Abdulhai wondered at the curious words of the U.S. Embassy’s consular officer delivered through an Afghan interpreter, “Sorry. Your visa application has been rejected. You are not working with the government, and the people of Afghanistan do not know you. The situation of Afghanistan is not good.”
In a worldwide reality of power and wealth concentrated in the hands of a few fellow human beings, ordinary Afghans like Ali and Abdulhai are ‘unknowns’. They are ‘no-bodies’; their voices are not heard.
Support their U.S. visa re-applications.
and Dr. Hakim
Ali and Abdulhai
In small ways, real strength asserts itself — in small work, repeated a thousand fold, by people like the Afghan Peace Volunteers – in tutoring a crowd of children, in helping a desperate mother win the right to feed her family, in calling on worldwide solidarity behind a U.N.-imposed ceasefire for the U.S. and Taliban… small acts that together make up the meaning of a life, with which we build an alternative to the lie of exceptionalism, the lie of security, the lie of violence.
Right now, those eager to serve the vision of a peaceful Afghanistan are invited to repeat our victory last month when we turned around the visa rejection for Hakim. We had hesitated, this past week, to flood the embassy with letters supporting Ali and Abdulhai — but that hesitation is no longer needed. We urge the thousands who believe in the Afghan Peace Volunteers’ vision and practice to take simple supportive steps right now, by writing letters, such as can be found here:
Send an email to the embassy today.
by Hakim and Kathy Kelly
July 29th, 2012
Abdulhai remembers his father being killed by the Taliban. “Anyone who takes up a weapon in revenge, whether the Talib or any other, is acting like the Talibs who murdered my father,” he says, in a matter of fact way. “The solution does not lie in taking revenge, but in people coming together like the people of Egypt to defend themselves in a nonviolent way.”
Nine people gathered this morning for an unexpected although welcome meeting here in Kabul, in the home of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, at which Raz Mohammed, a member of the group who is from Wardak province, had arrived along with a fellow student, named Rohullah. The meeting included Tajiks, Hazaras and one Pashtoon. We were surprised and pleased to see our good friend.
Abdulhai, a Hazara, washing a quilt with Raz, a Pushtoon,at their community home. They belong to two Afghan ethnic groups perceived as emenies.
His companion Rohullah, a Tajik, came from the Pul-e-Khumri district of Baghlan province. We’d been involved in a conversation, the previous night, about how to deal with Talib fighters, so now one of the Afghan Peace Volunteers wondered if there were Talibs living in Rohullah’s district. “Yes,” said Rohullah, “though Talib fighters are relatively few in number.”
July 23, 2012
…I’m privileged to watch young and vulnerable practitioners of peacemaking risk their own safety to advocate for those even less safe. And poverty, which descends from war, which engenders war, equals danger as surely as war does. It’s the ceiling of a collapsing room. Here in Kabul, it’s so much harder to escape the connectedness of what Dr. King called the “evil triplets” of poverty, discrimination, and war…
July 18, 2012
In this article I describe my wish for Ali and Abdulhai to be successful in their current U.S. visa applications.
Sign the petition for their visas to be granted here.
I am grateful that the U.S. officials at the U.S. Embassy in Singapore has considered my visa re-application in the light of the surprising write-in campaign on my behalf, and has kindly granted me a U.S. visit visa.
Border officials living in today’s fearful world of refugees and asylum seekers fleeing from wars have a tough time.
Abdulhai, Ali and I ( 2nd, 3rd and 4th from left ) with the APVs in Afghanistan
Hakim, Kathy and the Afghan Peace Volunteers
June 30, 2012
“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.
Onondaga County sheriffs arrested the defendants, from Syracuse and across New York State, on Sunday, April 22 while they walked silently, solemnly and single-file along the shoulder of East Molloy Road, the public road leading to the main gate of Hancock Air Base.
June 7, 2012
Once I did put it on, Alireza motioned for me to push back some loose strands of hair still visible outside my hooded sweatshirt. Long-haired men, though a typical sight in some regions of Afghanistan, are apparently not very common in Kabul. Covered up to his satisfaction, I followed close behind as we made our second attempt to enter Kabul University through a second gate. We slipped handily past the guardpost, and made our way into the men’s dormitory.
June 7, 2012
“On the last day of summer, ten hours before fall …
… my grandfather took me out to the wall.”
Kabul—When we arrived at the museum, two legless men wheeled themselves past us, traveling in wooden carts operated by a hand held steering device. Inside Kabul’s OMAR museum, which houses ordnance and land mines used in Afghanistan over four decades of warfare, there were many more pictures of legless, armless and eyeless survivors of land mine explosions lining the walls. The OMAR organization bravely collects and defuses abandoned mines and cluster bomblets before they can produce more casualties such as these (and casualties that are far, far worse) among men, women, and children in Afghanistan.
And my mind, I suspect as a sort of defense mechanism, started going back repeatedly, as I studied the exhibits, to The Butter Battle Book.
Generations who were raised (or are raising others) on the children’s books of Theodore Giesel aka “Dr. Seuss” may have recognized, above, the opening lines of “The Butter Battle Book,” Dr. Seuss’s delightful yet alarming parable of the cold war and its fragile nuclear stalemate, with only the threat of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) holding off attempts by either side to exterminate the other, as an arms race spiraled towards a potential World War III.