For Immediate Release
WASHINGTON - On September 12, 2001, Human Rights Watch
issued a statement condemning the 9/11 attacks, calling on the Bush
administration to "uphold the principles that came under attack
yesterday, respecting innocent life and international law." Eight years
later, we repost our original statement, because it still stands for
the principles we believe should have been, but were not, followed in
responding to those brutal events.
Human Rights Watch Response to Attacks on the U.S.
Civilian Life Must Be Respected
September 12, 2001
We profoundly condemn yesterday's cruel attacks in the United States
and express our condolences to the victims and their loved ones. This
was an assault not merely on one nation or one people, but on
principles of respect for civilian life cherished by all people.
Last night, President Bush said that the United States "will make no
distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those
who harbored them." Yet distinctions must be made: between the guilty
and the innocent; between the perpetrators and the civilians who may
surround them; between those who commit atrocities and those who may
simply share their religious beliefs, ethnicity or national origin.
People committed to justice and law and human rights must never descend
to the level of the perpetrators of such acts. That is the most
important distinction of all.
There are people and governments in the world who believe that in
the struggle against terrorism, ends always justify means. But that is
also the logic of terrorism. Whatever the response to this outrage, it
must not validate that logic. Rather, it must uphold the principles
that came under attack yesterday, respecting innocent life and
international law. That is the way to deny the perpetrators of this
crime their ultimate victory.
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Human Rights Watch is one of the world's leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, we give voice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes. Our rigorous, objective investigations and strategic, targeted advocacy build intense pressure for action and raise the cost of human rights abuse. For 30 years, Human Rights Watch has worked tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted change and has fought to bring greater justice and security to people around the world.