Friday, June 26, 2009

This Little Light of Mine- Orlando Candlelight Vigil for Peace in Iran

Today is our Independence Day when our forefathers decided to stand up for themselves and for what they believed. Iran had one thirty years ago with the Islamic Revolution. I am left with the question, "Will they have one again?"

Last week on June 25th, I attended a rally for peace in Iran. For the most part, I felt as an outsider. Most of the participants spoke Farsi and had lived in Iran for at least some part of their lives. I have only lived in the United States. As of yet, I haven't been outside of here for any extended period of time. I have studied history and other governments, but I do not know what it is like to live under a truly repressive regime. I admire all of the people who came out to the candlelight vigil. They are speaking out on something in which they believe. I hope their voices are heard.

I do not speak Farsi, but I understood what they were saying. I have not been to a rally like that since I went to the rally to Free Tibet in Washington DC in 1998. I forgot what it was like to demand change, to demand freedom. Still, I question what the United States role in this should be. How do we help these people who just want freedom? Isn't this something that the US should be supporting? See, that is where I am left dumbfounded. I cannot in good conscience enforce my beliefs on anyone else. How can a country enforce its beliefs onto another country? The United States has been seen as a bully since the end of World War II, and this perception was reinforced recently by President Bush. Is this a perception that we would like to continue?

The Iranian citizens have to do this on their own, and I believe that they can. Yes, there are going to be disappearances and Human Rights violations. This is where such organizations as Human Rights Watch & Amnesty International come into play. These NGO's can speak up for the lost. It is going to be difficult, and we, as humans, do not want to hear about how bad it can get. It has been strange that since Michael Jackson passed that any news about what is going on in Iran has been few and far between. It seems that the public is easily distracted from the serious problems of the world.

I believe in these people who speak out. As they continue to work from the inside, I will continue to hold up my candle and not forget about them. What will you do?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Reflections on Foreign Policy- What should we do about Iran?

For the past week, I have stared at video and reports from Iran with amazement. Mostly, it is because it is not coming from traditional news sources, but rather from (extra)ordinary people in the middle of it all. Currently, I am waiting in anticipation for the rally that is to take place at 4pm Tehran time. Earlier today, Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme religious leader of Iran, gave a speech calling for an end to the protests over the Presidential election that took place last Saturday. Twitter and Facebook have given a humanized face to these protesters. This is something that I have not seen from any news agency in a very long time. I admire these people for speaking out against what they consider an unfair and illegal election and hope they are successful in their goals of a new one.

I have come to view this situation with a unique perspective. I am not a layperson. I have a BA degree in International Relations specializing in Political Science. I interned at Americans for Democratic Action the summer before my senior year. I know how things work in Washington, DC. Still, I would not call myself an expert, at least, not yet. I will be starting my Master's this fall in Political Science and specializing in International Studies. Iran has been, at best, politically erratic for the past thirty years, especially when it comes with dealing with the United States. This is why as a government, the United States, must tread very carefully. It was thirty years ago when US citizens were taken hostage in Tehran. This was a direct result of the US openly supporting a corrupt regime. Now, President Obama must not appear to take sides in Iran's presidential elections. This could prove very dangerous for the United States and it's allies. North Korea is also stretching it's arms to see how far it can reach. With the incarceration of Laura Ling & Euna Lee and the threat of sending missiles toward Hawaii, North Korea is becoming increasingly unstable. Many believe it is because Kim Jong Il is dying, and his replacement, his son Kim Jong Un, must prove his mettle. With lack of better information, it seems that this theory is the most appropriate one. Still, the US should not view the situation with Iran as separate from the situation with North Korea. My instinct says that these are intertwined. If elections are not re held in Iran, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad remains in power, then North Korea will find a dangerous ally. At best, the situation would become explosive. At worst, well, you can use your imagination. The US government, for the time being, must continue to remain silent and not take sides in the internal affairs of Iran. It would be dangerous and very costly to do so. At the same time, US citizens should continue to help protesting Iranian citizens to spread news about what is going on there. We are all humans in this world. We should do what humans do best: help each other.

Below is a link to Nico Pitney's liveblogg on Huffington Post. Stay informed... It is critical.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

It's real!!

I just got confirmation of my finacial aid for graduate school. I will be going to school full-time at UCF. This means I will finish graduate school in a little over a year from now. I cannot express how happy I am right now!! Graduate school is really happening!!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Human Rights Issues & News 6/8/09

Awareness is key to our survival...

1)Laura Ling & Euna Lee

The North Korean government released information at about 1am eastern standard time this morning that Laura Ling & Euna Lee received a sentence of 12 years of labor prison for undisclosed "crimes against the state." What a load of horse bull! It appears that the North Korean government is using these women as pawns in their pursuit of nuclear arms and so forth. I know that this is all part of the diplomacy game, but that doesn't make it right. These women are human beings and deserve to be treated as such. On top of everything else, Al Gore seems strangely silent regarding his two employees. Yes, these two women work for him at Current TV. It amazes me that this has not had more attention. Citizens should be screaming from the Atlantic to the Pacific. I don't know about anyone else, but I will be calling and emailing people in our government and in the United Nations tomorrow. Something must be done. This situation is akind to a hostage situation. North Korea has taken two of our citizens. We want them back!

2)websites of note

Op-Ed: "Don't fall for North Korea's Trap"

Incidence of Rape in Democratic Republic of Congo Soaring

Leonard Pitts Jr.: Right-wing’s hijacking of ‘racism’ unfunny

Victims of trafficking need more than words

Lakhdar Boumediene: I was tortured at Guantanamo

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Think Different

The idea of standing up for in what you believe...

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Beginning

And so it begins...

I will be starting graduate school this fall at University of Central Florida. I feel I am standing on the threshold of real change in my life. I will be studying International Studies in the Political Science department, but my focus will be on the study of Human Rights. It took me a while to come to this point. It almost feels I have come full circle, but this time I know where I want to go and what I want to do. Fighting for Human Rights is my real passion. And so, this blog is going to document my journey fighting for people who either have lost their voice or never had a voice of which to speak. I will be posting different stories, videos, and articles to help keep anyone who follows this informed about what is going on in the world outside. This will also follow my own personal journey through the pursuit of my master's at UCF and hopefully, of my Ph.D. at a school yet to be determined. I am excited about what's to come. The presipice of real change is at my feet. Let's jump in...