Common Dreams News Center, October 25, 2001

Greens Call Suppression of Debate About the War a Threat to US Democracy

WASHINGTON - October 25 - The Green Party of the United States calls the growing suppression of open debate about the U.S. response to the September 11 attacks anti-democratic, anti-American, and unacceptable.

"Prudent measures to keep knives off airplanes is one thing," said Starlene Rankin, Illinois Green Party Media Coordinator. "But allowing the FBI, CIA, or other police agencies to spy on American citizens is quite another. The Greens absolutely oppose any restriction on civil political dissent. We must remain free to question and challenge the political status quo and to hold our elected officials accountable -- our cherished civil liberties must not be compromised!"

"President Bush says 'either you're with us, or you're against us' in the war on terrorism -- and calls anyone who criticizes the U.S.'s unilateral bombing of Afghanistan or questions the failed U.S. foreign policies that have alienated people around the world a supporter of terrorism."

One dissenting organization targeted by the FBI is Women in Black. An international network of peace activists founded in 1988, Women in Black has stood in silent vigil against military attacks and occupations around the world, often placing themselves in harm's way. Women in Black currently hold vigil every Wednesday evening at the New York Public Library as a call for peace and in remembrance of those lost to terrorism on September 11. In Pennsylvania, the Lancaster Greens join Women In Black in vigils in front of the Lancaster County courthouse every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

Women in Black counts several Green Party activists among its members, including Annie Goeke, formerly of the party's national steering committee and now the chair of the International Committee. Other groups under suspicion by the FBI for potential terrorism include harmless dissident groups like Reclaim the Streets and Carnival Against Capitalism.

"How profoundly ironic it is that as we claim to be defending the freedom for democracy, we are silencing the voices of women and others that are part of the growing movement for peace," said Goeke. "Our civil liberties are being threatened when the FBI labels the international movement Women in Black as a potential terrorist group and threatens it with a grand jury investigation. Only 9 months ago Women in Black was awarded the U.N. Millennium Peace Award and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001."

"Groups like Women in Black are under suspicion because they protest U.S. policy, while condemning the September 11 attacks," said Kara Ceriello, chair of the Green Party of Washington State. "But the Bush Administration won't criticize the drug companies, such as Bayer, and drug stores that have been price-gouging and blocking low-cost generic forms of antibiotics that effectively fight Anthrax. The White House won't hold Unocal responsible for past business deals with the Taliban or discuss American business interests in an oil pipeline through Afghanistan. And the White House won't acknowledge the Northern Alliance's multi-million-dollar opium crop, a source of illegal narcotics throughout the West."

Many Green activists point to groups like the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) as a hope for peace in Afghanistan and the surrounding region. RAWA demands that both the Taliban and the Northern Alliance be disarmed, calling both sides violent, brutally misogynistic, and anti-democratic. RAWA members, active for two decades, have risked their lives providing secret education for Afghani girls, providing medical aid for Afghani women, and documenting the Taliban's atrocities.

"The example set by RAWA should be the foundation of a humane solution to the international crisis," said Tod Sloan, social psychologist and co-chair of the International Committee of the Green Party. "Greens call for a response to the September 11 atrocities that ensures justice for the victims and seeks peace, stability, and the protection of human rights and democracy."

Greens across the U.S. continue to protest the military attacks on Afghanistan, asserting that violence will not bring a solution to the current crisis but instead risks escalation of the conflict into the 'holy war' sought by Osama bin Laden and his fanatical movement if the attacks continue. The Green Party issued a statement in early October calling for international cooperation in treating the September 11 attacks as a crime against humanity, with the perpetrators indicted and tried in an ad hoc international tribunal in accord with treaties such as 1971 Montreal Sabotage Convention, which both the U.S. and Afghanistan signed.


The Green Party of the United States


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