The photos of smiling families and individuals—all victims of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center twin towers, are beginning to disappear from the walls, phone booths, bus stands, light poles, trees and vans in downtown New York City. Some have fallen because of rain. Others are being taken down and collected by city officials for a possible memorial collage. Yet families and friends keep hoping that someone will be found in the mountains of rubble. They hold onto hope with quiet desperation.
Against this background, I sit at my corner desk looking out at a very subdued United Nations building reading through hundreds of emails from women in every world region. And what I hear are women’s voices calling for justice, calling for restraint, calling for the use of a system of global justice already in place that utilizes international and national courts of law. And calling for military force not to be used against more innocent and defenseless victims.
The following “voices of women” have been gleaned from these hundreds of e-mails. Most comment on the need for immediate and long-term solutions in an unequal world capable of producing such violent acts of rage. And they all reflect the growing determination of women to be part of the decision-making processes that will shape our next steps.
AFGHANISTAN: “While we once again announce our solidarity and deep sorrow with the people of the US, we also believe that attacking Afghanistan and killing its most ruined and destitute people will not in any way decrease the grief of the American people. We sincerely hope that (America) can differentiate between the people of Afghanistan and a handful of fundamentalist terrorists.” Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA).
INDIA: “Declaring a war against terrorism alone will not bring peace and security. We need to stop the war against the planet and the people. We need to work for the recovery of democracy and ecological security.” Vandana Shiva.
JAPAN: “The United Nations should establish an International Criminal Tribunal to prosecute and punish the perpetrators of the terrorist attack. A just and co-existence world should be created in order to eliminate the root causes of terrorism.” Violence Against Women in War Network (VAWW-NET).
EAST TIMOR: “We have all been overwhelmed by the attacks in the USA. Timorese women responded by putting flowers and candles outside the US Mission. But the Timorese never called for Jakarta to be bombed when their whole country was destroyed (by Indonesian forces) two years ago”…the US President could learn from them.” Janet Hunt, Dili, East Timor.
KOSOVO: “We have lived through war. We know what it is like to be attacked, to grieve, and to feel anger. We understand the urge for revenge is strong. And we know that it must not be given in to. We know that a violent response can only bring more violence, not justice. Instead, it kills more innocent victims and gives birth to new holy avengers. It begins a new cycle and perpetuates more hate, more insecurity, more fear and ultimately more death amongst civilians. We therefore urge the US and its allies to temper their anger and to refrain from the folly of a sweeping military solutions. Terrorists are not nations. And nations must not act like terrorists.” Medica Mondiale Kosovo, Women’s Center.
GLOBAL: “The Hague Appeal for Peace urges the US administration to use the greatest possible restraint. We call for a national day of healing”. We must not allow the atmosphere of hatred to justify acts of war against unidentified enemies. We cherish the force of law, not the law of force.” Cora Weiss, The Hague Appeal for Peace.
KOREA: “We who are women who know about wars are convinced that violence and military force can never bring peace. In this belief, we are strongly united against any acts of war, and demand peaceful resolution of all conflict. We are work