The twentieth anniversary of the US/NATO invasion and occupation of Iraq was March 19th. The day before that, thousands of people in the United States rallied and marched against the current wars/occupations and funding for militarism instead of people’s needs. Clearing the FOG spoke to Kathy Kelly, who is currently the board president of World Beyond War. Kelly was in Iraq during the ‘Shock and Awe Campaign’ and has worked tirelessly with people in Iraq and Afghanistan to raise awareness of the horrors of war and to provide direct support to them. She is also active in campaigns to ban the use of killer drones and to hold those who profit from this accountable through the upcoming Merchants of Death People’s Tribunal.
Kathy Kelly co-coordinated Voices for Creative Nonviolence, (www.vcnv.org) a campaign to end U.S. military and economic warfare for 25 years. She currently serves as the board president for World Beyond War. She also co-coordinates the Afghan Generations Project and the Merchants of Death People’s Tribunal.
During each of several trips to Afghanistan, Kathy Kelly, as an invited guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, lived alongside ordinary Afghan people in a working class neighborhood in Kabul. She and her companions in Voices for Creative Nonviolence believed that “where you stand determines what you see.”
They are resolved not to let war sever the bonds of friendship between them and Afghan people whom they’ve grown to know through successive delegations. Kelly and her companions insist that the U.S. is not waging a “humanitarian war” in Afghanistan.
Kelly joined with activists in various regions of the country to protest drone warfare by holding demonstrations outside of U.S. military bases in Nevada, upstate New York, Iowa, Missouri, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
During late June and early July of 2011, Kelly was a passenger on the “Audacity to Hope” as part of the US Boat to Gaza project. She also attempted to reach Gaza by flying from Athens to Tel Aviv, as part of the Welcome to Palestine effort, but the Israeli government deported her back to Greece.
In 2009, she lived in Gaza during the final days of the Operation Cast Lead bombing; later that year, Voices formed another small delegation to visit Pakistan, aiming to learn more about the effects of U.S. drone warfare on the civilian population and to better understand consequences of U.S. foreign policy in Pakistan. She returned again to Gaza in November 2012 to meet with the survivors of Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense and to hear their stories.
From 1996 – 2003, Voices activists formed 70 delegations that openly defied economic sanctions by bringing medicines to children and families in Iraq. Kathy and her companions lived in Baghdad throughout the 2003 “Shock and Awe” bombing.
She was sentenced to one year in federal prison for planting corn on nuclear missile silo sites (1988-89) and spent three months in prison, in 2004, for crossing the line at Fort Benning’s military training school. As a war tax refuser, she has refused payment of all forms of federal income tax since 1980.