Circumstances: According to a September 8, 2013 Reuters report, Kunar police chief Abdul Habib Sayed Khil and provincial governor Shuja ul Mulk Jalala said that a NATO airstrike killed at least eight civilians, including three women and four children.
NATO/ISAF Response/Acknowledgement: A spokeswoman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), First Lieutenant AnnMarie Annicelli, confirmed that ISAF undertook a precision strike in Watarpur district of Kunar and that 10 “enemy forces” were killed. She said they had received no reports of civilian casualties.
More civilians have died in Afghanistan in the first half of this year than a year ago, bucking a trend toward greater security in the war-torn nation. A new United Nations report finds that civilian deaths and injuries are up by nearly a quarter and that a great number of those are a result of heightened fighting between Afghan government forces and the Taliban in anticipation of US troop withdrawals.
The report also pointed out that women and children were disproportionately affected by the violence.
The Taliban which realizes it is suffering a crisis in public relations from the casualties, rejected the report saying that it does not count government workers as “civilians.”
Speaking to the LA Times, an Afghan military analyst placed blame on US and NATO forces too, saying “neither side respects civilian life.”
Meanwhile today, Secretary of State John Kerry is visiting Pakistan and said he expects to complete a security agreement with Afghanistan allowing US forces to remain beyond 2014.
GUEST: Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and travels regularly to Afghanistan where she works closely with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers
Visit www.vcnv.org and www.ourjourneytosmile.org for more information.
Can one continue working for a government carrying out policies it claims are critical to national security, if one believes they constitute moral, ethical or legal failures?
by Ann Wright
10 years after our resignations from the US Diplomatic Corps in opposition to the war on Iraq, the Foreign Service Journal asked the three of us who resigned to write an article looking back on our resignations. The July/August issue of the FSJ has articles by Brady Kiesling, John Brown and me. This is my article.
Over the past decade, spanning two different presidencies, the U.S. government and its individual employees have faced extraordinarily important issues at the intersection of national security, law and conscience. Major American policies promulgated in the name of national security regarding war, invasion and occupation, kidnapping, extraordinary rendition, torture, indefinite detention, curtailment of civil liberties, extrajudicial killings, targeted assassinations and eavesdropping have all been called into legal question.
For women and men in our government, these ethical issues should create crises of conscience. Public servants face the dilemma of how, within the system, to challenge policies that are ill-considered at best, or illegal at worst. Can one continue working for a government carrying out policies it claims are critical to national security, if one believes those policies constitute moral, ethical or legal failures?
An Afghan friend, Nur Agha Akbari, was killed by gunmen in Afghanistan two weeks ago. The photo above shows his daughters sitting at his graveside.
July 3, 2013
On June 17th, in Afghanistan, The Frontier Post reported that unidentified gunmen shot dead two employees of the agriculture ministry as they traveled through the Logar province. One of them was our friend, Noor Agha Akbari. He and his colleague had been distributing gardening items in the Alam district and were on their way home to their families in Kabul.
In 2010, the first Voices for Creative Nonviolence delegation to visit Afghanistan carried a short list of people whom an expat then living outside of Afghanistan strongly recommended we contact. When we called Nur Agha Akbari, he immediately agreed to meet with us, and so began a friendship which eventually allowed dozens of people from the U.S. to better understand challenges faced by ordinary Afghan families struggling for a better, fairer society. Now we are extending condolences to his family. As noted above, gunmen killed him as he traveled back to Kabul after having distributed gardening items in the Logar province.
Mr. Akbari was a robust, energetic, well educated man from a respected, academic Afghan family. In the late 1970s, Nur had gone to study agriculture in the UK and remained there, becoming an organic farmer. His four brothers had stayed in Afghanistan, or else returned there after studies abroad. His two eldest brothers had trained in the Soviet Union – one as an engineer, one as a nuclear scientist – and had received early warning of the likelihood of what came to be the 1979 Soviet invasion. They spoke out publicly about their fears as the invasion grew more and more imminent.
On December 27 of that year, Soviet troops occupied major government, media and military buildings in Kabul, initiating a nine-year war between a nationalist/fundamentalist resistance (the “Mujahideen”) and the Soviet occupiers. Soviet officials fired Nur’s oldest brother from his cancer research work at Kabul University and blacklisted him. He found himself unable to work, and soon joined the resistance. Nur doesn’t know much about what happened to him then, but he was among thousands of people bulldozed into mass graves after capture and execution by the Soviets. All told Nur knows very little about the fates of his three older brothers, all killed in the war. But their tragedy would largely shape his life.
Nur had arranged for his surviving, younger, brother to join him in the UK. But Nur would lie awake at night, thinking about the children and the wives of his slain brothers. Concerned that his nephews and nieces were now fending for themselves in Afghanistan’s war zones, fatherless and penniless, he resolved to return home.
by Megan Fincher National Catholic Reporter
Jun. 21, 2013
Crossing the Mississippi River
The activists… are following major roads through 13 towns and cities, carrying banners and signs. They sleep on church floors, in campsites and, when available, in private homes. Most evenings, they hold public discussions at various venues, including convents, churches, the Iowa City Public Library and Drake University.
Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles operated remotely by military pilots with a joystick and a computer.
Members of Voices for Creative Nonviolence spent Thursday night at the home of Milt Cannon and Pauline Berger west of Newton on their march to Des Moines to protest the Iowa Air National Guard’s new mission as a drone command center at its facility at the Des Moines airport.
Walkers arrive in Newton, IA
Members of the group began their protest march on June 10 in Rock Island, Ill., and plan to hold a peace rally at the National Guard base at 3100 McKinley Ave. in Des Moines from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Jake, some of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, and several people living in a refugee camp in Kabul: They fled from violence in Wardak province.
“I have so many things to say to you,” he started. “So many stories. I don’t know where to begin.” He was choked up already, eyes red and swollen, and I could almost see the lump in his throat. “My own sister was killed in the war. But that is not what angered me the most. I am most angry about losing my cousin. He had a wife and two small children, and now that he is gone, they have no one to care for them.”