Saturday, April 10, 2010

Aijalon Mahli Gomes "if not heroic, then certainly courageous"

John Park, a North Korea specialist at the US Institute for Peace in Washington and a fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, acknowledges that Aijalon Mahli Gomes has little leverage: With the recent crossings of evangelical campaigners [including Robert Park], professor Park said, “the North’s concern is that if they don’t treat this harshly, this could create a wave of people wanting to highlight rights abuse on the international stage.’’

Professor Sung-Yoon Lee, a North Korean expert at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, said he viewed the huge fine for Gomes as a “signal that North Korea is willing to negotiate and get some money for releasing Mr. Gomes.’’

“A lot of North Korea watchers may criticize this foolhardy, risky move by Park and Gomes because it raises thorny issues of having to pay ransom or make some kind of concession,’’ Lee said.

“But people like Gomes and Park embody a powerful human presence — the willingness to take a great risk and sacrifice themselves. . . . I think this kind of daring move will come to be viewed as, if not heroic, then certainly courageous in the long run,’’ Lee added.

Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts has stepped up to the plate and called for the release of Aijalon Mahli Gomes.

“This is a mother’s worst nightmare and a horrific situation,’’ Kerry said. “This young man belongs in Massachusetts with his family, and I join with them in expressing my hope that North Korea will do the right thing and send him home.’’

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