The Guardian February 27, 2002


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.

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From People's Weekly World, newspaper of the Communist Party USA

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