Pain of September 11 does not belong to the US alone

2012-09-08 08:40

Next week, people across the world will remember and pay tribute to the 3 000 men, women and children who lost their lives in the atrocious events of September 11 2001.

No doubt, that event has changed the world forever and nothing can ever justify such madness.

In fact, the world of journalism was also shaken by the event. The New York Times was able to print the names of every victim of what came to be known as 9/11.

Sadly, though, no newspaper in the world has ever considered publishing the names of all those who perished in Afghanistan or Iraq.

This may have been a difficult task, though.

Writing last week in City Press and the UK’s Guardian about his decision not to share a platform with Tony Blair at a recent leadership summit in Johannesburg, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu explained that more than 110 000 Iraqis have died in the conflict since 2003 and millions have been displaced. By the end of last year, nearly 4 500 US soldiers had been killed and more than 32 000 wounded.

So, as we remember what 9/11 means to those who lost their loved ones in the US, perhaps it would also be appropriate to remember those, in other parts of the world, for whom that date has also held significance.

And here we cannot really talk about the hundreds of thousands who died in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear strikes of August 1945 because we are meant to focus on September, not August.

As the Indian author and activist Arundhati Roy so eloquently reminds us: it was on September 11 1973 in Chile when General Augusto Pinochet, in a Central Intelligence Agency-backed coup, overthrew the democratically elected government of president Salvadore Allende.

Subsequently, thousands of people were killed, “disappeared”, and concentration camps and torture chambers became commonplace across Chile. Many have also chillingly pointed out how musician Victor Jara had his hands cut off in front of a crowd in the Santiago stadium.

Before they shot Jara, Pinochet’s soldiers threw his guitar at him and mockingly ordered him to play – too stark a reminder of how, in 2006, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was mocked by guards before his brutal hanging in an era where only a few nations support the death penalty.

As we know, Chile was not the only South American nation to have fallen victim to the US. The others include Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and the Dominican Republic.

In the Middle East, September 11 has also been tragic. After the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the British government proclaimed a mandate in Palestine on September 11 1922. Two years after the declaration that promised a home for the Jewish people,
the then British foreign secretary, Arthur James Balfour, said:

“Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-old traditions, in present needs, in future hopes of far profounder import than the desires or prejudices of the 700 000 Arabs who now inhabit this ancient land.”

Setting the scene for Israel’s attitude towards Palestine, then British prime minister Winston Churchill later said: “I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time.

“I do not admit that right. I do not admit, for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race . . . has come in and taken their place.”

By 1948, 76% of Palestinian land was captured, the state of Israel came into being, and moments later the US recognised Israel. Sadly, for all, the bloodshed has not stopped.

The world needs justice and peace. As we rightly remember the victims of the atrocity of 9/11, let us also remember the millions of others for whom the month of September also has significance.

» Buccus is research fellow in the School of Social Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and academic director of a university study abroad programme on political transformation 

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.