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Message from New York
14 September 2001
We have come together this morning for the first time to share our reactions, pain and insights into this tragedy as New Yorkers living so close to the scene, as WILPFers, and as women who believe in peace. We have discussed how to move forward, to heal politically and personally, which will require time and support. We have cried and we have expressed anger and disbelief. We have also reaffirmed our continuing desire for structural, economic and political change in this world.
We have been guided by our WILPF values and the work that we do, to first and foremost, value life - all life - and to recognise the innocence of those who have been effected or killed, in New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania, and all over the world, from acts of violence. We are also reflecting on the shared experience of the many people affected every day by premeditated violence, genocide, crimes against humanity and other atrocities in all parts of the world.
While acts of racist violence have occurred and must also be condemned, the majority of people in the USA have exhibited the basic human instinct of helping one another, and acting in solidarity with one another. Here in New York, there is a sense of not being alone, and that people from around the world recognise the loss and the grief, and are standing beside the people who have lost relatives and friends. From this strength and solidarity, we believe the cycle of violence across can be broken.
The indiscriminate nature of the violence of September 11 is its dominant feature, and an indiscriminate retaliation is exactly what must be avoided. True healing will be met only through justice, and justice through legal channels, not bombing. Truth and honesty will be the tools of peace. These criminal acts should be prosecuted through legal channels and mechanisms already established by the international community. Of course, we join all calls for restraint, and feel that this is what will differentiate a sane and just response from the insanity of the violence.
The role of the media cannot be over-emphasised at times such as these in providing facts and information. The media should not become a vehicle of expressing hatred, or lending itself to propaganda. The repetition of scenes of Palestinian celebration, allegedly from 1991, has served no purpose at this point, except to fuel anti-Arab sentiment in the US. We regret this very much. Now is a time for creative answers and approaches, not the simplistic categorisation of good and evil.
The UN is a vehicle for negotiation, peace and justice, a vehicle which must be better utilised. Just as the tragedy of WWII drove human beings to create the UN, perhaps this tragedy will refocus human beings to revaluate and strengthen this institution. We in the UN Office of WILPF and at JAPA are increasingly committed to promoting the original intention of the UN and it's Charter, to create peace through constructive discussion and action for peace and human security, which we as WILPF know is much broader than military security.
Today, the WILPF UN Office and JAPA staff called for and contributed to a religious and non-religious NGO meeting to plan an event and statement that would bring together the UN and NGO community to mourn and heal. The meeting also set up a series of support sessions for those in the building, to help facilitate reconciliation and process the trauma people are experiencing.
We thank you for your messages of support and concern. We are safe, but we are also shocked and stunned. Many images, smells, sounds and stories are ricocheting around in our minds and streets. We will need time to get back into work at full speed. Thanks for your patience and love.
Staff and volunteers of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (UN office) and Jane Addams Peace Association in New York: Isha Dyfan, Executive Director JAPA; Felicity Hill, Director, WILPF UN; Mikele Aboitiz, PeaceWomen project; Sara Poehlman-Doumbouya, PeaceWomen project; Emily Schroeder, Reaching Critical Will project; Sherri Gibbings, Intern.