the net of people deeply affected by political violence
Communication in Dresden 2008
Tuesday 21 July 2009
My name is Beatriz Abril. I lost my brother Óscar in the terrorist attacks on March 11th, in 2004. He was 19-years-old and took the train to go to the university, where he studied sports science. The memory of my brother has always been linked to peace and tolerance, because that is how he was, as our parents taught us those values. Thus, I could never accept racism; knowing myself and also knowing my brother.
Since the attacks, my parents and I belong to the Association March 11th Affected by Terrorism.
Introduction of the Association:
- Nora Lang y Beatriz Abril
In 2004, in the aftermath of the bombings, there was a need to create an alternative to the already existing associations, since we did not share the reactions that the biggest association of victims in Spain had after the attacks. The Association March 11th Affected by Terrorism was founded in 2004. Nowadays, it has more that 1.200 members, 1.000 of them are people affected by the bombings and others are supportive members, like Juan.
We have faced problems like the rejection from some institutions and sectors, financial problems or the preparation for the trial to the authors of the attacks. This has been one of the points on which we have focused our activity. It has been a triumph that the trial could has taken place and that the association, with the public presence of many of its members in court, has contributed to a democratic justice.
The principles of our association have been and continue being the search for truth, justice, peace and remembrance.
We have always understood remembrance for peace as something fundamental, as we do not want that what happened and our loved ones, with all the peace they have inside, fall into oblivion.
There is a painful memory and a nice and beautiful memory. The painful memory was the horror that we underwent and that will always stay in our minds, it is something that we need to learn to live with because it will never disappear.
The nice memory is what helps us move forward. Seeing how society bent over backwards for the affected, seeing that groups as well as individuals give us token of affection, is a treasure that we also want to share with the rest of the citizenship.
The exhibition “Strokes and stitches for remembrance”:
The exhibition we are going to talk about today is the proof of this nice memory: displaying the solidarity signs that the association has been receiving since it was founded until today.
It is a remembrance for peace as it shows the most human side of those who wanted to offer us their support; which was a way to bring us peace.
The exhibition is composed of presents like paintings, patchwork, lithographs, poems or prizes awarded to the Association.
Among its fundamental aims, we can highlight: informing our society about this solidarity signs, thanking in public for these tokens of affection, raising funds to help terrorism victims, offering visitors to draw their own strokes (reflecting their feelings in a book) and to sew their own stitches (in unfinished patchwork pieces) and working in values such as peace and tolerance with school classes.
Peace has many different sides and all the contributions enrich it. We display its richness by showing all of them.
The exhibition does not only remember lifes under attacks, also previous moments are remembered. An example is the lithograph of the student’s rucksack. It says “To those students who did not get to their classes” and we can see on the rucksack a sticker against the war in Iraq. Many of the 192 persons killed M-11 2004 by the bombs were the year before among the 2 million who demonstrated Feb. 15 in Madrid with these stickers against the threatening war in Iraq. Thus, the exhibition does not only display “peace” from those affected by the attacks, but also from other people. And another lithograph says: “Madrid cries”, because the city also suffered, so it is an embracing peace. The many contributions in this hug; make peace appear in its richness and wideness.
The many prices our Association has received during its short life were not awarded simply for being victims of terrorism but because of how we have reacted after the attacks and in many events affecting us. A significant example of them is the “Justice Award”, given by the Justice Department of the Basque Country Government. We received it during the trial as recognition to the attitude that we have maintained for justice and for the defence of the rule of democratic law.
At this respect, we understand justice as a way to reconciliatory peace. Peace can not be built over impunity and this is also a contribution for peace. For us, without justice, the path to peace is much more difficult, because justice is fundamental for internal peace. We understand peace as something positive, it is saying yes to life, yes to sharing.
We have established good relations with other victims associations not only in Spain but also abroad. We do not believe in a selective anger as a terrorism victim is equal and deserves the same recognition in any place of the world.
For us this is the way to reconciliation. In this sense, the terrorist is excluded from the reconciliation but the Islam and the Muslim community are not excluded. Pilar, the president of our Association, has gone to the mosque to talk with the children and this is a way of embracing. In the exhibition, a book with the reactions of those children is showed, a great contribution for peace. We believe that it is a big reconciliation point as racism only brings hatred, which is something that destroys you and does not let you move forward.
This exhibition is a precious tool to channel the energies from grief into peace and it must also be a point for pedagogic reflection and study to take out intolerance of our lives, performing positive actions that would generate a world better than that brought by violence.