9/11 events will call for just and peaceful world

Peace and human rights organizations throughout the country will hold peace actions during the week of Sept. 11 to commemorate the terrorist attacks of last September and to press for peace and international cooperation. Slogans of the events include “work a day for peace,” “our grief is not a cry for war,” and “from ground zero to common ground.”

“Sept. 11 must not continue to be used to promote more war and violence,” said Colleen Kelly, New York area coordinator of September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. Kelly lost her brother, William, at the World Trade Center.

A nationwide collaboration of peace and social justice organizations, United for Peace, says the peace events taking place around Sept. 11 are being held “in the hopes of transforming that day into an occasion that promotes a more just and peaceful world.” Opposition to the Bush administration’s drive for a war on Iraq is expected to be one of the themes of the events.

Organizations involved include American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Black Radical Congress, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Global Exchange, National Coalition for Peace and Justice, Pax Christi, Peace Action, School of the Americas Watch, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, Veterans for Peace, War Resisters League, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and others.

The coalition says, “We all share the belief that the commemoration of Sept. 11 and the loss of thousands of innocent lives that happened on that day should bring us together to work for a peaceful future, not a future of more war and violence.”

September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, an organization of family members of Sept. 11 victims, will be honored on the anniversary at an interfaith service entitled “A Celebration of Remembrance and Hope, Dedicated to Victims of Violence Everywhere,” marking the opening of the 57th session of the United Nations General Assembly. The invitation-only event, at St. Bartholomew’s Church, 8:30 a.m., is sponsored by the Interfaith Center of New York. Peaceful Tomorrows’ Colleen Kelly will make brief remarks at the ceremony. “This service signifies exactly the way I plan to spend my day,” says Kelly, “in prayerful remembrance of my brother, and hoping for a more peaceful solution to violence around the globe.”

Members of Peaceful Tomorrows will join victims of terrorism and war from Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel and the Palestinian territories, the Philippines, and Japan in a “No More Victims Tour” Sept. 6-15 co-sponsored by the AFSC. “In joining the Sept. 11 families with the voices and stories of others who have suffered around the world since Sept. 11, we hope to shatter some of the illusions maintaining that ‘war will solve our problems,’” says tour organizer Joseph Gerson of the AFSC. “We firmly believe that the real lesson of Sept. 11 is that war and violence are the problems, not the solutions.” The tour will visit Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Providence, Chicago and St. Louis.

Voices in the Wilderness, a humanitarian group working to end sanctions against the people of Iraq, has initiated an “Iraq Peace Team” plan to send nonviolent activists to take up residence in Iraq, before and during a U.S. attack, should one occur. While working to prevent a U.S. attack on Iraq, the group says the team would remain there “until such time as we could all be assured that an outbreak of peace would supplant any efforts on the part of the U.S. government to wage war against Iraq.” … We as a team do not take the side of any government, none of whom we consider blameless, and all of whom we ask to initiate dialogue and negotiation, especially under the auspices of the Secretary General of the United Nations. As peace-minded people, we deplore all human rights violations, including those inherent in the Security Council sanctions that have been imposed on the Iraqi people for more than 11 years.”

See schedule of events on page 14

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Scheduled 9/11-related peace events include the following:

Washington, D.C.: Days of Remembrance, Sept. 6-14, vigils, demonstrations, other activities. Los Angeles: peace demonstration/rally Sept. 8, 3-6 p.m. at MacArthur Park, silent vigil Sept. 11, 6 p.m., Santa Monica, Palisades Park. New York City: Dusk to Dawn Vigil for Peaceful Tomorrows in Washington Square Park, Sept. 10, 7-10 p.m., featuring filmmaker/author Michael Moore, Amy Goodman of Pacifica Radio, Kathy Kelly of Voices in the Wilderness, Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Columbia University African American studies professor Manning Marable, Father Daniel Berrigan and others. A written message from Muhammad Ali will be read. A candlelight vigil will continue through the night, with closing observances early in the morning of Sept. 11. San Francisco: Our Grief is Not a Cry for War; Bay Area United for Peace, Sept. 11, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Justin Hermann Plaza, Market St. at Embarcadero.

Websites for more information: September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows: click here