Twenty years on: reflecting on 11 September attacks
Twenty years ago a horrific set of terrorist attacks took place in the United States, killing and wounding thousands of people.
The attacks and the military response to them by the US, the UK and other NATO member states contributed to a cycle of violence which resulted in immense suffering, death and destruction.
Quakers believe in the sanctity of every human life. That leads them to work for nonviolent responses to conflict, and to building a sustainable peace.- Oliver Robertson for Quakers in Britain
In 2001, the response made by Quakers in Britain to the attacks included promoting a thoughtful nonviolent approach focused on addressing the root causes of violence. A letter to the UK government at the time stated:
"We are gravely concerned that a military response could magnify the violence. Talk of war is dangerous. Violence in response to violence can only worsen human suffering and increase hatred and fear.
“It is the roots of violence which have to be addressed. It is our experience that these lie in the way our world community is organised."
Oliver Robertson, head of witness and worship for Quakers in Britain, said this week, "Quakers believe in the sanctity of every human life. That leads them to work for nonviolent responses to conflict, and to building a sustainable peace. The recent military takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban forces is a tragic reminder of the need to continue promoting approaches that foster lasting peace and security."
The recent statement on the situation in Afghanistan from Quakers in Britain emphasised that the UK has a moral responsibility to help people displaced by the conflict that ensued following the attacks on 11 September 2001. The statement urged the UK government to support the expansion of safe and legal routes for migration, and to offer sanctuary to those who need it.
The terrible events that took place twenty years ago, and the series of conflicts that followed in their aftermath, have left deep scars. Quakers say work must continue to overcome violence through peacebuilding and human development, on which the prospects for a more peaceful and humane future depend.