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

Posts tagged ‘afghanistan’

Root causes

The past few days I was at the annual School of the Americas Watch Vigil calling for the transformation of inequitable policies between the United States and Latin America. Every morning before I headed out for a day full of meetings and actions I listened to the news on CNN.

I was stunned by the misinformation, war mongering and outright exploitation of grief and fear from the events in Beirut and Paris. This rhetoric was chorused by presidential candidates naming shameful and ridiculous solutions from children being denied refugee status to a “registry” for Muslims in the U.S.

A lot of candidates say they are for the troops and will do anything to support vets. But how many listen to veterans when they call for an end to war? In our ongoing exploration of what never makes it into the main stream media during a campaign year, I offer to you a vitally important statement from vets on how we need to respond to events unfolding around the globe:

IVAW Statement on Recent Attacks in Lebanon, Afghanistan, France, Iraq, & Nigeria
 

Our hearts and thoughts go out to the victims and families who have suffered from the acts of brutality committed in Beirut, Paris, Baghdad, Zabul and now multiple cities in Nigeria over the last number of days.

We condemn these terrorist attacks in Lebanon, Afghanistan, France, Iraq and Nigeria. We mourn with the victims and send our deepest condolences to their families. No one’s life should end in this way; no family should suffer the anguish and loss that these people are suffering.

For these attacks to stop, we must address their root causes and take responsibility for U.S. participation in the destabilization of countries that span the Middle East, North and Western Africa, and South and Central Asia. The deliberate destabilization of once functional states in the region, and the current bombardment of Yemen by U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, has created the perfect environment for groups like ISIS and Boko Haram to grow and thrive. We must see the rise of terrorism and the attacks in Paris for what they are, blowback for western intervention in the Middle East and elsewhere around the globe.

We, as current and former military members, understand that who the U.S. military kills is never certain and differentiating combatants from civilians is not a priority. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been killed and thousands of others are being stalked and killed by drones in at least seven countries, creating an environment filled with constant terror. Russia joining the bombardment of Syria and Iraq, the recent announcement of more troops to be deployed around the globe, and the extension of troop withdrawal in Afghanistan will only exacerbate an increasingly volatile situation until the “all out war” that France’s President Hollande called for is upon us. The end result of all of this can only be destruction, terror and lost lives, not only from predominately Muslim countries, but everywhere terror and war will inevitably reach.

We know from experience that declaring war on terrorism is a futile gesture that engages the world in a downward spiral of destruction. A full land war in Syria plays into the goals of terrorist groups and will undoubtedly destroy more innocent lives. Meanwhile, western countries will be no safer than before, in fact, increased blowback resulting from these actions will remain an ever present threat for years to come. An escalation of warfare will also violate civil liberties by establishing a securitization regime in France as an extension of the already existing “security measures” in the U.S., England and elsewhere
.

We call on the US and its NATO allies to:

1)    Exercise restraint and exhaust all avenues of diplomacy;

2)    Take full responsibility and hold themselves accountable for the illegality of the Iraq war and the continuance of the Afghanistan war, their colonial exploits, and their extra military actions which gave rise to the instability of various regions as we see today;

3)    De-escalate from the perpetual violence, and reduce militarization both at home and abroad; and

4)    Accept responsibility for the resettlement of all refugees, who are victimized by the so-called “War on Terror,” and resist scapegoating those with the least power in this tragic string of events.

Repeating the disastrous choices made by our nation after September 11th will result in nothing short of squandering the future of millions. This cycle of violence and exploitation has to end now.

From Afghanistan: making running and playing the norm

I landed in Afghanistan last week to continue my work with the Afghan Peace Volunteers. It has been a wonderful first week here. Being with the volunteers again and learning of their lives and hopes and struggles at this time. I wanted to share a simple story with you to give a picture of Afghanistan that I think is forgotten.
We are staying in a sweet little house in an area of Kabul near their university. Many of the professors live on this same street. The houses have big fences around them. This is a tradition as well as a security measure. The fences are made of corrugated metal and have big doors.
Most folks leave their doors open. So people can pass through and say hello and such. There is a family across from us who has four kids between the ages of six and two.
They run in and out of our yard and seem to enjoy a game of pretend vandalism. They take things and draw with chalk on the walls and sidewalks.
The peace volunteers pretend mock outrage and despair and the kids laugh wildly all the more. They are sweet and funny and a little wild and remind me so much of my own nieces and nephews at home.
It has been a gift to see them play while I am here. A good reminder of why a better future must be built for all kids around the world. Surely each child deserves more than war, poverty, environmental destruction and intolerance.
The Afghan Peace Volunteers are working hard to make sure these children might know a childhood different then their own. After more than thirty years of war they hope these kids will reach 18 and not be living with the scars of war on their hearts. They hope their work will help Afghanistan become a place where running and playing are the norm instead of suffering and loss.
I am blessed to be here and carry with me all the grace and support of the FSPA community.
Thank you and Peace.

International Peace Day Continued:Become One of 2 Million Friends

Last week many of you celebrated  International Peace Day. Below is a great opportunity to continue the work and the celebration. The members of Afghan Youth Peace Initiative, the boys I visited in Afghanistan, have created a new campaign for peace. They are trying to create “two million” friends to mark the roughly two million civilians who have been killed in civil conflicts and the U.S. invasion.

This act is simple and yet it helps to create a global network that says: “We believe that all people have the right to live in peace.”

Be One of ‘2 Million Friends’! for peace in Afghanistan

Join the ‘2 Million Friends’ Campaign.

 

Farzana, 22 year old Afghan stage actress, and a member of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, said, “When I express the whole range of emotions on stage, I enter an awareness, and a thrilling consciousness of human reality. I have a pain and my husband and fellow Afghan citizens, men and women, share the pain with me. It is the pain of being treated as less than humans. We are human beings. We have wishes. War has brought this pain on us. War kills our joy and hides our tears.”

Farzana calls out to our compassionate imagination, “Instead of fight, talk and build, I suggest, ‘Be friends, talk and build!’”

Listen to Farzana and the Afghan Peace Volunteers say in this video clip “Be One of 2 Million Friends!”

 Why ‘2 Million Friends’?

2 million Afghan victims of war were killed over the past four decades. We wish to remember them by finding 2 million friends, to call for a ceasefire in Afghanistan. More friends! No more war. No more killing.

Help Farzana and the Afghan Peace Volunteers find those friends : Visit http://2millionfriends.org

1. Be a Friend!

(a)     Email “ I’m One of 2 Million Friends!” to befriends@2millionfriends.org

(b)     Communicate : Email, Facebook and Twitter

(c)      Listen : Global Days of Listening conversations with Afghans & people from conflict areas

(d)     Upload photos and video clips of friendship

2.  Help them find 2 million friends: Email, Facebook and Tweet this far and wide to all your friends!

3. Support their call for a ceasefire : Sign a letter to the U.N. for a ceasefire  

The letterwill be ‘presented’ to the U.N. office in Kabul on the International Day of Human Rights, December 10th, 2012.

4.  Host or join concurrent, solidarity events on Dec 10th, 2012

An event will be held in Kabul on December 10th , 2012and attended by ordinary Afghans and Afghan civil society groups, Dr Sima Samar ( Chairperson of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission ), Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mairead Maguire and others.

You can host or join concurrent, solidarity events on December 10th , 2012in your own communities and countries, to remember the 2 million Afghan victims of war in various ways e.g. releasing doves, flying kites, displaying banners, lighting candles etc.,

5. Consider participating in Dec 2012 visit to Afghanistan or a fast in New York

We remember them: the Kandahar killing spree

I am haunted this week by the Kandahar killing spree. I keep thinking of the young men I met through the Afghan Youth Peace Initiative, some as young as 12, and I wonder what if they were one of the 16? What if one of those brave young men working for peace in Afghanistan had been dragged from their bed at 3 a.m. and shot in the head?

I am haunted by this soldier. After his third tour and traumatic brain injury he believed he would be sent to Hawaii for a desk job, instead he was sent to the most unstable area in yet another war zone. What had happened to him that the only option left was to shoot men, women and children in the middle of the night and then light their bodies on fire?

I am haunted by Leon Panetta who bluntly told the press, “war is hell,”  and to expect that this type of tragedy would happen again.

I am haunted by the story we keep telling ourselves that in this war there are “good” deaths and “bad” deaths as if the loss of any human life fits into such cheap categories.

I am haunted and yet I know that peace, justice and healing find their roots in what haunts us, what disturbs us and what will not allow us to say death and suffering and horror are what we should expect. So I borrow from the traditions of healing I have been taught in Colombia. Another war zone, another place where too often death is treated as a normalized outcome of “war.”

The Colombians have taught me the power of memory and how in honoring those who have suffered, those who have died, you hold open the space for what can be – for what we do not yet see but refuse to ever relinquish our hope for…

So as a way to honor memory and pray for hope I offer this prayer for all those who have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and all the places of war around the world…

Leader: In the rising of the sun and in its going down,

All: We remember them.

Leader: In the glowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,

All: We remember them.

Leader: In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring,

All: We remember them.

Leader: In the blueness of sky and in the warmth of summer,

All: We remember them.

Leader: In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn,

All: We remember them.

Leader: In the beginning of the year and when it ends,

All: We remember them.

Leader: When we are weary and in need of strength,

All: We remember them.

Leader: When we are lost and sick at heart,

All: We remember them.

Leader: When we have joys we yearn to share,

All: We remember them. So long as we live, they too shall live,

For they are now a part of us, as we remember them.

From Prayers for Life, Edited By: Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon

The Journey to Smile

Afghan Youth in India

Below is an update from Hakim and the Afghan Youth Peace Initiative I travelled with last March in Afghanistan. The boys have made a trip to India and continue to explore what it means to build peace in this world. Catch up on their journey with note and link from Hakim below.

 

 

Dear friends,

The last photo-essay update of our India trip is available at http://ourjourneytosmile.com/blog/2012/01/what-would-gandhi-say-to-afghan-youth-today/

Love,

Hakim and the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers

Thanks to all who made this trip to India possible!

1.     South Asia Peace Alliance http:// http://southasiapeacealliance.weebly.com/

Thanks to Vijay and Rita of South Asia Peace Alliance for inviting, hosting and teaching us!

2.     Ekta Parishad  http://ektaparishad.com/

The team at Bhopal : Aneesh, Lilly, Vinod, Rakesh who organized our field visits in Bhopal

The team in Delhi : Muntajan, Paul, Kathrin and Fran who made our stay in Delhi, Bhopal and India so colourful

3.     Kathy Kelly ( Voices for Creative Non-violence USA http://vcnv.org/ ) and Maya Evans ( Justice not Vengeance UK http://www.j-n-v.org/ )

4.     The Oasis Program facilitators and participants, including teachers and students of Gandhinagar International School

Remembering September 11th – Ten Years Later


Girls in a school, Kabul Afghanistan

We have reached the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. This weekend will mark, for many in the United States, the anniversary of the death of a loved one – in light of that a moment of silence.

In October we will reach the tenth anniversary of our invasion of Afghanistan – many Afghanis mark the anniversary of the deaths of loved ones throughout the year – in light of that a moment of silence.

In light of the lives lost and communities destroyed  around the world by violence, war, occupation we take a moment of silence.

In light of the children around the world, like the girls at school in Afghanistan in the photo above, let us take action to create a world free of terror, war and violence. Join with Sojourners below and take the pledge to work for peace….

Sojourners

This Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. While we will all take time to remember the day and the lives we lost, 10 years later, we must go deeper.

There were two paths forward from the ashes and rubble of 9/11: One path led to war, torture, and fear, but another path — led by people of faith across our land — was marked by soul-searching, genuine mourning for the lost, and standing up for peace-building and caring for our neighbors.

Although our government and too many of its citizens, regrettably, have chosen the first path, Sojourners invites you to celebrate the alternative journey — to stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters of all faiths, and no faith, who are helping to build a nation that reflects our best values.

On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, affirm your commitment to peace-building and reconciliation by signing this commemoration pledge, written by Sojourners, an organization that I belong to:

To take action on this issue, click on the link below:
http://go.sojo.net/site/Advocacy?s_oo=8hTv4XvIy1vhZVynZpLGQQ&id=435

If the text above does not appear as a link or it wraps across multiple lines, then copy and paste it into the address area of your browser.

There are no expectations in our crying…

Dear All – So good to see so many of you at the Chapter of Chats! A wonderful space for connecting, sharing stories and dreaming of a future shaped and held by justice and compassion. In light of the spirit of Chats I wanted to share an update from The Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. Please see below and blessings on your summers!

Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers

Peace from Afghanistan, specially to those with the Caravan of Solace

far-away in Mexico, who strengthen us with their poetic struggle.

From Afghanistan, we need you to know : Walking together is not a

weakness. It is our everything.

We thank you for walking differently.

Julian LeBaron, a Caravan of Solace leader whose brother was

kidnapped, tortured and killed last year, reminded the crowd that fear

isn’t the only thing keeping people home — it’s apathy: ‘There should

be 100 million people here, holding hands to mourn the death of 40,000

of us.”

If you have a few minutes this Sunday 19th of June, let’s connect on

the Global Days of Listening ( email to the cc-ed address

globaldaysoflistening@gmail.com )

Love,

Hakim and the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers

http://ourjourneytosmile.com

http://globaldaysoflistening.org/

From Afghanistan, we need you to know

Javier Sicilia, Julian Lebaron and all with the Caravan of Solace,

like you and the families of 40,000 Mexican victims, we need you to

know that we’ve also been crying.

There are no expectations in our crying.

There’s only grief, and ignored anger, the ignored anger of the mundane masses.

To all fellow humans alive today, we need you to know that many people

are hurting badly because we will not do more than what is normally

required to preserve our conventional ways of life.

We need you to know that the many who are hurting are real people.

Sadly, every day that we defend our lives as usual, we demean other

lives as usual, and therefore we all become less dignified, less

human.

We in Afghanistan have been learning that being alive is not just

about busily earning our keep, or more ridiculous, about getting good

grades in ‘empty’ schools.

We have also been learning what it means to be alive.

Here, the other Friday, we felt alive when we walked together to the

river, listening to everything.

We felt alive caring for one another despite our utter despair.

Unfortunately.

Our systems have been structured to rule us out, to corner our

humanity. Our systems despise our hope.

The doorways of our governments are tunnels for theft.

To conform with Power, we’re ‘told’ that we must remain helpless, friendless.

Our poverty is ‘graced’ by bullets, bombs and blood.

Our struggle is ‘condemned’ by religious and political dogma.

We detest these from way deep down. We detest these so much. Every soul does.

But today, self-protection at the expense of the distant ‘other’

justifies a strategy of ‘Man killing Man for Greed’s sake.’

How can that be?

How can it be that ‘the common good’ is no longer ‘good’, that it has

become an impractical ideal divorced from human society?

How can it be that asking for economic fairness is considered being

anti-government, that speaking against corruption gets us into

trouble?

How can it be that when we tell our leaders to stop killing, we are

the ones deemed naïve and dangerous?

We detest this violent antagonism infecting the world.

We detest the decay of our values.

We’re creating so few lifetime opportunities for genuine education,

decent livelihoods, and grief.

Not enough space, except by the rivers.

We need to talk differently, walk differently, serve ( lead )

differently and relate differently, and if we so earnestly and

painstaking act in love, ‘Y’ not?

Who has dictated to the ‘Y’ generation that,’ You can never change

this unequal, unkind global system of governance.’?

‘Y’ not when the majority of humanity and the majority of 30 million

Afghan citizens manage to get along without killing one another?

‘Y’ not step towards the rivers where human solidarity runs?

How can we live without crying? How can we suggest what could be done

when we ourselves are hardly coping?

We need you to know that your journey is our journey too, and that

yes, ‘No estas solo’.

We need you to know that crying is our friend, and not a weakness.

We need you to know that walking together is not a weakness. It is our

everything.

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