News Release

War Protests: From Afghanistan to Hancock Air Base — to Prison?

ANN WRIGHT, microann at yahoo.com
Wright, a former State Department diplomat and retired Army colonel, helped re-open the U.S. embassy in Kabul in 2001. She resigned from the State Department in protest of the Iraq invasion in March of 2003. She said: “There’s been real blowback from the burning of the Quran, but there has also been real blowback from the killings from continued drone stikes.” Wright is a defendant in a trial today for protests outside the Hancock Air National Guard Base in New York.

KATHY KELLY, kathy.vcnv at gmail.com
Kelly is just back from Afghanistan and may be sentenced to prison today along with other peace activists for protests outside the base. She is with the group Voices for Creative Nonviolence. Along with Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, she just wrote the piece “The Ghost and the Machine: Drone Warfare and Accountability,” which profiles an impoverished Afghan family with a five-year-old, Aymal, whose father was killed by a drone attack: “Aymal’s grandmother becomes agitated and distraught speaking about her son’s death, and that of his four friends. ‘All of us ask, “Why?'” she says, raising her voice. ‘They kill people with computers and they can’t tell us why. When we ask why this happened, they say they had doubts, they had suspicions. But they didn’t take time to ask “Who is this person?” or “Who was that person?” There is no proof, no accountability. Now, there is no reliable person in the home to bring us bread. I am old, and I do not have a peaceful life.’ …

“In June 2010, Philip G. Alston, then the UN’s Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, appeared before the UN Human Rights Council and testified that ‘targeted killings pose a rapidly growing challenge to the international rule of law … In a situation in which there is no disclosure of who has been killed, for what reason, and whether innocent civilians have died, the legal principle of international accountability is, by definition, comprehensively violated.’ …

“Drone warfare, ever more widely used from month to month from the Bush through the Obama administrations, has seen very little meaningful public debate. We don’t ask questions — our minds straying no nearer these battlefields than in the coming decades the bodies of our young people will — that is, if the chaos our war-making engenders doesn’t bring the battlefields to us. An expanding network of devastatingly lethal covert actions spreading throughout the developing world passes with minimal concern or comment.”

Kelly and other activists face prison time from a symbolic ‘die-in’ at the main entrance Hancock Air National Guard Base (Mattydale, NY), protesting the piloting and maintenance of the hunter/killer Reaper drones at the base. The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars released a statement today: “Nationally known peace activists Kathy Kelly (Voices for Creative Nonviolence), retired Colonel Ann Wright, Martha Hennessy (NYC Catholic Workers), Elliott Adams (past President of Veterans for Peace) and Jules Orkin (peace walker extraordinaire) will be sentenced on February 29 at 5 p.m. in DeWitt Town Court (5400 Butternut Dr., East Syracuse) by Judge David Gideon. They are the last of the ‘Hancock 38’ Drone Resisters to be sentenced.

“In addition, previously sentenced defendants will return to court. At least eleven people have chosen to send their fines to the Voices for Creative Nonviolence for the benefit of PeaceJam Afghanistan instead of to the court and will present receipts to the judge. Ann Tiffany says ‘To me it is a question of Justice.’ Many will show they do community service on a daily basis despite the judge’s sentence. There will be a press conference at 4 pm, outside of the Court House. Speakers will include Kathy Kelly, Ann Wright, Elliott Adams and Ed Kinane who has redirected his fine.

The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars will continue to resist the use of drones. As we argued in court, drone warfare violates the Nuremberg Principles and other international, as well as moral, laws. We resist those who would normalize the use of robotic assassins as a mode of warfare and reject the policy of dehumanization of peoples in other lands.”

Contact for the Coalition: Judy Bello, judith at papillonweb.net; Peg Gefell, peg.fink.gefell at gmail.com; Syracuse Peace Council: carol at peacecouncil.net

Also see from the The Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers: “2 Million Candles to End the Afghan War