Middle East peace lecture addresses violence issues abroad

By Anna May
Arts & Life Layout Editor

Peace activist Kathy Kelly has traveled to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. She works with organizations such as the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers in order to stop the spread of violence and to create peace.

On April 10, Kelly came to the University to speak about her first-hand experience with brutality and American violence abroad.

Kelly opened her talk by saying that she had an ordinary childhood. She referred to herself as a “pious” child, referencing how as an eight-year-old she would kneel on her knuckles on the tile floor as a form of self-inflicted penance.

Kelly revealed three specific incidents that she had with American soldiers in which they showed her their compassionate side. The first was when she travelled to a missile silo in Missouri and planted corn in order to make a point that the government was doing more to protect these weapons than they were to protect the inner city kids that were struggling survive their teen years. A soldier driving by handcuffed her and held her at gunpoint. Then while waiting for others to arrive, the soldier put down his weapon and asked her if she wanted a drink of water. Kelly said she still remembers the feeling of water dribbling down her chin. This act of kindness stuck with her to this day.

The second event took place when she was unable to leave Baghdad in 2003 due to a series of bombings. At the time, Saddam Hussein was missing and there was no official government in place to maintain power because of the U.S. invasion. Since no one was in power, looters were running rampant and Kelly and her host family feared they would be next. One day, she was looking outside and saw an army tank roll up.

“Fate is a funny thing. I was one relived pacifist when the marines came before the looters,” Kelly said.

The marines asked if she was okay, and she talked with them about the book that one of the marines was reading about war and peace.

The final event she discussed was how she was arrested for peacefully protesting outside of a military training school. She was brought into the police station and her hands and feet were tied while a man twice her size knelt on top of her, cutting off her air supply. When she got up, she was brought over to get her mug shot and the soldier who was taking the picture brushed the hair out of her face and assured her he would get her out of the handcuffs soon.

She also spoke of her time spent in Afghanistan and the horrifying side of war that she experienced there with the drones that watch over Afghanistan trying to track down members of the Taliban. She had an experience where the sons of the family she was staying with came home from their university to celebrate Ramadan and were killed by American troops who thought they were Taliban soldiers. Mistakes like this are common in Afghanistan as well as raids on innocent households.

Many Americans are misinformed about the war. Americans get their information from news programs, which show the war in good light making it seem as though the Afghans would be grateful for our involvement. In reality, the violent actions of American soldiers are creating hostility and leading more people to join the Taliban forces, Kelly said. 

Through her work with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, Kelly is trying to reduce violence in Afghanistan. She called the audience to action, challenging her listeners by saying that it is up to all of us to end the cycle. We need to have the courage to form groups and make a change so that our country does not repeat the mistakes of our past.

(Visited 27 times, 1 visits today)