Posts tagged Iran

“Invisible Children” Gone Viral, Who to Believe?

The Internet has been deluged about “Invisible Children” and most recently the “Kony2012” video. According to a Wall Street Journal article on March 9th, last Thursday this latest YouTube clip had 44.7 million views and over 170 related clips.  Twitter users mentioned Joseph Kony almost one million times. What and WHO are we REALLY to believe? Of course, there are many perspectives about this awful topic of child soldiers in Africa. However, I think it is very important we have a measured response and listen to those people who live in the areas of Uganda and elsewhere in Africa where Kony and his troops of the “Lord’s Resistance Army” have infiltrated.

I am no expert on any of this, it is so far removed from the clean and Spartan classrooms that I have taught in while living in Ukraine and Kazakhstan.  Jungles and military are about as far away from what I experience on an every day basis while back in Minnesota now.  Difficult to believe I’ve been home experiencing a whole year back in my home state of Minnesota since my return from Astana, Kazakhstan.  What can I do about what is happening when young children are yanked from their homes and forced by fear and intimidation to become child soldiers?

Just the other day I met a young woman in my hometown who had a pierced lip and dark makeup with her bright orange hair that was dyed unnaturally under a black stocking hat to suit her horrendous, gothic appearance. She would be a charming enough looking girl if she went natural, she seemed articulate enough.  She too had seen the Kony2012 youtube flick which has been put out by the Invisible Children guys out of California.  They are calling for military action against Kony, the infamous leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army. This young gothic girl was ready to put posters up all over town to bring awareness to this situation, I know she doesn’t have the money to donate to the “cause.”

What I did NOT appreciate what the Invisible Children producers did, when I watched this one hour documentary, was to confuse the issue about WHO the good and bad guys are.  If I’m not mistaken, they wanted to make it appear that the Christians were part of the “Lord’s Resistance Army.”  Any time there was a Catholic priest talking against Kony with a large cross on his front, they carefully cropped that out.  The three California guys had a long prelude about how they were going into a dangerous place in Africa and probably were going to be killed, but they were going to find a story anyhow. They went to great lengths to show that they didn’t know what they were doing with their cameras and how naive they were about what they were getting in to. The first part of their film was entertaining but narcissistic.

Now this latest Kony2012 shows clips of the Invisible Children co-founder Jason Russell playing with his toddler. The founders of I.C. are making yet another emotional appeal for Americans to send them money to their organization so they can continue to bring awareness to this problem.  Yet there have been several people on the ground in their respective African nations who are saying there is a different view to what these well-meaning “outsiders” are producing.  All the hype of sending money to I.C. to continue this fight, well, what about the Christian pastor in Iran who was just executed for turning from his Muslim to become a Christian. Where is the outrage about that? (crickets)

David Batstone, co-founder of “Not For Sale” produced an article to what is really happening according to an African who was in Kony’s army.  Here’s another clip from Rosebell Kagumire, a Ugandan journalist who claims that things have improved over the past several years.  We, as Americans, live a very sheltered life compared to what the people in Muslim countries go through who want to be Christians or what fear Africans are living in with losing their children to these marauding bandits that have weapons.  The children they kidnap are their shields of protection. Those parents who want their missing children back, must separate Kony from his child concubines and other child soldiers who are forced to kill. These parents want their children back!!!

Yes, the producers are “Invisible Children” probably have their heart in the right place but is this Joseph Kony really the “white man’s burden” to help save Africans from themselves? But are we, as westerners, to stand helplessly by as parents lose their children and as children lose their childhood?  Why is there evil in the world? No easy answers but awareness about human trafficking can help make us love those who are close to us knowing that life is fragile, handle with prayer.

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Stunned Bewilderment over Kyrgyzstan Events (Part II)

Relieved to know that most of my American friends living in Bishkek are okay but am still waiting to hear about two other couples I have known since 1993.  They have lived in Bishkek for nearly 20 years and have sacrificed much to be in this Central Asian country they love. In a piece written by Evgeny Morozov in “Kyrgyzstan’s ‘Analog Revolution’” he helped answer the question for me why this Bishkek event last week which still seems so HUGE to us in Central Asia barely got any attention in the rest of the world media.  I’m thankful for Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and other ways that some of the news DID get out about this Kyrgyz revolution.  E-mail seems so twentieth century in this day and age of globalized revolutions.  Here’s Morozov’s take on it.

“First, for obvious geopolitical reasons, pundits are paying much less attention to protests in Kyrgyzstan than they did to protests in Iran and Burma (or even Thailand)…the Kyrgyz revolution is not “trending” as a popular topic.

Unsurprisingly, we don’t see much eulogizing about the Internet’s “revolutionary power” in the Western media either. But this does not mean we have suddenly become more reflective or less cyber-utopian; it only means that “Kyrgyzstan” is much harder to pronounce than Iran and most people couldn’t care less about it; there is no critical tweetering mass that could fuel the kind of collective fantasy that was fueled by “iranelection” on Twitter.”

To continue with yesterday’s blog posting written by my American friend:

“I went straight to the “White House”. A garbage truck had attempted to crash into a side gate, but a bullet had put a hole in one of its tires. I saw the police, they were heavily armed. Many were hiding behind trees or shields. They carried not only AK-47s, but also larger guns. They all wore bulletproof vests, some that resembled Batman’s costume. The gunshots continued. A man in a black leather jacket urged me away. The 100 police at the previous station had blockaded the road so I went down Frunze to the Consul and the Park Hotel and then tried to call people, but the reception wasn’t good. I heard megacom had problems.

I then headed back up and met with my brother (we got separated before). One guy told us to go back home. Joniel saw more police coming and saw a lady whose face was burned off. I asked him if I could have 10 more minutes. So I went to the columns and everyone was gathered around there. Suddenly, everyone started cheering and a few hundred people rushed around the corner of the columns up towards Kievskaya. I saw the puddle of blood and then saw another large puddle of blood. A large jacket was placed on top of it, with a large beating stick and lots of flowers. Obviously, the man had died there. I saw that many people had gathered pretty close to the gates of the “White House”, and that the fires on the trucks had died down. I saw the place where the man was shot. It was obvious that they had dragged him. There was a lot of blood, it was like a river of blood. Lumps of flesh also remained on the ground. There must have been enough blood to fill a bath tub. I’m not exaggerating. I think it would be impossible that he would have survived.

One man was weeping in rage and yelled, “Is this Kyrgyzstan? Is there a Kyrgyzstan? What are we doing?” Other men also joined in, but some yelled at the police “Go home! We don’t want to fight!” I saw men hiding behind trees and shouting in Russian and Kyrgyz at the guards. People were nervous, I could tell. Many smoked and spat all the time, for the others, you could see the fear in their eyes. Some men walked straight into the gate, shouting. Others had to go in there and rescue them. Whenever someone came close, the guards would fire warning shots into the air. I continued along and met with Joniel and then we headed back. I got a text from Rachel that she heard that Go-in was burnt down, so we decided to check it out on our way back. At Jibekjolu, close to Erkendik, we saw about 300 people blocking the road and standing in front of a police station/government building. I could hear dogs barking and people yelling. Many were holding red flags that said “Ata Mekten”.

We passed 7 Dnei and it was boarded up. Go-in was not burnt down, only closed. On front of the closed door, it said, “Muyi Cnarodim”. We got home, and saw that two local tv stations were shut down. We looked on line and found out that 12 people were killed right after we left and the square. We continued hearing more news and seeing more pictures and videos of what was going on. Facebook was all buzz and many people said they were praying.

I noticed that it wasn’t only in the square that there were demonstrations; we could hear things all over the city, even on Jibek Jolu and Kievskaya.

*****************

Today, my brother and I went out again to see what was left of the city after the looting. We saw Go-in was burned pretty badly. Lots of trash littered the floor. It was all black, and light gray smoke was still rising from the inside. We continued down sovietskaya and saw many furniture stores, casinos, and big stores looted with a lot of shattered glass close by. We turned right on Chui and things seemed really busy. It seemed like any other normal day. When we reached the square, we saw many people gathered again. We saw a pretty nice burnt down building close to the front of the square and saw lots of rubble, broken glass, broken furniture, and other stuff. People had already finished looting.

A large furniture store on kievskaya had lots of rocks thrown at it. We went down to the white house, saw the APC with lots of guys on it. I saw a stuffed giraffe in the middle, black from all the ashes. The gates to the White House were open, so we decided to take a tour. I mean, it’s not everyday someone goes to the white house, right? Well, it was chaos. We went to the front and guys with white ribbons around their arms kept us back. The front was a mess, with broken furniture and lots of paper fluttering about. Smoke was still rising from the windows and we could see that some of the top story windows were burned. Lots of shattered glass also. We proceeded to see the side and saw the guard house that was destroyed and the trucks that smashed into the sides. Most had their tires burnt off.

The side wasn’t any better, a terrible mess and people wanting to go in. At the back, it was still messy and they brought in 5-6 fire trucks to put out fires on the top floor. Guys climbed up ladders with a hose. We then went back out, saw some memorials for the dead. Lots of blood stains still and in respect, no one set foot on them. We went back to the columns, and saw lots of bullet holes, with rubber bullets and real bullets. Oh yea, found a bullet case close to the white house. Almost every column had a blood stain with flowers close by. There was a broken apteka at the corner, close to the APC. It was broken into and I went inside and saw bloody bandages, a hat, and the floor had blood splotches.

We saw bullet holes in the walls of the white house too. People were just milling about. Some were giving speeches, others were sleeping, others weredrinking alcohol that they looted, others were sleeping, others were taking pictures, and others were trying to clean up. We tried to help.

We came back, passed by the police station close to Philemon House. Nothing there, and there were policemen there walking about without helmets or weapons. We then went to 7 Dnei and it was wiped clean. Nothing was left, save for some shopping carts and racks. People threw cakes on the walls.”

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Ainash’s Grandparents Difficult Lives

 

In my life I have seen my grandparents very few times. Moreover, I have not met my first grandmother in this life. We are used to living in the city, but my grandparents lived outside of city. So I have been there only on summer holidays. In spite of this, it was the best holidays of my life because it allowed me to play a lot with nothing else to do. The history of my grandparent’s life is not very well known by me because they did not like to talk about their lives and considered that children don’t need to know about the difficulties of their experiences. I know it only from my mother’s history.

My grandfather’s name was Turmuhambet. He was born in 1919 in Dzhambul city. He was tall, thin, quiet and a very kind person. My grandparent’s family worked on the railway. In the family were two sons and my grandfather was younger. He graduated only seven years at school. After that he went to serve in the armed forces. However, the war came and he began to serve in the regular Army. He served in the regiment, which Iran won in 1941. After 2 years in Tehran held a meeting of the anti-Hitler coalition leaders – there are General Secretary of the Central Committee of CPSU Joseph Stalin, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Consequently, the city had been completely blocked by troops and special service for three conference days. My grandfather was at that time in those troops. Unfortunately, my grandparent lost his brother in war.

My grandparents became acquainted on Victory Day’s celebration. Thus, my grandfather married my first grandmother. My first grandmother’s name was Kanymkul. She was not tall, but thin and a modest woman. She was born in 1927. My grandparents lived together 31 years. They had 8 children; there are 5 boys and 3 girls. After the war my grandparents moved to the village. My grandfather worked as an accountant and then foreman. He learned the Arabic language and wrote poetry. They have not been published, though. Grandmother was a housewife. She brought up children, supported a house and cared for the livestock. She died at 49 years old. Grandfather married a second time, 8 years later. Her name was Aigan and she was much younger than him. In their life together there were no children. My grandfather died at 85 years old, 2 months after the death of grandmother Aigan. He became ill after the grandmother’s funeral and was never able to recover from this loss. These were difficult times for our family.

In conclusion, I would like to note that grandparents of our generation lived in difficult times. They had many experiences of grief and suffering in protecting the homeland. Currently, there are a few retirees who remain and who served and fought in the Soviet army. Our country cares about them. They are providing incentives and working on social programs for them. But, in my opinion, this is not enough for the elderly, as well as our concern and love brings them more happiness and comfort. We must not stop talking with them and listen to their stories. The main purpose of their life was a peace for their grandchildren. Our main task does not forget history and persons who created this story.

Now I am very sad that I have spoken little with my grandparents about their lives. That gave them little time. But I know that every summer, which I spent with them, brought no less joy.

 

 

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Proverbs from Around the World

When I taught ESL (English as a Second Language) in northern Virginia for three years, I had students from all over the globe.  However, during that time from 1995-1998, I do not recall having any students from Kazakhstan.  Perhaps Kazakhs were still dealing with many issues back in their home country after being under communism for 70 years.  I wonder how many of the samples of proverbs I got from my ESL students from around the world during that time, would fit with Kazakh proverbs.  The world would be a richer place if only we knew even 10 per cent of Kazakh proverbs.  Try to figure out the meanings of the following proverbs:

Vietnam – “Near the ink, you will be black, near the lamp, you will be bright.”

 

Thailand – “Love your cow, have to tie it; love your children, have to discipline.”

 

Eritrea – “The person who tries to get butter from water and the person who needs good things from his enemy is the same.”

 

Argentina – “The devil knows more from being old than from being devil.”

 

Taiwan – “When God wants a man to be a great one, He will exhaust his mind, exercise his body and take all the things he has.”

 

Peru – “Each person dances with his own handkerchief.”

 

Brazil – “When you pass away, your body will lie in a coffin and your tongue in a wagon.”

 

Korea – “Three inches of tongue can kill the righteous man.”

 

Ethiopia – “A tongue doesn’t have teeth, but it can break another’s bones.”

 

Iran – “An egg thief will be a camel thief.”

 

China – “Clumsy birds have to start flying early.”

 

United Arab Emirates – “Whoever wants honey should keep up with the bee’s sting.”

 

Guatemala – “Eyes that don’t see make a senseless heart.”

 

Japan – “Monkeys fall from the tree too.”

 

Vietnam – “If the mandarin (orange) skin is thick, there will be a sharpened nail to pierce it.”

 

El Salvador – “Fish and visitor smell in three days.”

 

El Salvador – “The habit don’t make the monk.”

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