Word is out that his North Korean captors permitted Aijalon Mahli Gomes a telephone call home today. North Korea also said that Aijalon was visited by by a Swedish diplomat to whom he delivered a “petition.” A spokesman for the U.S. State Department announced that the developments are a “welcome gesture”, but that the U.S. is calling for Aijalon to be released on “humanitarian grounds.”
Looking for an account of what was said during the phone call home, all I find is this from the Associated Press:
Thaleia Schlesinger, a spokeswoman for the family of Aijalon Mahli Gomes, confirmed Friday that Gomes spoke with his mother on the phone from North Korea.
Schlesinger said Gomes’ mother was very grateful to have the opportunity to speak with her son and hear his voice. Schlesinger said the woman was also grateful to the North Korean government for allowing him to call.
The spokeswoman declined to say what was discussed during the call or give details on Gomes’ condition.
Look, I know how the game goes. The bully must be treated with respect. The strong man must be appeased. Yet, as we enter the rest of another Sabbath, I can’t help but wonder: What if the whole world stopped…and listened? What if everyone who is tired of violence, hate, unjust imprisonment and the misery of the masses in favor of the luxury of the few running unchecked on the Earth–what if they said, “No more.” What if they shouted for freedom and equality? I’m thinking that such a yell would bring down the oppressors as sure as the walls of Jericho fell, never to be rebuilt.
When I think of Aijalon’s mother, having to express her gratitude to those who hold her son in a mean and gruesome imprisonment–lest the tormentor be riled–I want to cry. I want to scream. I want to stand up and be counted as one of those who love freedom and justice for all.
Rather, I’ll look to the Shabbat for healing. I’ll look to the Creator for wisdom. And I will look inside myself to see where I have been the captor, where I have been the jailer, where I have been the one treating a brother or sister unfairly. And I will seek forgiveness for my own acts of malice.
May God bless Aijalon Mahli Gomes, his family, the people of North Korea… may God bless you and me.
It’s not clear what he tried to achieve? “Open world’s eyes to NK atrocities”? Whoever wanted to open them, already did. Hardcore lefties won’t, so what’s the point?
I fear this man is just another idealist shocked by evil and trying to do something to fix it, but in his naivety doing more harm than good. Now a lot of time, energy and $$$ will be spent trying to free him. Which is of course should be done, but has he NOT creating this trouble, same time, energy and $$$ could have been spent better (for example, helping NKorean refugees in China and elsewhere, or financing NK opposition).
Thank you, Den. It would be interesting to hear Aijalon’s response to the points you make. Certainly, your perspective is one that needs to be answered. Perhaps, he was driven by an irresistible urge to do something. At least something.
I wish I could speak to this man. I would like to know what went through his mind when he decided to go from South Korea to North Korea. It says he’s from Boston. I am also from Boston. I sort of agree with you roadturn, perhaps he was driven by an urge to do something, just something, anything. Then again, maybe he was simply devoid of common sense. I happen to believe the former. From the pictures I have seen of him, he looks intelligent. I think everyone nowadays is so quick to point fingers and judge and pigeonhole that we never simply step back and let things be as they are instead of trying to categorize them and fit square pegs into round holes. Sometimes certain categories don’t apply to certain situations no matter how hard we want them to and I think everyone would be better off if they accepted this. It’s easy for us to criticize and demean and theorize but we don’t know for sure why he did what he did and we never will unless we talk to him or he talks to us. It’s as simple as that.
Good point, Ngage. I am all for waiting to let Aijalon tell his own story, and I hope he does.
Think of this, too: Robert Park was still a captive of North Korea when Aijalon was arrested. Could he have been trying to stand up for his brother in Christ?