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Peace activists walk from Illinois to Iowa to protest drone warfare

by Megan Fincher
National Catholic Reporter
Jun. 21, 2013

Crossing the Mississippi RiverCrossing 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.

Peace Activists Make Overnight Stop in Newton on Way to Protest U.S. Drone Use

from the Newton Independent

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, IAWalkers 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.

UK Protesters Plant Garden on Royal Drone Base

Peace Garden: Every Afghan Has a Name, War Is Not a Video Game; Ground the DronesPeace Garden: Every Afghan Has a Name, War Is Not a Video Game; Ground the Drones

“We created a gateway and peace garden at RAF Waddington in order to make a way for other people of peace to do their civic and moral duty and disarm these drones.”

Wardak Nightmares

by Jake Donaldson

Jake, some of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, and several people living in a refugee camp in Kabul: They fled from violence in Wardak province.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.”

Thanking Bradley Manning

  Afghan Peace Volunteers thank Bradley Manning Afghan Peace Volunteers thank Bradley Manning

May 29, 2013

A few evenings ago, as the sky began to darken here in Kabul, Afghanistan, a small group of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, (APVs), gathered for an informal presentation about WikiLeaks, its chief editor Julian Assange, and its most prominent contributor, Bradley Manning. Basir Bita, a regular visitor to the APV household, began the evening’s discussion noting that June 1st will mark the beginning of Bradley Manning’s fourth year in prison. Two days later his trial will begin, a trial which could sadly result in his imprisonment for a life sentence. June 1st also begins an international week of support and solidarity, aimed at thanking Bradley Manning. #ThankManning!

Advice from an Afghan Mother and Activist: “Resist these Dark Times.”

Fahima at Women's Council and ClinicFahima at Women’s Council and Clinic

May 27, 2013

When she was 24 years old, in 1979, Fahima Vorgetts left Afghanistan. By reputation, she had been outspoken, even rebellious, in her opposition to injustice and oppression; and family and friends, concerned for her safety, had urged her to go abroad. Twenty-three years later, returning for the first time to her homeland, she barely recognized war-torn streets in urban areas where she had once lived. She saw and felt the anguish of villagers who couldn’t feed or shelter their families, and no less able to accept such unjust suffering than she’d been half her life before, Fahima decided to make it her task to help alleviate the abysmal conditions faced by ordinary Afghans living at or below the poverty line - by helping to build independent women’s enterprises wherever she could. She trusted in the old adage that if a person is hungry it’s an even greater gift to teach the person how to fish than to only give the person fish.

Last week, our small delegation here in Kabul traveled around the city with her to visit several clinics and “shuras,” or women’s councils that she has opened.

The first clinic we visited has been here since 2006. Two women, a doctor and a midwife, told us that they are part of a staff who work in three shifts to keep the clinic open “24-7.” Not one of their patients has died while being treated at the clinic. Next we visited two villages, one Pashtun and the other Tajik, on the outskirts of Kabul.

Love Letters from Kabul – On Emotions

Near the Pakistan Afghanistan borderNear the Pakistan Afghanistan border

Crossing the border

I wanted to shout out loud
As I crossed the border alone
Just so I could hear my voice
Above the bareness of my bones

Pandora’s Hope Meets Afghan Action

Snowy Morning in KabulSnowy Morning in Kabul

By Mary Dobbins

One morning we headed out to listen in on a joint meeting between the seamstresses at Afghan Action and Pandora’s Hope, the APV based seamstresses. The morning was bright and cold with freshly fallen snow covering the roads and buildings. A deep blue sky spread above the snow covered mountains and the morning mist was dissolving in strong sunshine. From the car we could see men shovelling snow – with attention to the getting it off the roofs. Small avalanches of fluffy new snow fell onto the sidewalks from the flat roofs.

For Mothers Everywhere, Bereaved by Senseless Violence

Afghan Mother with Her Two DaughtersAfghan Mother with Her Two Daughters

By Mary Dobbing

The mother told us about her pain. She told us of the tragedy and shock of her young sons being randomly killed by a suicide bomber who had targeted one of the numerous NATO convoys in the streets of Kabul. The two boys had been walking to school and the suicide bomber triggered his device killing them along with other bystanders. They went out to school on an ordinary day and never came home. She said that even now she still cannot bear to let the other children out of her sight, let alone go to school. She asked “what will become of them?” When we asked them, the girl said she wanted to be a teacher and the boy wanted to be a doctor.

Tales in a Kabul Restaurant

Twelve children killed in the Kunar province, April 2013: Photo credit:  Namatullah Karyab for The New York TimesTwelve children killed in the Kunar province, April 2013: Photo credit: Namatullah Karyab for The New York Times

Kabul—Since 2009, Voices for Creative Nonviolence has maintained a grim record we call the “The Afghan Atrocities Update” which gives the dates, locations, numbers and names of Afghan civilians killed by NATO forces. Even with details culled from news reports, these data can’t help but merge into one large statistic, something about terrible pain that’s worth caring about but that is happening very far away.

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