Writings by Voices
in Amman, Jordan
April 14, 2009
The question of resettlement is such a troubling one. In reply to my question of whether or not the UNHCR is following the situation of Iraqis who are being resettled, their response was understandable. The UNHCR is able to facilitate resettlement but, regretfully, their responsibility has to end there. It is up to the resettlement countries to receive and care for the refugees in a humane and dignified manner. While they are not encouraging return to Iraq on a large scale, that is until the situation has improved, neither are they discouraging it. To date they have assisted 350 Iraqis to return to Iraq, with transportation and a bit of cash.
I just returned from the “old” city which is only a 5 minute walk from
the apartment. An Iraqi woman friend helped me to wire money to a
family with four small children who recently returned to Iraq from
Damascus. I know some of the father’s sisters and mother as they are
refugees here in Amman, Jordan. Over the last couple of years I have
been a messenger of sorts, taking greetings and small money gifts from
you back and forth between Jordan and Syria for families who are
unable to reach one another. The family here in Jordan pleaded with
their brother and son not to return to Iraq. “You must think of your
small children, of what might happen to them!” But the family’s money
had run out and they had been told by the U.N. High Commission for
Refugees (UNHCR) in Syria that there was no hope for them of
resettlement. They were told they should think of another option.
Tragically the only option for them was to return to Iraq.
April 10, 2009
Creech AFB — Fourteen peace and social justice activists were arrested on April 9 at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada. The arrests occurred during a 10 day vigil at the gates to Creech–which is home to members of the Air Force who “pilot” the Predator and Reaper drones used in the Afghanistan - Pakistan war.
Alleged CPD torture victims call for new hearings
Photo: ABC 7
April 6, 2009 (CHICAGO) (WLS) — Activists and former prisoners who say they were tortured into making false confessions rallied outside the Thompson Center Monday.
They are calling on attorney general Lisa Madigan to initiate hearings for all victims of Chicago police torture under former commander Jon Burge.
Burge was indicted last year on charges related to acts of torture.
by Gene Stoltzfus
April 7, 2009
This morning here at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, 40 miles northwest of Las Vegas, the day’s first practice run of the Reaper (technically referred to as the MQ-9 Reaper Hunter/Killer UAV) took off at 7:06 am and circled to practice landings and take offs every 18 minutes through the morning hours. I have joined a group this Holy Week to vigil and pray under the banner Ground the Drones. The training and piloting of the aircraft now carrying out their mission of information gathering and destruction in Afghanistan and Pakistan is headquartered here at Creech. Unlike the first Predator, an earlier unmanned aerial vehicle now widely used and armed with 2 Hellfire missiles, the Reaper is pressed into service because it is capable of carrying 14 Hellfire missiles.
Dear President Barack Obama,
We are a group of U.S. citizens (several from Chicago) and citizens of other countries undertaking a nonviolent protest demonstration at Creech Air Force Base (Indian Springs Auxiliary Field) northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. We are protesting the development and use of drone hunter-killer aircraft in particular, and, in general, the use of military force in Afghanistan and Pakistan to try to generate greater security for the United States and its allies. We believe that drone aircraft are immoral, dehumanizing, will result in the deaths of thousands of innocent people, and will generate such hatred for the U.S. that our security will be substantially diminished, rather than increased.
The MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones both function to collect information through surveillance; both can carry weapons. The MQ9 Reaper drone, which the U.S. Air Force refers to as a “hunter-killer” vehicle, can carry two 500 pound bombs as well as several Hellfire missiles.
March 12, 2009
My deep conviction is that love supersedes the law, and while I don’t claim to be an expert at when love requires one to break the law, if opposing what we’ve visited on Iraq in the past 19 years is not it, I don’t know what is. I am neither an anarchist nor one who disagrees with the need for accountability to laws. But laws that perpetuate injustice or protect those who would cause untold suffering are so counter to the law of love, that to allow them to remain unchallenged requires that we relinquish love itself which is ultimately our only hope for justice and peace. And I’m not ready yet to give up hope.
February 10, 2009
“One of the tragedies of the Iraq war is how faceless and nameless its victims have become. The violence has been so rampant, so ubiquitous, that those who’ve suffered from it are increasingly lost in anonymity.”
(Khaled Hosseini, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, in intro of Silent Exodus: Portrait of Iraqi Refugees in Exile)
I hope some of Kathy Kelly’s recent accounts from Gaza and Dahr Jamail’s current communications from Baghdad have reached you by email. Dahr is back in Baghdad after four years away, an absence that sharpens his ability to assess the situation there for us. On Jan. 28th and 29th he wrote: “There is less violence in Iraq today than there was even six months ago, but dozens of Iraqis continue to be killed daily. It is nearly impossible to meet a family that has not had a family member killed or wounded….Critical infrastructure such as supply of electricity and water remains shattered….Throughout Baghdad, there is an average of four hours of electricity per 24 hours, and people left with no choice but to drink tap water, when it runs—water heavily contaminated by waterborne diseases, fuel, sewage and sediment. Jobs are scarce, and people are suffering greatly. The anger about this seethes just beneath the surface everywhere I turn…According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there are still more people fleeing the country than there are returning to their homes.”
February 11, 2009
Relationships with Iraqi people who resist the corrosive effects of war and violence have inspired the work of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and the work of Direct Aid Iraq from their inceptions. And faithfulness in these relationships is part of what has helped us find our way over the years. It is the thread of light we have followed, leading us down a path we sometimes couldn’t discern very clearly, showing us where to put our energy and efforts and reminding us that this work has always been a partnership in the most ordinary sense: a friendship. Our relationship with Ruqayya and Ihsan and their young children, Mohammad, Ahmed, and Zaineb, is one example.