In response to the deadly massacre at Camp Speicher in 2014, Shia Rights Watch established International Day of Shia Rights in commemoration of the Shiites that were lost on that deadly day. The massacre was led by ISIS militants on June 12th, 2014 leaving 1700 dead Shiites in the wake of the event. Shia Rights Watch successfully used the one year anniversary of the massacre to promote awareness in ongoing human rights violations in the world.
The massacre left a deep wound in the Shiite community, this event reflected the potential danger of being a Shia minority. With only one known survivor, the significance of this massacre is integral when understanding the message behind International Day of Shia Rights. This attack became a call to action for many Shiites in an effort to unite their heritage and stand up to oppressors around the world. International Day of Shia Rights stands as a universal symbol of pride, justice, and change.
This year’s International Day of Shia Rights was focused on freeing 550 incarcerated minors in the country of Bahrain. The campaign that was created for June 12th, 2015 included the dispersal of 550 roses with messages attached to pedestrians. The message written on the cards carried quotes from historical figures, information about the situation, and a personalized number such as ‘Rose 1 of 550’. Each card and rose represented one child sitting in a cell instead of a school. The most important aspect of the roses was the ‘#612ShiaDay’ that was written on it. The reuse of this hashtag across multiple social media platforms was one of the primary objectives in measuring the reach of the campaign. With hundreds of shares, retweets, and posts, it can definitively be said that the campaign was a true success.
The roses were given out respectively at Farragut Square and Dupont Circle over two days. The message seemed to resonate with the people physically there as well as electronically via the hashtag. People were so moved by the campaign that some asked to give a donation, and in one case, asking for a job. One woman even shared her experience when trying to teach children in Bahrain. Unfortunately, Bahraini authorities did not grant her permission into the country because she was over the age of 60. While some of the rose recipients were aware of Bahraini abuses, most of the others had no idea about the situation entirely. Many pedestrians gave thanks to SRW members for educating them about Bahrain and promised to pass along the message to others.
Despite the focus on such a serious issue, Shia Rights Watch members had a blast participating in this event. Morale was extraordinarily high because all participants felt like they genuinely made a difference in the world and in the lives of these children. The volume of posts pertaining to the event was incredibly astounding; no one could have possibly predicted the success of the campaign. One SRW member even remarked that the event was not ‘work’ but rather, a team accomplishing their passion.
International Day of Shia Rights was an eye opening experience as to atrocities currently occurring, the number of non-Muslims who care, and the unity of Shiites everywhere. This campaign was strong enough to establish an international precedence in which every year the Camp Speicher anniversary will promote justice and equality instead of a painful reminder of what occurred. With so many Shiites facing oppression around the world, at least on June 12th they can rest easy knowing that change is on the way.