Voices for Creative Nonviolence
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Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org) has deep, long-standing roots in active nonviolent resistance to U.S. war-making. Begun in the summer of 2005, Voices draws from the experiences of those who challenged the brutal economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and U.N. against the Iraqi people between 1990 and 2003.
Members of Voices led over 70 delegations to Iraq to challenge the economic sanctions and were present in Baghdad in resistance the 2003 U.S. military invasion. Since 2009, Voices has led five delegations to Afghanistan and two to Pakistan to listen and learn from nonviolent grassroots movements and to raise awareness about the negative impacts of U.S. militarism in the region.
Voices participants rely on and have learned from experiences of those who have engaged in active nonviolent resistance to military might in the U.S. including draft resistance; resistance to the wars in Latin America; and resistance to nuclear weapons, such as the Plowshares resistance efforts. Voices draws upon the lessons gleaned from active participation in peace teams in Haiti, Yugoslavia, Palestine and Iraq.
We recognize that for years now the U.S. has stood on the precipice of all out devastation-of itself and of the world. We look to history as a guide-and try to learn lessons from those who preceded us in far more dire circumstances, who somehow found the ability to form communities of resistance to oppression in Nazi Germany, in apartheid South Africa, in the Jim Crow South of the U.S. and in the super segregated cities of the North.
We ask-what is the appropriate response of a citizenry in a country which has committed unspeakable crimes against a people? Several hundred thousand Iraqis died as a consequence of economic sanctions. Tens, if not hundreds, of thousands continue to die as a consequence of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Nearly 300,000 Iraqi children under the age of 5 suffer acute malnutrition-when will they die?
The U.S. has adopted the doctrine of “pre-emptive” military action. No longer must Congress approve a war before one is begun and waged. No longer must an imminent threat-however loosely defined that may ever have been- exist before war begins. The U.S. has arrogated to itself the role of Enforcer against the rest of the world.
We are on the precipice of a full blown world war-if one is not already under way. And we ask: what must our response be? And our answer-as tentative, grappling, searching and seeking as it may be-is that it falls upon us as citizens of the country initiating this world war to utilize all nonviolent means available to turn off war -to engage the electoral and legislative process, most definitely; to protest, of course; and to march and demonstrate.
We must also move from protest to active nonviolent resistance. We must withdraw our collaboration and complicity with this system and use our bodies and lives as a means to bring the machinery of death to a grinding halt. Nonviolence, nonviolent action and nonviolent resistance cannot be a single day event-it must be a commitment we make and act upon every day of our lives.
What might this active nonviolent resistance look like? And how might we act in solidarity with the Iraqi peoples and others who find themselves in the crosshairs of U.S. war-making?
Voices is committed to strategic campaigns and experiments in truth engaging in active nonviolent resistance. Such resistance must take into account that war-making is both military and economic.
In pursuit of our objectives, Voices organized the following campaigns since 2005:
- Delegations to Afghanistan (2009-present) We have sought to learn from the experiences of people bearing the brunt of US economic and military intervention as well as make contacts with grassroots movements for peace in Afghanistan.
- Solidarity with Iraqi Refugees (2005 to present) Since the beginning of the Iraq War, we have closely followed the situation of Iraqi refugees in Jordan and Syria. Due to escalated violence in Syria, countless Iraqis have had no choice but to return to Iraq. Paying attention to them is an integral part of ending U.S. warfare in Iraq and Syria. The international community bears responsibility to provide for Iraqi, Syrian, Palestinian and other refugees living in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere. Since 2012, Voices activists have made trips to Jordan and low-profile trips to Iraq in the hope of meeting old friends and making new contacts.
- Ground the Drones (2009-Present) In collaboration with a nationwide network, we have tried to build awareness about and resistance to the US military’s use of weaponized remotely piloted vehicles (drones). Part of this campaign has included civil resistance at Creech Air Force base in Nevada, Hancock Field in New York, and Whiteman Air Force base in Missouri. VCNV has also organized a number of long walks to places that remotely operate drones, including Rock Island to Des Moines (Summer 2013) and Chicago to Battle Creek (Summer 2014). Contact us for 2015 updates.
- Emergency Delegations to Gaza, Bahrain (2012) In order to provide grassroots information about nonviolent organizing in parts of the world that are difficult to access (Gaza) or where journalists are willfully denied entry by the government (Bahrain), VCNV has sometimes made decisions to send an emergency team to learn about present-day reality and expose this information to public view.
- Education on NATO (2012) We hold NATO responsible for providing reparations to the Afghans commensurate to the destruction caused by the Afghanistan War since NATO assumed command of the ISAF operation in 2003. In order to reach out to the public, so that they may better understand the issues involved, Voices marched and spoke through southeast Wisconsin and northeast Illinois. At A Global Crossroads: Turn Against War lasted for about 2 weeks leading up to the summit in Chicago.
- Delegations to Pakistan (2009-2010) The delegations have sought to learn from the experiences of common people bearing the brunt of US economic and military intervention as well as make contacts with grassroots movements for peace in Pakistan.
- Peaceable Assembly Campaign (2009-2010) A nationwide campaign which sought an end to the U.S. wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and an end to U.S. support of the continued occupation of the Palestinian territories.
- Camp Hope: Countdown to Change (January 2009), A pre-inauguration presence in Hyde Park, Chicago.
- Witness Against War 2008, a 45 day, 450 mile walk from Chicago to St. Paul to build opposition to the continuing war.
- Seasons of Discontent: A Presidential Occupation Project (2007-08), a campaign of civil disobedience at the Iowa campaign offices of the leading Republican and Democratic candidates.
- Occupation Project (2007), a national campaign of civil disobedience seeking an end to funding of the Iraq war. Over 400 arrests occurred in the offices of over 42 Representatives and Senators (both Republicans and Democrats).
- Walk for Justice (2006), a 320 mile, 30 day walk from Springfield, Illinios to the U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command.
- Lebanon (2006), Voices activists traveled to Beirut to accompany Lebanese civilians intending to bring relief supplies to civilians in southern Lebanon.
- Winter of Our Discontent (2006), a 35 day liquids only fast at the U.S. Capitol.
- 100,000 Rings (2005) an international campaign to commemorate and remember Iraqis who have died since the U.S. invasion in 2003.
- Fasts at the International Monetary Fund and at the United Nations (2005) calling for an end to economic warfare against Iraq.
- Arabic, Dari, Pashto, and Urdu Language Study is a key aspect of Voices work. Members have studied in Syria, Jordan, and Afghanistan. Voices believes that language fluency is a central component to forming peace teams.
Voices invites you to join with us as we engage in action to challenge U.S. economic and military warfare waged in the Middle East.