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CESR Statement on Attacks in the U.S. (Includes a brief sanctions reference)


(New York, September 13, 2001) – We condemn and deplore Tuesday’s horrific
attacks in the United States and express our sorrow and solidarity with the
victims, their relatives and friends, and all people
who have been wounded by these crimes.

Amidst the devastation, the response in New York has been inspiring.
Despite palpable anger, New Yorkers have largely resisted the lure of
answering hate with hate and instead joined together in grief for the
victims and resolve to carry on.  Despite continuing danger, firefighters,
rescue workers and volunteers have worked nonstop to control the inferno and
locate survivors.  Mayor Giuliani himself rushed to the danger zone to
supervise the rescue effort, and also announced zero tolerance for vigilante

In contrast, our highest federal officials in Washington went missing from
the scene of destruction and issued what can only be termed dangerously
irresponsible calls for military vengeance.  President Bush’s warning that
we “will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts
and those who harbored them” can be interpreted to justify attacking an
entire nation rather than strictly targeting
those responsible.  Democratic Senator Zell Miller of Georgia made this
explicit: “I say, bomb the hell out of them.  If there’s collateral damage,
so be it.  They certainly found our civilians to be expendable.”

We affirm that all civilians, regardless of nationality or any other status,
are protected by fundamental principles of international law, human rights
and common decency.  The tragic loss of life in lower
Manhattan and elsewhere must not be followed by another slaughter of
innocents in another part of our world.

US media coverage has simplified the issues as good versus evil, American
liberty versus irrational Islamic fundamentalism.  This indicates a profound
lack of political reflection on the US role in supporting oppressive
governments and policies in the Middle East, from Israeli occupation of
Palestinian land to Egyptian and Saudi repression of democratic dissent.  It
is never popular to discuss root causes in the midst of such carnage.  But
these disaster scenes will become increasingly frequent unless we resolve to
consistently support human rights in all countries for all peoples.

Indiscriminate bombardment of Afghanistan or Iraq – whose populations are
already brutalized by war, US-driven economic sanctions and repressive
governments – will destroy fragile infrastructure, kill civilians, inflame
anti-American sentiment throughout the region and escalate the cycle of
violence – while leaving the architects of the suicide attacks untouched.
The damage to our own society could be even
greater – increased militarization, potential suspension of civil liberties
and widespread scapegoating of minority communities.  Already there have
been scores of bias crimes against Arabs and Muslims reported
across the country.

We urge all people of conscience to extend all possible support to victims
of Tuesday’s heinous attacks, to stand fast against all forms of racism and
stereotyping, and to oppose calls by certain political leaders for
indiscriminate vengeance abroad and diminished freedoms at home.  The path
to increased security for Americans and other peoples lies through more
justice and more democracy, not less.

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