Tag Archives: Afghanistan

AFGHANISTAN: Celebrate the Afghan New Year by connecting with the Afghan Peace Volunteers

from Voices for Creative Nonviolence & Afghan Peace Volunteers

apv

Salam from Afghanistan, where the Afghan New Year ( Nao Roz  / New Day ) is five days away on the 21st of March.  Alas, peace is much further away.

We ask for your friendship and time in making a Skype or telephone connection with my Afghan family, the Afghan Peace Volunteers, on Nao Roz or in the next few weeks, to talk about their wishes for the new year, their joy in flying kites, and their hope to build a world free of human borders.

The Afghan Peace Volunteers are so tired of war that they are determined to build relationships to abolish war.

We believe that an immediate way to be a strong 99% is to get to know one another through arranging Skype or telephone connections across all borders.

We wish to speak via Skype or telephone with ordinary folk, youth, students, farmers, labourers, teachers, musicians and artists, environmentalists, social workers, indigenous communities, friends and activists from every single country in the world, thus catalyzing the most powerful force in the world – love.

To converse with us on Nao Roz the 21st of March,  please email globaldaysoflistening@gmail.com, and for other dates, please email borderfree@mail2world.com

We wish to hear your ‘Borderfree’ voice!

Love from Afghanistan,

Torpekai, Khalida, Sadaf, Sonia, Zerghuna, Basir, Abdulhai, Ali, Ghulamai, Zekerullah, Faiz, Raz, Khamad, Barath, Feroz, Hikmat and Hakim, with the Afghan Peace Volunteers

AFGHANISTAN: “Who will hear our voice?” the plea of Afghan women

Rev. John Dear, S.J.

by Fr. John Dear, S.J.
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace

This week, as our war president was inaugurated on the holiday of Martin Luther King Jr., I thought how King would be speaking out boldly against our war in Afghanistan, our use of drones, our use of torture, our use of execution and our use of bombs and call us once again to end the killings, become people of nonviolence and side with the victims of our war that we might create the “beloved community.”

So my thoughts turn again to the many impoverished women and children I met last month in Kabul. Reflecting on my journey to Afghanistan, I hear the question that was asked over and over again: “Who will hear our voice?”

“No one listens to our voices,” one woman told us. “We can’t imagine a better future for our children. There is little hope for them. Some countries say they send aid, but where is it? We have never seen it. It all goes into the hands of the government leaders who buy homes in Dubai. Who will hear the voice of the people? We have so much pain in our hearts because no one will listen to us.”…

Click here to read this entire article.

MLK DAY 2013: MLK Injustice Index 2013 – Racism, Materialism and Militarism in the U.S.

Bill Quigley, PCUSA Teacher of Peaceby Bill Quigley, Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

“We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values…when machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr., April 4, 1967

While the U.S. celebrates the re-election of its first African American President and the successes of numerous African Americans in all walks of life, there remain troubling challenges.

While remembering how far this nation has come since Dr. King was alive, we cannot forget how far we have still to go to combat the oppressions of racism, materialism and militarism.

MLK_Memorial_NPS_photoRacism

Whites have 22 times more wealth than blacks and 15 times more wealth than Latino/as.  Median household net worth for whites was $110,000 versus $4,900 for blacks versus $7,424 for Latinos, according to CNN Money and the Census Bureau.

African Americans are 12.3 percent of the population but 4.7 percent of attorneys.

Latino/as are 15.8 percent of the population but only 2.8 percent of attorneys.

African American students face harsher discipline, have less access to rigorous high school classes and are more likely to be taught by less experienced and lower paid teachers according to a government sponsored national survey of 72,000 schools.

13% of whites, 21% of blacks and 32% of Hispanics lack health insurance, according to the Kaiser Foundation.

The latest Census analysis shows 9% of white families below the U.S. poverty level and 23% of Black and Hispanic families below the same levels.

Materialism

The chairman of Goldman Sachs was awarded $21 million in total pay for 2012 according to the Wall Street Journal.

From 1978 to 2011, compensation for workers grew by 5.7 percent.  During the same time, CEO compensation grew by 725 percent.  In 1965 CEOs earned about 20 times the typical worker.  In 2011, the typical CEO “earned” over 200 times the typical worker.

The top 1% of earners took home 93% of the growth in incomes in 2010, while middle income household have lower incomes than they did in 1996, according to Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz.

People in the U.S. spent $52 billion on pets in 2012, according to the American Pet Products Association.  The latest figures from the Census Bureau indicate the U.S. spends less than $50 billion per year in non-military foreign aid.

Student loan debt is now higher than total credit card debt and total auto loan debt.

Over 2.8 million children in the U.S. live in homes of extreme poverty, less than $2 per person per day before government benefits.  This is double what it was 15 years ago.

Nearly one in six people in the U.S. live in poverty according to the Census.  One in five children live in poverty.  Latest information shows 17% of white children in poverty, 32% of Hispanic children and 35% of black children.

Militarism

The U.S. spends more on its military than any country in the world.  The U.S. spends more on its military than the next 10 countries combined!  More than China, Russia, UK, France, Japan, India, Saudi Arabia, Germany and Brazil together.

The 2013 military budget authorizes spending $633 billion on our military defense, not including money for the Veterans Administration.  The VA budget submission for 2013 is $140 billion.  To compare, total federal spending on Social Security for 2012 was about $773 billion.

The U.S. has 737 military bases outside the U.S. around the world and over 2 million military personnel, including Defense Department and local hires.

The U.S. leads the world in the sale of weapons in the global arms market.  In 2011 the U.S. tripled sales to $66 billion making up three-quarters of the global market.  Russia was second with less than $5 billion in sales.

45% of the 1.6 million veterans from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are seeking disability benefits from physical and mental injuries suffered while in the service.

Suicides in active U.S. military, 349 in 2012, exceeded the 295 total combat deaths in Afghanistan in 2012, according to the Associated Press.

Conclusion

These are challenges we should face with the hope and courage Dr. King and so many others have taught us as we celebrate his accomplishments and his inspiration.

Bill Quigley is a human rights lawyer who teaches law at Loyola University New Orleans and works with the Center for Constitutional Rights.  He is a Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace. A version of this article with sources is available.  You can contact Bill at quigley77@gmail.com.

REFLECTION: Brian Terrell’s peace witness from prison

Rev. John Dear, S.J.

by Fr. John Dear, S.J.
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace

This week, the president nominated the head of the U.S. drones program, responsible for killing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of innocent women and children in Afghanistan and Pakistan, to be his new head of the CIA. That is appropriate, because the CIA runs the U.S. torture, rendition, assassination and mass-murder program in conjunction with the Pentagon. Of course, all of this pure evil goes contrary to everything the nonviolent Jesus taught. What do we Christians do? We protest the ongoing killings by these evil U.S. drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen; continue to call for nonviolent conflict resolution; try to build a movement of nonviolence; and take nonviolent risks to stop the killings.

My friend Brian Terrell has taken many nonviolent risks to say “no” to a future of drones and permanent war. A longtime peace activist, a member of the “Creech 14″ and a founder of the Strangers and Guests Catholic Worker Farm in Maloy, Iowa, Brian is currently serving six months in the federal prison in Yankton, S.D., for protesting our evil U.S. drones program.

On April 15, Brian and two friends walked onto the Whiteman Air Force Base in central Missouri to present a letter to the base commander calling for an end to the U.S. drone warfare. They tried to make the case that dropping bombs on women and children in Afghanistan and Pakistan will not lead to peace — much less improve our own security — but will inspire thousands of people to join the violent movements against the United States. They were immediately arrested, tried and sentenced in federal court. While our recent government war criminals, Wall Street criminals and torturers go free, Brian is holed up in a cell in South Dakota.

To read this entire article which appeared in the Huffington Post, click here.

AFGHANISTAN: Bearing witness to peacemaking in a war-torn country

Rev. John Dear, S.J.by Fr. John Dear, SJ
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace

This is part two of my diary from Afghanistan. It’s very long, but I offer it to those who are interested in my experience in Afghanistan, where we have waged the longest war in U.S. history. To learn more about the Afghan Peace Volunteers, visit 2millionfriends.orgourjourneytosmile.com and vcnv.org. Merry Christmas to one and all!

Dec. 6

This afternoon, we drove across Kabul, one of the most polluted, impoverished cities on earth, with its sea of speeding cars, to one of the many refugee camps, where we sat in a U.N. tent listening to camp leaders share their suffering and beg for peace. About 55 families fill this crowded camp, and some of the families have as many as 25 members.

“We are tired of war,” the elder began. “We have nothing to live on. We have no work. We do not want our children killed. Who would want this? Finish this war. We don’t want anyone else killed. No one in this camp wants the war to continue. We are sick of war.

“One of the main problems,” he said, “is that we are not willing to talk to one another. The powers that be must talk. Everyone in Afghanistan is Muslim; there should be no fighting between Muslims. We all know war has no benefit for the people. They want it to end. The war only benefits those in power. There are many widows, orphans, maimed people, hungry, sick and unemployed people. They are sick of this war. The same fighting has been going on for decades and we fear we will never see peace. It’s just been a matter of changing those who sit in the chairs of power. The killings just continue. The powers that be have turned Afghanistan into a killing field, their personal playground of war….

To read the rest of this article, click here.

AFGHANISTAN: Youth of Afghanistan call for peace

Rev. John Dear, S.J.by Fr. John Dear, SJ
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace

“We call upon the United Nations to negotiate an immediate cease-fire to the war in Afghanistan, and to start talks aimed at ending the war and beginning the long road to healing and recovery.” That’s what the Afghan youth said on Tuesday afternoon in Kabul, along with Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire of Ireland, as they launched their “Two Million Friends for Afghanistan” campaign and presented their petition to a senior United Nations official.

For me, it was the climax of a heart-breaking, astonishing eight days in one of the poorest, most violent, most war-torn, most corrupt, and most polluted places on the planet — and because of the amazing “Afghan Peace Volunteers,” the 25 Afghan youth who live and work together in a community of peace and nonviolence — one of the most hopeful.

All these Afghan youth have suffered from war and poverty, but as they point out, two million people have been killed in war in Afghanistan over the past four decades. After ten years of Soviet war and occupation in the 1980s, then the Civil War in the early 1990s led by the corrupt warlords, then the years of oppression under the Taliban, and now 11 years of American war and occupation, they are sick of war. Their message is the same message we heard everywhere — from a woman’s cooperative, a children’s school, a refugee camp, and even in Parliament — “Stop the Killings. End the war. We want peace.”…

To read the rest of this article, click here.

REFLECTION: Remember the children

Bill Quigley, PCUSA Teacher of Peaceby Bill Quigley, Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

Remember the 20 children who died in Newtown, Connecticut.

Remember the 35 children who died in Gaza this month from Israeli bombardments.

Remember the 168 children who have been killed by U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan since 2006.

Remember the 231 children killed in Afghanistan in the first 6 months of this year.

Remember the 400 other children in the U.S. under the age of 15 who die from gunshot wounds each year.

Remember the 921 children killed by U.S. air strikes against insurgents in Iraq.

Remember the 1,770 U.S. children who die each year from child abuse and maltreatment.

Remember the 16,000 children who die each day around the world from hunger.

These tragedies must end.

Bill Quigley is a human rights lawyer who teaches law at Loyola University New Orleans and works with the Center for Constitutional Rights.  He is a Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace. A version of this article with sources is available.  You can contact Bill at quigley77@gmail.com.