Friday, April 30, 2010

Atrocities in Afghanistan: A Troubling Timetable

Published on Friday, April 30, 2010 by CommonDreams.org

 

Atrocities in Afghanistan: A Troubling Timetable

by Kathy Kelly and Dan Pearson

Peace activists can hasten an end to the U.S. war in Afghanistan by demanding a timetable for U.S. military withdrawal. A bill in the U.S. Congress [1] [1] introduced by Representatives McGovern and Jones, requires such a timetable. In the Senate, a similar bill has been introduced by Senator Feingold. Arguments in favor of a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan should include readiness to examine disturbing patterns of misinformation regarding U.S./NATO attacks against Afghan civilians. 

It is worth noting that even General McChrystal acknowledges that U.S. forces have killed civilians who meant them no harm. During a biweekly videoconference with US soldiers in Afghanistan, he was quite candid. "We've shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force," said General McChrystal. "To my knowledge, in the nine-plus months I've been here, not a single case where we have engaged in an escalation of force incident and hurt someone has it turned out that the vehicle had a suicide bomb or weapons in it and, in many cases, had families in it."

Those families and individuals that General McChrystal refers to should be our primary concern. We should try to imagine the sorrow and horror afflicting each individual whose tragic story is told in the "timetable" of atrocities committed against innocent people. How can we compensate people who have endured three decades of warfare, whose land has been so ravaged that, according to noted researcher Alfred McCoy, it would cost $34 billion dollars to restore their agricultural infrastructure. We should notify our elected representatives that the $33 billion dollar supplemental funding bill sought by the Obama administration to pay for U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq could be directed toward helping Afghanistan replant its orchards, replenish its flocks, and rebuild its irrigation systems. We should insist on an end to atrocities like those which follow.

The list below describes, in part, the suffering and agony that people in Afghanistan have endured since April, 2009. To focus on this list doesn't excuse atrocities committed by Taliban fighters. It does indicate our own responsibility to urgently educate others and ourselves about a deeply disturbing pattern: U.S./NATO officials first distribute misleading information about victims of an attack and later acknowledge that the victims were unarmed civilians.

Date:  April 9, 2009

Place:  Khost Province, Ali Daya

Circumstances:  U.S. forces were positioned on the rooftop opposite the home of Brigadier Artillery officer Awal Khan.  In a night raid, U.S. forces burst into Awal Khan's home.  Awal Khan was away from home.  His family members ran to the rooftop, believing that robbers had entered the home.  When they emerged on their rooftop, U.S. forces on the opposite roof opened fire, killing Awal Khan's wife, his brother, his 17 year-old daughter Nadia, and his fifteen year-old son, Aimal and his infant son, born just a week earlier.

U.S. /NATO initial response:  April 9, 2010, coalition forces issue a statement that the four people killed by troops were "armed militants." Later that same day [another statement] (http://washingtonindependent.com/38058/us-accepts-responsibility-for-khost-civilian-casualties [2]) admits that further inquiries "suggest that the people killed and wounded were not enemy combatants as previously reported."

U.S. /NATO acknowledgement that the people killed were unarmed civilians:  The Times of London reported the following, on April 11, 2009:

The US military conceded that its forces killed the civilians in error during the night-time raid that targeted the neighbouring compound of a suspected militant. The father of the dead family is a lieutenant-colonel in the Afghan Army fighting the Taleban in the restive province of Ghazni.

The US military reported that two males, two females and an infant were believed to have died in the incident, and two other women were wounded. A relative of the dead family told reporters that the dead infant was a boy born last week. "This was a terrible tragedy," a US spokesman, Colonel Greg Julian, told The Times.

Date:  December 26, 2009

Place:  Kunar Province

Circumstances:  In a night raid, U.S. forces, claiming to attack a bomb-making factory, attacked a house where eight youth, aged 11-18, were sleeping.  They pulled the youngsters out of their beds, handcuffed them, and executed them. Villagers said that seven of those killed were students and one was a neighboring shepherd. 

U.S. /NATO acknowledgement that the people killed were unarmed civilians: February 24, 2010--U.S. forces issued an apology, admitting that the U.S. had killed seven schoolboys and a neighboring shepherd.

Date: February 2010

Place: Helmand Province

During this month, U.S./NATO forces launched a military offensive against three hamlets in the Marja district. Researcher Prof. Marc Herold presents [a detailed summary and analysis] (http://www.rawa.org/temp/runews/2010/03/10/one-month-of-the-obama-killing-machine-in-afghanistan-data-and-a-lesson-for-the-unama-and-its-groupies.html [3]) of Afghan civilians killed directly by U.S/NATO forces during this particular month.

Date:  February 12, 2010

Place:   Paktika Province

Circumstances: In a night raid, U.S. forces attacked a home where 25 people, 3 of them musicians, had gathered for a naming celebration. A newborn was being named that night. One of the musicians went outside to relieve himself. A flashlight shone in his face. Panicked, he ran inside and announced that the Taliban were outside. A police commander, Dawoud, the father of the newborn, ran outside with his weapon. U.S. forces opened fire, killing Officer Dawoud, a pregnant mother, an eighteen year old, Gulaila, and two others. 

U.S. / NATO initial response: February 12, 2010--U.S. forces claimed that the women had been killed earlier, in an honor killing. Nato's initial press release bore the headline: "Joint Force Operating in Gardez Makes Gruesome Discovery." The release said that after "intelligence confirmed militant activity" in a compound near a village in Paktika province, an international security force entered the compound and engaged "several insurgents" in a firefight. Two "insurgents" were killed, the report said, and after the joint forces entered the compound, they "found the bodies of three women who had been tied up, gagged and killed."

March 16, 2010--The UN issued a scathing report, stating that the U.S. had killed the women. Villagers told Jerome Starkey, reporting for the Independent, that U.S. troops tried to tamper with evidence by digging bullets out of the womens' bodies and out of the walls.

U.S. /NATO acknowledgement that the people killed were unarmed civilians: 

April 6, 2010--Almost two months later, the Pentagon was finally forced to admit that international forces had badly bungled the raid that night in Paktika, and that U.S. troops had, in fact, killed the women during their assault on the residence. One of the women was a pregnant mother of ten, and the other was a pregnant mother of six children.

(http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/06/world/asia/06afghan.html?hp [4])

Date:  February 21, 2010

Place:   Convoy en route to Kandehar   

Circumstances: U.S. aerial forces attacked a three-car convoy traveling to a market in Kandehar. The convoy had planned on continuing to Kabul so that some of the passengers could get medical treatment. At least three dozen people were passengers in the three cars. The front car was an SUV type vehicle, and the last was a Land Cruiser. When the first car was hit by U.S. air fire, women in the second car jumped out and waved their scarves to indicate that they were civilians. U.S. helicopters continued to fire rockets and machine guns, killing 21 people and wounding 13.

U.S./NATO initial response:  February 22, 2010--The day after the attack, the U.S.-led military coalition said that NATO forces had fired on a group of "suspected insurgents" who were thought to be on their way to attack Afghan and coalition soldiers a few miles away. When troops arrived after the helicopter strike, they discovered women and children among the dead and wounded.

(http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/03/03/89795/afghan-survivors-describe-nato.html#ixzz0mGErxQSL [5]) U.S. /NATO acknowledgement that the people killed were unarmed civilians:

Feb 24, 2010--General Stanley McChrystal delivered a videotaped apology.

Date:  April 12, 2010

Place:  Kandahar

Circumstances:  According to the New York Times, "American troops raked a large passenger bus with gunfire near Kandahar on Monday morning, (April 12)."  The attack killed five civilians and wounded 18.  (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/13/world/asia/13afghan.html [6])

Initial U.S./NATO response:  [A statement]( http://www.isaf.nato.int/en/article/isaf-releases/joint-team-assessing-civilian-casualty-incident-in-zhari.html [7]) issued by the American-led military command in Kabul said that four people were killed. It said "an unknown, large vehicle" drove "at a high rate of speed" toward a slow-moving NATO convoy that was clearing mines.

U.S. /NATO acknowledgement that the people killed were unarmed civilians: April 12, 2010--"ISAF deeply regrets the tragic loss of life in Zhari district this morning. According to ISAF operational reporting, four civilians were killed, including one female, and five others were treated for injuries at the scene of the incident today. Upon inspection, NATO forces discovered the vehicle to be a passenger bus." (http://www.isaf.nato.int/en/article/isaf-releases/joint-team-assessing-civilian-casualty-incident-in-zhari.html [7])

April 13, 2010--The New York Times reported that "a military spokeswoman confirmed that a convoy traveling west, in front of the bus, opened fire, but said the second convoy was traveling east toward the passenger bus. She also said the driver of the bus was killed. A survivor, however, identified himself as the driver and said he did not violate any signal from the troops. ‘I was going to take the bus off the road,' said the man, Mohammed Nabi. ‘Then the convoy ahead opened fire from 60 to 70 yards away,' he said."

(http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/13/world/asia/13afghan.html [6])

Date:  April 20, 2010

Place:  Khost Province

Circumstances:  A NATO military convoy attacked a car approaching a checkpoint, claiming that the car sped up after being warned to stop.  Four young men were killed. [According to the New York Times,] (http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2010/04/21/world/AP-AS-Afghanistan.html [8]) "The shooting Monday night in Khost province sparked an immediate outcry from the victims' family, who insisted that all four were civilians driving home from a volleyball game. ‘The youngest boy was just 13,'said Rahmatullah Mansour, whose two sons and two nephews were killed in the shooting. Mansour said that the victims in Monday's shooting were his sons Faizullah, 13, and Nasratullah, 17; and nephews Maiwand and Amirullah, both 18. He said all were students except Amirullah, who was a police officer."

Initial U.S. / NATO response:  April 21, 2010--From the New York Times: "Without offering proof, NATO described the dead as two insurgents and their "associates." In a statement on Tuesday, NATO said the vehicle ignored warning shots and accelerated toward the military convoy. But the statement did not challenge the Afghan account that no weapons were found in the vehicle."

(http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/21/world/asia/21khost.html [9])

U.S. /NATO acknowledgement that the people killed were unarmed civilians:

April 22, 2010--NATO acknowledged Wednesday that four unarmed Afghans who were killed this week when a military convoy opened fire on their vehicle were all civilians, correcting an earlier claim that two of the dead were ''known insurgents.''

(http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2010/04/21/world/AP-AS-Afghanistan.html [8])

Date: April 28, 2010

Place:  Surkh Rod district, near Jalalabad

Circumstances: According to Safiya Sidiqi, a member of the Afghan parliament, dozens of Afghan and U.S. soldiers entered her family home, blindfolded and handcuffed men and women, and killed her brother-in-law, Amanullah, a 30 year old car mechanic with five children.  "They shot him six times. In his heart, in his face, in his head," Sidiqi said on Thursday, April 29th. Both legs were broken.  (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/29/AR2010042900331_pf.html [10])

Initial U.S./NATO response: April 29, 2010--An Afghan-international security force killed one armed individual while pursuing a Taliban facilitator in Nangarhar last night.

(http://www.isaf.nato.int/en/article/isaf-releases/afghan-isaf-operations-in-nangarhar.html [11])

U.S. /NATO acknowledgement that the person killed was an unarmed civilian: None, as yet. The case is still under investigation.

Kathy Kelly (kathy@vcnv.org [12]) and Dan Pearson (dan@vcnv.org [13]) are co-coordinators of Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

URL to article: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/04/30-10

 

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net

 

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

 

Watch THE CAMDEN 28/Need ASVAB Test-taker for AP Story..

The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration Committee is hosting its latest FILM & SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS DVD SERIES. The theme is Seeking the Truth Through Documentaries.   The fourth film in the series is THE CAMDEN 28 [USA, 2006], and it will be shown on Fri., Apr. 30 at my place.  If interested in seeing the DVD, RSVP to Max at 410-366-1637 for directions.

 

As director, Anthony Giacchino uncovers a gripping lost chapter in the history of human rights activism with this documentary, reminiscence about a predominantly Catholic group's efforts to defy the Vietnam War by compromising the Selective Service System. More than 30 years after they were tried and cleared of breaking into a Camden federal building in a botched attempt to destroy draft records, these men and women are still the coolest cats in the room, recalling from the same courtroom where they were prosecuted how their nonviolent resistance to the war was a moral duty consistent with their Catholic faith. Most of the film takes place outside the courtroom with a mix of interviews and archival footage through which the struggle of the Camden 28's decision to confront the government's exploitation of the poor comes alive.  

 

Doors open at 7 PM, and the DVD starts at 7:30 PM.  There is no charge, and refreshments will be available.  A discussion will follow.

 

Dear Friends,

 

Sorry about the quasi-spam format here.

 

I need help with this.  Any suggestions?

 

You know that Maryland has become the first state to pass a law to prohibit military testing for recruiting purposes in the state’s high schools. It’s big deal that one state has summoned the courage to look the Pentagon squarely in the eye and say, “No, you can’t do this anymore in OUR schools.”

 

There are movements in at least eight states to follow Maryland’s lead.   

 

It would be a real shot in the arm if the mainstream media would report on this success.  For its part, the Washington Post ran a story that contained several inaccuracies and caused the reader to wonder why the legislation was necessary.  The writer, Michael Burnbaum, has promised a correction that has not been forthcoming.

 

We need the mainstream media to run a story across the country that examines the issue and the necessity of passing such a law to protect Maryland’s youth. We need the 4th estate to perform in order to affect change.

 

Kathleen Miller, a reporter with the Associated Press, has written a lengthy piece, analyzing the legislation and  the conditions that necessitated its passage.  Her editor, however, is holding up the release of the piece because Kathleen can’t find a single soul in Maryland who has taken the test and is willing to say they were required to take the test, they were encouraged to take it, or they didn’t understand information would be forwarded to the Pentagon.

 

Can you help me with this?  Can you think of youth who may have taken the test in Maryland in the last 10 years or so? 

 

To the editor and to the public, this may seem like a completely bogus issue if we can’t come up with one individual willing to go on the record.

 

Pat Elder

 

Peace Action Montgomery

 

Baltimore Activist Alert - Part 1

Baltimore Activist Alert Apr. 30 – May. 17, 2010

 

"I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours.

The initiative to stop it must be ours." -Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Friends, this list and other email documents which I send out are done under the auspices of the Baltimore Nonviolence Center.  Go to www.baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com.  If you appreciate this information and would like to make a donation, send contributions to BNC, 325 East 25th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218.  Max Obuszewski can be reached at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski [at] verizon.net.

 

The Baltimore IndyMedia Center publicizes peace-related events. Go to http://www.radicalendar.org/group/_baltimore.

 

1] Books, buttons and stickers

2] Web site for info on federal legislation

3] Join Nonviolent Resistance lists  

4] Buy coffee through HoCoFoLA  

5] Used stamps for humanitarian causes

6] A cat needs a home – ASAP

7] Footprints for Peace – to May 1

8] Protest high utility rates – Apr. 30

9] White House vigil – Apr. 30        

10] Justice for Palestine/Israel vigil – Apr. 30

11] WIB Inner Harbor vigil – Apr. 30

12] WIB Roland Park vigil – Apr. 30      

13] Homewood vigil -- Apr. 30

14] Film CAMDEN 28 – Apr. 30              

15] NPT Review Conference – Apr. 30 – May 2

16] Vigil at Walter Reed – Apr. 30

17] Anti-Hate Crimes March – Apr. 30

18] Ballroom dancing – Apr. 30

19] Immigrant Rights March – May 1              

20] Youth Peace Conference – May 1              

21] Olney vigil to end the war – May 1                              

22] Visit Timore-Leste Embassy – May 1 

23] Peace vigil in Chester, PA – May 1

24] Our Harbor Day – May 1

25] Peace vigil at Capitol – May 1                    

26] International Workers Day – May 1

27] Homeless Shelter Benefit – May 1

------                                                         

1] – Buttons, bumperstickers and books are available.  “God Bless the Whole World, No Exceptions” stickers are in stock. Call Max at 410-366-1637.

 

2] – To obtain information how your federal legislators voted on particular bills, go to http://thomas.loc.gov/.  Congressional toll-free numbers are 888-818-6641, 888-355-3588 or 800-426-8073. The White House Comment Email is accessible at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/.


3] – THE ORGANIZING LIST will be the primary decision-making mechanism of the National Campaign of Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR].  It will be augmented by conference calls and possibly in-person meetings as needed.  It will consist of 1 or 2 representatives from each local, regional, or national organization (not coalitions) that wishes to actively work to carry out the NCNR campaign of facilitating and organizing nonviolent resistance to the war in Iraq.

 

To join the ORGANIZING List, please send your name, group affiliation, city and email address to donmuller@msn.com.  Different local chapters of a national organization are encouraged to subscribe.  

 

THE NOTICES LIST will include only notices of NCNR actions and related information and is open to any interested person to subscribe.  It will be moderated to maintain focus & will include periodic notices about getting involved in NCNR national organizing.  To join the NOTICES List, send an email message to ncnrnotices-subscribe@lists.riseup.net. You will get a confirmation message once subscribed.  If you have problems, please write to the list manager at ncnrnotices-admin@lists.riseup.net.

 

4] – You can help safeguard human rights and fragile ecosystems through your purchase of HOCOFOLA CafĂ© Quetzal. Bags of ground coffee or whole beans can be ordered by mailing in an order form. Also note organic cocoa and sugar are for sale.  For more details and to download the order form, go to http://friendsoflatinamerica.typepad.com/hocofola/2010/02/hocofola-cafe-quetzal-order-form-2010.html.

 

Be sure you indicate ground (G) or bean (B) for each type of coffee ordered. Make the check out to HoCoFoLA and send it with your order form to Nancy Meier, 10 Pepperdine Circle, Catonsville, MD 21228.  Contact Pat McLaine at 410-964-0960 or pamcl@aol.com.  The coffee will arrive some time the following week and you will be notified where to pick it up.

 

5] – Brad Hathaway spearheads an effort to sell donated used stamps to raise money for different humanitarian causes around the world. Go to www.mattapoisettquakers.org, and click the link for the stamp ministry.  Carefully clip canceled postage stamps and send to Quaker Missions, PO Box 795, Mattapoisett, MA 02739. Send no small flag stamps or Liberty Bell Forever stamps.

 

6] –A sweet young gray and white female cat, fixed of course, needs a new home, because her daddy is moving to Beirut, Lebanon to live with his new wife! All the supplies come with her-litter box and litter, food, flea meds. Contact Ellen Barfield at ellene4pj@yahoo.com to give this lovely companion a warm and inviting home.

 

7] –  Footprints for Peace, an International Peace Walk, has started its march from the Y-12 National Security Complex, Oak Ridge, TN and is heading for the United Nations, aiming to arrive on Sat., May 1.  Go to http://footprintsforpeace.tripod.com/E10/NPT/npt_walk.htm.

 

8] – Responding to public complaints over high gas and electric bills, the MD Coalition for BGE Re-regulation will hold a demonstration outside of the Public Service Commission at 6 St. Paul St. on Fri., Apr. 30 from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM.  The Coalition is calling for the P.S.C. to hold public hearings to determine how well BGE is working with the public to avoid shut-offs, and to hear proposals for cost reduction strategies. So far the P.S.C. has refused to give a definitive answer to the Coalition’s request for public hearings. Contact Leo Burroughs at 410-523-6118.

 

9] – A peace vigil takes place every Friday from noon to 1 PM at Lafayette Park facing the White House.  Join the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker and friends. Contact Art Laffin: artlaffin@hotmail.com 

 

10] – A vigil for Justice in Palestine/Israel (now in its 8th year) takes place every Friday from noon to 1 PM at 19th & JFK Blvd., Philadelphia (across from Israeli Consulate.  It is sponsored by Bubbies & Zaydes (Grandparents) for Peace in the Middle East. Email cswartz@pil.net. Go to http://phillyjewishpeace.org/.

 

11] – Every Friday from noon to 1 PM, Women in Black, Baltimore, host a vigil at Pratt and Light Sts. in the Inner Harbor. Peace signs and flyers about the siege will be available. See http://www.peacepath911.com/ or write wibbaltimore@hotmail.com or call 410-467-9114.

12] – There is also a noon vigil, weather permitting, on Fri., Apr. 30 at Roland Park Place at 830 W. 40th St.  Call 410-467-9114

 

13] – There is a silent vigil on Fri., Apr. 30 from 5 to 6 PM outside of Homewood Friends Meeting, 3107 N. Charles St., in opposition to war with Iraq. Placards say: "War Is Not the Answer." The silent vigil is sponsored by AFSC, Homewood Friends and Stony Run Meetings.

 

14] – The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration Committee is hosting its latest FILM & SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS DVD SERIES. The theme is Seeking the Truth Through Documentaries.   The fourth film in the series is THE CAMDEN 28 [USA, 2006], and it will be shown on Fri., Apr. 30 at a private home.  If interested in seeing the DVD, RSVP to Max at 410-366-1637.

 

As director, Anthony Giacchino uncovers a gripping lost chapter in the history of human rights activism with this documentary, reminiscence about a predominantly Catholic group's efforts to defy the Vietnam War by compromising the Selective Service System. More than 30 years after they were tried and cleared of breaking into a Camden federal building in a botched attempt to destroy draft records, these men and women are still the coolest cats in the room, recalling from the same courtroom where they were prosecuted how their nonviolent resistance to the war was a moral duty consistent with their Catholic faith. Most of the film takes place outside the courtroom with a mix of interviews and archival footage through which the struggle of the Camden 28's decision to confront the government's exploitation of the poor comes alive.  

 

Doors open at 7 PM, and the DVD starts at 7:30 PM.  There is no charge, and refreshments will be available.  A discussion will follow.

15] – United for Peace and Justice is calling for citizens to come to New York City on the eve of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, Apr. 30 - May 2.  Thousands of people from around the world will gather for a weekend of inspiring and powerful activities to demand that President Obama and the leaders of the other nuclear-armed nations commence negotiations on a treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons.  To join the UFPJ Nuclear Disarmament/Redefining Security working group, contact its convener, Jackie Cabasso: wslf@earthlink.net or 510-839-5877.

16] – SHED LIGHT ON US WAR CASUALTIES: FROM THE FRONT LINE TO THE BACK DOOR of Walter Reed Army Medical Center (North Gate), every Friday night, from 7 to 9 PM in the middle of the 7100 block of Georgia Ave., NW. The vigil calls for peace, care for the wounded, and full benefits for all veterans.  Contact Bruce Wolf - Haunteddog@aol.com.

 

17] – On Fri., Apr. 30, Trans-United and its many allies are having a candle light vigil to address the recent hate crimes against LGBTQIA people. The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersexed, and Androgynous people of Baltimore are not having it.  There will be a six-block march starting at Mount Royal and North Aves. at 7 PM and ending at the corner of Maryland and North Aves. There will be speakers, music and prayer.  Donations will be collected to pay for a No More Hate Crime Banner and t-shirts for the Gay Pride parade in June.  Call 410-685-6567 or go to www.equalitymaryland.org.

18] –  There is an opportunity to participate in ballroom dancing, usually every Friday of the month, in the JHU ROTC Bldg. at 8 PM.  Turn south on San Martin Dr. from the intersection of Univ. Parkway and 39th St.  Drive on campus by taking the third left turn. The next dance will be Apr. 30. Call Dave Greene at 410-599-3725.

19] – March for Immigrant Rights with the Trail of DREAMs on Sat., May 1 from 9 AM to 2 PM. Gather at Tenants and Workers United offices, 3801 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria VA.  Join the Trail of DREAMs as they conclude their 1,500 mile journey from Miami to DC to support immigrant rights. They've walked from the tip of Florida through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia - 1,500 miles - calling for solutions to our failed immigration system and facing intense anti-immigrant sentiment, including the KKK, along the way. Walk with Gaby, Luis, Felipe and Carlos on their final six mile walk into Washington, D.C. for a rally for immigrant rights in Lafayette Park

20] – On Sat., May 1, there is a Youth Peace Conference at Montgomery College – Takoma Campus (optional day of service on May 2.) Young people will be leading some of the interesting workshops that will be held, and there will be a report back in the afternoon and at least two Montgomery County Council members will be in attendance.  Call 301-570-0923. Go to http://conference.peaceactionmc.org/ for specific info about the conference sponsored by Peace Action Montgomery.   

21] – The Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste requests the pleasure of your company to an exhibition featuring the country’s historical photographs, tourism, handicraft and traditional dress on Sat., May 1 from 10 AM to 4 PM at 4201 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 504, WDC  20008.  Call 202-966-3202.  During the exhibition, the embassy will serve Timorese organic coffee and lemon leaves. A box of organic coffee will also be given to visitors. The Expo is free and open for the public.

 

22] – Friends House, 17715 Meeting House Rd., Sandy Spring, MD 20860, hosts a peace vigil every Saturday, 10:30 to 11:30 AM, on the corner of Rt. 108 and Georgia Ave. in Olney, MD.  The next vigil is May 1. Call Chuck Harker at 301-570-7167. 

 

23] –  Each Saturday, 11 AM – 1 PM, Chester County Peace Movement holds a peace vigil in West Chester in front of the Chester County Courthouse, High & Market Sts. Go to www.ccpeace.org. Email ccpeacemovement@aol.com.

 

24] – Begin on Sat., May 1 at 11 AM at 2640 St. Paul St. before marching to the Inner Harbor.  Join with the United Workers and celebrate Our Harbor Day by being at the participation plays – one each on Work, the Earth, Education and Harriet Tubman.  The last play will be performed after a parade to City Hall.   Go to the website to see the schedule:  www.unitedworkers.org.  Everyone is welcome to participate on Saturday, but RSVP at 410-230-1998 or info@unitedworkers.org.

 

25] – There will be a peace vigil on the West Lawn of the Capitol at noon on May 1. Look for the blue banner with the message, "Seek Peace and Pursue It.--Psalms 34:14." The vigil lasts one hour and is silent except when one responds to the occasional questions. Go to http://www.quaker.org/langleyhill/seekpeace.htm or email seekpeacevigil@yahoo.com.

 

26] -- On Sat., May 1 celebrate International Worker's Day and support the nearly 25 years of work of Howard County Friends of Latin America (HoCoFoLA). If you cannot attend, you can still support our efforts by sending a donation to HoCoFoLA, PO Box 94, Columbia, MD 21045.

 

The event is from 6 to 9 PM at the Owen Brown Community Center, 6800 Cradlerock Way, Columbia, MD 21045.  Enjoy food, music, dance and a silent auction.  Admission is $10 per adult & $5 per child, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. Go to www.friendsoflatinamerica.org or contact Michael Alicea at 410-997-5662 (bronxny711@verizon.net).

 

The Silent Auction items and rules have been added to the website. There are over 40 items that you can choose from. Go to http://friendsoflatinamerica.typepad.com/silent_auction_2010/.  The on line bidding closes on Sat., May 1 at 5 PM

 

27] – Gimme Shelter Productions continues to do consciousness/fundraising events about the plight of the homeless and for the shelters that serve them. On Sat., May 1 at 7 PM, there will be a benefit performance, featuring music & poetry by Suzanne X, Ron Williams et al.  The benefit will take place at Peace & a Cup of Joe, 713 W. Pratt St. Admission is $5.  Call 443-869-4515. Go to www.awareandoutraged.wordpress.com.

 

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net

 

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

 

Saigon's Fall, 35 Years Later/Guilt and Death, North and South

The New York Times

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/30/opinion/30dinh.html?th&emc=th

 

April 30, 2010

Op-Ed Contributor

Saigon’s Fall, 35 Years Later

By LINH DINH

Philadelphia

DEPENDING on which side you were on, Saigon either fell on April 30, 1975, or it was liberated. Inside Vietnam, the day is marked as Liberation Day — but outside, among the Vietnamese refugees, it is called Deep Resentment Day. (The resentment is not just over losing a war, but also a country.)

 

On April 21, 1975, I was 11 and living in Saigon. I turned on the television and saw our president, Nguyen Van Thieu. He had a high forehead, a sign of intelligence, and long ears, indicating longevity. He had a round face with a well-defined jaw — the face of a leader — unlike his main rival, Nguyen Cao Ky, who resembled a cricket with a mustache. Thieu said, “At the time of the peace agreement the United States agreed to replace equipment on a one-by-one basis, but the United States did not keep its word. Is an American’s word reliable these days?”

 

Growing up in Saigon, I did not witness the war, only its apparatus: tanks, jeeps, jets. I often heard the rhythmic, out-of-breath phuoc phuoc phuoc of chopper blades rotating overhead. As it did for many Americans, the war came to me mainly through the news media. Open a newspaper and you would see Vietcong corpses lying in disarray. Turn on the radio and you could hear how our side was winning. Saigon theaters even showed American movies of World War II. Saigonese could sit in air-conditioning and watch expensively staged war scenes.

 

We considered the VC little more than a nightmare, a rumor, a bogeyman for scaring children. Once, in Saigon’s Phu Lam neighborhood, I saw four blindfolded men standing on a military truck, but there was no way to tell if they were really VC. If someone took a bad photo, you said, “You look just like a VC!” Only after April 30, 1975, did Saigonese realize there were plenty of VC among them.

 

Before the government fell, my father arranged for me and my brother to flee the country with a Chinese family. He sent his secretary along to take care of us. This secretary was 22, Chinese, with a very short temper, her face round and puffy. Sister Ha, as I called her, would later become my stepmother.

 

Before I left, my father gave me $2,000, saying, “Two thousand bucks should last you a year.” American bills, I noticed, were less colorful than Vietnamese ones, though longer and crisper. After sewing the money into the hem of my blue shorts, made of rayon and extremely hot, my grandmother advised, “Whatever you do, don’t take these shorts off.”

 

Before boarding the plane, I stayed at an American compound for four days. On the evening of April 27, I got on a C-130 to fly to Guam. Sitting next to Sister Ha, I watched a kid eat raw instant noodles. When the plane landed, it was pitch dark. No one knew a thing about Guam; we knew only that we had left Vietnam behind.

 

Linh Dinh is the author of the forthcoming novel “Love Like Hate.”

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/30/opinion/30hao.html?th&emc=th

 

April 30, 2010

Op-Ed Contributor

Guilt and Death, North and South

By PHAN THANH HAO

Hanoi, Vietnam

AT noon on April 30, 1975, when news that the liberation forces had captured Saigon spread to the North, we thought: “The war has ended. Now happiness will immediately arrive.” All of us, the youth volunteers of Hanoi who were digging a big lake in the suburbs, were allowed to go home, and the next day was May Day, a holiday.

 

I was so thrilled to head home and enjoy my afternoon off. National flags were flying everywhere. Young people cheered and chanted, “Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh! Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh!”

 

But then the image of a friend who had been in the North Vietnamese special forces appeared in my mind. He had been among 1,000 soldiers who had gone out to fight together, and one of only four who returned. Their mission had been to ambush dangerous Saigonese agents — and sometimes Americans.

 

Soon after his return, he and I sat together on a pile of straw, and he told me a war story. He and his group had happened upon some Americans, who started shooting. My friend and his comrades had been ordered to avoid capture, even at the cost of their lives, so they tried to escape. The Americans were drunk, but chased after them. When one American was about to jump on one of our soldiers, my friend stabbed the man from behind and he fell, mortally wounded.

 

My friend turned him over on the ground and saw his young and handsome face. “Mama,” the man said before dying — the same word so many of our own soldiers uttered before they died. My friend’s heart tightened and, from then on, he said, he could never forget the American’s cry.

 

No one could understand why my friend later decided to return to battle. I’m told that he was killed somewhere in the jungle. Only years afterward did I come to believe that after hearing the plea of the dying American, he had felt guilty about living. But why did I think of him that day, at that moment, among the cheers?

 

Phan Thanh Hao is a poet and translator.

 

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Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net

 

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs