Foreign journalists get more respect in N. Korea & Iran than in U.S.

Earlier this year, an Iranian-American journalist Roxanna Saberi was arrested in Iran for spying. She reportedly had some sensitive government papers on her. She was given a trial and sentenced to prison.

More recently, two American journalists were arrested in North Korea for filming without permission. They were given a trial and sentenced to prison. They were recently released when a former U.S. president visited the country.

In both cases, pressure from the U.S. resulted in these journalists being pardoned and released. There were no allegations that these journalists detained in Iran or North Korea were ever tortured.

On the other hand, the U.S. has detained scores of journalists in other countries, and imprisoned them without a trial or charges for years. Some of them were held in Guantanamo, some in Bagram Prison in Afghanistan and some in prisons in Iraq. One was Sami al Hajj, who was detained and tortured without charges or trial for six years. He was held in Guantanamo. He is now a free man and has never received an apology or explanation.

Another example is Ibrahim Jassam, a cameraman for Reuters, who was detained one night at his home in Iraq in September 2008. U.S. forces broke into his home and terrorized the entire family to detain him. He is still in a U.S.-run prison in Iraq, even though the Iraqi government has asked for his release (so much for sovereignty). There has never been a trial or even charges brought against him. There are allegations of torture.

Compared with these examples, both Iran and North Korea showed more ethical and moral behavior toward journalists than the United States. And these two countries were called part of an 'axis of evil' by our former president!

In this country, we lack for nothing in the physical realm. Yet, time and again, we abandon morality and justice. We kidnap and imprison without charges or reason, and then torture and even murder our prisoners. We are operating under the delusion that this will somehow keep us "safe."

We send our own children overseas to kill the children of others. We add to grief after grief of the ordinary people of this earth, while allowing the rich and powerful to get even more rich and powerful. We allow, time and again, for those in the U.S. government to get away with it.

And to those who want to tell me that if I don't like this country I should leave, I can only say that I don't want to leave. I want to stop being ashamed of the country of my birth.

— Susan Oehler


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