On July 20, 2011, Texas executed yet another human being. This useless, brutal punishment was the final episode of the violence that began almost 10 years ago, when the Twin Towers collapsed in Manhattan. Or was it? When did this cycle of violence really begin, and – most importantly – when will it really end?
One man first lost his sister in the 9/11 terrorist attacks then lost his own life in the infamous Huntsville death chamber. In between times, more violence occurred.
Another man decided to take a stand against violence, for healing and the hope of restoration.
But where were the advocates of the fight for justice and healing for all those injured by crime? Where were the voices of those who know first hand the aftermath of the insanity and horror of murder? Where were those who claim to be experts in restorative justice?
They were lost in a revolting, deafening silence.
In his own words, Rais Bhuiyan forgave Mark Stroman many years ago:
“I believe he was ignorant, and not capable of distinguishing between right and wrong, otherwise he wouldn’t have done what he did.”
“Hate doesn’t bring a peaceful solution to any situation, which I realized after I became a victim of a hate crime because of the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center tragedy. This single incident changed my entire life and helped me to realize that hate only brings fear, misery, resentment and disaster into human lives. It creates obstacles to healthy human growth, which, in turn, diminishes society as a whole. In order to live in a better and peaceful world, we need to break the cycle of hate and violence. I believe, forgiveness is the best policy, which helps to break this cycle.”
More specifically, Rais Bhuiyan pointed out that:
- The execution will only end another human life without eliminating the root cause.
- We need to show that bridges can be built between victims & victimizers through forgiveness.
- Mark Stroman should have the chance to realize, through time & maturity, that hate is not the answer.
- The widows and children of the murder victims do not wish for the execution to happen.
- If executed, Mark Stroman’s children would lose their father; they would become victims, also.
These principles are exemplary, yet they are fragile in a hostile environment. Such a philosophy needs all the support it deserves. Especially from those who hope for another way in the American “justice” system. When we remain silent, we lose. When we do not act, we lose. Murder victim family members organizations had a rare opportunity to walk next to Rais Bhuiyan and Mark Stroman, to support their wish for reconciliation, to relay their campaign for a better world. Is it not their primary mission?
Both Rais Bhuiyan and Mark Stroman were failed. Failed without surprise by the hate-filled, bigoted, violence-fed-bred system in Texas AND failed by those who should have felt compelled to join in. As always, the support came from elsewhere and the work was done by others: id est activists on social networks, human rights advocate and SMU Professor Rick Halperin, grassroots non-profit organizations like Texas Moratorium Network, GRACE (The Gulf Region Advocacy Center) lawyers and others acting pro bono publico given the importance of the issue, and, once again, the European organization .
Mark Stroman was pronounced dead at 2053 CDT (0153 GMT).
There are many failures in this story and we are entitled to ask the following questions:
- Why has Rais Bhuiyan not been accorded any of the rights that should, by law, be his as described in the ?
- Why was and other officials not co-signed by well-established American murder victim family members organizations?
- Why were Rais Bhuiyan and Mark Stroman denied restorative justice benefits that could have allowed for greater healing in their lives, and peace in communities?
Why the deafening silence?