Letter to President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair

Dear Mr. President,

Dear Prime Minister Tony Blair

Pax Christi International urgently calls upon you and your government to halt immediately the bombing of Afghanistan. This will allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other international agencies to ensure that sufficient aid may be delivered to the Afghan people before the onset of winter in a few weeks.

You, together with your coalition partners are engaging in aerial bombing raids and ground attacks against Afghanistan. This includes the use of cluster bombs, which have indiscriminate characteristics, the fundamental principle for banning anti-personnel landmines. These military actions have worsened an already existing humanitarian disaster and polarised religious communities throughout the world. At this moment, millions of Afghan people are struggling to survive in deteriorating weather conditions.

Pax Christi International carries within its members the lived experience of the reality and fear of the violence of terrorism and war. This experience convinces us that war only creates more violence and suffering and that it will not stop terrorist activities that may be spawned in the context of despair and exclusion.

Pax Christi International was born out of the fires of World War II as French and German peoples began to find another way to peace. Today Pax Christi draws its strength from members of 53 nations working to prevent, overcome and end violent conflict.

We fully understand the fear brought about by recent acts and continuing threats of terrorism, which we have strongly condemned. We believe that crimes against humanity committed by terrorists must be addressed through the rule of international law. Therefore we call for the establishment, through the United Nations, of a special tribunal to ensure that justice is done. We urge you to work within the international community to develop more effective means to counter terrorism. The military aspect of your response to terrorism will not provide the security you seek but will add to the vulnerability of many people and countries of our world.

As an international Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi will work relentlessly to mobilize communities throughout the world to build peace, pursue justice, uphold human rights, promote inter-religious dialogue and respect differences. These are the foundations of authentic and lasting peace and security in the world. Mr. President, we urge you as a Christian leader to do the same.

We pray for every victim of terror and violence throughout the world.

We pray for you as you move forward to meet the challenges ahead.

+ H.B. Michel Sabbah

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

President Pax Christi International

 On behalf of all Council participants

International Council, Mainz, Germany, 4 November 2001