Students to Fast for Haitians

One Hundred Gather to Oppose Clinton Refugee Policy

Thirty Yale and Harvard law School students rallied on the steps of Memorial Church yesterday to protest President Clinton's refusal to release HIV-positive Haitian refugees who are being held in a camp on Guantanamo Bay.

More than 100 people attended the rally, where Yale Law students, who had been fasting for seven days, linked arms with Harvard Law students in a symbolic gesture to pass the hunger strike on to Harvard Law students for the upcoming week.

The Harvard students also set up a "prison" camp of their own in Harkness Commons. Yale student had done the same last week in New Haven.

The hunger strike is an effort to show solidarity with the refugees who have been fasting since January 29. Students at other colleges will also fast in coming weeks in an attempt to gain enough support to reverse the policy established by Bush and continued by Clinton.

"We're putting our bodies on the line. We are going to starve ourselves to feed this country's soul," said Anthony Jones, a third-year Yale law School student, with regard to the country's indifference on the issue.


"Yale Law School is embarrassed (by) bill Clinton. He betrayed his school, he betrayed his soul, he betrayed his country, he betrayed his Haitian policy," Jones said in a speech at the rally.

Supporters chanted sayings including. "When shore comes to push. Clinton's just the same as Bush," and " HIV is not a crime, why are Haitian doing time?" referring to the allegedly inhumane conditions in which the refuges presently reside.

"It's racist, inhumane, and it's illegal according to this country's asylum [policy]," said Bredy Pierre-Louis '95 a Cabot House resident who attended the rally.

"The hunger strike will, we hope, show [Clinton] that there are concerned citizens in the U.S. who expect Clinton to live up to his promises," said Juny E. Francois. Francois is a Haitian-American who is a second-year Law student who spoke at the rally.

Ronald L. Sullivan the president of the Harvard Black Law Students Association said at the rally, "Fasting is going to put something it the test--the government of the united States, to see whether they are going to let the Black people starve and die or change their policy. It will test the very moral fibers of this country"

To symbolize the passing on of the hunger strike, Yale Law students also gave barbed wire and fencing to the Harvard Law students. These tokens were part of a makeshift "concentration" camp assembled by the Yale Law students at their school to advertise their support for the refuges.

As the students presented the barbed wire, one student shouted, "Alone we are weak, together we are strong," and another said, "Keep the faith."

The barbed wire and lending will be used at a "Person" camp set up by Harvard law students at the Harkness Commons.

"If we can get the message out to the people that their government is running a concentration camp so close to Florida. I think things can change," said Monty Ghivan, a second year Yale law student.

Many of the refugees have already lost all hope for life, said one speaker as she read a letter written by a refugee. "I'm not going to eat until I get off this island or die," the refugee wrote.

Francois said the law students feel it is their duty to establish the "recognition that they [the refugees] have a [valid] claim for political asylum."

"People have not forgotten about [the refugees] and they have to hang on," said Mike Fisher, a second-year Yale Law student