What is it?
Vigils are deeply connected with mourning. They usually take place to mourn victims or remember traumatic events. It is a form of peaceful protest where people show that they share the pain of those involved in a traumatic event or with victims.
How do you do it?
There is nothing more insulting than offending the memory of someone who has died, perhaps in horrific or violent circumstances, by associating their names with further violence, bad taste or ridicule.
When you organise your vigil, invite people to gather quietly and peaceful in a public place. The setting may be symbolic or it may be political – for example opposite a parliament building. Often people like to light candles at vigils to show they are emotionally invested and supportive of the victims or in the remembrance of a traumatic experience.
You can launch the idea on social media, or go door-to-door to invite your local community to join the vigil.
Make sure you are clear to attendees of the event’s rules so that no one feels disrespected or distressed. It is also important to make sure you have permission to occupy a particular space. This is especially important to avoid a violent or aggressive dispersal.
Why and When should you use it?
They can be used to express solidarity with victims of police violence, terrorist attacks, or silent victims. These are the people who suffer and die everyday outside of the spotlight, such as migrants dying while crossing a sea, children dying of hunger, or people who have no access to clean water or medical facilities.
Animal rights activists have used vigils to educate the public about animal suffering.
If you would like to encourage people to think about silent victims you should consider holding a vigil. No matter how many you are, the most important thing is to be there.
Works best in combination with:
Powerful messages denouncing the existence of exploitations or inequalities resulting in the death of the people affected by them.