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Afghan Peace Volunteers

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South Koreans on Jeju Island and the Afghan Peace Volunteers Say "No!" to U.S. Military Bases

by Hakim and the Afghan Peace Volunteers

On the 22nd of October, 2013, the Afghan Peace Volunteers ( APVs ) in Kabul, Afghanistan, had a Skype conversation with peace activists at Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island, South Korea, during which they shared solidarity in saying ‘No!’ to the U.S. war apparatus in Afghanistan and South Korea.

Save Jeju Now: resisting the construction of a U.S. military naval baseSave Jeju Now: resisting the construction of a U.S. military naval base

They represent the ‘small people’ of the world, ordinary Afghans who are opposed to the establishment of nine U.S. military bases in Afghanistan through the Bilateral Security Agreement currently being negotiated, and ordinary South Koreans opposed to the construction of a Korea/U.S. naval base on Jeju Island…

As the War Turns 12

Spoken Word Group Piece with The Afghan Peace Volunteers and Luke Nephew of The Peace Poets

Today,

As the war turns 12

Me and other Youth in Afghanistan worry we will not make it alive to visit our families for Eid,

As the war turns 12,

Women in Afghanistan are still sold and traded, beaten and degraded

we are still demanding our education… but over two thousand and five hundred

Afghan women have committed suicide so far in 2013

Dinnertime Gunshots

By Luke Nephew

Luke Nephew with the Afghan Peace VolunteersLuke Nephew with the Afghan Peace Volunteers

The sun has just set and we’re sitting in a circle on the floor. This is how we eat here. There’s ten men and five plates of food. Each plate shared by two hungry men. And tea. There is always tea. Tonight, dinner is good. We’re halfway through our five plates of potatoes and rice and baow. We freeze for two seconds. Baow, Baow. Two more shots ring out. The young men jump to their feet and away from the windows. Within two seconds they seem to be behind the thickest parts of the walls. Dr. Hakim and a few of the guys are still sitting. There is a ten seconds of silence. We all wait to see what will come. Just quiet. The sounds of the street.

Hikmatullah’s Hug

by Luke Nephew

He could stop the war. He’s a big jolly bear of a young man. Picture a dude with his hair always in his eyes a little who swings magically back and forth between serene and ecstatic. He is excitable and affectionate. If music is playing anywhere in the house, its only a matter of seconds before he’s on the scene shaking his belly and swirling around his hips, invariably inciting yells of celebration from whoever is present. A smile of pure joy shines forth as he dances. You gotta love him. I can’t see how anyone could resist his warm kindness. That’s why I think he could stop the war.

Mousab’s Exhibition

By Luke Nephew

Late at night, I sit alone in the office of The Afghan Peace Volunteer’s house in Kabul. The mountain cold wrapped itself around me. I finally got the internet to work and found a message from Rashad, a good friend of mine in Sudan. I feel all the muscles in my chest tighten. Rashad wrote that in the protests in the streets of Khartoum our dear friend Mousaab had been shot and murdered by the police. I froze. Below his words is a picture of Mousaab bathed in his own blood in the back of a pickup truck.

Where Planes Drop Death

By Luke Nephew

So 12 years into America’s war in Afghanistan

I fly from New York City to Kabul

On my first morning here I wake up startled,

I hear a loud sound and sit up in the darkness

The roar of a plane gets closer and closer

I remember the stories I heard earlier that day from Raz Mohammad

Who lost friends, classmates and his brother to drone strikes in Maydan Wardak. “The drones sound different”, he says, “they buzz in your ear and you can’t sleep and you are afraid they will kill you.”

Too Beautiful to Burn

As I finish packing, I don’t hear any sirens. Just about twenty car horns. Then, for a few seconds, they fade away too. And the sound of the church bells boom and echo throughout the hood. I sigh and smile. In a few days, I know I’ll be hearing the sound of Muslim prayer calls echo throughout another hood. War makes us thirsty for worship. Life is too beautiful not to love anything.

Daylight Is Almost Here

Abdulhai In KabulAbdulhai In Kabul

We, the Afghan Peace Volunteers, are finding strength amidst our dark nights because, in the daylight of a global awakening, we see people throughout the world refusing to comply with oppressive systems. We see that we aren’t alone in rejecting governments and militant groups that wage wars and make deals at the expense of ordinary people.

Artificial borders may attempt to divide us, but through connections with ordinary people worldwide, we are affirmed as free human beings, free to nurture ways of living that aren’t monopolized by a few.

Daylight, in our hearts and everywhere, is laying bare the abusive, authoritarian power and wealth amassed by elitist hoarders who control governments and militaries. These elite secure the interests of the privileged and neglect the interests of commoners who need food, water, education, decent shelter and employment, and peaceful relationships.

We Know

Ghulamai tells a story

We all know
the metal gate
that separates our yard from the street
is a thin skin.
At any time
violence could extend its claws
and draw blood.

This morning,
I loaded a rusty wheelbarrow with bulging trash bags,
and leaning into it
rolled it across the yard,
through the gate
and onto a pocked, unpaved street,
heading for the neighborhood dumpster.
The sun shone on another dusty day in Kabul.
Nothing could have been more ordinary
or more forgettable
until four young Pashto boys on bicycles approached.

“Can we go through your garbage here,”
they asked me,
“before you dump it?”
Bent to their work,
they pulled out scraps of stale flatbread, crumpled pieces of paper for fuel.
One of them pointed to a nearby residence
where a member of Parliament lives.
“Look at how the people in that castle live,” he said,
“and how we live.”
The boys finished their sorting
and thanked me.
As they walked away,
I saw that a thin metal gate stands between us
and they are already bleeding.