Statement for 9.15 German peace demonstration

Kelly Campbell’s statement for German peace demonstration, Sept 15, 2007, Berlin Germany:

I am honored to be part of this demonstration to bring the German troops home from Afghanistan and appreciate the leadership that the German peace movement has taken on to examine the international community’s responsibilities to Afghanistan. I witnessed the effects of military action in Afghanistan when I traveled to Kabul as part of a delegation of 9/11 victims’ family members in January 2002. We insisted that our grief was not a cry for war and that the killing of innocent Afghans would not bring us justice. We made this trip to bear witness to the effects of our government’s decision to bomb Afghanistan in retaliation for our loved ones deaths and to share our condolences with Afghans who lost family members in the US bombing campaign.  While in Afghanistan, we met with families whose homes were bombed by the US, with families whose loved ones had been killed by the US bombing of residential neighborhoods and with children in hospitals missing limbs from US cluster bombs.

After what I witnessed in Afghanistan, I believe that we as the international community need to refocus on our obligations to assist the Afghan people with the funds they need to carry out reconstruction and development to rebuild their country; and to end the military occupation of Afghanistan. In the 5 1/2 years since I have been to Afghanistan, despite the foreign troops on the ground and the bombing from above, the security situation has gone from bad to worse. We have seen resurgence of the Taliban, the emergence of suicide bombers, the explosion of the opium market and warlords in official positions of power.  Afghan civilians continue to be killed by ISAF and OEF forces, promised reconstruction projects fail to materialize, many women are no better off than before, and aid agencies are leaving the country due to the poor security. Every year we stay, the numbers of US and coalition troops killed increases. A military response to the devastation of some 25 years of war in Afghanistan is clearly not working. It is time to find another way to fulfill our responsibilities to the Afghan people.

In the US, the occupation of Afghanistan has been overshadowed in the past four and a half years by the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The myth of success in Afghanistan, which helped convince the US public to support the invasion of Iraq, is still widely believed in the US. The story is that Afghanistan was the good part of the war on terror;  the one in which we defeated extremists, liberated women and bombed a country into democracy. The US invasion of Afghanistan is still considered by most in the US as an appropriate response to the horror we witnessed on 9/11. After 9/11 there was broad agreement that we must “do something”, but was military action in Afghanistan the wisest action that we could take? Did it produce Bin Laden and other potential masterminds of the 9/11 attacks to stand trial in an international court of law? Did it lead to an international discussion of strategy to diffuse the underlying causes of terrorism and political violence?  Did it lead to a more secure world for anyone? Instead, the invasion and continued occupation of Afghanistan, not to mention the associated opening of Guantanamo Bay detention center and the human rights abuses inflicted on prisoners, has led to a continuing cycle of violence, creating more victims of political violence, creating more people willing to use violence against the US and our allies, and ensuring that the cycle will continue.

I am here as a member of the national steering committee of United for Peace and Justice, a coalition of more than 1,400 peace and justice organizations in the US. While our immediate focus is to end the war in Iraq, we also oppose the war in Afghanistan and are beginning to develop a long overdue analysis of the situation and to address our responsibility as the US peace movement  to challenge the US military occupation of Afghanistan. We are eager to learn from and work with the German peace movement and others around the world to address these issues that affect us all.

I am also here today representing 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, an organization comprised of family members of 9/11 victims who are committed to breaking the cycle of violence by turning our grief into action for peace. We believe that no family, anywhere in the world should have to suffer the loss of a loved one to violence and we insist that our grief is not a cry for war. The name of our organization was taken from a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. in which he said, “Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows…we must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.” We join you you here today in advocating peaceful means to achieve peaceful ends in Afghanistan, Germany, the US, and around the world.

Kelly Campbell

September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

Filed in: Voices of Peaceful Tomorrows

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