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The World Trade Center Tragedy

Statement Of The International Socialist Organisation, Aotearoa/New Zealand

The attack on the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11th was an absolute tragedy, a pointless and reprehensible attack on the lives of many innocent people. Our sympathies go out to the families and loved ones of those killed in this tragedy, and our thoughts are with the workers of the United States during this difficult time.

Whoever organised the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center did nothing to further any progressive cause worldwide. All terrorism achieves is carnage and suffering amongst the working class.

The world imperialist system is one organised around violence and force. It is a system designed to maximise the profits of a few at the cost - no matter how great - of the many. The United States and its imperialist allies are responsible for this system of violence. While our sympathies and sorrow lies with the families and loved ones of victims in this tragedy, our anger is directed at those responsible for a world of organised terrorism - George Bush, Tony Blair and their allies. The same rulers who were responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians through their bombing of Serbia and who this very day are starving hundreds of thousands in their blockade of Iraq are now trying to act as the defenders of liberty. This is hypocrisy. As Malcolm X once said, "the chickens have come home to roost".

Difficult as it may be in the face of such horror and devastation on our televisions and radios, we need to keep aware of the implications of this situation. Already right wingers, hawks and the forces of reaction are trying to use this tragedy to assert their might. President Bush promised to "do what it takes" to punish those responsible, and in New Zealand ACT leader Richard Prebble used a speech in Parliament to link this attack into arguments for increasing defense spending. The Right in the United States is calling for war. We need to oppose these forces.

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No to Racism!

The bourgeois media is already hurrying to whip up a frenzy of anti-Arab and anti-Islamic hysteria. There is as yet no evidence that any Muslims or Arabs were the perpetrators of this event. In fact, the last time there was a major terrorist attack linked to Arabs in the U.S - the Oklahoma bombing - it turned out to be a white American who was responsible.

This racist reporting has only one purpose - to turn this tragedy for political ends. There is no connection between the attack on the World Trade Center and the struggle for Palestinian rights or the struggle to end the sanctions against Iraq. Both struggles remain as valid now as they did the day before the attack. Any attempts in the bourgeois media to make a connection are merely racist ploys to turn public sympathy in the direction of US imperialist aims.

In New Zealand we need to resist this racist scapegoating even more. The plight of Afghan refugees barbarically treated by Australia has not changed because of this tragedy - our attitude towards it should not change either.

War is No Solution!

The more hysterical of the ruling class commentators have started to make comparisons between this event and the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. This comparison ought to act as a chilling reminder to the rest of us of the terrible consequences of nationalist jingoism. The Pacific War cost millions of lives, and ended with an act of US terrorism against the civilians of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We must not let this happen again. The ruling class of the US and New Zealand will try to use recent events as a justification to increase military powers and military spending, but this cycle of capitalist violence is precisely what precipitated the current disaster. Working people in all countries must oppose their own governments against this rush to war.

No attacks on democracy!

Journalists and government officials in Australia cite the attack on the World Trade Center as a reason for why the Australian government "needs" to crack down on basic democratic rights in the lead up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in October. This is nonsense. There is no connection between the tens of thousands of workers, students, activists and others who take to the street protesting the violence and horror of this system and the terrorists who are its mirror image. Any attempt by the ruling class to exploit our emotions over this issue to push through attacks on democracy must be resisted.

Now, more than ever, we need to insist on our right to take to the streets in protest. Arabs, Muslims or Palestinians are not the enemies of working people. Our enemies are the leaders of the terrorist states - George Bush and his allies. In a world system of violence, terror and destruction, the vision of a truly democratic, fair and just society becomes all the more precious, and all the more worth fighting for. We extend our sympathies to those grieving in the United States and, during today as every other day, recognize the need to fight the imperialist system that causes such suffering.

To the Muslim Community of Dunedin,

On behalf of the Dunedin branch of the International Socialists we would like to express our support and solidarity in this time of political upheaval. I write in reference to the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC. We are aware that yourselves, and the vast majority of Muslim people around the world had nothing to do with this atrocity and quite rightly condemn the perpetrators of these crimes.

Although there is very little real proof of Islamic involvement in these attacks the American and New Zealand press have demonised Muslim extremists and focused on some isolated incidents of Muslims celebrating the attacks on America. We unconditionally condemn the Western media’s racist portrayal of Muslims, Arabs and other groups, as terrorists bent on destroying human life to further their political goals. The media has also reported and in some cases condemned racist attacks, death threats, and other forms of intimidation and harassment of Muslims and "Arab looking" people in New Zealand and around the world. The International Socialists strongly condemn all forms of racist and religious bigotry, violence and intimidation. If you have suffered any form of harassment we offer our deepest condolences.

We condemn all acts of violence against innocent workers like the atrocities perpetrated by as yet unknown terrorists in the US; there is no excuse for mass murder, no excuse at all. The International Socialists will continue to speak out against attacks on working people around the world, such as the Palestinians who face continuing attacks from the armed forces of Israel, and the Iraqi people suffering under harsh US/UN economic sanctions that restrict access to much needed food and medical supplies. It is unfortunate that the barbaric actions of a few individuals against the US may very well produce new and even more barbaric crimes by the George Bush regime against the working people of whatever nation gets blamed for harbouring terrorists. We will speak out against any and all acts of "war" by imperialist states against working people.

As activists we regularly have public stalls and meetings where we talk to workers and students explaining our politics and pointing out the gross inequalities created by the international capitalist system. We will continue to patiently explain that Muslim people are our brothers and sisters in struggle, not the enemy, and point out the real enemy is the oppressive capitalist system.

On Thursday the 20th of September, we are holding a public meeting on the recent events in the US, and we cordially invite you to attend and voice your opinions in a safe, friendly environment. The meeting will be held at the Clubs and Society building at 7:30pm.

Finally we would like to keep in touch, if the US goes to war we will organise anti-war protests, your involvement in any such protest would be greatly appreciated.

Yours Faithfully

Colin Heath


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