Rebuilding lives—and peace—in Myanmar/Burma
Cyclone Nargis took everything from people in the affected areas of Myanmar (Burma). But the people of Burma/Myanmar are used to relying on themselves. So they banded together and did what they could—assessing the needs of devastated villages, collecting money and supplies, and arranging transportation.
AFSC is helping with these local efforts by partnering with Buddhist monks, who play an important role as respected leaders within the community. We also are providing opportunities for dialogue and learning, in addition to funding support for relief efforts.
A monk who worked with tsunami survivors went to Yangon two days after the cyclone struck. Not only did he and friends provide relief and rehabilitation to villagers, they also organized Buddhist rites for the dead.
And the leader of a group that promotes peace and tolerance among people of different faiths and ethnicities mobilized members who now provide basic supplies and rebuilding help to six communities. Their efforts have helped hundreds of students and families.
Read about our work in Myanmar/Burma online at www.afsc.org/burma
Truth in Recruitment activist in Chicago.
Learning the truth about military service
Students in Illinois and California got a reality check about military service this past summer, courtesy of AFSC.
In California, the AFSC-San Francisco office and the Oakland-based Bay-Peace ran a six day “boot camp” for students who had signed up for the military’s delayed enlistment program. Twenty-one young people met and talked with veterans, heard stories of how the military treated women, spoke with soldiers who had returned from war, and talked with soldiers’ families. In addition, the group visited Camp Pendleton, an area community college, and learned about peaceful alternatives to military service.
Several of the teens later decided against enlisting and now work with the AFSC’s counter-recruitment program.
Meanwhile, AFSC-Chicago’s Truth in Recruitment program trained twenty-four teens from thirteen different high schools as activists in the “Peace. Here…There…Everywhere” summer youth institute. Among other activities, the students learned about AFSC programs and issues; staffed an information table at an Arab Fest; made anti-war flyers, T-shirts, buttons, and blogs; and prepared presentations ranging from women in the military to a brochure on post-traumatic stress disorder.
After the first training session, six of the twelve students volunteered at the AFSC-Chicago AFSC office.
Protest rally in Waterloo.
Rights trampled in rush to deport immigrant workers
In mid May, nearly 400 workers in Iowa were detained in one of the largest single-site immigration raids in U.S. history. About 50 were released immediately on probation—mostly women with children.
Officials pressured most of the detainees to plead to criminal charges of identity theft and false use of a Social Security card, which carry a penalty of deportation, though few were involved in illegal activities. Those released on probation may not leave the area or work. Many cannot feed their families or afford legal fees, and courts have been slow in scheduling proceedings.
AFSC, as part of the Immigrant Safety Network©, helped mobilize and coordinate the response of hundreds of people to assist in different capacities, including legal aid, “Know Your Rights” presentations, and humanitarian assistance. That help is ongoing.
“We provided a lot of brains and a lot of heart to the response when it was needed,” says Sandra Sanchez, director of AFSC’s Immigrants’ Voice Program in Des Moines. “Our reputation opened doors that would have been closed to anyone else.”
California condemns use of torture
On August 14, the California legislature passed a resolution aimed at preventing doctors, psychologists, and other health professionals from taking part in coercive interrogations at any U.S. military prisons. Several professional organizations have passed similar resolutions, but California is the first state to do so.
AFSC, Physicians for Social Responsibility–Los Angeles, and the Program for Torture Victims coordinated the two-year campaign in favor of the resolution.
“The resolution calls attention to the intolerable dilemma that torture presents when those who are supposed to be the healers in our society are involved in the abuse of prisoners,” said Eisha Mason, associate regional director for the AFSC Southwest Regional Office based in Los Angeles.
More information is available at www.afsc.org/stoptorture.