Don't politicise Ground Zero, victims' families warn leaders

NEW YORK - A group of people who lost family members in the September 11 attacks have accused civic leaders of politicising their anniversary and announced plans for a silent vigil at the World Trade Centre site.

September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, whose members empathise with war victims in Afghanistan and Iraq, said a procession down Broadway today was an alternative to Friday's ceremony, when the city will officially mark the attacks' second anniversary.

"We are all very weary of Ground Zero, a sacred space, where there are still remains of people, being used as a backdrop. We want a hands-off policy for any candidate from any political party," said Andrew Rice, whose brother David died at the site.

"This week is a sacred week and we hope especially next year with the Republican convention [taking place in New York] that it will not be appropriated by people for their own political gains."

At the Republican National Convention in New York from August 30 to September 2, 2004, President George W Bush is expected to win his party's nomination to run for re-election in that November's presidential vote.

Others in the Families group, which has 90 members in 23 states and three other nations, said they wanted Bush to adopt alternatives to military force in the "war on terror".

David Potorti, who also lost a brother in New York, said he believed armies could be used sparingly, "but any time you use military action it is always a disaster for somebody, always".

Potorti said he was troubled by Bush saying in a televised address on Monday night that the US-led war in Iraq was one of the most humane and swift in military history.

"He's denying the reality of the deaths of others just like my brother. That's who we're trying to memorialise here, civilian victims in New York, Washington, in Pennsylvania as well as Afghanistan and Iraq."

Vigil co-organiser Kelly Campbell, whose brother died in the attack on the Pentagon near Washington, said hundreds of people would form "circles of hope" around the site where the twin towers once stood. Then, bells would ring at nearby St Paul's chapel.

- REUTERS

Herald Feature: The Sept 11 attacks

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