BETHLEHEM Joseph Lombardo has been an anti-war advocate since he was a teenager.
Recently, his longtime fight took him far from his Bethlehem home to demonstrate in a country whose people he feels are being hurt by U.S. military actions, but we are not even at war with. As part of the United National Anti-War Coalition, Lombardo traveled to Pakistan in early October with seven others to demonstrate against the use of drones there. He will speak about his trip at an event at the Bethlehem Public Library sponsored by the Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace.
Lombardo had just entered college when the Vietnam anti-war movement began in earnest. At the time, he wanted to end what he felt was an “agenda” that was taking away friends and family. He never thought decades later he would be making the trip to Pakistan.
“The people there don’t understand why we hate them and why we can’t stop our government from doing these things,” said Lombardo.
The delegation spent a total of eight days abroad speaking with local peace groups and citizens whose lives have been directly influenced by the use of drones within their country. The trip also included a two-day “peace convoy” from Islamabad to the Federally Administered Tribal Area of Waziristan, on the border of Afghanistan.
“The people living there are afraid to go outside because they are afraid of drone attacks,” said Lombardo. “The men are afraid to gather in a group of more than three people because they think they will be thought of as militant and attacked. A majority of the children don’t go to school.”
During discussions, the delegation was told there has been a recent uptick in rates of suicide and depression among Pakistanis, which local groups attributed to post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by the specter of drone attacks.