Friday, March 25, 2011

Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers Plant Trees of Peace

March 19, 2011

On March 19, 2011 the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, with an international team of 24 peace activists, planted 55 trees at a school in Kabul, Afghanistan. They did this to usher in the Afghan New Year, in hope for a new way of living, a non-violent way of rebuilding the country.  The tree planting was part of AFPY’s 2001 project, Live without Wars.

More information:

A video of the tree planting is here:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Love and Courage Walk through Kabel

March 18, 2011

Kabul—Dozens of Afghan young men and women walked through the streets of Kabus yesterday proclaiming their wish for a world without wars.  Committed to principles of peace and non-violence they are members of a group they call Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers.  The group has been involved in projects for about two years to bring greater understanding between those who live in war-torn countires and the rest of the world.

Their next project takes place today and tomorrow and is called Global Day of Listening.  Global Day of listening is a day of live calls via Skype between these young people, youth from other war-torn nations and those from others nations not at war.  To participate in these calls, go to

A video of yesterday’s walk is below:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

International Peacemakers gather in Kabul and Join Afghan Youth in a Solidarity Delegation

Photo from a previous delegation.

Voices for Creative Nonviolence


March 17, 2011

Hakim in Afghanistan: (
Kathy Kelly in Afghanistan (93) 795590466 (
Joshua Brollier: 773.878.3815 (

Kabul, Afghanistan--In a small gesture of solidarity, Voices for Creative Nonviolence co-coordinators assembled a peace delegation of 28 individuals that began arriving in Kabul, Afghanistan this morning. The group will spend a week with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers (AYPVs) to show clear and strong support for these youth and their campaign- Live Without Wars.

The contingent will participate in a ceremonial Tree Planting and in the Afghan New Year's Day People's Peace Candle lighting in remembrance of those killed in wars. The Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers will also host the Global Day of Listening on March 20th. In this skype phone call, the AYPVs have invited the VCNV Spring Delegation to join them for the 24-hour conversation with people from every continent, including youth from Gaza, Iraq, and Egypt.

The delegation, mostly from the U.S. includes three members from Australia, and a doctor from Germany. Each of these individuals is dedicated to walking with those enduring the ongoing war in Afghanistan. The following short biographies briefly introduce this highly dedicated group seeking to raise awareness about the human cost of the ongoing war and occupation:

To learn more about Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers and their campaign Live Without Wars, visit

Voices for Creative Nonviolence ( has deep, long-standing roots in active nonviolent resistance to U.S. war-making. Begun in the summer of 2005, Voices draws from the experiences of those who challenged the brutal economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and U.N. against the Iraqi people between 1990 and 2003.

Members of Voices led over 70 delegations to Iraq to challenge the economic sanctions and were present in Baghdad in resistance the 2003 U.S. military invasion. Since 2009, Voices has led four delegations to Afghanistan and two to Pakistan to listen and learn from local grassroots movements and to raise awareness about the negative impacts of U.S. militarism in the region.

International Peace Delegation Assembles in Afghanistan

A team of international peacemakers are assembling in Kabul this week to meet with and support the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers in their project Live Without Wars. Brief biographies of the travelers may be read here:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Listen to American Girl and Afghan Boy Speak for the First Time

"I cannot wait to have tea with you!"

Two years ago, 14-year-old American girl Elisa and 13-year-old Afghan boy Abdulai began an email friendship after Elisa saw a You Tube video in which Abdulai described his wish to find love and truth in his life. Elisa wrote “…On our news channels they never show any of Afghanistan’s children speaking. This is the first time I have heard voices of the Afghan people and seen the beauty of Afghanistan.”

The friendship grew as Abdulai sought peace in the midst of war, and Elisa sought to do well in school, frequently sharing the hope that one day they would be able to drink tea together.
Come the 20th of March, 2011, on the Global Day of Listening, Elisa will speak via Skype to Abdulai for the first time.

You can share in this wonderful moment by joining Global Day of Listening. Global Day of listening will be a series of Skype calls in which anyone can participate in conversations with those living in war-torn countries. Go to Global Day of Listening’s web site,, to make arrangements to join the calls.

Excerpts of some emails between Elisa and Abdulai

Dear Abdulai,
I really enjoyed your video and all the videos from Our Journey To Smile. I am 14 years old from the United States and on our news channels they never show any of Afghanistan’s children speaking. This is the first time I have heard voices of the Afghan people and seen the beauty of Afghanistan. Someday, I wish I can travel to Bamiyan to see the beautiful place in these videos. Please keep smiling and never give up your hope, because all youth are the future of the world.
Peace be with you.
Dear Elisa,
I was very happy to receive your letter. Thank you for enjoying the video.
I am about 13 years old. Afghan children, like myself, don’t know their dates of birth.
I hope that you will come to visit me in Bamiyan. I will serve you some black tea.
Take care and God bless you.
Dear Abdulai,
I know you must be busy, thank you for taking the time to reply to me. I’m really glad to hear from you. Life in Afghanistan must be very different from life here in the United States. What do you like to do in your free time?  In my free time I like to draw pictures or spend time with my mother.
Young people in the U.S. and in Afghanistan may have different lives, but I believe we can all be friends.
Thank you for your hospitality and God bless you.
Dear Elisa,
I have an exam now.  I do not have a computer or internet. We only have 3 to 4 hours of electricity every night. Hakim helps me to send my emails.
I don’t do much in my free time.
Life is different but I think that humans everywhere are the same. I also believe that everyone can be friends.
Which grade are you in? I am in the 6th grade.
What do you want to be in the future?
I am very happy to have found a friend. Please keep in touch. Your friendship is important to me.
Say hello to your mother and all in your family!
Never think that you can’t do something. Hold on to your dreams.
It is very cold in the mountains in winter.
Life in Afghanistan is difficult now. There is war and corruption. Bamiyan is still good and beautiful.
War is bad. I do not like war. I hope that the war will end.
I also do not like war. War can ruin a lot of good things.
Even if differences or fights divide people, there are still people who just want friendship and peace.
The situation in Afghanistan is bad now. It is not easy to find peace and friendship here.
Our government is corrupt. The people do not trust the government. The people do not trust foreigners too.
I feel very sad about Afghanistan’s situation now.
Many people here do not want soldiers to be in Afghanistan.
I am praying for peace too. I pray that the people who want to make conflict in the world will change their minds and open their hearts.
Now, I’ll do my best to teach my family and friends about how important friendship and understanding is on Earth.
With all my heart, I hope people in Afghanistan will be able
to trust again.
Tea is my favorite, I saw some videos of you and other Peace volunteers drinking tea.  My friend, it is a terrible feeling when you are trying to speak and no one can hear.  We are children, our voices are so small.  Sometimes students in my class talk about war. They see it on Television.   They do not know the message of peace that you and your friends try to spread. Every time they speak about war- I try to spread your message of peace.
I will continue it, I know I am just one person, but I want to help you because you are my friend.
We are human, we must try our best. Don’t let go of your hope.
Take care  :)
Your Friend,

Meet Abdulai in this video.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Afghan Peace Will NOT Come from the Powers

Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers watch U.S. tanks near their homes.

by Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers

AFGHANISTAN – Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers (AYPV) have released a new video titled, “Afghan Peace Will NOT Come from the Powers.”  The video was produced as a response to the killing of the nine children in the Kunar Province in Afghanistan.

The video may be viewed on AFPY’s Live without Wars home page at or on YouTube at:

Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers is a group of ordinary Afghan young people who have come together to encourage a non-violent response to war.

The War is Killing Afghanistan's Children. Enough!

Published on Tuesday, March 8, 2011 by

Afghan Civilians Intentionally Targeted by NATO/ISAF Forces

by Afghans for Peace

Careful examination of numerous reports, and images/video footage, along with eye-witness and victim testimonies, clarify that Afghan civilians are the main targets of deadly attacks by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and International Security Assistance Force(ISAF). Although the Coalition forces claim that previous civilian massacres were accidental, Afghan-led peace movements believe that the killings are at best negligent to at worst intentional in nature.

Foreign military presence and intervention in the past ten years has worsened the Afghanistan situation while civilian casualties have increasingly created tension between the Coaliton forces, the Afghan government, and the people of Afghanistan. These events have further brought into perspective the sheer human and material damages of the war. No one should become accustomed to or believe in this illogical method of bombing the country to peace. This mentality is not justifiable and should not be the norm. Acts of violence must always be questioned. The people of Afghanistan want justice and accountability. Not surprisingly, they get the usual response from NATO – an initial denial of civilian casualties, a shift of blame on insurgency, occasional investigations with an admittance to a tweaked number of civilian deaths, and rarely a contrived apology. This has become a wanton pattern. Explaining away repeated deadly civilian attacks as “mistakes” is unacceptable. Furthermore, this proves that the military solution to Afghanistan is not a viable option.

NATO-led forces are equipped with the most advanced technology with the capability of zooming in on even the smallest of objects with precise vision. This begs the question as to why so many civilians are dying. To put it into perspective, below is a compiled short summary of recent NATO attacks:
It was reported that a total of three civilian atrocities were committed by the Coalition forces within the last two weeks. The correct estimate is actually four.

Alahsay district of Kapisa province (5 civilians) Feb 17, 2011
Khoygani District of Nangarhar province (6 civilians) Feb 20, 2011
Ghazi Abad District of Kunar province (60+ civilians) Four Day Operation February 17/18/19 (different reports)
Mountains of Nanglam in Kunar province (9 children/boys) March 1st, 2011

In Kapisa province on Thursday February 17th, Alahsay district Governor Mohammed Omari confirmed that five civilians were killed by a air strke from the NATO-led ISAF. The five civilians- three of them adult males and two children ages 12 and 13 – were reportedly without meat for the last few months and were desperate to hunt, hence why they were carrying bird hunting equipment.

In Nangarhar province on February 20th, an entire family of six was killed by a NATO air strike into their home in the Khoygani district. A photo captured by Reuters shows that the missile directly hit the roof of the family’s home. The parents and their four children were all inside when the reportedly stray missile landed in their residential community. The father was a soldier for the Afghan National Army who died of excessive bleeding after troops delayed his arrival to a hospital.

After a four day operation by ISAF and NATO in Kunar province over 65 civilians. More than half of the casualties were women and children, and this was confirmed by the governor of the province. Contrary to the abundant evidence, NATO claimed no civilians were killed and later insisted that insurgents were among the deceased, although villagers rejected this assertion.

Two reports from the Afghan investigation team:

“As soon as the villagers heard the shooting and planes roaring overhead, they all struggled to take refuge in an old trench that was used by the mujahedeen during jihad [against the Russians].”

“Those who succeeded in reaching the trenches were killed when the trench collapsed after it was hit by rockets or bombs being fired from coalition helicopters,” he said. “Those who were on their way to the trench were killed by rockets or bullets. I visited the trench. I saw old, dried blood. I saw women and children’s garments. I saw blood-stained walls of the trench. I saw pieces of blankets and cotton from the quilts the villagers wrapped themselves in because of the cold weather.”

In an attempt to hide the news story ISAF detained two Al Jazeera journalists, Abdullah Nizami and Saeedullah Sahel. They were detained during the investigation of the Kunar massacre of over 65 civilians. Samer Alawi, the Al Jazeera bureau chief in Kabul, strongly described the detentions of Nizami and Seedullah as repressive acts since it kept them from reporting. Another report released this past month by Columbia Journalism Review, has documented the difficulty of reporting honest accounts of the Afghanistan war.

On March 1st, NATO helicopterskilled 9 Afghan boys, and injured one. This occurred without any warning signals as the children were targeted “one after another”. Aged seven to nine years old, the boys were from poor families, and were collecting firewood in the mountains. This is once again an attack on the young children of Kunar. How is it that NATO soldiers, again, confused children for insurgents, and this time by gunfire?

General David H. Petraeus apologized for this killing, yet regarding the previous attack in Kunar (that killed over 65 civilians), he erroneously accused the Afghan parents of intentionally burning their children due to cultural practices of discipline. Hamid Karzai’s spokesman Waheed Omar described the US Generals comments as being “outrageous, insulting and racist.” Karzai, himself, has rejected the apology. Mohammed Bismil, the brother of two of the boys killed,  did not care for Petraeus’ apology but said, “The only option I have is to pick up a Kalashnikov, RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] or a suicide vest to fight.”

The father of two of the boys killed cried, “They don’t value humanity and don’t care about our children.”

Waheed Mujda, an Afghan political analyst stated that, “[for international forces], Afghan people’s blood is of no value. For the Americans, apologising for a mistake is a very big deal but for Afghans it is not. ISAF troop actions that raise anger among Afghans are a major reason for people joining the insurgents or Taliban.”

These are the four war crimes committed by the Coalition forces in the past two weeks. Victimization and the feeling of betrayal continues to spread all across Afghanistan.

While this article initially started on the four recent attacks by NATO, it is important to look at the previous events as well.  In doing so, we realize that these are not isolated incidents or simply negligence but an ongoing pattern of the failures of the “military solution to Afghanistan”.

Apologies from the Coalition, as rare as they are, mean little to nothing to Afghans. Months earlier in 2010, after initially choosing not to investigate, NATO forces offered an apology for killing a fourteen year old girl. Her father Mohammad Karim simply responded, “Now, what should I do with ‘sorry’?”
Earlier in Nangarhar, in May 2010, when NATO soldiers raided a home shooting at least nine civilians indiscriminately, a mourner said:

“If the Americans do this again, we are ready to shed our blood fighting them. We would rather die than sit by and do nothing. If there was anyone here trying to destroy our country, we would capture them and hand them over to the government. It is our land and our duty to defend it against both foreigners and insurgent infiltrators.”

He spoke further on this by saying, “If the military keeps doing this, the people will go into the mountains to fight them. When I saw my daughter injured, all I could think about was putting on a suicide jacket.”

Last month was the one year anniversary of the killing of two pregnant mothers, men and a teenage girl by a NATO night raid.  In an attempt to cover it up, the US forces literally dug the bullets out of the victims bodies. In a Democracy Now interview Glenn Greenwald said, “Here you have an incident that we know about only because of sheer luck with the determination of a single reporter, and again the military lying about what took place.” A recent report on survivors of night raids gives a close look at how foreign troops justify killing civilians. One witness of night raids, Anwar Ul Haq, said,“Whenever they shoot or kill anybody, they call him al Qaeda whether he is or not.”

Without regard for civilians, the Tarok Kolache village in Afghanistan’s Arghandab River Valley was completely destroyed with 25 tons of bombs.  Is the destruction of entire villages, which are the support system for the majority of Afghans, a logical tactic in counter-insurgency?  Clearly, the Afghans who have suffered due to this disagree. A farmer of the Arghandab district asked “Why do you have to blow up so many of our fields and homes?”, while one angry villager accused the military of ruining his life after the demolition.

In addition to witness and victim testimonies, the Coalition forces themselves have made eye-opening revelations on the target killings of civilians. In September 2010, it was revealed that a dozen US soldiers faced charges in their involvement of not only killing innocent Afghan civilians at random for sport, but also collecting the victims finger bones, leg bones, teeth, and skulls as trophies. The military refuses to release photos that show US soldiers posing with naked, mutilated and charred corpses of their victims. Sound familiar? The father of one of the victims killed was quoted as saying, “The Americans really love to kill innocent people.”In fact, they had planned on killing more civilians had it not been for one soldier, Spc. Adam Winfield, and his father who tried relentlessly to blow the whistle. He had said his squad leader “gives high-fives to the guy who kills innocent people and plans more with him.- I have proof that they are planning another one in the form of an AK-47 (machine gun) they want to drop on another guy.” Instead of honoring Winfield for exposing the truth, he was instead charged with the same crimes. His father had reported Winfeld’s statements to Army officials, but they turned a blind eye. One can’t help but to wonder whether the killing of civilians for sport is more abhorrent or the apparent negligence and silence by the higher ups in the Armed forces.

Speaking of higher ups in the Armed forces, General Mattis, who replaced Petreaus as chief of US Central Command, said “Its fun to kill people…it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot [Afghans].” He continued: “Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right upfront with you, I like brawling.” A bit later he spoke of the “emotional satisfaction you may get from really whacking somebody.”‘ He reportedly even told his troops to “have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”

Afghans have been resisting this dehumanizing way of life where they are regarded assavages or merely objects to be killed for sport.  A recent poll conducted in Afghanistan shows that more than half of the Afghans interviewed believed NATO-led forces should begin withdrawing from the country in mid-2011 or sooner. Afghans no longer want anything from NATO but to simply leave. Massive protests and demonstrations against the Coalition following recent attacks are now erupting throughout Afghanistan in cities like KunarKabul city and Nanglam, where Afghan demonstrators have been marching in streets chanting,“death to the invaders” and “We don’t want the invading forces.” Another man explained, “We say to ISAF that revenge is part of our culture. We say to our leaders, our government, that this kind of violence should be investigated. Those responsible should be punished.” A woman held a placard that read, “Occupation = Killing + Destruction.” In one demonstration, angry protesters burned a pile of blankets, clothing, and other items donated by Coaltion troops. An independent member in the legislature, Ramazan Bashardost, said “These killings must be stopped or the people will rise against foreigners and we will stand by them.”

Civilians fear not only NATO and ISAF but also suicide bombings by Armed Opposition Groups. Simultaneously with the terror by Coalition forces, recent suicide blasts have taken the lives of around 100 Afghan civilians.

The almost decade long war and occupation has done more harm than good, escalating violence in Afghanistan to its peak, and continues to deteriorate chances of peace for the future. Afghanistan has already been subjected to previous decades of war and now each new generation is haunted with both the memory and reality of endless bloodshed, death, and misery. The fact remains that Afghans continue to live with hunger and worsening poverty,torture and humiliationplanted with weapons, escalating air strikes and night raids.

The responsibility lies on the Afghan government, Taliban, warlords, and especially NATO/ISAF forces, including top commanders like General Petreaus, who must be brought by the people of Afghanistan and the world through a judicial process to account for their crimes, failed military solutions, and indiscriminate killings. Instead, the corrupt system in power continues to leave Afghans helpless and without a voice, and has them convinced that they are incapable of self-determination. However, it must not be forgotten that Afghanistan has a long history of independence and are more than capable of running their affairs. It is vitally important to listen to Afghans. It is the right of the people to decide the fate of their country and there are no exceptions. With the recent revolts in Arab countries, it’s only a matter of time before Afghans follow their lead. This requires immediate change and an honest vision for a truly democratic Afghanistan. In doing so, we must be aware of the ground realities, namely the presence of NATO, Taliban, warlords as well as regional intervention.

Global Afghan-led peace groups such as Afghans for Peace (AFP), Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers (AYPV), and the Afghan Canadian Student Association (ACSA) stand in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan in their struggle for justice and freedom. They fully acknowledge and strongly condemn these cruel, targeted massacres of innocent human life. AFP, AYPV and ACSA calls on the people of the world, especially Afghans, to rightfully demand an end to this illegal war and occupation. When children are being killed one by one, as was the case in Kunar last week, all of humanity suffers. When civilians have become the targets, it is time for everyone to stand up.

Afghans for Peace (AFP) is an alliance of Afghans from various ethnic, religious, socio-economic, cultural, and political backgrounds with a united vision for a democratic, all inclusive, just and peaceful Afghanistan. AFP consists of students, professionals, community leaders, and socio-politically aware activists.

The Global Day of Listening about the wish to “live without wars”, March 19-20, will be a time for Afghans, Iraqis, Egyptians, Americans, Canadians, and people from every continent to hear what it is like to live in the middle of wars.

A global protest against the war in Afghanistan will be held this April 9th and 10th 2011. Contact your local anti-war group for more information.