A blog by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration about justice and peace issues

Guest blogger Patrick Kennelly, writing from Kabul, Afghanistan (continuing our posts from Afghanistan as Liz Deligio travels this week with Voices for Creative Nonviolence).

In Kabul, on the same day that Der Spiegel released photos
documenting American soldiers posing with the bodies of civilians they
murdered, the Transitional Justice Coordinating Group (TJCG), the
umbrella organization for NGOs in Afghanistan that are pursuing
transitional justice, gathered Afghan, Australian, American, and
German peacemakers to discuss methods to bring peace and security to
Afghanistan. The photos present the grim reality that this conflict is
characterized by civilian killing and violence.
          In 2001, the American led ISAF (International Security Assistance
Force), a coalition of the richest nations in the world, began
military operations in Afghanistan in response to the 9/11 killing of
civilians in New York and Washington. The purpose of the operations
was to fight terrorism and seek reprisal for the Taliban’s harboring
of Al Qaeda. The operation has turned into a near decade long war on
one of the poorest nations in the world.
       After nearly ten years of war Afghanistan is mired in terror,
brutality, and a security situation that is worsening. Among Afghans
there is growing consensus that the ISAF is pursuing military
measures, such as the formation and arming of independent local
militias under the banner of the “Afghan Local Police” against the
wishes of President Karzai and the Afghan people, which undermine the
prospects of peace in the future and further endangers ordinary
people. However, it is the killing of civilians by American military
personal and mercenaries that most enflames the conflict and expands
the rift between ISAF and the Afghan people.
       Most Westerners are familiar with the thousands of American civilians
killed 9/11, some people know about the atrocities committed by the
armed opposition groups in Afghanistan, and even fewer people are
familiar with the stories of Afghan civilians killed by ISAF forces.
Some of the recent civilian killings by ISAF, primarily composed of
American forces include:  2children in Kunar province on March 14, 9
children collecting firewood in Kunar province on March 1, five
civilians including two children  who were searching for food in
Kapisa province on February 24,  22 women, 26 boys, and 3 old men in a
raid on insurgents in Kunar province on February 17, 2 civilians were
killed  and one injured while traveling in a van in Helmand province
on February 3.
       As the fallout from the Der Spiegel photos continues to be felt
around the world, ISAF and the other belligerents who have publicly
stated their objective is to prevent terrorism need to recognize that
the killing of civilians whether by Taliban, mercenaries, militias,
insurgents, or by soldiers of a nation is terrorism.

Guest blogger Patrick Kennelly is the Associate Director of the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking and is participating in the peacemaking efforts organized by the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers and Voices for Creative Nonviolence.  He writes from Kabul, Afghanistan. He can be contacted at kennellyp@gmail.com


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