January 8, 2013
We’ll go to Kabul, Afghanistan, to speak with activist Kathy Kelly about the on-going discussions between President Karzai and Obama over US troop withdrawals. And, we’ll examine the various pieces of gun control legislation introduced into Congress. Plus, a look at a controversial proposed ordinance in Los Angeles that would ban the sharing of rental apartments by multiple families.
As Afghan President Hamid Karzai visits Washington DC this week, high on the agenda in his talks with President Barack Obama is the manner and detail of US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. Karzai has been publicly very critical of the US in recent months, relaying his dissatisfaction in speeches, particularly over issues of national sovereignty.
January 10, 2013
I visited Kabul in December as part of an international delegation to meet with community groups and ordinary people, to learn about the impacts of the war and about local peace-building efforts. Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, is considered the most corrupt city in the world, and one of the most polluted. Afghanistan also has the highest number of internal refugees in the world. In the last decade, millions of refugees have arrived in Kabul from rural provinces, escaping the violence and poverty of the war.
We drove to a refugee camp in the outskirts of the city and crowded on the floor of a UNICEF tent. Assisted by a translator, we had a meeting with the head of the camp and some of the residents. About 55 families of around 7 people live in the camp, after escaping southern provinces. We also visited another refugee camp, a drug rehabilitation centre, parliamentarians, aid and development organisations, women’s groups, a community run school and a local journalist.
by Martha Hennessy
January 9, 2013
We are two weeks into our stay with the Afghan Peace Volunteers and the time is filled with many meetings and discussions. Before their departure our British delegates interviewed several of the peace volunteers about conditions in their country. Zekerullah’s testimony stood out to me; he held such compassion and wisdom beyond his years. He was asked what he would have to say to a young man from the U.K. who is considering joining the military and possibly coming to fight in Afghanistan. He stated that he hoped the man (his counterpart) would not become a soldier but would stay home, do the work that is needed there, and take care of his parents. Zekerullah’s insightfulness typifies the responses I’ve heard, again and again, from the Afghan Peace Volunteers when they talk about the ravages of war and their visions for the future.
January 10, 2013
Martha Hennessy and Kathy Kelly
Writing from Kaubul
This week, in Washington, D.C., Presidents Obama and Karzai will discuss a proposed Bilateral Security Agreement between Afghanistan and the United States. Presumably, they’ll note some of the main security problems Afghanistan faces.
The people of Afghanistan have only seen cosmetic improvement in their living conditions. UNICEF reports that 36% of the people live in poverty and that over one million children suffer from acute malnourishment. According to available World Bank figures, about 73 percent of people in Afghanistan lack access to clean drinking water and 95 percent do not have access to sufficient sanitation. Limited access to medical facilities and the absence of knowledge, skills and the ability to effectively manage these diarrhoeal diseases usually leads to the death of 48,545 children each year, - approximately133 children per day.
January 7, 2012
Kabul —Yesterday, four young Afghan Peace Volunteer members, Zainab, Umalbanin, Abdulhai, and Ali, guided Martha and me along narrow, primitive roads and crumbling stairs, ascending a mountain slope on the outskirts of Kabul. The icy, rutted roads twisted and turned. I asked if we could pause as my heart was hammering and I needed to catch my breath. Looking down, we saw a breathtaking view of Kabul. Above us, women in bright clothing were navigating the treacherous roads with heavy water containers on their heads or shoulders. I marveled at their strength and tenacity. “Yes, they make this trip every morning,” Umalbanin said, as she helped me regain my balance after I had slipped on the ice.
About ten minutes later, we arrived at the home of Khoreb, a widow who helped us realize why so many widows and orphans live in the highest ranges of the mountain. Landlords rent one-room homes at the cheapest rates when they are at this isolating height; many of the homes are poorly constructed and have no pipes for running water. This means the occupants, most often women, must fetch water from the bottom of the hill each and every morning. A year ago, piped water began to reach some of the homes, but that only meant the landlords charged higher rent, so women had to move higher up the mountain for housing they can afford. It only made their daily water-carrying longer and more arduous.
January 5, 2013
We, the Voices for Creative Nonviolence UK delegation , have now returned from Afghanistan. We spent two weeks in Kabul as guests of the Afghan Peace Volunteers. This is a remarkable and unique community of young men who first came together in Bamiyan under the guidance of a local doctor, Hakim. Inspired by the nonviolent spirit of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, the group first came together in 2008 to create a peace park in their locality. Bamiyan is a mainly Hazara area of Afghanistan and the local people have suffered at the hands of the Taliban. In March, 2001 the Taliban destroyed two ancient giant statues of the Buddah in Bamiyan. For a more detailed background to the APV, visit their website,
By Maya Evans
December 30th, 2012
We’re back in a taxi and heading to visit a woman who has lost two of her sons during a suicide attack in Kabul. The taxi travels along a narrow bumpy street. The snow has now turned to compacted ice. I recognize the area as being close to the Kuchi refugee camp we visited the day before. The district seems to be a fairly poor residential area with the common style of modest Afghan housing akin to the two-up two-down housing found in the north of England.
We exit the taxi and pick our way through a maze of side streets. The path is a typical Kabul disheveled path, our partially sighted delegate Susan is led by one of the youth peace makers- around puddles, over potholes and into a side door set into a weathered mud wall. Terrorist attacks are almost daily in Kabul and more often than not, as per usual, it’s ordinary people who suffer the most.
and Martha Hennessey
interviewed by Dennis Bernstein
I’m very intrigued with the country Afghanistan. It has an amazing history, amazing people, and with my one trip there, I just felt in my bones that I needed to come back and see these people again. And the question of, you know, who the enemy is– I do come from a faith-based slant on this, and I just want to meet the so-called enemy. And my brother fought in Vietnam when I was 14 years old, and so war to me has been a very personal experience, and I’ve also worked with a veteran population in my therapy training. And so, for me it’s so important to not condemn everyone and anyone and to just go into desperation and isolation. For me, I have to reach out. I have to go and meet the people and work with people, and for me this is very important, and I have great hope. I know, you paint quite a picture of our culture in, awash in such greed and violence, but I, I hold out hope, and we have to just keep forward with this effort. It’s so important.
…One hundred fifty duvets turned out to be a very big pile that was challenging to fit on the truck. The crew piled the duvets layers deep, as high as they could reach. Then Faiz climbed on top. Ali climbed partway up and the rest of the crew continued to carry out piles of two or three at a time while Faiz and Ali spread them on top higher and higher. Once they got that tall pile strapped down they started another the same way and then we were soon off to take the duvets to a house where they would be distributed to some of the poorest people of Kabul…