FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C.—After spending 8 days in Kabul meeting with Afghanistan youth, Catholic peace activist Judith Kelly believes that local nonviolent options for peace are taking hold in that war-torn country.
“I believe the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers are opening hearts and minds to the possibility of nonviolent options for peace,” Kelly stated, after returning from Afghanistan earlier this week. “It’s a very radical anomaly to the war mentality developed through 30 years of conflict and loss, but they are determined to get their message out that they want and are willing to work for a world without wars.”
Kelly, a long-time member of Pax Christi USA based in Washington, D.C., spent over a week in Afghanistan in late March as part of a peace delegation assembled by Voices for Creative Nonviolence. The delegation went to Afghanistan in support of the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, a group of young Afghans who are experimenting with indigenous forms of nonviolence and peacemaking to heal and transform their nation. Their campaign, “Live Without Wars,” included actions marking the Afghan New Year and an international conference call billed as a “Global Day of Listening,” which included youth participants from Gaza, Egypt, Iraq and elsewhere.
“What really stood out for me was how the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers—against all the odds and the evidence of 30 years of warmaking—hold firm to a vision that love is stronger than hate, and people can stand together for peace,” Kelly said. “Their smiles, their thoughtful gazes—they are like teen-age rock stars, completely irresistible and totally inspiring.”
Kelly, who is a former prisoner of conscience and has been active with the Witness Against Torture campaign, has traveled on many delegations to war zones. With the other 27 delegation members, she hopes to raise awareness about the ongoing human cost of war in Afghanistan and to promote the peace-oriented efforts of Afghan civilians like the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers.
“I think that the most important message I take away from this trip is the importance of global solidarity—people working together in support of one another,” Kelly said. “All of us need to keep up this contact so that these boys and all who are working for nonviolent change in Afghanistan won’t feel forgotten or dismissed as naive.”
Judith Kelly is available for media and speaking opportunities regarding the delegation to Afghanistan and the work of the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. She can be contacted through Johnny Zokovitch, Director of National Field Operations for Pax Christi USA.