Dear American people:
We social movement activists in Taiwan, are devoted to realising a democratic, equal, and peaceful society. Here we would like to express our sincerest sympathy for all victims of the terrorist attacks on 11 September.
We, just like you, are strongly opposed to attacks that inflict heavy casualties on civilians. Terrorist atrocities will never be of any help to achieve justice and peace, but do tremendous harm to people’s mutual understanding and solidarity all over the world and even justify and intensify the rulers’ oppression and domination.
Nevertheless we are different from those ruling elites like Bush, Powell, Rumsfeld, and Clinton. As part of the Third World, we are clearly aware that successive U.S. governments actions precipitated the tragedy.
When we see scenes of Palestinian youths on TV celebrating the attack on the US, we feel heartily sorry. But at the same time, we also know that their family and friends are jailed in Israel as a result of fighting for freedom, or are maimed or killed by the Israeli army. We wholly understand the bitterness and resentment of the Palestinian people - many of them still live in refugee camps - when the Israeli government continually hinders a reconciliation between Palestine and Israel, denies the Palestinian right to self-determination, colonises Palestinian areas, and assaults Palestinian civilians. The US government, however, has constantly backed these atrocities carried out by Israel. On 3 September, just days before the attack, the US government withdrew from the World Conference against Racism, refusing to denounce the torments brought about by Israel.
When the US government decided to take revenge by air power, we could not help but think of the Serbian people who lost their lives because of the savage bombing by NATO, chiefly composed of the US army, for 78 days. US troops used a huge amount of depleted uranium (DU) ammunition, which according to research kills and harms human beings. In 1991, 290 tons of DU bombs were dropped in the Gulf War. It has been reported that 500 thousand people have died because of DU contamination as a result, and countless Iraqi children suffer from incurable diseases or deformities; thousands of US soldiers now endure “Gulf War Syndrome”. Moreover, chemical outflows from bombing Yugoslavia have given rise to ecological catastrophe in Europe, e.g., the blue Danube is now a dead river.
When the US deployed ground forces in Afghanistan, this reminded us of young American soldiers who died in the Vietnam War, and civilians who were massacred by B52 bombers and ground troops in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. We know that in Indo-China there are still hundreds of thousands of deformed children as a result of the US air force spraying 19 million gallons of Agent Orange over the area. We cannot forget that on 4 May 1970, four American students were shot dead by their own government for opposing the Vietnam War. We are reminded that the US army occupied Cuba for a long time after 1899, invaded Nicaragua in 1909 and 1925, Haiti in 1915, the Dominican Republic in 1916 and 1965, Lebanon in 1958 and 1982, Cuba in 1961, Grenada in 1983, Panama in 1989, and so on.
The US insists that Osama bin Laden is responsible for the 11 September attack, but we must point out that he would never have had the power to launch any large-scale attack without the US government’s generous financial aid and training. He is the direct result of CIA support. When the US government fanned Islamic fundamentalism and made use of bin Laden to fight the Soviet Union, it did not hesitate to use large-scale terrorism. To confront Iran, the Reagan and Bush administrations backed Saddam Hussein regardless of him suppressing the Kurds and developing nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. If bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are terrorists, then the USA is the arch-criminal that shields and supports terrorism!
While the US government self-righteously condemns ‘rogue states’ that shelter ‘terrorists’, it continues to support corrupt dictatorships all over the world that repress ‘their’ people, fight democracy, and suppress social movements: the racist apartheid regime in South Africa, the military regimes in El Salvador and Argentina, Fulgencio Batista in Cuba, the Somoza dynasty in Nicaragua, Pinochet in Chile, the Duvalier dynasty in Haiti, Mohammed Pahlavi in Iran, Rhee Syngman, Park Chunghee, and Chun Doowhan in South Korea, Ferdinand Marcos in Philippines, Soeharto in Indonesia. In Taiwan, our homeland, the US government propped up the KMT dictatorial regime for decades, permitting it to implement the White Terror policy which remains fresh in our memory. By exporting capital to Taiwan, the US government also forces us to build hazardous nuclear power plants which has brought disaster to our environment and workers.
Because US politicians continually ask for more powerful intelligence agencies, we believe that the imaginary ideas in the film Enemy of the State will become reality. Enormous expenditure on US intelligence should have prevented the 11 September tragedy, but it has only served as another weapon against democracy and social reform. While suppressing civil rights over domestic issues, the CIA also engaged in overseas terrorist activities such as overthrowing progressive elected governments (e.g. Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954 and Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973 and many more) and eradicating all social movements. The large number of workers’ skeletons unearthed at the former CIA base in Honduras in 2001 were just the tip of an iceberg. George H. W. Bush, former US president and father of the current president, was a former CIA director, that is, a partner in crime.
Dear American people, we believe you are aware that the Bush administration lacks legitimacy, and we argue that this results partly from the systematic deprivation of minority groups’ civil rights. Winning his presidency also depended on two things: a 5-4 Supreme Court vote and an officially certified victory of 537 votes in Florida. Nationwide, Bush’s total votes were 550,000 less than Gore. We and the rest of the world were impressed with the President’s inauguration against a background of vigorous protests. Bush wages war to obscure his failure in dealing with economic recession, and breaking agreements on environmental protection and arms control.
Military retaliation will not protect the American civilians, on the contrary it will intensify hatred of the USA; it will not lead to durable peace, but agitate international tension.
At this moment dear American people we appeal to each of you:
1. All of us must oppose all harassment, attack, insult, discrimination, accusation, destruction, and arrest of Arabians, Moslems, and other groups. They are not responsible for what is done by a few people, not to mention that no direct evidence is provided for targeting specific countries or groups. From now on, we must stop the right wing from resorting to violent means that will cause tragedies over and over again.
2. All of us must be opposed to all US retaliatory measures and taking advantage of the present crisis to expand power. Neither military retaliation nor economic sanctions will bring peace, but strengthen state power, justify the suppression of minority groups, women, and social reform, corrode democratic institutions, and deprive people of elementary freedoms. The only way to ensure the American people’s safety and freedom is by working together to reject the government’s foreign policy: military intervention, political domination, and economic appropriation of other countries by US ruling elites; suppression and slaughter of Third World people in the name of justice and American interests. We will also oppose the Taiwanese policy that is erroneously partial to the US, because it does not consider the harm done by the US to people all over the world, and possibly makes Taiwan a target of revenge.
Dear Americans, in spite of our strong objection to the US government’s unjust policy, we have deep affection for you. We know that America maintains a tradition of tolerance and liberty, for the Declaration of Independence has impassioned all who long for democracy and liberty. In the history of America there are unsurpassed social movement leaders such as Hellen Keller, Eugene Debs, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X. The women’s movement, civil rights movement, student movement, and the resistance of Indians in America during the 1960s have encouraged all who seek justice. From the Vietnam War to the Gulf War, countless Americans bravely struggled against the government’s aggressive policy, and some of them even lost their lives. We believe this time the tragedy will unite us more strongly: let our grief be soothed and racial hatred be terminated; let us stand hand in hand to fight against the US government and all the unjust regimes and for a society free from fear and oppression!
By Linkage, a Taiwanese labour magazine