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Truth Be Told – Part III

Zainab Bangura, coordinator of Campaign for Good Governance, Freetown, Sierra Leone
Terrorists try to break down your resistance, take away your dignity, respect, privacy. That’s what they did to us in Sierra Leone for more than ten years by chopping off people’s feet and arms. Sometimes, refusing to let them win was the only thing that kept us alive.

The terrorists will use all sorts of propaganda to get you to attack them. Then they’ll talk about the civilian deaths that you caused, even though they were the ones hiding behind the civilians! A military response is always going to be problematic for civilians, so that must be a last resort.

Now that you’ve started bombing, you must finish it, because backing off is defeat. You may not be able to be a pacifist at this moment. You must maintain an alliance with moderate Muslim and Arab countries. The terrorists are going to try to break up that alliance. So the United States needs to be dedicated to permanent dialogue. There are many people out there who feel that terrorism is justified. You will not get back what you lost as a nation, but life must go on. If you don’t accept that, then they have won. Don’t let terror isolate you, because there are thousands of people stretching out their hands in support.

Maruja Barrig, activist and journalist, Lima, Peru
When the Shining Path, a terrorist group in Peru, expanded its activities into urban places in the early nineties, they tried to send a message about their political power. They did it by threatening women in poor neighborhoods who had risen up to try and improve their lives and the lives of those around them. The Shining Path began to murder the most visible female leaders. In your case, the threat is coming from an external source. In Peru, the threat was somebody that could be living half a meter away from you.

Looking at all the posters of people lost in the towers reminds me of the approximately 7,000 “disappeared” in Peru. I can remember reactions like we are seeing in New York, where people are demonstrating for peace. These people are taking a proactive stance. This is empowerment; it helps lessen the fear.

The U.S. can learn from Peru’s mistake, and realize that a military response to punish the guilty ones will not make a substantive change. Only education and political change will help. When the national army started rampaging through the country looking to wipe out the Shining Path, they brought terror into many villages. After they left, the people who survived often had so much hatred against the army that they would join Shining Path.

Hanan Ashrawi, member, Palestinian Legislative Council for Jerusalem
Terrorists are people who have felt marginalized and excluded from decision-making. Those who do not have secular power claim a higher source of power: God. Their motivation becomes abstract—and that is the sinister aspect of this. They think they can do anything in the name of God.

Osama bin Laden and his followers think that by using the Palestinian cause, they will gain an instant constituency. It is opportunistic. The Palestinian question is not up for grabs. I don’t want people murdering innocent people in the name of Palestine. We have our own legitimate cause for human validation, for freedom.

An important issue in our region is the ongoing suffering of the Iraqi people. Madeleine Albright’s statement that the death of 500,000 Iraqi children was acceptable is constantly repeated here. What makes the U.S. think that half a million Arab children are worth it? Don’t punish the Iraqis for having Saddam; he abuses his own people. Most officials are not elected in the Arab world—the U.S. should not confuse the regime with the people.

Felicity Hill, director, United Nations Office of Women’s Interna

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