By Kathy Kelly
Recent polls suggest that while a majority of
U.S. people, if they do read or hear of it, may be shocked at the apparent unconcern of the crews of two U.S. helicopter gunships, which attacked and killed nine children on a mountainside in Afghanistan’s Kumar province, shooting them “one after another” this past Tuesday March 1st. (“The helicopters hovered over us, scanned us and we saw a green flash from the helicopters. Then they flew back high up, and in a second round they hovered over us and started shooting.” (NYT 3/2/11)).
Four of the boys were seven years old; three were eight, one was nine and the oldest was twelve. “The children were gathering wood under a tree in the mountains near a village in the district,” said Noorullah Noori, a member of the local development council in Manogai district. "I myself was involved in the burial," Noori said. "Yesterday we buried them." (AP, March 2, 2011) General Petraeus has acknowledged, and apologized for, the tragedy.
He has had many tragedies to apologize for just counting Kunar province alone. Last August 26th, in the Manogai district, Afghan authorities accused international forces of killing six children during an air assault on Taliban positions. Provincial police chief Khalilullah Ziayee said a group of children were collecting scrap metal on the mountain when NATO aircraft dropped bombs to disperse Taliban fighters attacking a nearby base. “In the bombardment six children, aged six to 12, were killed,” the police commander said. “Another child was injured.”
In the Bamiyan province of Afghanistan, Zekirullah, a young Afghan friend of mine, age 15, rises at 2
Sadly, more and more of us in America are getting used to the idea of child poverty – and even child labor - as our own economy sinks further under the burden of our latest nine years of war, of two billion dollars per week we spend creating poverty abroad that we can then emulate at home. Things are getting bad here, but in
In October and again in December of 2010, our small delegation of Voices for Creative Nonviolence activists met with a large family living in a wretched refugee camp. They had fled their homes in the San Gin district of the
Next to Juma Gul was her brother, whose leg had been mangled in the attack. He apparently has no access to adequate medical care and experiences constant pain. The pilot of the attacking drone, perhaps controlling it from as far away as Creech Air Force Base here in the
But sometimes the war is like it was this past Tuesday March 1st. Sometimes the issue is right in front of us – as it was to those helicopter crews - it’s up close so there can be no mistake as to what we are doing. According to the election polls we see the cost of war, dimly, but, as with the helicopter crews, it doesn’t affect - or prevent - our decisions. Afterwards we deplore the tragedy; we make a pretense of acknowledging the cost of war, but it is incalculable. We can’t hope to count it. We actually, finally, have to stop making people like the nine children who died on March 1st, pay it.
Kathy Kelly (Kathy@vcnv.org) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org) and has worked closely with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers (www.livewithoutwars.org)
Friday, March 4, 2011