Kath Kelly - U.S. Peace activist speaking tour in Australia

Kathy Kelly arrives in Australia tomorrow from the U.S. for an 8 week speaking tour. I'm writing to you personally to encourage you to attend her events in your city. The tour website is http://kathykellytour.org.

Kathy is a world renowned speaker and activist, who has been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize and has won countless other awards for her work. She is one of those people whose humility and commitment to grassroots action means she is not "famous", but whose extraordinary life of courage speaks for itself. Hers has been a life of quiet compassion for victims of war the world over - from her presence in Baghdad during the 'Shock and Awe' bombing, to Gaza during 'Operation Cast Lead' and the breaking of the economic sanctions against Iraq in the late 1990s. For more about her see her bio here.

It was Kathy with her vast experience of war zones who invited a group of Australian activists and others to go to Afghanistan earlier this year as part of an international delegation with Voices for Creative Nonviolence. Now you have the opportunity to hear her speak of her lifetime of remarkable work for peace and compassion. These events will not just be about issues of peace and war; they will be about building compassion in all of our lives.

Volunteers from Pace e Bene Australia have been coordinating her tour around Australia. She is doing events in Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart, Launceston, Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns, so there are plenty of opportunities wherever you live.

Events in your city are up at the Kathy Kelly tour website. In particular the Melbourne events are:

Conversations with Kathy Kelly
Collins St Baptist Church, 174 Collins St Melbourne
7:30pm Thursday November 10th
$15 waged $10 unwaged (no need to book)

Transforming the world, Transforming ourselves: a weekend retreat with Kathy Kelly
Commonground, near Seymour, Victoria
6pm Friday November 11th - 4pm Sunday November 13th
$200 waged $150 unwaged
Bookings essential, limited places. Registration now open.



In Kabul, Afghanistan’s beleaguered capitol city, a young woman befriended me during December of 2010. She was eager to talk about her views, help us better understand the history of her country, and form lasting relationships. Now, she is too frightened to return a phone call from visiting westerners. The last time I saw her, during the spring of 2011, she was extremely anxious because, weeks earlier, U.S. Joint Special Operations Commandos (JSOC) had arrested her brother-in-law. The family has no idea how to find him. Once, someone working for the International Commission of the Red Cross called the family to say that he was still alive and in the custody of the International Security Assistance Forces, (ISAF). Numerous families in Afghanistan experience similar misery and fear after night raids that effectively “disappear” family members who are held incommunicado and sometimes turned over to Afghan National Police or the dreaded National Directorate of Security, (NDS).

An October 22, 2011 New York Times report about the findings of UN researchers who interviewed 324 Afghans detained by security forces, found that half of those who were in detention sites run by the NDS told of torture which included beatings, twisting of genitals, stress positions, suspension, and threatened sexual assault. Of the 324 interviewed, 89 had been handed over to the Afghan intelligence service or the police by U.S./NATO international military forces.

Even though high commanders in the ranks of the U.S. JSOC acknowledge that 50% of the time the night raids and drone attacks “get” the wrong person, (Washington Post, September 3, 2011), the U.S. war planners have steadily escalated reliance on these tactics.

Consider the killing of three brothers in the Nemati family who lived in the Sayyidabad village in Afghanistan’s Wardak province. Ismail, age 25, and Buranullah, age 23, had returned from their studies in Kabul to celebrate the start of Ramadan with their family in August of 2010. With their brother Faridullah, age 17, they went to the family guest room to study for exams. They were joined by their younger brother, Wahidullah, age 13.

An initial U.S. military press release on August 12th, 2010, indicated that U.S. forces had captured an important Taliban figure nearby and had taken fire from the Nemati home where they believed Taliban fighters were being hosted as guests. Indeed, two Taliban fighters had stopped at the home two days earlier, asking for food. Fearful of repercussions if they didn’t feed them, the family had given them food.

According to a report from McClatchy News, (August 20, 2010), the youngest brother, Wahidullah, said that American soldiers burst through the guest room door around 1:30 a.m. and started firing. As Buranullah and Faridullah lay bleeding to death, Ismail tried to speak with the soldiers in English. Wahidullah said Ismail was still alive as the assault force led him out of the room, but he wasn’t sure whether all three brothers had been hit during the initial shooting.


Kath Kelly is a hero?Kath Kelly is U.S. Peace activist speaking tour in Australia