Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Freedom for Laura Ling & Euna Lee

As writers, we are always talking about creativity and freedom of expression. This is something we take for granted in the United States and many other places. I cannot begin to imagine the thoughts that have run through the minds of Laura Ling and Euna Lee over the last five months. Both were used to that freedom of expression that they had always known. Both were used to not having strict limitations.

When their ordeal began, there was not even a real trial. They were quickly sentenced to twelve years of hard labor. I can't even imagine how frightening it must have been. I'm sure they hoped and prayed that someone would step in and help them to know freedom again.

President Clinton has been accused many times of getting involved in things when he shouldn't have. In this case, I'm glad he did. He was the right person to step in and free these two women. The grateful families commented on his efforts in the Washington Post:

"We are counting the seconds to hold Laura and Euna in our arms," said a statement from their families, whose united effort to free the women display the qualities - discipline, determination and devotion - that friends said marked the captives' lives.

"We especially want to thank President Bill Clinton for taking on such an arduous mission and Vice President Al Gore for his tireless efforts to bring Laura and Euna home," the statement said. "We must also thank all the people who have supported our families through this ordeal, it has meant the world to us. "

People can criticize former President Clinton for getting involved, and people can criticize the two women for going where they shouldn't have. But, they are journalists and they need to tell a story - and it is never logical anyway when you are dealing with a communist country and an unhinged leader.

So, thank you, President Clinton (and former Vice President Al Gore, who worked behind the scenes)
- for helping two young women who's futures went from very bright to very bleak. Thank you for sticking up for them when everything else going on pushed them far away from the headlines. It speaks volumes for journalists and writers around the world.

As for Laura and Euna, welcome home. I hope that now you will not only taste freedom again, but your futures will begin to brighten once more.

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