Category Archives: Asia

REFLECTION: My future in prison

by Kathy Kelly
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

The Bureau of Prisons contacted me today, assigning me a prison number and a new address:  for the next 90 days, beginning tomorrow, I’ll live at FMC Lexington, in the satellite prison camp for women, adjacent to Lexington’s federal medical center for men.  Very early tomorrow morning, Buddy Bell, Cassandra Dixon, and Paco and Silver, two house guests whom we first met in protests on South Korea’s Jeju Island, will travel with me to Kentucky and deliver me to the satellite women’s prison outside the Federal Medical Center for men.

In December, 2014, Judge Matt Whitworth sentenced me to three months in federal prison after Georgia Walker and I had attempted to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to the commander of Whiteman Air Force base, asking him to stop his troops from piloting lethal drone flights over Afghanistan from within the base.  Judge Whitworth allowed me over a month to surrender myself to prison; but whether you are a soldier or a civilian, a target or an unlucky bystander, you can’t surrender to a drone.

Photo by Shane Franklin

Photo by Shane Franklin

When I was imprisoned at Lexington prison in 1988, after a federal magistrate in Missouri sentenced me to one year in prison for planting corn on nuclear missile silo sites, other women prisoners playfully nicknamed me “Missiles.”  One of my sisters reliably made me laugh today, texting me to ask if I thought the women this time would call me “Drones.”

It’s good to laugh and feel camaraderie before heading into prison.  For someone like me, very nearly saturated in “white privilege” through much of this arrest, trial, and sentencing process, 90% (or more) of my experience  will likely depend on attitude.

But, for many of the people I’ll meet in prison, an initial arrest very likely began with something like a “night raid” staged in Iraq or Afghanistan, complete with armed police surrounding and bursting into their home to remove them from children and families, often with helicopters overhead, sequestering them in a county jail, often with very little oversight to assure that guards and wardens treat them fairly.  Some prisoners will not have had a chance to see their children before being shipped clear across the country.  Some will not have been given adequate medical care as they adjust to life in prison, possibly going without prescribed medicines and often traumatized by the sudden dissolution of ties with family and community.  Some will not have had the means to hire a lawyer and may not have learned much about their case from an overworked public defender.

In the U.S., the criminal justice system disproportionately incarcerates people of color for petty offences. Many take plea bargains under threat of excessive, punitive sentences. If I were a young black male, the U.S. penal system quite likely would not have allowed me to turn myself in to a federal prison camp.

I’ll be incarcerated in a satellite camp outside a medical facility where I expect the wards are crowded with geriatric patients. How bleak and unnecessary it is to confine people for decades. My friend Brian Terrell, who was incarcerated in Yankton, South Dakota for six months after crossing the line at Whiteman AFB, told me that while in prison he saw signs on the walls recruiting prisoners to train for medically assisting geriatric male prisoners. I shudder to think of our culture’s pervading callousness, pointlessly consigning so many aged people to languish in prison.

I will be free in three months, but our collective future is most assuredly shackled to a wrongheaded criminal justice system.  I hope this compulsively vengeful and diseased criminal justice system will change during my lifetime.  And I hope that my short sojourn inside Lexington’s prison walls will help me better understand and perhaps help shed some small light on the systems that affect other people trapped there.

During recent visits with concerned communities focused on drone warfare, many have helped me see a connection between the drone killings across Central Asia and the Middle East and the casual executions and incarceration of young black males in our own country.

In Afghanistan, where the noise of air strikes and civil war have faded to the buzz of drones and the silence of empty promises, our friends in the Afghan Peace Volunteers (APVs) continue their peace building efforts.  Last week, eighty street children walked from the APV center to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission office to assert their right to education.  Their signs expressed their determination to help create a school for street children.  One sign said, “We don’t want your charity.  We want dignity.”

Our young friends wish to provide a better life for the very children whose only other ways off the streets may well include joining the Taliban, criminal gangs, or some other militia.  Meanwhile, the United States’ vengeful stance as a nation, concerned with protecting its wealth and status at all costs and its safety above all considerations of equity or reason, destroys the lives of the impoverished at home as it destroys those abroad.

The “Black Lives Matter” protests need our support, as do the March 4-6 protests to “Shut Down Creech” Air Force Base.  Our friends in the Afghan Peace Volunteers will continue to do vital work for peace and solidarity, in Kabul, that needs our support. It’s encouraging to know that thousands upon thousands of committed people seek and find work to make our world less like a prison for our neighbors and ourselves.

My address for the next three months is

Kathy Kelly 04971-045
P.O. BOX 14525

Kathy Kelly co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence.  For more information, please contact VCNV

PETITION: End Philippine debt following Typhoon Haiyan

from Jubilee USA

NOTE: Pax Christi USA has signed onto this petition.

Haiyan_Nov_7_2013_1345ZSince Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, the world has responded with astounding generosity, donating hundreds of millions of dollars to aid in the recovery effort and pledging hundreds of millions more.

Unfortunately, since the typhoon struck on November 8, the Philippines has spent between $6 billion and $8 billion repaying debt, $22 million every single day by one estimate. Some of those debts originate from the corrupt and abusive regime of Ferdinand Marcos, who was responsible for the deaths of more than 3,000 Filipinos, and the torture of 35,000.

The Philippines needs resources to rebuild communities and protect vulnerable populations still dealing with homelessness, disease and malnutrition. Just a fraction of the money the country spends on debt could make a profound impact on the lives of Haiyan’s victims.

Join Jubilee USA in calling upon the World Bank and other lenders to grant an immediate moratorium on debt repayments during the rebuilding process, with a view toward debt cancellation.

Click here to sign the petition.

REFLECTION: On the anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – a plea for peace

Scott WrightJean StokanBy Scott Wright, with Jean Stokan
Pax Christi Metro D.C.-Baltimore

To remember the past is to commit oneself to the future. To remember Hiroshima is to abhor nuclear war. . . . In the face of the calamity that every war is, one must affirm and reaffirm, again and again, that the waging of war is not inevitable or unchangeable. Humanity is not destined to self-destruction.
                                                                                                                   – Pope John Paul II

Some years ago, Jean and I were fortunate to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with our daughter Maura, who was eight-years-old at the time. We were responding to an invitation from the Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace that Jean had received as policy director of Pax Christi USA to participate in an Asia Pacific peace conference.


In the years since, we have tried to write about that experience, but have been at a loss of words to describe the enormity of human suffering and evil represented by what happened there in 1945. The saving grace was to meet with survivors – the hibakusha – who were my daughter’s age when the bombs dropped. That memory is seared forever in their hearts, and in their bodies.

One story that stands out in my mind is the story of Takashi Nagai, a medical doctor who survived the bombing of Nagasaki, lived to care for the victims, and returned to Ground Zero to build a hut where he received visitors as he himself lay dying. On Christmas Eve, 1945, he recounted a “miracle” that occurred. The bells from the cathedral of Nagasaki, which was destroyed in the bombing, rang! Parishioners who survived the bomb blast dug up the bells from beneath the atomic rubble and debris, hoisted them up and rang them, morning, noon, and night. Takashi wrote:

“Men and women of the world, never again plan war! With this atomic bomb, war can only mean suicide for the human race. From this atomic waste the people of Nagasaki confront the world and cry out: No more war! Let us follow the commandment of love and work together. The people of Nagasaki prostrate themselves before God and pray: Grant that Nagasaki may be the last atomic wilderness in the history of the world.”

Following the end of the Second World War, the people of Japan pledged never again to go to war and adopted its Constitution which says, in Article 9:

“Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. To accomplish this aim … land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”

For years, Pax Christi USA has been supportive of the effort of the Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace and the Japanese people to uphold the principles of peace outlined in Article 9 of their Constitution. The recent decision of Japanese Prime Minister Abe to lift the restrictions on Japan’s military responds to the U.S.’s “pivot to Asia,” but it also raises concerns of further destabilizing the fragile peace in the region.

In the words of the Global Article 9 Campaign, “Article 9 is not just a provision of the Japanese law. It also acts as an international peace mechanism towards reducing military spending, supporting conflict prevention, promoting nuclear-weapon-free zones, and recognizing the human right to peace.”

As Christians, our reflection on the challenge of peace begins with touching the wounds of the crucified and risen Christ. It is our encounter with the crucified Jesus – present in the crucified victims of war and violence – that helps shapes our understanding of the urgency of peace and nonviolence. It is our experience of the risen Christ – in the survivors and witnesses who cry out for justice and for life – that gives expression to our deepest hopes for peace and reconciliation. Nothing short of the total abolition of war and nuclear weapons from the earth must be our common goal.

NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT: PC New Mexico members on the radio today talking Hiroshima Day action, and other resources on nuclear disarmament

from Pax Christi New Mexico

Pax Christi New Mexico leader Bud Ryan and Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace Fr. John Dear will be live KSFR 101.1FM radio in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The program airs at 4pm Mountain Time (6pm EDT) and you can listen on their website Simply click on the “Listen Live” link on the top left of the webpage. The program is entitled Living on the Edge with hosts David Bacon & Xubi Wilson talking about Pax Christi’s Sack Cloth & Ashes Action this Saturday, August 2nd at 2pm at Ashley Pond in Los Alamos in remembrance of what took place in Hiroshima and Nagasaki 69 years ago.

The Forgotten BombAlso if you don’t have HBO or happened to miss John Oliver’s show, Last Week Tonight, this past Sunday night he did a brilliant piece on nukes which showed the current apathy regarding them today. That apathy is part of the reason that Bud Ryan and Stuart Overbey named their film, The Forgotten Bomb, and why it is so important to constantly voice our opinions on nuclear weapons to our elected officials. Please watch Mr. Oliver’s piece at this link:

Lastly if you’ve never read John Hersey’s Hiroshima, which tells the story of what happened on that horrible day August 6, 1945 through the eyes of 6 individuals who were there, you can do so by going to:

We all live with the terror of nuclear weapons hanging over our heads like a Sword of Damocles, and it is important for everyone to read about what could happen and what has happened to the people of Hiroshima & Nagasaki.

STATEMENT: Pax Christi International statement on Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution

article 9Pax Christi, the International Catholic Peace Movement, regrets very strongly the decision of 1 July 2014 of the Government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in approving changes to the Japan’s post-war security policy that could lead to the Self-Defence Forces’ use of military force in overseas missions and to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defence.

Pax Christi International and many of its Member Organisations, including the Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace (CCJP), have been campaigning for many years in keeping the original wording of the Constitution which reads:

“Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. To accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognised.”

Now, with the changes to the interpretation of Article 9, a Cabinet-approved document allows for the use of force as a means of self-defence not only when Japan comes under military attack, but also when a nation with a close relationship to Japan comes under attack. This move taken by the present Japanese government means a historical turning point in post-war Japan and a weakening of its commitment to constitutional non-violence.

Pax Christi International is deeply concerned about this decision to revise Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. Article 9 has been a sign of hope for a world that yearns for deep, inclusive and lasting peace. It has encouraged dialogue and diplomacy, helping Japan to become a stabilising factor in East Asia rather than a threat to neighbouring countries. We strongly encourage the Japanese government to address “territorial disputes” in accordance with the spirit of Article 9 rather than to revise such an important and visionary article from the Japanese Constitution.

Read the entire statement by clicking here.

For more information Pax Christi USA’s work on Article 9:

REFLECTION: A pivot on the peace island

Kathy Kellyby Kathy Kelly
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

Jeju Island, South Korea – For the past two weeks, I’ve been in the Republic of Korea (ROK), as a guest of peace activists living in Gangjeong Village on ROK’s Jeju Island. Gangjeong is one of the ROK’s smallest villages, yet activists here, in their struggle against the construction of a massive naval base, have inspired people around the world.

Since 2007, activists have risked arrests, imprisonment, heavy fines and wildly excessive use of police force to resist the desecration caused as mega-corporations like Samsung and Daelim build a base to accommodate U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines for their missions throughout Asia. The base fits the regional needs of the US for a maritime military outpost that would enable it to continue developing its Asia Pivot strategy, gradually building towards and in the process provoking superpower conflict with China.

Resistance at the gate of the naval base being constructed.

Resistance at the gate of the naval base being constructed.

“We don’t need this base,” says Bishop Kang, a Catholic prelate who vigorously supports the opposition. He worries that if the base is completed, Jeju Island will become a focal point for Far Eastern military struggle, and that this would occur amid accelerating military tensions. “The strongest group in the whole world, the military, takes advantage of National Security ideology,” he continues. “Many people make money. Many governments are controlled by this militarism. The military generals, in their minds, may think they are doing this to protect their country, but in fact they’re controlled by the corporations.”…

To read this entire article, click here.

HUMAN RIGHTS: PCUSA signs onto letter supporting activists in Sri Lanka

Pax Christi USA has signed onto a letter being circulated by the U.S. province of the Missionary Oblates to the U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Michele Sison.

The letter shares deep concerns about several recent arrests in Sri Lanka of human rights defenders under the government’s Protection of Terrorism Act (PTA), including an Oblate priest, Fr. Praveen Mahesan, OMI. He and Ruki Fernando, an internationally respected human rights defender, were arrested on Saturday night while looking into the arrest two days before of a vocal leader of families of the disappeared, Ms. Jeyakumari. She has since been moved to a notorious prison in the south of Sri Lanka, where torture is common. She was initially detailed with her 13 year old daughter, and Fr. Praveen and Ruki were trying to insure the safety of the daughter when the military arrested them. Fr. Praveen and Ruki have been released – for now – after an international outcry, but they have been told not to speak to the media, and their passports have been taken.

The letter calls for the unconditional release of Ms. Jeyakumari and restoration of full freedom of movement for Fr. Praveen and Ruki Fernando.

You can click here for more information.