by Kathy Kelly, Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace
“We love you!”
Yesterday, Americans sent two very important and very different communications to our friend Dr. Wee Teck Young, a Singaporean physician and activist who lives and works in Kabul, Afghanistan. The “We love you!” was a press release announcing that the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) had awarded him their “International Pfeffer Peace Prize” in recognition of his contributions to peace working with dedicated young Afghans in Kabul. The “Stay out!” was from the American government, refusing him a visa to enter the United States with these young people, in the furtherance of this work. It seems all too likely that the actions and choices which have earned him his well-deserved award are the same factors that persuaded U.S. consular officials to deny him entry to the United States. The question is whether we can be a voice to affirm that his work, and the work of the young Afghans working with him, has value in the United States, where awareness of the costs of war, and of the lives of ordinary Afghans, is desperately needed.
U.S. consular officials considering a visa application want, perhaps above all, strong assurances that prospective travelers will have compelling interests calling them back home when their visa expires. They look for conventional signs of a family, an income, a job – all of which our friend Dr. Wee Teck Young has given up in the cause of peace…