WWIII: the global battle for freedom

Darren D'Altorio

Watch CNN’s video “The power of Neda.” It contains graphic content.

Read about the Kosovo freedom of speech issues.

Read a New York Times blog about voting errors in the Iranian election.

Read a news blog about the situation in Iran.

I watched a horror movie unfold on CNN.com today, thanks to a cell phone video from Tehran.

Neda. Have you heard of her? I’ll take the liberty to declare her a martyr for the free world right now. She is Kent State circa May 4, 1970. She is the First Amendment.

In the midst of political and social catastrophe in Iran, she took to the streets to march for her beliefs, to join other like-minded Iranians in voicing a collective dissatisfaction of the government and its perceptively shady practices.

Monday, The New York Times exposed Iranian authorities who acknowledged that in 50 cities, the number of votes cast exceeded the number of people living there, totaling a three-million vote discrepancy. That’s grounds to be pissed, to rally and protest about the corruption within the Iranian government.

The Iranian Constitution even guarantees this right to its citizens: “Article 27 [Freedom of Assembly] Public gatherings and marches may be freely held, provided arms are not carried and that they are not detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam.”

Neda didn’t have an AK-47 strapped to her body and she wasn’t condemning Allah. She wasn’t even throwing rocks, like some protesters there. Yet, a fellow protester with a cell phone camera captured her body falling to the ground as blood collected at her feet. Her eyes, peeled open in shock, didn’t blink as more blood escaped her lips.

Then, a man pronounced her dead on the scene in front of her father, whom she walked side by side with peacefully just minutes before the massacre until some pussy “paramilitary volunteer” camped out on a building rooftop shot her.

What’s happening in Iran right now should speak volumes to the world about the concept of freedom in a global society. People around the world are linked up and sharing ideas. People can see what the fight for freedom looks like from the LGBT community protesting their rights in California to the scenes coming out of Iran via cell phone documentaries and Twitter feeds. This transcontinental exchange of information accomplishes a great goal – putting everyone on the same level. That level is called humanity.

I’m in Kosovo right now, a country that has fought for independence, identity and freedom for centuries. Corruption runs deep here. Social injustice is prevalent, embodied in a mangled education system, a stagnant justice system and a wounded health care system, among other things. But there is hope here for freedom to flourish.

That hope was ignited last February when Kosovo enacted a constitution, officially declaring itself a free nation of the world.

But just last week, one of the most prominent journalists and news editors in Kosovo, Jeta Xharra, who hosts a weekly program called “Life in Kosovo,” had her life threatened publicly. These verbal attacks came after she addressed the topic “freedom of speech in Kosovo” on her show.

She specifically brought to attention how some newspapers here are agenda peddlers for political parties who support them financially. She raised awareness to the public that the information they are consuming may be false and purely propaganda. In print, she was called an “embassy whore,” a “Serbian spy” and told she “brought it upon herself to have a short life.”

In the wake of this, organizations like the European Union, the United Nations Mission in Kosovo and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network stood up for Xharra, supporting her for promoting active free speech in Kosovo and condemning the people responsible for the public attacks against her.

The point here is not political. It’s not about what party runs the show in whatever country. It’s about what freedom means and how it will be upheld around the world. Right now is the chance for the people of every country to come together on an issue, engaging a worldwide dialogue.

What does freedom mean to you? I honestly want to know.

Darren D’Altorio is a senior magazine journalism major and columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected] and follow his blog from Kosovo www.participateinlife.blogspot.com.