News Release

Just Back from Afghanistan and Out of Jail: Protesting Drones

The Iowa Press-Citizen reports: “Plans to pilot lethal drone strikes from Des Moines don’t show signs of faltering, but peace activists trekking through Eastern Iowa this month are hopeful they can send a message. … A lack of transparency surrounding the strikes makes it difficult to determine who’s being killed. Left-leaning groups say many more civilians are killed than terrorists, but federal officials insist the killings are effective and legal.”

Participants on the “Ground the Drones” walk available for interviews include:

BRIAN TERRELL, brian at vcnv.org
Terrell is co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and is co-founder of a Catholic Worker farm in Maloy, Iowa. He was released from federal prison in May following a six-month sentence for protesting against drones. See his writings at vcnv.org and on this Institute for Public Accuracy news release: “First Federal Drone Trial: ‘Guilty’.”

KATHY KELLY, kathy at vcnv.org
Just back from Afghanistan, Kelly is co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. She said today: “We’re told that military people in Iowa and other bases in the U.S. now have full time jobs with benefits where they learn about the habits of people in Afghanistan and operate drones that target them. But have they really learned about people in Afghanistan? I met people there who lost loved ones from drone strikes and more whose loved ones were killed following being tracked by drones. People in Afghanistan are starving and unemployed — after our government has been spending $2 billion per week on war.

“The U.S. government and Taliban holding talks might be face-saving for both of them, but it probably won’t do much good for ordinary people. Other groups beside the Taliban are engaging in more and more revenge killings — a consequence of the war going on for so long. The U.S. is maintaining nine major bases in Afghanistan and Academi — formerly known as Blackwater — is opening a base to train Afghan special forces.

“We’re seeing what investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill has been documenting — increased robotic warfare and use of JSOC [Joint Special Operations Command].”

MAYA EVANS, mayaevans at fastmail.co.uk
Evans is with Voices for Creative Non-violence UK and is in the U.S. until Monday. She was recently profiled in “Campaigner’s Peace Mission in War Zone,” and said: “Afghanistan is a nation of broken people who, like us, want to just get on and lead a peaceful life. They’re exhausted by the last 32 years of war. Their infrastructure, agriculture, community and way of life is in tatters. I feel obliged to do all I can to pressure our government to end its involvement in prolonged suffering.”

Additional background: “Living Under Drones,” a report written by academics at NYU and Stanford.