the violence. Assof said if the Bosnians have arms, it might be a deterrent against the attacks by the Serbs.

He said the table was set up last Thursday and Friday and will also be set up tomorrow for students to sign a petition. “In the first two days we got 200 petitions signed and we think we now have around 300 total,” he said.

There are six main goals the students are hoping to accomplish.

They want to pressure the UN to lift the arms embargo on Bosnia, pressure the White House to enforce the “no-fly” zone and urge the formation of war crime tribunals and proceedings to begin immediately.

Additionally, they want to urge the immediate closing of all detention camps and the release of all prisoners, the UN to recognize that rape is a war crime breaching the 4th Geneva Convention and urge the unconditional withdrawal of Serbia from all occupied territories.

“We’re just a group of students who are sick of what’s going on in Bosnia,” Assof said. “We are sick of watching TV and not do anything about it.”

Assof said the politicians think they won’t lose anything if they don’t lift the ban, but if they see all the petitions on their desks they might think twice.

Senior Ismail Selmani, an Albanian student, said half of his

family still is in Macedonia and fears that if the fighting continues it will reach that republic.

“I think it’s a good thing students are signing petitions because it will help eliminate the killings and hopefully stop the war,” Selmani said. “These atrocities have been going on for many years, but it is just recently getting press.”