Cliff Kindy Iraq Blog

Current entries are related to Cliff Kindy's fourth Iraq trip, beginning in October 2007. The blog archives contains letters from Cliff's third Iraq trip in 2004-5.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Cliff #9: Nonviolent Power

Received Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2005

Dear Friends, Family, and All Good People,

The good news is that we had 5 electrical generating towers burning a week ago and one day we had 17 hours of electricity from the grid! The bad news is that two days later the oil refinery in Dura got bombed and the fuel capacity for the electricity plants in Baghdad was knocked out and we have had only 3 - 7 hours of grid per day since then. The good news is the warm weather and sunshine that came since Christmas. The bad news is that we have had so many suicide bomb blasts and so much helicopter and fighter jet traffic that the smog blocks the sun. But I am alive, my spirits are good, and spring is just a month or so around the corner!

This week we have received more information about Fallujah and the 200,000 refugees who fled that city of 300,000. We have visited refugees, gotten our own reports from Red Crescent, and talked with Iraqi and foreign journos who have been in the refugee camps. I read a report that said the US invasion of Fallujah was one of the largest armored invasions in history. The resistance was well dug in and able to knock out Abrams tanks with shoulder fired rockets. Many US soldiers and resistance fighters died, but the civilian population bore the brunt of the catastrophe. The resistance still controls large sections of the city. Little infrastructure is left, half of the 90 mosques are totally destroyed, reports I have seen mention
that homes are unlivable, belongings have been trashed and burned. Detainee numbers have nearly doubled, we heard today from a human rights worker west of Baghdad. He says that the prisons and the treatment of detainees by the US is the best training camp for the resistance. Our contacts in the US military and Iraqi government tell of two prisons; this colleague shared an al-Harat report from Britain detailing 19 US prisons across Iraq and 150 contractors working on another huge one near Nasariya. We have not been able to get reliable reports of what is happening with these detainees from recent operations. This HR worker says many are being held long-term in US military bases so they are not listed on the detainee files.

As the difficulties continue in Iraq, three Iraqi families stopped this week to visit and encourage us. One man calls us each day to see how we are and if we need anything. We visited the Sunni mosque in Adhamiya where the sheik welcomed us warmly. He remembered that he had not seen me personally for ten months and offered condolences for the death of a CPTer who had worked with us last year.

Our Kerbala human rights colleague stayed overnight again on the return from Suleimaniya. We are making plans for a training to nurture a Muslim Peacemaker Team. Some of you ask what that entails. Let me offer more specifics.

First, we need to be nurtured by the stories of nonviolence. The group in Kerbala has done five dramatic nonviolent actions, some totally successful, others less so. We must deconstruct those actions to learn the pieces, what works and what doesn't. Second, we must recognize that nonviolent power is much greater than the power of weapons. Recent history shows that the tools of war do not work - see the story of the US assault on Fallujah above. That nonviolent power is available to each of us. Third, what are the spiritual disciplines and routines that undergird this work of nonviolent peacemaking? How do we strengthen our spirituality for the towering tasks we face? Fourth, how do we build the confidence we need as peaceworkers to be able to take the initiative from the actors of violence? What are the constructive social programs that build the future that we want to see? Fifth, how do we learn the logistics of decision making, holding an effective meeting, dividing up roles and tasks, increasing skills with camera, documentation, media, and team dynamics.

Does that help? What counsel and suggestions do you want to add? How will you do this in your own community? Will you be able to take back control of the decisions that impact your life?

May God's power flow through you,

Cliff Kindy


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