Afghans want nonviolent options for the People, options to end the war
No other options for the People?
Is fighting and killing the best method humankind can come up with to control fighting and killing?
Who says so?
The People of Afghanistan are tired of war as a method for ‘peace’, and they want options.
They want nonviolent options, options to live without killing, options to end the war.
“We wish to live without wars.
We do not want the ‘Taliban’ or the ‘Al-Qaeda’ to rule us.
We do not want the current corrupt Afghan government or war-and-drug-lords to rule us.
We do not want neighboring and regional countries to rule us.
We do not want the US/NATO forces to rule us, far less to over-stay permanently or kill us!”
Abdulai, and the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers
Afghans, with the ordinary People of the Middle East and Africa, want an end to their endless, tiring wars.
It is clear that war, the systematic en-masse killing of fellow human beings, is nonsensical as a method to control fighting motivated by hate, anger and inequity of basic human needs. War cannot control hate, anger or inequities.
It is clear that many political and religious leaders remain entrenched in war as a method of Wealth and Power, their self-comforting propaganda being that war is somehow a method approved by Governments or Gods to counter ‘evil’.
It is clear that the ordinary People of the world no longer believe the propaganda. Which conscientious soul, American or otherwise, still believes that the Iraq war was waged for ‘Iraqi freedom’? The barrier People face in turning their resilience into action is their fear of what the Powers can do to harm them.
That fear is dissipating across the Middle East.
To clearly demand the People’s human right to decent livelihoods of genuine peace, we observe ( and this is not our imagination ) that People everywhere are awakening and arising to end the unquestioned, violent Power of the Governments or the Gods.
The problem for the People is that today’s politics cannot be separated from militarism, and it has become one and the same to speak of civil-military solutions, an approach which the United States of America has amply emphasised and ‘normalized’ in Afghanistan.
The problem for the People is that prize-grabbing political negotiations are just as ruthless as military solutions, thrashed out by an elite huddle of unquestioned, violent Powers in expensive conferences, all wheeling and dealing for their strategic interests in nice-looking cloaks.
In such negotiations, as always, the People will remain the silenced, beheaded goats of a global ‘buzkashi’, the modern Great Game ( ‘buzkashi’ means ‘pulling at the goat’, an Afghan game in which horse-riders grab at and drag a killed goat to their victorious target bases ).
How would the People find decent livelihoods from such violent Power games, if the People mattered at all? Violent Powers have never represented the needs of the People of Afghanistan.
The Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers would like to invite Thomas Pickering, Lakhdar Brahimi, David Milliband or any other Afghan or world leader to live among the People, to experience the ‘untenable life’ that ICRC described on 12th of March 2011, to pant under the stress of having ‘ Nowhere to Turn ’ ( a November 2010 report in which Oxfam and 28 other NGOs described the current day-to-day, night-to-night failure to protect Afghan civilians).
And while Thomas Pickering, Lakhdar Brahimi, David Milliband and their likes live with the People in their Afghan mud-house villages, they can ‘helplessly’ watch their fate as the Violent Powers of the Karzai government, the Taliban and their Pakistani associates and the US/NATO Generals negotiate on how to divide the ‘goat-people’. If the villages that Thomas Pickering, Lakhdar Brahimi and David Milliband were living in got brokered into the delighted hands of an Afghan drug-warlord, Talibanic or otherwise, what would Thomas Pickering, Lakhdar Brahimi, David Milliband do? What would you do?
The past few centuries of human wars have pushed the masses who are being killed to extreme fatigue, not to mention pushing the masses to an unsustainable life of indecent inequality. This extreme fatigue took some hopeful resolution after World War II in the United Nations Charter and Declaration of Human Rights, but because the Powers propagated a system of economic ( unfettered capitalism etc ) and political ( unfettered militarism etc ) policies and international relations which is dominated by unquestioned Violent Power, the fatigue and inequality heaped on the masses found ‘resignation’ in the ‘what-to-lose terrorism’ or ‘what-to-do apathy’ of today.
Our world needs healing from this fatigue and inequality and it cannot come from existing military or political Powers. Healing doesn’t come from the Disease.
These military or political Violent Powers persuade our souls by selling us their ‘democracy or theocracy’, ‘left or right ideals’ and ‘conservative or progressive aims’, all claiming ‘peace and stability’ as the goals of their crowning self-interests.
The People of Afghanistan, the Middle East and Wisconsin have seen through the endless ‘endgames’ of the Powers, and will have none of it.
We need a different way, a fresh way in international relations.
The Age of the Powers in the haughty hands and voices of a few is collapsing.
The Age of the People in the meek hands and voices of the masses is growing.
The Powers can no longer demean the People by portraying the human masses as stupid, evil beasts incapable of better choices, because People everywhere want their freedom and sovereignty and are capable of living and loving.
Ordinary People everywhere want options, nonviolent options for the People, options to end the wars that are killing them.
Because the world hasn’t clearly heard what the ordinary People of Afghanistan want, please listen again!
The ordinary people of Afghanistan wish to live without wars.
The ordinary people of Afghanistan do not want the ‘Taliban’ or the ‘Al-Qaeda’ to rule them.
They do not want the current corrupt Afghan government or war-and-drug-lords to rule them.
They do not want neighboring and regional countries to rule them.
They do not want the US/NATO forces to rule them, far less to over-stay permanently or kill them!
So we say to all..
Stop sending our killers your glittery money.
Stop sending our killers your jittery weapons.
Stop sending our killers your wealthy politicians.
Stop forcing on us NO OTHER OPTIONS, making us ‘resign’ to the least bad of the equally Violent Powers, all of whom we do not want ; the Taliban, the corrupt Afghan government & drug-warlords, the regional powerbrokers and the US/NATO coalition forces.
If your local town has seen the death and destruction that soldiers and leaders from more than 50 countries separately or in coalition have brought over 30 years, which one person would you trust?
To other young people in Afghanistan and the world, we wish to confess that we, the youth who make up the majority of the Afghan population, are finding it hard to trust anyone. Consistent, fatal betrayals make it hard. But should we give up on the love and truth that we believe exists in humanity? Does giving up make life any easier or any more meaningful? We’ve agonized over this, and feel that the least we can try to do is to steer away. When global convention appears ‘sold out’ to the violent acquisition of wealth and power, we can steer away. We can refuse.
We refuse all who wage war on the People for their selfish Power and Wealth.
We refuse the method of war.
Afghans want options, nonviolent options for the People, options to live without killing, options to end the war.
And if you still do not understand or connect with our very human hopes and dreams, we want you to know that we have never acted to harm you in any way, and that to live and die decently, we want our personal, independent space.
Hakim and the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers
In case you think that we are a bunch of young, naive ‘idealists’, we will persist in peaceful walks, in planting trees, in keeping vigils, in building relations across all ethnic groups and borders, in developing our peace parks and in working with our own hands.
In case you think that the People of Afghanistan and fellow People around the world do not have other options, here’s an outline of one of many possibilities.
We humbly suggest a NONVIOLENT APPROACH to resolve the human conflict and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
This NONVIOLENT APPROACH is premised on a commitment to the well-being of the People and to non-killing.
We suggest the appointment of an INTERNATIONAL MEDIATION TEAM, an independent, neutral, non-partisan, volunteer, ( we cannot over-emphasize the importance of having individuals who are beholden to none except humanity, and please don’t tell us that such people do not exist ) ‘blue-scarf’ civilian team of mediators that would work with but not under the United Nations in :
- Reaching an accord for all armed local and foreign groups to cease their killings, an Accord to cease killings as a method to resolve the Afghan conflict.
- Mediating on behalf of the People of Afghanistan for the interests of the People. All of the people of Afghanistan have to right to live as independent communities within a sovereign nation. The international mediation team would mediate between ALL Afghan groups, regional-country groups including Pakistan and Iran, and US/NATO countries, and this would include mediating for Afghans to be given the rights of independent, sovereign communities.
- Establishing an international transitional peacekeeping force that will maintain the cessation of war, while determining definite timelines for the complete, responsible withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan. The presence of foreign military in Saudi Arabia was one reason Osama Bin Laden gave for the September 11th attacks, so this mistake must not be repeated in Afghanistan.
- Establishing a humanitarian and livelihood crises team to provide essential services and employment through independent, interdependent and indigenous systems, thus respecting and meeting the demands of the ordinary people of Afghanistan to have decent independent lives, an independence and dignity which excludes all foreign interference but includes equal relations with all nations.
- Enabling civil society groups to deliberately organize an Afghan national Consensus and Unity Campaign, across all Afghan ethnic communities in all provinces, including through peace education classes in all institutions of learning. This needs to have the intentionality and intensity of a national campaign. Such a campaign has never happened. The consensus will serve as a guide to establishing fresh socioeconomic relationships among Afghan communities and forging shared values and rules of law. It will be also used as a guide to formulating future policies of local governance committed to the expressed interests of the People, in structurally and socially overcoming the poverty, corruption, distrust, oppression and nepotism prevalent in the war-torn Afghan society of today.
- Establishing a locally-appropriate means of restorative justice, an element of which includes meeting the People’s minimum demand for all those involved in past killings to apologize and NOT seek further positions of leadership or power.
- Removing privileges and unquestioned power and wealth from the systems of governance, and implementing reforms for the equitable, transparent and sustainable use and accounting of community and national resources.
- Holding ‘clean’ local level elections to choose ‘clean’ representatives, representatives who have no involvement in any killings in the past and who are not known to be corrupt, as is expected in the Islamic or any faith. The representatives will be chosen for positions that do not confer any special privileges or wealth.
We have offered some far from comprehensive suggestions, confident that humanity is capable of many other creative, nonviolent ways, confident that we all wish for the days and nights when we can finally live without wars.
International Peace Delegation to Afghanistan Spring 2011
We are grateful to all the Afghan civil society groups, academic groups and Afghan leaders we had met over the past 3 weeks in Kabul, as well as the 26 international peacemakers from America, Australia and Germany who had visited us. The international peacemakers who visited us in Kabul were :
Mary Lou Anderson — Las Vegas, Nevada
Patricia Chaffee – Racine, Wisconsin
Stephen Clemens – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Mary Dean – Chicago, IL
Elizabeth Deligio — Chicago, Illinois
Christopher Doucot — Hartford, Connecticut
Detlef Enge-Bastien, M.D. – Germany
Christine Gaunt – Des Moines, Iowa
Peggy Gish – Athens, Ohio
James Haber – Las Vegas, Nevada
Martha Hennessey – Perkinsville, Vermont
Judith Kelly – Washington, D.C.
Kathleen Kelly – Chicago, Illinois
Patrick Kennelly — Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Ceylon Mooney – Memphis, Tennessee
Simon Moyle – Australia
Donna Mulhearn Springwood, New South Wales Australia
James P. Noonan – Washington, D.C.
Jake Olzen — Chicago, Illinois
Martin Reusch – Springwood, New South Wales, Australia
Scott Schaeffer-Duffy — Worcester, Massachussetts
David Swanson — Charlottesville, Virginia
John Volkening — Chicago, Illinois
Paki Wieland — Northampton, Massachussetts
Kathleen D. Kerwin – Florida
Please see some related articles to our actions and activities over the past month below :
Afghans Call for Peace: ‘One Blue Sky Above Us’ by Kathy Kelly
Peace is a Dirty Word by Patrick Kennelly
Killing Civilians in Afghanistan is Terrorism by Patrick Kennelly
Face to face with Afghanistan and a war we cannot win by Simon Moyle
Pilgrim in Kabul by Donna Mulhearn
Jim Haber and Mary Lou’s Afghan updates
An Afghan Peace Movement, Not a U.S. Peace Jirga By David Swanson
US Congressman Keith Ellison assured Steve Clemens that he would deliver ‘Reconciliation of Civil Hearts’ peace message from the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers to President Obama
Fatima of Afghans for Peace urges fellow Afghans to protest
Jan Viklund’s Afghan Spring International Delegation Listens
Our peace walk in Kabul on March the 17th 2011, accompanied by Afghan riot police
Our tree planting on March 19th 2011 at a private school in Kabul
Our candle vigil and reconciliation efforts
Reconciliation of Civil Hearts 2011 ( downloadable on our website )
In October 2009, we kept a Peace Vigil under a tarpaulin tent for 7 days and nights, wanting our message ‘Reconciliation of Civil Hearts’ to be heard. The US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry popped by for a chance visit! US Ambassador Eikenberry’s visit to the Afghan peace vigil youth http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTHbY-obupI
The Ambassador exchanged promises with Zekerullah, one of the vigiling volunteers. Zekerullah promised to return to school, a promise he fulfilled in the spring of 2010. The Ambassador promised that he would deliver our message to President Obama, but we have not yet heard any news of its successful delivery.Zekerullah fulfills his promise to Ambassador Eikenberry & President Obama http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEnUU4hCVoo
One of our Spring 2011 international peace delegates, Stephen Clemens, had kindly delivered our message to Representative Keith Ellison, who promised to deliver it the President Obama’s office. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xL4Px5FodvE
We hope that reconciliation will come to Afghanistan and the world, soon. Our candle vigil and reconciliation efforts
Afghan Youth Write Letter: “Please Stop Killing Us”
Reconciliation of Civil Hearts: The ordinary voice of peace from Afghanistan
Poems from two of our dear friends
Why not love?
By Larry Kerschner
An audacious suggestion in the midst of war.
Why not love?
With love there would be no
bleeding in the country.
There would be no harm to the children.
This is not some foreign voice
that we cannot understand.
Love is listening.
How has that place in us become so empty?
Why is death easier to talk about
The taste of love has never changed.
There must be a way home from here.
At what hour of the night
can ignorance melt into pools of light?
Why not now?
Why not love?
I Cannot Hear the River Singing
By David Smith Ferri
Eleven-year-old Hemad speaks
We left our village together in the dark
stars thick overhead.
Ten of us
all from the same village
following ancient footpaths
climbing along creeks into the mountains.
A thin blanket of silence lay over the Pech Valley
the only sounds feet and hooves crunching
our breath puffing.
We didn’t know ourselves apart from that silence
and the vast spaces our mountains held in their hands
and a limitless sky above
leaning over us like a mother.
We’d known each other since before memory.
We liked being together.
In the mounting uncertainty of life in our village,
it was a comfort.
Unarmed, leading our donkeys along the path,
we could not be mistaken for bandits, thieves, militants.
No one could see us for anything but what we were,
a group of boys awoken before dawn
and forced out under the stars by poverty and cold.
We’d done this hundreds of times.
Every rock and plant knew us.
In an ancient language,
the river sang songs of water locked in ice
and sunshine setting it free,
of Afghanistan’s past and future,
and we thought we heard it murmur our names.
At night, as we slept,
these were the waters that invaded our dreams
and carried us away.
But that day in early March
something else came to carry us away.
Something the music of the waters could not defend against.
A threat even its magic could not diffuse.
Arriving, we spread out like a hand over the mountainside.
Like fingers we combed the ravines,
bending and rising
foraging for sticks and branches
and piling them.
We trusted the trees and the soil.
We leaned against rocks to eat our lunch
and lay on the bare ground to nap.
We had come back together and were preparing to leave
when the helicopters flew overhead
and hovered above us.
Two of them,
so loud they drowned the sound of the water.
We looked up
and before the bullets struck us,
before the missiles tore through trees and exploded,
an instant before my friends were shredded and scattered like paper,
we saw a green flash.
It was the last light they saw.
Now it is the light I wake to in the morning
and the last thing I see at night.
And I cannot hear the river
Text of video
I lit this candle for my own father ( killed in war )
We lit these candles for children who’ve been killed in the Gaza, Iraq & Afghan wars
We light these candles for all the war victims of Afghanistan
in particular for our brother Ihsanullah, son of Subhanullah, who was 11 years old
We want options, nonviolent options for the People…
We refuse all violent power.
We refuse the violent Power of the Taliban.
We refuse the violent Power of the Afghan government & drug-warlords.
We refuse the violent Power of all regional countries.
We refuse the violent Power of the US/NATO coalition.
We refuse all who wage war on the People for selfish Power & Wealth.
So we say to you…
We said to the Head of UN Ban Ki Moon through his Afghanistan Director of Communications Kieran Dwyer
We said to President Obama through US Congressman Keith Ellison
This is a letter from Hakim & the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers
This scarf was worn by the 40 young people marching in the streets of Kabul calling for nonviolent solutions in Afg
I will assure you that I will move that letter to President Obama, to his office. I’ll take personal care of it
For the grief & prayers of all Afghan mothers, stop the killings!
Afghans want options, nonviolent options for the People, to live without killing, to end the war.