Posted by: Through the Eyes of Women | September 14, 2010

Heather Rawson Speaks with Peace Activist Kathy Kelly August 13th 2010.

Kathy Kelly of Chicago, IL, helped initiate Voices in the Wilderness, a campaign to end the UN/US sanctions against Iraq. For bringing “medicine and toys” to Iraq in open violation of the UN/US sanctions, she and other campaign members were notified of a proposed $163,000 penalty for the organization, threatened with 12 years in prison, and eventually fined $20,000, a sum which they’ve refused to pay. Voices in the Wilderness organized 70 delegations to visit Iraq in the period between 1996 and the beginning of the “Operation Shock and Awe” warfare (March 2003). Kelly has been to Iraq twenty two times since January 1996, when the campaign began. In October 2002, she joined Iraq Peace Team members in Baghdad where she and the team maintained a presence throughout the bombardment and invasion. Kelly left Iraq on April 19, 2003 and has returned there twice, for 17 day visits with team members who’ve remained in Baghdad. She most recently traveled to Iraq from December 21-2003 — January 8, 2004.

During the first two weeks of the Gulf War, she was part of a peace encampment on the Iraq-Saudi border called the Gulf Peace Team. Following evacuation to Amman, Jordan, (February 4, 1991), team members stayed in the region for the next six months to help coordinate medical relief convoys and study teams.

In 1988 she was sentenced to one year in prison for planting corn on nuclear missile silo sites. Kelly served nine months of the sentence in Lexington KY maximum security prison.

Kelly has taught in Chicago area community colleges and high schools since 1974. From 1980 – 1986 she taught at St. Ignatius College Prep (Chicago, IL ). She is active with the Catholic Worker movement and, as a pacifist and war tax refuser, has refused payment of all Federal income tax for 25 years.

Kelly helped organize and participated in nonviolent direct action teams in Haiti (summer of 1994), Bosnia (August, 1993, December, 1992) and Iraq (Gulf Peace Team, 1991). In April of 2002, she was among the first internationals to visit the Jenin camp in the Occupied West Bank.

In the spring of 2004, she served three months at Pekin federal prison for crossing the line as part of an ongoing effort to close an army military combat training school at Fort Benning, GA.

She currently helps coordinate the Voices in the Wilderness campaign. Other Lands Have Dreams: from Baghdad to Pekin Prison (2005) by Kathy Kelly is available through Counterpunch or Voices in the Wilderness.

Kelly received her B.A. from Loyola University at Chicago and her Masters in Religious Education from Chicago Theological Seminary, part of a consortium of schools which included the Jesuit School of Theology at Chicago where Kelly took courses each quarter.

Her publications include Other Lands Have Dreams: from Baghdad to Pekin Prison (Counterpunch Press, 2005) and War and Peace in the Gulf (Cornerstone Press, 2001)


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