Speakers to address drone warfare

The Clinton Franciscan Center for Active Nonviolence and Peacemaking will host a presentation about unmanned aerial drones on Saturday, June 8 at 3:00P.M. at the Canticle, home of the Sisters of St. Francis, 841 Thirteenth Avenue North in Clinton.  The program will feature Nobel Peace prize nominee, author and noted peace activist Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence – a campaign to end U.S. military and economic warfare.  The event is free and open to the public.

Kelly, along with fellow Voices activists Brian Terrell and Maya Evans, will present information about the impact of drone warfare on thousands of innocent lives.  They will also discuss their upcoming walk from Rock Island, Illinois to Des Moines, Iowa, to raise awareness of plans to operate a command center at the Iowa Air National Guard facility in Des Moines where unmanned aerial drones will be remotely piloted to fly over other countries.

“We must call for an end to these targeted killings,” said Anne Martin Phelan OSF, President of the Clinton Franciscans.  “We believe in the sanctity of every human life and of all creation.  Drone warfare is a clear violation of Jesus’ commandments of peace.”

Since President George W. Bush first authorized the lethal use of drones in 2004, almost 400 strikes have taken place. But the number of civilian casualties from those strikes is unclear.  The Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London reports at least 473 civilian casualties in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, including 176 children.

As scrutiny increases, lawmakers, military experts and critics are raising questions about the legal, ethical and psychological issues surrounding the use of drones.

During each of 12 recent trips to Afghanistan, Kathy Kelly, as an invited guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, has lived alongside ordinary Afghan people in a working class neighborhood in Kabul.

She has joined with activists in various regions of the country to protest drone warfare by holding demonstrations outside of U.S. military bases in Nevada, New York, and Missouri.

She has been involved in efforts to bring medicines to children and families in Iraq and lived in Baghdad throughout the 2003 “Shock and Awe” bombing. She has also lived alongside people during warfare in Gaza, Lebanon, Bosnia and Nicaragua.

Kelly 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.   Kathy Kelly was the 2012 recipient of the Clare Award from the Clinton Franciscans.

Brian Terrell lives and works at Strangers and Guests Catholic Worker Farm in Maloy, Iowa, where with his partner, Betsy Keenan and others, he tends a large garden and small herd of goats and chickens. From this small farm, Brian travels throughout Iowa and beyond, speaking and acting with communities that are working for justice and peace. His travels include Iraq and Afghanistan and he was deported from Bahrain in 2012 after witnessing the violent repression of human rights activists there. In recent years, he has been active in resistance to remote controlled murders by drones with friends in Nevada, New York and Missouri and on May 24 of this year he was released from a six month federal prison sentence for participating in a peaceable assembly in protest of drones at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.

Maya Evans is a tireless activist for peace and government accountability. She was famously convicted in 2005 for reading aloud, at the London Cenotaph, the names of British soldiers killed in lraq. In 2012 she spent a week in HM Bronzefield Prison for a non-payment of fine relating to a protest outside Northwood Military Base against the bombing of Afghan Wedding Parties by NATO forces.

Maya first visited Afghanistan in December 2O11 when she worked with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers and Voices for Creative Nonviolence. In December 2012 she returned to Afghanistan with an all-woman delegation that had formed Voices for Creative Non-Violence UK, a campaign to support non-violent peace in Afghanistan.

Maya is on the steering committee of the Drones Campaign Network UK, a coalition of UK groups concerned and committed to stopping drones. Last year she co-organized the UK “Ground the drones” peace walk.

For more information about this event, call the Sisters of St. Francis at 563-242-7611 or visit www.ClintonFranciscans.com .  For more on Voices for Creative Nonviolence or the walk to “Ground the Drones” visit www.vcnv.org.

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