Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Panel of Families of the Executed

In the current issue of our newsletter, there’s a story titled “Families of the Executed Come Together at Women’s Peace Conference,” about the panel presentation at which MVFHR members Lois Robison and Melanie Hebert from Texas were joined by Tamara Chikunova, who traveled from Uzbekistan to the U.S. for the first time to participate in this Dallas, Texas conference. In the newsletter story, you can read Lois’s and Melanie’s reflections about what a powerful experience it was to meet and connect with someone who has suffered a similar tragedy to theirs, in a country halfway across the world.

As organizer and moderator of the panel, I also found the experience powerful in ways I haven’t fully been able to articulate, except that it has something to do with an awareness that whatever it is within human beings that we’re fighting when we’re fighting the death penalty, it isn’t unique to any one country. I knew that before the peace conference, of course, but there are different kinds of knowing, and the experience of bringing these three women together and listening to them listen to each other will stay with me for a long time.

Beginning tomorrow, our next series of blog posts will feature excerpts from the women’s peace conference panel presentation. As you visit us here over the next several days, you’ll be able to read Lois’s, Melanie’s, and Tamara’s heartbreaking accounts, which remind us that each execution creates a new set of victims. You’ll read, too, about the courage of these survivors who continue to fight so that others don’t have to experience what they experienced – very much like the survivors we featured in the Preventing Violence series.

And for more on the subject, read MVFHR’s report on families of the executed, Creating More Victims: How Executions Hurt the Families Left Behind. Read about the Third International Women’s Peace Conference here.

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