On February 21, I met a group of women wearing black in silent vigil outside of the New York Public Library. The group gathers every Wednesday for an hour of vigil.
‘Women In Black’ is an international peace network. It is not an organization, but a means of mobilization and a formula for action. The vigil started in Israel in 1988 by women protesting against Israel’s Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. It has developed in countries such as Italy, Spain, Germany, England, Azerbaijan, Canada, Columbia, and in the former Yugoslavia, where women in Belgrade stood in weekly vigils throughout the ‘90s to protest war and the Serbian regime’s policies of national aggression. ‘Women In Black’ groups have formed in many cities in the U.S. since September 11th.
I had the opportunity to speak to Sister Bernadette Sullivan, spokesperson of the group. She said, ‘Women In Black’ New York stand in silent vigil to protest war, rape as a tool of war, ethnic cleansing and human rights abuses all over the world. We are silent because mere words cannot express the tragedy that wars and hatred bring. We refuse to add the cacophony of empty statements that are spoken with the best intentions yet may be erased or go unheard under the sound of a passing ambulance or a bomb exploding nearby. We have been holding vigils in solidarity with our sisters throughout the world since 1993.”
“Our silence is visible. We invite women to stand with us, reflect about themselves and women who have been raped, tortured or killed in concentration camps, women who have disappeared, whose loved ones have disappeared or have been killed, whose homes have been demolished. We wear black as a symbol of sorrow for all victims of war, for the destruction of people, nature and the fabric of life.”
These women in silent vigil have inner voices to speak their protests and advocacy. Their initiative is a powerful tool to create awareness of the people worldwide, and eventually create solutions.
As a citizen journalist, I heard them and echoed their inner voices.