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« Circle of Life | Main | Colonize This! by Daisy Hernandez and Bushra Rehman »

Other Lands Have Dreams, by Kathy Kelly

By an everyday book reader
October 1, 2007

"On reading these accounts of death and cruelty, we might well lose hope, but we are saved by the other stories, often less told, which Kathy records in her book. Stories of the courage and resilience of the ordinary Iraqi men, women and children, who continue to maintain their human dignity and in spite of everything, yes, even in the midst of war, show kindness and hospitality to the strangers in their midst.

"These stories of Kathy Kelly's life and work, touch our soul and renew our hope and belief in humanity. They inspire and challenge us to work for justice." - Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate, 1976

Other Lands Have Dreams: From Baghdad to Pekin Prison
by Kathy KellyBook Picture

Softcover: 173 pages
ISBN: 9781904859284, 1904859283
AK Press
May 2005

In the spring of 2004, human rights activist Kathy Kelly, twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, was sent to Pekin Federal Prison for leading a protest at the School of the Americas. While in prison, Kelly's organization, Voices in the Wilderness, was targeted by a US State Department lawsuit charging that Kelly violated US-imposed sanctions when she took humanitarian aid to Iraq during numerous visits over the last five years.

"Activists have always battled the odds... It's a long haul. It's step by step. As Mahalia Jackson sang out, 'We're on our way'-not to Canaan Land, perhaps, but to the world as a better place than it was before. It's what Kathy Kelly and her Voices in the Wilderness project is all about. She is a direct descendant of Dorothy Day, who when asked why she was making so much trouble for the authorities answered simply, "I'm working toward a world in which it would be easier for people to behave decently." - Studs Terkel, author, Hope Dies Last

In this fiercely eloquent book, Kelly recounts such trips to Iraq, tells the largely unknown story of the School of the Americas and describes daily life inside a federal prison, where America's poor are warehoused. Like Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail, Kelly's powerful narrative gives voice to the unheard millions suffering at home and abroad.

"Other Lands Have Dreams provides insight into the heart and mind of an extraordinary woman - known as 'Missiles' in a U.S. Federal prison and recognized as an American friend in the slums of Baghdad and Basra. Kathy Kelly shows her love of others and her commitment to nonviolence by standing courageously with the ordinary yet threatened people of America, Haiti and Iraq.

"She shows U.S. foreign policy to be what it is - ugly, violent, tragic and intrusive. She undermines this violence by her quiet inner peace and with her own presence in American prisons, in Haitian squalor and in Iraqi slums.

"She shares with readers the perception of a small Iraqi boy who unwittingly speaking for much of the world - after the events of 9/11 - said he was feeling badly about the attack, but thought that Americans did not understand what happens to other people when they are hit by American bombs.

"Ms. Kelly has a unique way of educating us by having us understand, almost experience, the pain of others better. She has us look at ourselves, feel wanting, yet encouraged to do better and follow her relentless and non-violent lead." - Dennis Halliday, former U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator to Iraq

Other Lands Have Dreams: From Baghdad to Pekin Prison
by Kathy Kelly

Softcover: 173 pages
ISBN: 9781904859284, 1904859283
AK Press
May 2005

Kathy Kelly, 52, 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.


  • B.A. Loyola University at Chicago 1974
  • Masters in Religious Education, Chicago Theological Seminary; part of a consortium of schools which included the Jesuit School of Theology at Chicago where Kelly took courses each quarter


  • Other Lands Have Dreams: from Baghdad to Pekin prison (Counterpunch Press, 2005)

Publications, Editor and Contributor:

  • War and Peace in the Gulf (Cornerstone Press, 2001)

Publications, Contributor:

  • Iraq Under Siege (Seven Seas Press, 2000)
  • Live from Palestine (Edited by Nancy Stohlman and Laurieann Aladin, 2003)

Articles, essays and interviews printed in:
America, The National Catholic Reporter, Columbia Journal of International Affairs, The Link, Fellowship of Reconciliation Magazine, Lapis Magazine, The Jordan Times, The Washington Report on the Middle East, The Capitol Times, MERIP Magazine, Satya Magazine, Hope Magazine, Common Dreams website, Counterpunch Website, website, Voices In The Wilderness website, and Antiwar.Com website


  • Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Award, 1998
  • Newberry Library Free Speech Award, 1998
  • Detroit City Council Testimonial Resolution commending humanitarian efforts, February 1999
  • Robert O. Cooper Fellowship in Peace and Justice Award, Southern Methodist University March 1999
  • University of the Incarnate Word Distinguished Speaker Award March 1999
  • California State Assembly Certificate of Recognition for Founding of Voices in the Wilderness November 1999
  • Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award, 1999
  • Consortium on Peace Research and Development Social Courage Award, 1999
  • Dan Berrigan Award, DePaul University 1999
  • Office of the Americas Peace and Justice Award November 1999
  • International Fellowship of Reconciliation Pfeiffer Peace Award, February 2000
  • Nobel Peace Prize Nominee with Denis Halliday 2000
  • Arab American Anti Discrimination Committee Humanitarian Award June 2000
  • Nobel Peace Prize Nominee 2001
  • Chaldean Iraqi American Association of Michigan Appreciation Award for Dedication in Lifting Sanctions Against Iraq July 2001
  • Newberry Library "1st place" orator - Bughouse Square Debates August 2001
  • Life for Relief and Development Humanitarian Services Award September 2001
  • Global Exchange International Women's Rights Awardee May 2003
  • Archbishop Oscar Romero Award, Mercyhurst College March 2003
  • Nobel Peace prize Nominee, with Voices in the Wilderness 2003
  • Call to Action Leadership Award, with Voices in the Wilderness 2003
  • Thomas Merton Center Award, Pittsburgh, PA 2003
  • Adela Dwyer St. Thomas of Villanova Peace Award, Villanova University, Voices in the Wilderness 2003
  • William Scarlett Award from The Witness, Voices in the Wilderness 2003
  • Association of Chicago Priests, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Common Ground Award with Voices in the Wilderness 2004
  • First Annual Award for Justice on behalf of the Religious Orders Partnership given to Kathy Kelly and Voices in the Wilderness
  • Cranbrook Peace Foundation Annual Peace Award 2004
  • Houston Peace and Justice Center National Peacemaker Award
  • Peace Seeker of the Year 2005, Montana Peace Seekers Network
  • Doctorate of Theology, honoris causa, from Chicago Theological Seminary, awarded May 14, 2005
  • Doctorate of Humanities, honoris causa, from Lewis University, awarded May 15, 2005

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Other Lands Have Dreams, by Kathy Kelly:

» Toward a different world, a neighborhood at a time from Everyday Citizen
"I'm working toward a world in which it would be easier for people to behave decently." (Kathy Kelly, Voices in the Wilderness)... [Read More]

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