CPT INTERNATIONAL: September 11, 2011 from CPT History

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CPTnet
11 September 2011
CPT INTERNATIONAL: September 11, 2011
from CPT History

[Note: The following excerpt comes from the CPT’s history, In Harm’s Way, by Kathleen Kern,
available from CPT at https://cpt.org/resources/books.]

The Al Qaeda hijackings and subsequent carnage at the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 happened at a particularly
busy period in CPT history. 
Support team members in the Chicago office had received another request
for an emergency delegation to Vieques and were planning the 2001 Peacemaker
Congress in Indiana.  The Chiapas
team was in its final days, preparing to accompany the Abejas back to their
home communities.  In Hebron, the
team was living through increasingly bloody months of the Al-Aqsa
Intifada.  Paramilitary killings
were escalating in Barrancabermeja and its environs, and the Colombia team
would soon experience its first episode of discovering bodies and body parts in
the river.  The Esgenoôpetitj team
was attending trials of EFN fishers that arose from conflicts in the 2000
fishing season and dealing with mounting harassment of the EFN by non-Native
fishers.

 Claire Evans, working in the Chicago office at the
time, voiced the feelings of many CPTers when she wrote about her reaction, “My
first thought was how everything we do is so, so small compared to that big
event.  How can what we do in CPT
have any significance in the wake of that large catastrophe?” 

 William Payne wrote in a September 28, 2007 e-mail
to author,

I had only just arrived
in Barrancabermeja a few days prior to 911.  It was a surreal experience to have just entered one of the
world’s supposed hotspots and to watch the twin towers fall on the team’s
TV.  What was also weird was having
Colombian campesinos who have been displaced many times by extreme violence
offering ME condolences, me in my confusion trying to explain that no, I’m not
a US citizen, and then thinking even if I was would they need to offer me
condolences for my citizenship when these are people directly affected by the
violence of the way things are.[1]

As an immediate response, Doug Pritchard, who had been
posting a weekly “Prayers for Peacemakers” on CPTnet since 1996, wrote,

PRAYERS FOR PEACEMAKERS, Wednesday,
Sept 12, 2001

In light of the events of Sep 11,
pray that we may walk in Jesus’ way of nonviolence, both locally and globally,
and that we may “get in the way” of comfortable analysis and unjust
structures that lead to violence.

             After
four days of U.S. and British bombing of Taliban-related military and
communications and suspected terrorist training camps October 7-11, 2001, CPT
put out an organization-wide Statement of Conviction:

 …The act of terror that killed
thousands of people in New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania on September
11, 2001 will not be set right by bombing Kabul or any other city.  Bombings with the official
authorization of western governments are also acts of terror.

 As followers of Jesus Christ, we
believe that we must choose the nonviolent way of the cross in these dangerous
times.  If we or our loved ones are
attacked, injured or killed by acts of terror, we forbid our governments to
retaliate in our names.  We believe
that our lives are no more important or valuable in God’s eyes than the lives
of Afghans, Arabs, Colombians, Sudanese, Mexicans, Angolans, East Timorese,
Aboriginal peoples and others.

 We maintain that those responsible
for the September 11 attacks must be held accountable for their crimes through
internationally recognized nonviolent means.

 We also maintain that other leaders
who have used their positions of power to design, order or commit acts of
terror that have killed millions of civilians throughout the world must be held
accountable for their crimes, including Henry Kissinger (Cambodia, Viet Nam),
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (Gaza, West Bank, Lebanon), former
Indonesian President Suharto (East Timor), former U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan
(contra war against Nicaragua) and Bill Clinton (Iraq).  The list goes on…

 We intend to continue resisting any
foreign policy that results in the death or exploitation of human beings,
whatever their nationality.  Again,
we are putting our country on notice today that it does not have our permission
to go to war in our names.[2] 

But the enormity of the September 11 attacks and the
imminent plans to attack Afghanistan—combined with CPT’s working relationships
with Arabs and Muslims likely to bear the brunt of a grief-stricken nation
howling for revenge—compelled the organization to do more than make statements.

 At the October 18-20, 2001 Steering Committee meeting in
Harrisonburg, VA, SC members approved a statement saying that CPT should
“actively explore the possibility of sending a couple persons on delegation to
Afghanistan.” After extensive research by the CPT Support team,
particularly Sara Reschly, CPT Director Gene Stoltzfus, and CPT Canada
coordinator Doug Pritchard took on this task and arrived in New York City on
December 16, 2001 with the intention of traveling from Ground Zero (the site of
the demolished World Trade Center) to the “new Ground Zero” in Afghanistan.

 At the “heap”—the term coined by rescue workers at the World
Trade Center—Stoltzfus, Pritchard, Anne Montgomery, John Rempel of the
Mennonite Central Committee United Nations office and a few local supporters
read a “Liturgy at the Twin Towers.”(See CPTnet posting from 10 September 2011)  The liturgy included scripture
readings, passages from the often used “Litany of Resistance”) and prayers for
the victims, perpetrators, and avengers of the Al Qaeda attacks.


[1]
The author was in Hebron at the time, where Palestinians, both friends and
strangers, accosted team members on the street to express their sympathy.  The team also fielded numerous phone
calls from Palestinian friends who were weeping as they described what they
were watching on their television. 

[2]
CHICAGO/TORONTO: CPT Statement of Conviction regarding the “War On
Terrorism” October 12, 2001. 
October 2001 CPTnet archives.

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