Peace activist will share her Afghanistan, Pakistan experiences

By Chelsey Boutan

Kathy Kelly, a Chicago-based peace activist, has sat next to a child whose body had been torn apart by a bomb.

Kelly watched a woman tell a boy who lost two arms that she is his only surviving relative. She has stood next to families as they looked at the devastation and rubble they once called home.

“These have all been experiences I’ve had in war zones, and I can’t imagine walking away from the people who are still stuck in war zones,” Kelly said. “Every chance I get I want to help people understand the consequences of war.”

Kelly will give firsthand accounts on what is happening in Afghanistan and will talk about her experiences in Pakistan and Gaza at 7:15 p.m. tonight in the Holmes Student Center’s Lincoln Room.

As co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Kelly works to end U.S. military and economic warfare. During her speech, Kelly will show what some physical, economic and psychological costs of war are through personal stories, maps and photographs.

Kelly said her presentation will discuss the relationship between cutbacks in America and the spending of taxpayer money in the war in Afghanistan.

“To protect us from 57 Al-Qaeda fighters, $2 billion is being spent every week to continue a war that many military advisors say is a perpetual war   ,” Kelly said. “It can’t be won.”

Kelly said she will talk about the conditions endured by Afghans living in refugee camps as well as how Afghan youth have uncertain futures.

The presentation will show the audience how U.S. interests like building a pipeline in Afghanistan explains why there is a U.S. presence in these countries, Kelly said.

Cecile Meyer, a member of the event’s co-sponsor, the DeKalb Interfaith Network, said she admires Kelly’s courage and compassion for people.

“We think that she has a really important message to tell,” Meyer said. “[Kelly] is a real voice for peace and for people.”

Kelly said she spent a year in federal prison in 1988 for planting corn on nuclear missile silo sites in Kansas City and areas of Missouri.

“We were pampering nuclear weapons rather than spending our money to take care of human needs,” Kelly said. “We wanted to give people a symbol for what land is really meant for – to grow corn and wheat.”

Kelly hopes audience members will take away a greater sense of responsibility by asking questions about why the U.S. is at war with Afghanistan so they can stay well-informed and decide if the war was started with people’s best interests in mind.

“Where you stand determines what you see,” Kelly said. “I hope that people will form a stronger resolve to say we can find other ways to solve problems besides killing people and destroying villages, towns and cities.”

This event is free and open to the public. Parking is free at NIU beginning at 7 p.m.