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Response: US Peace Groups

12 September 2001

Kia ora,

in response to the attacks in the US overnight, US peace groups are beginning to circulate statements on what has happened. Our thoughts are with peace people in the US - they have opposed the US government's military and economic attacks on various people around the world; and they now are dealing not only with the immediate tragedy of loss of life and injury, but also with the US government's response which is not likely to be one any of us would support. Below are three of the statements received so far.

* 1) From WILPF (US Section):

WILPF has always rejected the use of violence and is horrified by the loss of life in the attacks today. While we urge caution in the response and judgment about the cause of these events, we feel that this tragedy must not lead us as a society to take repressive or vengeful measures in response. Particularly we recall the experience of Oklahoma when the immediate reaction targeting Arab-related groups and individuals was later proven to be entirely groundless.

Once again our deepest beliefs hold that true security can only be rooted in social justice and strengthening the domestic and international rule of law. No additional billions of military budget would have prevented the actions today.

This is a moment when we hope that all WILPF members will be able to contribute to maintaining a spirit of respect for peace and civil rights as the country responds to this horrifying series of events.

Mary Day Kent and Jody Dodd, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, US Section.

(Note to WILPF members receiving this message - the women in the New York WILPF office are safe).

* 2) From SLO CO Grandmothers for Peace

I sit here in semi-shock listening to the continuing news of the terrorist attack that happened this morning. I have burned sage and sent up prayers to all those who have been injured or killed and for their families. I pray fervently that the attacks are over.

But under this shock is a rising rage. A rage at the person we call "president" who, through his actions, has precipitated this violence against the American people. Since he has been in office this country has been acting like the school yard bully. We have been bombing and killing innocent people in Iraq for the last few months. We have thumbed our noses at the ABM treaty. We have threatened to begin testing nuclear weapons again. We have threatened to put nukes in space. Is it any wonder that this attack has happened? Is it really surprising?

Right now is the time for prayer, a time to send our thoughts to those needing our prayers. Tomorrow though, I will be writing to my congresspeople and demanding impeachment proceedings be brought against that man that lives in the White House. His warmongering must be stopped, the path to peace must begin.

Molly Johnson, SLO CO Grandmothers for Peace

* 3) From the staff of WRL

As we write, Manhattan feels under seige, with all bridges, tunnels, and subways closed, and tens of thousands of people walking slowly north from Lower Manhattan. As we sit in our offices here at War Resisters League, our most immediate thoughts are of the hundreds, if not thousands, of New Yorkers who have lost their lives in the collapse of the World Trade Center. The day is clear, the sky is blue, but vast clouds billow over the ruins where so many have died, including a great many rescue workers who were there when the final collapse occured.

Of course we know our friends and co-workers in Washington D.C. have similar thoughts about the ordinary people who have been trapped in the parts of the Pentagon which were also struck by a jet. And we think of the innocent passengers on the hi-jacked jets who were carried to their doom on this day.

We do not know at this time from what source the attack came. We do know that Yasser Arafat has condemned the bombing. We hesitate to make an extended analysis until more information is available but some things are clear. For the Bush Administration to talk of spending hundreds of billions on Star Wars is clearly the sham it was from the beginning, when terrorism can so easily strike through more routine means.

We urge Congress and George Bush that whatever response or policy the U.S. develops it will be clear that this nation will no longer target civilians, or accept any policy by any nation which targets civilians. This would mean an end to the sanctions against Iraq, which have caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians. It would mean not only a condemnation of terrorism by Palestinians but also the policy of assassination against the Palestinian leadership by Israel, and the ruthless repression of the Palestinian population and the continuing occupation by Israel of the West Bank and Gaza.

The policies of militarism pursued by the United States have resulted in millions of deaths, from the historic tragedy of the Indochina war, through the funding of death squads in Central America and Colombia, to the sanctions and air strikes against Iraq. This nation is the largest supplier of "conventional weapons" in the world - and those weapons fuel the starkest kind of terrorism from Indonesia to Africa. The early policy of support for armed resistance in Afghanistan resulted in the victory of the Taliban - and the creation of Osama Bin Laden.

Other nations have also engaged in these policies. We have, in years past, condemned the actions of the Russian government in areas such as Chechnya, the violence on both sides in the Middle East, and in the Balkans. But our nation must take responsibility for its own actions. Up until now we have felt safe within our borders. To wake on a clear cool day to find our largest city under seige reminds us that in a violent world, none are safe.

Let us seek an end of the militarism which has characterized this nation for decades. Let us seek a world in which security is gained through disarmament, international cooperation, and social justice - not through escalation and retaliation. We condemn without reservation attacks such as those which occured today, which strike at thousands of civilians - may these profound tragedies remind us of the impact U.S. policies have had on other civilians in other lands. We are particularly aware of the fear which many people of Middle Eastern descent, living in this country, may feel at this time and urge special consideration for this community.

We are one world. We shall live in a state of fear and terror or we shall move toward a future in which we seek peaceful alternatives to conflict and a more just distribution of the world's resources. As we mourn the many lives lost, our hearts call out for reconciliation, not revenge.

This is not an official statement of the War Resisters League but was drafted immediately after the tragic events occured. Signed and issued by the staff and Executive Committee of War Resisters League in the national office, 11 September 2001.

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Peace Movement Aotearoa
the national networking peace organisation
PO Box 9314, Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand
Tel +64 4 382 8129 Fax +64 4 382 8173
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