Stop using Violence to Combat Violence

Respect Life      Stop Using Violence to Combat Violence

Statement on the Attacks on Afghanistan by the US and UK by Justice & Peace Commission of the HK Catholic Diocese October 2001

In response to the 11 September attack in US which caused thousands of causality, we seriously denounced those who involved in planning and executing the large-scale massacre, and regarded it as a merciless act against our humanity. We want to express our deepest sympathy, respect and prayers to all those who have been working to rescue and take care the victims, or even sacrificed their lives.

In regard of the atrocity which endanger human lives, we agreed that response must be based on the principle of rule of law and justice. Suspect should be handed over to the court and let them understand it’s a wrong behavior, so as to give justice to the victims. International crime should be under the trial of international court and the United Nations. Before establishing any concrete evidence, no country should make judgement arbitrarily, nor employ military action to punish the suspect. Any response should not be made on the basis of retribution and hatred, or to bring more harm, suffering and injustice.

We have to point out that using violence to combat violence is absolutely not a principle accepted by our Catholic faith. Violence not only cannot solve problem, it would inflict more violence and deeper hatred, and death or injuries of the innocent civilians. Since we object terrorist attack, then we must not follow the means adopted by the “terrorists” in which human lives are ignored.

Catholic faith treasure and respect human lives. All lives come from God and a peaceful environment must be created to protect lives. Genuine peace and security can only come from the confirmation and respect for life and rights of individuals and communities. Though Catholic tradition accept using force as an act of self-defence, no way can it be used with the goals of revenge and killings. Moreover, according to the principles of “just war” in the Catholic traditional, the following criteria must be met simultaneously: an act of self-defence against an unjust aggressor, the harm brought about is sustained and serious, there must be a reasonable chance of success, the action must not cause greater evil than the good sought, the action must not harm innocents, the eventual outcome be the establishment of peace. Moreover, it must be the last resort after all non-violent means have been exhausted.

In face of the present invasion of Afghanistan by the US and UK troops, which aims at nabbing Osama bin Laden, toppling the Taleban, trying to combat and eradicate terrorism, in order to convey long-lasting peace, we have to ask: is it the appropriate and right means of reaction? Have all other non-violent ways be used to curb the terrorist activities? What factors lead to the present terrorist and outrageous act? Have we tried to explore the roots of these act?

Undoubtedly we understand the destructiveness of terrorist act and agreed that we must try to prevent and eliminate such act. However, what lead to the present international situation relates to complicated Isral-Palestine relationship, or conflict between the Arab world and the West. Although the USA did try her effort to make conciliation in the midst of such clashes in the past, what she did also cause many conflicts. To establish long-lasting peace in the region and even all over the world, one must try to understand the root of conflicts, and do justice to the Palestine question. Moreover, by employing force to combat terrorist act, some Muslim extremists or their weapons may be destroyed, but it would bring even more hatred and trigger off more people to join the terrorist act. Then terrorism will expand even more rapidly and put Americans and people in other parts of the world in an anxious and insecure situation. Thus terrorism probably cannot be extinguished, not to mention the building of a long-term peace.

Furthermore, no matter how good the intention is behind the exercise of force, nothing can justify the taking away of innocent life. After a few days of bombardment in Afghanistan, there are news of civilian causalities and death of United Nations workers. Because of war, most humanitarian workers were forced to evacuate from Afghanistan. People had to fled from homeland and they had to live in painful and suffering situation once again.

At last, we want to share once again our deepest sympathy and condolence to all the death and injuries of the US attack with the Americans and the peace-loving people. At the same time, we opine that by invading Afghanistan, more poverty and sacrifice of innocent people will be resulted. Neither can it exterminate terrorism, nor can it maintain world peace. Unarguably we have to fight against terrorism, but surely not through violent means. As what Pope John Paul II said, never should one tempted to hatred and vengeance.

We hereby urge all parties to stop using force, and to adopt the attitudes of mutual respect, protecting life and abandon one’s self-interest and try to start dialogue. We also urge all to scrutinize the roots of the violent and terrorist acts, and to solve the Palestine question in a just way, so as to build genuine peace together.