Turning 9/11 Grief into Hope

Terry Rockefeller and her sister Laura

Terry Rockefeller (left) with her sister Laura. Photo courtesy of September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows and Terry Rockefeller.

It has now been eleven years since the September 11 attacks. I still think about that morning every day. I could see the Towers from my living room, and from my walk to the subway. In my mind, I see the first Tower on fire. I see the second fall.

I think about all the people who lost their lives, all the survivors and all those who lost loved ones. Will their rights to justice, truth and redress ever be fulfilled?

I also think about all those who have suffered from the U.S. government’s response to the attacks. Will indefinite detention, unlawful drone killings and impunity for torture ever end?

And I wonder if Amnesty International’s vision of a world with human rights for all people will ever become reality. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Remembering 9/11

On September 11th, 2001, my wife and son were in Logan Airport waiting to board a flight to New York. I was almost 4,000 miles away working in Mostar, Bosnia.

At the time I was a war crimes investigator working for the United Nations and I was in Mostar to take a statement from a former Bosnian Prisoner of War who had been tortured by his captors.

When we finished for the day I went next door to a small café and my eye was drawn to the television in the corner, which was running footage of emergency crews responding to some kind of major disaster.

It took a few minutes for the full story of what had happened in New York to unfold and, as it did so, my blood ran cold.


9-11, The Death Penalty, And Breaking The Cycle Of Violence

While states like Georgia have worked tirelessly to switch drugs so they can resume killing their prisoners, and while many celebrate the “justice” they see in the killing of Osama bin Laden, something radically different is happening in – of all places – Dallas, Texas.

Shortly after the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001, a man named Mark Stroman roamed the Dallas area committing a series of hate crimes that in his mind constituted retaliation. He murdered two men he thought were Middle Eastern (one was a Hindu from India the other a Muslim from Pakistan) and attempted to kill a third, a Muslim from Bangladesh named Rais Bhuiyan.

For the two murders, the state of Texas sentenced him to death, and he is now scheduled to be executed on July 20. Yet more killing. But Rais Bhuiyan (who is blind in his right eye because of the shot that was meant to kill him) is opposed to the execution and is campaigning to stop it. He has the support of the Dallas Morning News which wrote in its Sunday editorial:

We wish to give that campaign voice. It delivers a potent message to a nation still torn by the loss of 9/11. It resists the cycle of revenge that doesn’t stop until someone has the courage to say enough.

As Bhuiyan himself said a few days earlier: “… hate doesn’t bring any good solution to people. At some point we have to break the cycle of violence. It brings more disaster.”

Exactly. Enough.

In Memoriam

Nine years ago today, on September 11, 2001, I witnessed the attack in New York City. I think about it every day. I hope that all victims, survivors, families and citizens who have experienced violence find peace and justice.

Zeke Johnson
Counter Terror With Justice Campaign
Amnesty International USA< New York City