By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Rio de Janeiro will join cities throughout Europe, as a group hosts an open to the public candle-lit vigil to show solidarity for Syria’s refugees on Saturday, September 12th. Entitled “Rio sees Syria,” the vigil will take place in Quadra Alegria Da Zona Sul in Cantagalo from 6PM to 2AM.
The vigil was inspired after plans for a candle-lit vigil scheduled for September 12th in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom went viral on social media and spread to cities throughout the UK and Europe including London, Athens, Paris, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Valencia, and Berlin, among others.
“I saw this event happening all over Europe and I contacted the organisers via Facebook to see if there was an event in Rio/Brasil,” Bel Casson of the Caminhos Language Centre told The Rio Times, adding, “They said no there was not but if I wanted I could host one.”
“This is a personal venture of mine because I felt I wanted to contribute to raise awareness for the Refugee Crisis worldwide,” Casson continued. “I placed a few ads on Internations and a generous person who wanted to remain anonymous has funded the project. Since then Caminhos has also contributed to funding.”
All who can are encouraged to attend and the vigil will take place regardless of weather, as venue is covered.
“It was difficult to find a venue for this event due to short timeframe (I started working on this on Saturday) and also laws and restictions. I wanted to have this event at the beach after the Arte de Viver Full Moon Meditation however the prevision was that it would rain. Creo Kellab helped me find this venue which was undercover and in the community where we believed people could relate to what was happening. Real people, real issues,” said Casson who was joined by Creo Kellab and a group of volunteers to put together the vigil.
While the country of Syria is over 10,000 kilometers away, Brazil is currently second in the Americas, after Canada, for the most Syrian refugees received since the civil war, which caused widespread turmoil and destruction, broke out in 2011. According to Conare (Comitê Nacional para os Refugiados) an organization that is part of Brazil’s Ministério da Justiça, over two thousand Syrians were granted refugee status in Brazil between 2011 and August of this year.
“Brazil has maintained an open-door policy for Syrian refugees,” Andrés Ramirez of Agência da ONU para Refugiados/ Acnur ((UN refugee agency) told BBC Brasil. “The number is still low, mostly due to geographical location, but certainly it is an example to be followed globally.”
Candles will be provided for Saturday’s vigil and there will be one minute of silence during the event. Attendess are asked to bring Brazilian flags or cangas to show support from Brazil for Syria’s refugees.
When speaking about the vigil, Tulin Hashemi, a Syrian refugee currently in Rio de Janeiro, told The Rio Times; “I was happy that someone is caring about this. The show of support is overwhelming. It means we are ‘one’ and everyone cares.”
For more infomation about Rio Sees Syria see the Facebook event page here.
What: Rio sees Syria
When: 6PM to 2AM
Where: Quadra G.R.E.S. Alegria da Zona Sul, Rua Saint Roman Nº 176, Cantagalo/Copacabana/RJ