Hello, I am Terry Rockefeller from September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows.
When Peaceful Tomorrows organized in late 2001, we did so because we never wanted another family to live through the horrors we had experienced. As family members of victims of the 9/11 attacks, we rejected the idea that a War on Terror was possible. While you can kill a terrorist, the violence of war only breeds further violence and terrorism. And the statistics on the extremely high numbers of civilian casualties in modern war – left us grieving in advance of the first bombs’ falling.
We rejected war in Afghanistan. We were OUTRAGED that war on Iraq was sold to a frightened and hurting American public as having anything to do with the terrorist acts that killed our loved ones.
Peaceful Tomorrows members traveled to Iraq in 2003, hoping that our voices would carry weight amidst the rising chorus of opposition to the war. On that trip we met many, many Iraqi citizens, already devastated by years of war with the US and with Iran, who were nonetheless optimistic that they could and would work from the inside to reform and improve their country.
I remember – and it makes my heart break today – a conversation I had with a professor of electrical engineering at Baghdad University. She said to me, “Right now, there are not terrorists in Iraq. Right now we have problems, real problems with our youth who get a college education and then cannot find jobs. We need to work to address this challenge. But if war comes to Iraq, those same young people will be drawn into the conflict and many of them WILL become terrorists.” I don’t know what happened to that professor. When I read about the murder of 100s of Iraqi professors during the war, I often thought of and feared for her.
NOW is the time for an open and transparent, truth commission to investigate all the crimes of the U.S.-led war on Iraq, including our responsibility for fomenting and increasing terrorism throughout the world.
Members of Peaceful Tomorrows have been extraordinarily blessed to remain in touch with some people in Iraq, and to have deepened connections with a group of amazing and inspiring Iraqi activists – through the work of the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative.
What Americans hear far too little about are the massive, on-going, non-violent protests in Baghdad and through-out Iraq by citizens fed up with the corrupt, sectarian government that the U.S. installed. The protesters’ demands are clear. They want drastic reform of the political system and an end to the sectarian quotas that have stoked violence in their country. They seek to rebuild a system that gives all citizens equal rights and duties. The protesters are outraged by the levels of corruption that pervade the Iraqi State; they demand that leaders denounce corruption and prosecute all violators. And, finally, the protesters are calling for the provision of essential public services that will allow all citizens to live a decent life.
Those Iraqis who have been demonstrating week after week for well over a year, include men and women, and a strong and growing contingent of youth. For activists in the U.S. who want to support Iraqi activists in their efforts to undo the horrific damage and costs of our invasion and occupation – please learn more about the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative. Consider joining us in Sulimanya in January of 2017 for our annual meeting.