Biography of Donna Mulhearn.
Sydney-based peace activist Donna Mulhearn is a former journalist and political adviser. She was a human shield in the war in Iraq in 2003 and later returned to Iraq as a humanitarian aid worker. She was part of an international team of volunteers that established a small NGO “Our Home – Iraq’ which set up a shelter for street kids in Baghdad, a centre for traumatised children and provided emergency aid to displaced families. During this time she witnessed the massacre of Fallujah in April 2004, survived constant bombing, being kidnapped by fighters, and being shot at by American soldiers. In 2004- 2005 Donna spent four months in the West Bank of Palestine as a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement. During these years she continually wrote reports and reflections called pilgrim notes, which were distributed widely around Australia and the world. On her return visits to Australia she did talks at schools, churches, peace groups and community organisations about the situation in Iraq and Palestine.
In August 2005 Donna camped outside George Bush's Ranch in Crawford, Texas as part of the Camp Casey peace vigil led by US activist ‘peace Mom’ Cindy Sheehan, mother of Casey Sheehan who was killed on duty in Iraq.
Donna has faced trial and prison time for breaking into Pine Gap US military base in December 2005 to do a ‘Citizen’s Inspection’ for suspected terrorist activity with five other Christian pacifists. The goal was to highlight the central role the base played in the war in Iraq and challenge the Government’s definition of terrorism.
In January 2010, Donna was part of an international delegation that broke siege of the Gaza Strip to deliver humanitarian aid and bring solidarity to the people of Gaza. The delegation was part of the wider Gaza Freedom March, which attracted about 1400 people from more than 40 countries to Egypt with the goal of entering Gaza together and raising awareness of the illegal blockade. Egyptian authorities refused permission for the whole group to enter Gaza. The activists in Cairo staged a series of nonviolent actions aimed at pressuring the international community to end the siege and produced the Cairo Declaration.
Donna is currently a writer and speaker on non-violence, activism and contemplative spirituality and works with the Edmund Rice Network in Sydney promoting engagement in social justice issues, particularly amongst young people. She is motivated by the radical Christian teaching of non-violence. Her inspiration to join the human shields was the Prayer of St Francis of Assisi: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: where there is hatred, let me bring love...” Donna describes herself as a ‘pilgrim and storyteller’ and practices a spirituality of action and contemplation which includes the practice of Christian Meditation. This is an ancient spiritual tradition, also called the prayer of the heart, which has been revived in recent years through the teaching of the late John Main, a British Benedictine monk.
Donna continues to journey though life as a pilgrim: living in intentional community, challenging militarism, living simply, writing pilgrim notes and presenting talks around Australia about the war in Iraq, nonviolence, how to make a difference and Christian Meditation. Featured on ABC’s Australian Story program, Donna is also a Master’s candidate at Sydney University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.
Her website is www.pilgrimstoryteller.com
She also has writings published in four others books:
Ending War, Building Peace
Published 2009 by Sydney University Press
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