Rally for Student in Iran; Korea Expert To Speak At Coalition Event
By Donald Gilpin
Just three days after President Trump’s announcement that the United States will withdraw from the nuclear agreement with Iran, graduate students and other members of the Princeton University community have planned a rally to support Xiyue Wang, their colleague who has been imprisoned in Iran for almost two years.
The rally to urge Wang’s release and return to his country and family will take place on the north lawn in front of Frist Campus Center on Friday, May 11 at 7 p.m., with scheduled speakers including Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert, Wang’s wife Hua Qu, and other family and friends.
A PhD student in the Princeton University History Department, Wang was arrested in August 2016 when he was in Iran continuing his Farsi language studies and conducting scholarly research for his dissertation on 19th-century Eurasia. In April 2017 he was sentenced by the Iranian judiciary to ten years imprisonment on charges of espionage, in a proceeding that lacked basic due process and other legal protections, according to the rally organizers.
The organizers describe Wang as “an innocent student who has tragically become a victim of the deteriorating relationship between the US and Iran.” There appears to have been little progress on diplomatic fronts to secure his release and return to the U.S.
With U.S.-Iran relations on a delicate footing, the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA) had been
pressing government officials to maintain the agreement that has halted, or at least delayed, Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.
“It’s not perfect. Iran’s behavior is troubling, but you can’t solve all the problems in one agreement,” said CFPA Executive Director the Rev. Bob Moore.
Moore had anticipated Trump’s decision and warned of possible consequences of withdrawing. “It’s likely Iran will pursue nuclear weapons on a fast track if we withdraw from this agreement. Things could go downhill very quickly.”
Just at press time, Moore announced that the CFPA will hold a rally at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 9, in Hinds Plaza to oppose Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear agreement with Iran.
On a more positive note, Moore pointed out astonishing progress between North and South Korea and reported that Korea expert Jessica Lee, interim executive director at the Council of Korean Americans, will be the keynote speaker at the CFPA 38th Anniversary gathering on Sunday, June 3 at the Mackay Campus Center of Princeton Theological Seminary.
Lee was a staff member in the U.S. House of Representatives, first handling the Asia portfolio for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and as a senior legislative assistant for a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.
At the program CFPA will also honor Senator Corey Booker and three gun safety groups involved in the Ceasefire NJ Project, which coordinates gun violence prevention efforts across New Jersey: Moms Demand Action; Million Mom March/Brady Campaign; and Faith Action.
Booker will not be able to attend the event, but his award will be accepted by Deputy State Director Hana Mori.
“We are delighted to offer such a special opportunity to hear from a leading expert on Korea, just as a summit between President Trump and North Korean Leader Kim will probably take place,” Moore said. “We are also pleased to honor Senator Booker and three outstanding gun safety groups for their exemplary leadership for peace.”
Moore expressed his optimism at the rapprochement between North and South Korea so far. “The CFPA has been intensifying its efforts to support diplomacy not war, advocating persistent diplomacy to peacefully resolve issues that had the region edging closer to war.”
He continued, “What a turn it’s taken. The tone has changed, and this is very encouraging, but people still need to support sustained diplomacy. Nothing’s a done deal yet. There are a lot of wild cards out there.”
The June 3 CFPA event is open to the public. Visit peace coalition.org or call (609) 924-5022 for reservations.