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By Kathryn Kopchik
LEWISBURG, Pa. — Kathy Kelly, an internationally regarded American peace activist, will give the talk, "Eyewitness to War, Witness for Peace," Tuesday, April 10, at 7:30 in Trout Auditorium of the Vaughan Literature Building at Bucknell University.
Drawing on her experiences living among ordinary people in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Kelly will reflect on the war being waged against the poor by societies that devalue the lives of impoverished people including children, and the new peace initiatives that are blossoming among the young people of Afghanistan.
Since May 2011, Kelly has visited Afghanistan four times with small delegations intent on learning more about conditions faced by ordinary people there.
She has been working with Bamiyan province's Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers and Global Days of Listening in search of non-military solutions to end the war. Global Days of Listening is a monthly SKYPE initiative enabling peace-seek high school and college students in Afghanistan to community with those in the United States.
A three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee for her international humanitarian and social justice work, Kelly has been honored with more than 35 awards for her humanitarian, anti-poverty and social justice work including the International Fellowship of Reconciliation Pfeiffer Peace Award, the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award, the Office of the Americas Peace and Justice Award, and the Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Award.
She is founder and co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, an organization dedicated to eradicating poverty and ending U.S. military and economic warfare. From 1996-2003, Voices activists formed 70 delegations that openly defied economic sanctions by bringing food and medicine to children and families in Iraq; Kelly participated in 26 of these delegations. She and her companions lived in combat-ridden Baghdad throughout the 2003 Shock and Awe bombing.
Last summer, Kelly was a passenger on The Audacity of Hope, the U.S. boat in Freedom Flotilla II, that sailed to Gaza with the aim of providing relief to civilians living in the midst of that conflict. She lived in Gaza in 2009 during the final days of the Operation Cast Lead bombing.
In addition to her international work, Kelly has served in Catholic Worker-sponsored soup kitchens in her hometown of Chicago and in 1982 refused to pay federal taxes on pacifist grounds, asking her employer to reduce her salary so that it fell beneath the taxable income level. She was sentenced to one year (1988-89) in federal prison for planting corn on nuclear missile silo sites and spent three months in prison in 2004 for crossing the line at Fort Benning's School of the Americas.
The talk, which is free and open to the public, will be followed by a question-and-answer session and a book signing. The event is sponsored by the Catholic Campus Ministry, and co-sponsored by the offices of the President, Provost, Dean of Students, and Chaplains and Religious Life, the Department of Human Resources, the Community Alliance for Respect and Equality, and the Fellowship of Reconciliation.
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