Drones, spy programs on panel agenda

DeKALB – 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 the Holmes Student Center, on the campus of Northern Illinois University.

The free 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 U.S. foreign policy is having on women and children around the world. Wright served 29 years in the Army and 16 years as a U.S. diplomat. She retired from government service in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq War. Her recent work has focused on raising awareness about assassin drones used by the U.S. government. She also addresses government eavesdropping on citizens’ cell phones, emails, and other private communication.

“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 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.” 

Benjamin will also speak about her recent experience of being attacked in Egypt and 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 been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize. She will talk about her recent humanitarian trips to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. 

“Mainstream education may not always provide the kind ofeducation 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 waterconservation experts … even if they are not yet literate.”

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