Thoughts on 9/11, War and Women Prisoners


The inhumanity of the terrorist attacks of September 11th have huge implications for our society and the world in the future. We are, however, very impressed by the women at CCWF who donated $15,000 to the Red Cross New York disaster relief fund.
We have heard that many women inside have been fearful of the implications for them. Rumors have spread through the prisons that in times of war, government emergency directives allow for the wholesale execution of prisoners. We do not believe that this is true and see no evidence that such directives exist, but we understand the anxious climate that produces such fears. Prisoners have already been directly affected by the events and we can expect more problems in the future. Immediately following the September 11 attacks, a number of political prisoners were placed in administrative segregation and a few, notably Marilyn Buck and former Black Panther Sundiata Acoli, were even denied contact with their lawyers. In some prisons, Arab prisoners were put into segregation, while in other institutions we have heard that Middle Eastern prisoners have been targeted by guards and sometimes other prisoners. More than 700 people, mainly of Middle Eastern background, have been detained, many without bond or lawyers under conditions of nearly absolute secrecy. In this fearful atmosphere where arbitrary and abusive action is justified in the name of security, it is no wonder that prisoners feel extremely vulnerable to authorities.
On the outside, in the name of fighting terrorism, the U.S. legislature has quickly moved to enact sweeping legislation that dramatically restricts civil liberties for everyone. It greatly expands the ability of the federal government to conduct secret searches as well as telephone and internet surveillance on large numbers of citizens for intelligence purposes. It expands the definition of terrorism in such an open ended and vague manner that it could be used against people who engage in any form of political protest. And it allows for detention of non-citizens who havent been convicted of any crime. This legislation will surely result in greater numbers of people in prison, further boosting the already bursting prison industrial complex.
At the same time, the military industrial complex is also in full swing ahead as the United States rains bombs and destruction on the people of Afghanistan and threatens to expand this assault to other countries.
Our hearts go out particularly to Afghan women who for years have suffered under the fundamentalist Taliban where women could not get any form of education and a show of immodesty could lead to stoning and death. Yet up until recently the Taliban government was supported by the United States. As the Revo-lutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) put it in a recent statement, The US government and people should know that there is a vast difference between the poor and devastated people of Afghanistan and the terrorist Jehadi [bin Ladens group] and Taliban criminals. While we once again announce our solidarity and deep sorrow with the people of the US, we also believe that attacking Afghanistan and killing its most ruined and destitute people will not in any way decrease the grief of the American people.
We agree! Instead, our national tragedy is being used as a launching pad for increased assaults against people in this country and around the world. At the time when both the terrorists and Bushs war machine want to convince the world that there are only two sides, us or them, we clearly need alternatives that are neither. The solidarity between the other America and the other Afghanistan can be expressed in our efforts to defend of the rights of women everywhere.
We know that there are many points of view and that women prisoners have many different opinions on the September 11th attacks and the war. We hope that you will write us or tell us what you are thinking so that we can print various viewpoints in the next issue.