Thursday, August 06, 2009

Laura, Euna, and Ibrahim

Totally and utterly thrilled about the safe return of Laura and Euna.
Very proud of the US for sending in its top sweet-talker, Bill Clinton, to secure their release.

The one silver lining in this whole episode, I hope, is the raising of awareness for the hundreds of journalists still in captivity in various countries all over the world.

These cases don't make it onto the front page of the New York Times. They are low profile non-stories that few people, if any, know about. These journalists, instead of shining the light of truth, spend their days rotting away in dingy, dark, 3rd world prison cells that Bill Clinton will never visit.

The sad truth is that journalism is not such a sagacious career choice for people who live in repressive countries, and cherish their own personal freedom. By simply putting their pens to paper, digitally recording reality, and publicizing a truth, they can lose their lives. Outside these despicable bubbles of repression, we are aware that their "criminal" acts of journalism are actually the ultimate acts of patriotism.

The world's leaders should take this opportunity to condemn Iran, Burma, China, Cuba, and Zimbabwe's criminal record in arresting innocent journalists, and, when pertinent, acknowledge and correct their own shortcomings in this arena.

In particular, the US should take an introspective look at the case of Ibrahim Jassan. While the US doesn't have the same underlying reasons as North Korea for incarcerating journalists, the two countries may in fact be guilty of the same crime.

Read this article about the Reuters cameraman from Iraq held by the US for nearly a year without a trial.

While there have been no new cases of foreign journalists being arrested under the Obama administration, the fact that even one is still in custody since September of 2008 is unacceptable. Americans should pressure their representatives to provide Jassan a fair and swift trial. If there is no evidence to convict him, he should be released immediately. Holding him for one year without trial is criminal. Just like Laura and Euna, Ibrahim has a family anxiously waiting for him in Baghdad. It's time Americans also know him on a first-name basis.

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