New Yorkers say: "... not in our names"
by Judith Le Blanc "We do not want the war in Afghanistan or other parts of the world, wherever it might spread, to be conducted in our names or in the names of our lost loved ones", said David Potorti when launching a new peace and justice organisation in New York recently. The new organisation is called "Sept. 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows." Potorti, who lost his brother in the World Trade Centre (WTC), spoke on behalf of 17 family members of those killed at the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and in the Flight 93 crash in Pennsylvania. Colleen Kelly from the Bronx, who lost her brother in the WTC said, "I do feel for better or worse that right now families of Sept. 11 are in a unique position to speak out and have their voices heard. I would trade that in a heartbeat to have my brother back but I can't ... so I feel this is the way to go." The initiating members of the new organisation found each other when they began to speak out against the Bush administration's bombing of Afghanistan. "We believe in seeking justice, not revenge, for those crimes against humanity. We do not condone nor accept the killing of other innocent civilians in other parts of the world", said Potorti. "A lot of people feel the way we do but they are kind of afraid. The media and their support of this war serves to frighten people just enough so that they are afraid to speak out. If we can let them know that in a small way they can come out ... and that there are people like them who feel the same way — we've succeeded!" Robin Theurkauf an instructor at Yale who lost her husband in the attacks said: "I do believe there are people out there who do not support Bush's policies. Letters to "The New York Times" reveal that there are people who oppose Bush's policies but haven't been provided with an alternative." Some of the families have begun to reach out to families in Afghanistan. Four September 11 family members went to Afghanistan recently. Kelly Campbell from California said, "One of our concerns is what is happening to innocent families in Afghanistan who are being injured by our government's actions. We saw people who are suffering the loss of their loved ones, their homes, caretakers or their children. They cannot rebuild their homes or feed their families. We met children so traumatised by what they saw in their neighbourhoods when the bombs fell that they are not able to speak." Rita Lazar, who lost her brother, sat in the home of Amin Said, who also lost his brother, as he told her, "He was your brother, but he was also my brother. We are all brothers and sisters." Peaceful Tomorrows has set the goal of promoting dialogue on peaceful alternatives to counter terrorism. Theurkauf said, "Much of the international community is quite alarmed by the rhetoric coming out of the Bush administration." Peaceful Tomorrows' families have been touched by the international response to their loss. Phyllis Rodriguez and her husband wrote letters to Bush and "The New York Times" expressing their indignation over a war being waged on behalf of their 38-year-old son who was lost in the WTC. "Another result of the miracle of the internet is that my family has received hundreds of letters from around the world ... people in Japan were reminded of Hiroshima. They were so happy to hear that there were Americans who don't follow the government's policies", Rodriguez said.
* * *From People's Weekly World, newspaper of the Communist Party USA