Women peace activists to speak in DeKalb, Ill., March 20

Staff Report

DEKALB, Ill. — Three well-known international peace activists will share their experiences of working for peace worldwide at 7:15 p.m., Thursday, March 20, in the Regency Room of Holmes Student Center on the Northern Illinois University campus in DeKalb, Ill.

The free to the public panel discussion, “Three Women Who Stand for Peace: International Civil Rights in the Age of Drones,” is one of many civil rights related events on campus during Women’s History Month.

Peace activist and retired Army Col. Ann Wright will speak about the impact the U.S. foreign policy is having on women and children around the world. Col. Wright served 29 years in the Army and 16 years as a U.S. diplomat, retired from government service in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq War.

Wright’s recent work has focused on raising awareness about assassin drones used by the U.S. government. She has traveled to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. Col. Wright has met with many families who have been innocent victims of the drone attacks.

Another human rights issue she speaks about is government infiltration of citizens’ cell phones, e-mails and other private communication. Eavesdropping has increased dramatically since the Sept. 11, 2001, attack and the Patriot Act, Wright said.

I do a lot of speaking about the need to protect the privacy that is our right by the Constitution and challenge our government on what I believe are these illegal programs of spying on American citizens,” she said.

Medea Benjamin, founder and director of the international peace group Code Pink, also works against the use of killer drones. She organized the first-ever international drone summit and led delegations to Pakistan and Yemen to meet with the victims of drone strikes. She is also author of the book Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.

Like Wright, Benjamin supports helping women and their families around the globe and finding nonviolent solutions to conflicts rather than using militarization.

While women of each culture live differently, they share a desire to keep themselves and their families fed, healthy and safe.

Benjamin will also be sharing her very recent experience of being attacked in Egypt and brutally assaulted by Egyptian authorities. She was part of an international delegation of 100 women headed to Gaza for International Women’s Day.

Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of the Chicago-based Voices for Creative Nonviolence, has also been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize. She will share from her recent humanitarian trips to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Her organization is involved with peace campaigns and education efforts around the world.

Mainstream education may not always provide the kind of education many impoverished women need most,” Kelly said. “I just returned from visiting Barefoot College in India, where grandmothers are learning to become solar engineers, accountants, dentists and water conservation experts … even if they are not yet literate.”

Besides human rights violations, the women also plan to discuss how to build an activist community to address global concerns.

The panel discussion is free and open to the public.

The event is co-sponsored by DeKalb Interfaith Network, NIU Womens Studies Program, DeKalb First Congregational Church, Sauk and Fox Valley, and Rockford Peace and Justice groups, NIU LGBT and Women’s Resource Center, Amnesty International-NIU, and NIU History Department.

From the March 19-25, 2014, issue

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