UG students condemn Sept. 11 attacks in survey By Shirley Thomas
Guyana Chronicle
September 17, 2002

Related Links: Articles on education
Letters Menu Archival Menu

A RECENT survey on the University of Guyana Turkeyen campus has shown that 100 per cent of the students interviewed condemned the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States which claimed 3,025 innocent lives.

The findings were revealed by Dr. Daniel Kumar, lecturer within the Faculty of Social Sciences, as he addressed a Symposium on Reflections of September 11 in the university's Education Lecture Theatre last Tuesday.

Joining the students in condemning the acts, were academic professionals on a four-member panel addressing the symposium - Dr. Mark Kirton, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and member of the Department of International Affairs; Professor Frederick Kissoon and Dr. Kumar, also of the Faculty of Social Sciences, who described the attacks as barbaric. The fourth panellist was United States Ambassador, Mr. Ronald Godard.

Godard expressed profound appreciation to Guyanese for their outpouring of sympathy towards Americans after last year's attacks, noting that Guyana could not have been better to them at such a time.

Said Godard: "I'll always remember the warm and sympathetic reaction of the Guyanese people. That's one thing that I'll always cherish many years after I leave this country. Guyana could not have been better to us in the U.S. Embassy in one of our moments of greatest trial."

Earlier last Tuesday, the Embassy had held a special ceremony at which it honoured the victims - citizens of some 90 nations - and inaugurated a plaque in honour of the 26 Guyanese who perished at the World Trade Center and one at the Pentagon. The plaque has been hung in the Consular Section of the Embassy.

Godard also alluded to a published statement last week in which U.S. President George W. Bush noted: "Those whom we lost last September 11 will forever hold a cherished place in our hearts and in the history of our nation. As we mark the first anniversary of that tragic day, we remember their sacrifice, and we commit ourselves to honouring their memory by pursuing peace and justice in the world, and security at home."

The U.S. is determined that there should not be a repeat of the dastardly events on its territory, and in order to make this possible, has put in place security measures.

These include legislation currently being written by the U.S. Congress to create a Department of Homeland Security - something Ambassador Godard described as unique and very unusual among the Washington bureaucracy. He said some of the measures to be incorporated include "authority over visas" - travel into the U.S.

The Ambassador, however, anticipates that compromises could be worked out in relation to this.

He also referred to tightened security arrangements at airports in what he called "this huge new bureaucracy". Whatever the effects, he assured, "those will be here to stay and may very well become more intrusive with time."

Touching on the post September 11 anthrax scare, Godard said, "It reveals how vulnerable we are in today's problems. And so there has been a concerted effort in creating homeland security and taking measures at airports, among other things, to ensure the safety of the public."

And in relation to the war against terrorism, the Ambassador opined that the success of the measures will depend to a large extent on cooperation from the international community. He was happy to report that the community was responding favourably and with the kind of speed hitherto unknown at the level of the United Nations.

"Since September 11, the international community has fully mobilised to contain the threat of terrorism and this is a new factor in the multilateral world of today," he said.

Giving kudos to multilateral partners, he acknowledged: "There is a recognition that the success we've had in trying to prevent another September 11 occurring, in trying to win the war against terrorism, that we couldn't have done it without multilateral cooperation."

This is reflected in tangible steps taken by the international community which include the United Nations' passing of a comprehensive anti-terrorist Resolution 13:73, providing for the creation of a permanent committee to monitor implementation of UN measures against terrorism.

There has also been prompt action by the Organisation of American States (OAS) in negotiating and finally approving an Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism.

And so far, more than 90 nations have participated in the arrest and detention of some 2,400 terrorists; and about 100 nations have frozen assets associated with terrorist groups.

All these measures, Godard said, highlight the fact that September 11 served to coalesce international opinion very rapidly and to motivate some very quick action not usually seen in multilateral organisations.

The Ambassador noted that America has recognised that "underdevelopment and poverty" are a huge part of the problem and there is now a new appreciation for the need to give greater emphasis to development assistance.

To this end, he said, President Bush has taken some action to address this situation, resulting in America increasing its economic aid to the developed world by 50 per cent every year for the next three years. This will mean about $5Bln over the current funding level.

Meanwhile, examining the impact of the catastrophic events on the region, the Ambassador pointed to the immediate and extraordinarily negative impact on international travel and tourism, which has left many countries reeling in its effects.

He said the recession has particularly hit home, not only because of tourism in the Caribbean area, but also because of the cutback in imports into the U.S.

Noting that the U.S is known to be an enormous market for an enormous portion of developing countries' exports, Godard stated, "When our economy slumps as it has, then sales to that market decline precipitously."

While September 11 contributed a great deal to the economic downturn, and ultimately recession, he reasoned that even before that date, there was a slowdown in the American economy.

Some problem areas the Ambassador cited in the U.S. prior to September 11 were the horrendous auditing scandal; cronyism on Wall Street; accounting scandals; the dot com stocks which built up a "fantasy world" of economic speculation and corporate financial games.

These, he said, combined to accelerate some of the economic woes.

As a mark of respect for those who perished in the terrorist attacks, those gathered for the symposium at the university campus observed one minute's silence at the start of the panel discussion.