We are human beings who are tired of the past and present situations in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has suffered from over thirty years of continuous war and foreign intervention. We organized ourselves as the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers in order to share the suffering of fellow human beings in our land and to express our longing for friendship, peace and non-violence to the world.
The political and war powers, both Afghan and foreign, have killed countless, nameless Afghans, Afghans who are human beings, all 2 million of them.
Lighting 2 million candles for the victims of war is a way of getting the people of Afghanistan and the world to pay attention to the catastrophic events in Afghanistan, which are largely ignored and forgotten. We wish to share the pain of the victims of war and their survivors and by doing so to develop a loathing for war and violence. Through peaceful living, we wish to nurture a culture of non-violence.
Several brave families returned to Lis Lis to pick up the pieces of their lives in order to rebuild. When I arrived there, I saw that the bulldozer did not leave them with very much. Implosions of sticks, twine, and tin panels sat baking in twisted piles. “We also lost many animals,” said Luisa, who stood with her 4-year-old daughter in front of the littered patch of ground that used to be their home. “Chickens, dogs, cats, pigs—most of them were killed.”
“If you want to be a global city, you’ve got to act like a global city and do what global cities do,” says Lori Healey who heads the host committee and who previously led the city’s unsuccessful bid to host the 2016 Olympics.
All indications, unfortunately, are that Chicago…appears to want to follow the lead of other “global cities” in dealing with mass demonstrations threatening to “steal the stage;” think Tehran, Beijing, Cairo, Moscow and Seattle, to name a few.
Last March 19th, these 19 people wanted to talk to their president. They had a grievance with him and they went to his house to address it. In the airing of the grievance, the Park Police of the District of Columbia arrested this group of people for all manner of disorderly-ness, nuisance, not acting in obeisance, and generally getting in the way of life as it is known outside the fence surrounding 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But the group’s message would not be deterred and the arrest and trial of these 19 individuals brought to the public forum this week the voices of those who are, indeed, the actual victims of what it means to be unlawfully prosecuted, with the president of this nation acting as judge, jury and executioner.
It looked like a scene from an opera. Massed in the doorway and second floor balconies of a quaint building in Athens, facing a magnificent view of the Parthenon, Spanish activists hung banners and flashed peace signs and proclaimed that they wouldn’t leave the building, the Embassy of Spain, until their government assured them that their boat, “The Guernica,” could at last leave for the suffering and besieged territory of Gaza.
The presence of the U.S. Boat to Gaza in Athens is winding down. For more than 2 weeks the 37 passengers (someone was added at the last moment), 4 crew members and about 12 people in the support team there worked hard to make sure our boat – The Audacity of Hope – could sail as part of the international Freedom Flotilla 2 to Gaza. The Greek government’s willingness to serve as the enforcer of Israeli’s naval blockade of Gaza made it impossible for this journey to happen.
But the creative and determined spirit of this team of committed activists could not be stopped or silenced. They worked tirelessly to make the point in countless ways: they attempted to set sail knowing it might lead to a confrontation with the Greek authorities, they stood by the boat’s captain when he was arrested and jailed for several days, several people held a hunger strike for a few days, everyone marched and rallied with other flotilla activists and with the people of Athens in their own struggle for economic justice, and incredible energy went into getting the word out to people throughout this country and around the world as the work with the media continued through it all.
In Late June 2011, I’m going to be a passenger on “The Audacity of Hope,” the USA boat in this summer’s international flotilla to break the illegal and deadly Israeli siege of Gaza. Organizers, supporters and passengers aim to nonviolently end the brutal collective punishment imposed on Gazan residents since 2006 when the Israeli government began a stringent air, naval and land blockade of the Gaza Strip explicitly to punish Gaza’s residents for choosing the Hamas government in a democratic election. Both the Hamas and the Israeli governments have indiscriminately killed civilians in repeated attacks, but the vast preponderance of these outrages over the length of the conflict have been inflicted by Israeli soldiers and settlers on unarmed Palestinians. I was witness to one such attack when last in Gaza two years ago, under heavy Israeli bombardment in a civilian neighborhood in Rafah.
Contacts: In Athens – 30-694-266-3852 In New York – Leslie Cagan, 347-581-1782
After a two hour stand off at sea, the U.S. Boat to Gaza – The Audacity of Hope – was seized by the Greek Coast Guard and forced to return to the port of Piraeus under military escort. The boat’s captain has been put in jail, charged with disturbing sea traffic–which includes endangering the lives of those on the ships– and disobeying a police order to remain at dock. The crew is being detained on the boat, which is being held at a military dock just outside Athens. Most of the 36 passengers remain on the ship in solidarity with the captain and crew.
Ann Wright, retired U.S. Army Colonel, responded strongly to the arrest of the American captain of the U.S. Boat to Gaza. “I think it’s outrageous what the Greek government is doing to our captain who was taking a group of Americans to challenge the illegal Israeli blockade. We call on the Greek government to release our Captain and dismiss all charges.”