Coinciding with this week’s United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York City, singer-songwriter Ed Hale of the rock group TRANSCENDENCE, will be part of a coalition of prominent members of the United States peace and human rights movement who will be meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Over 100 peace and human rights activists representing over three dozen American peace and human rights groups will fly in to attend the private meeting with the Iranian president in an undisclosed location. There has been an embargo on releasing the date, time, or location of the meeting to the press in order to avoid any interruption of the proceedings.
Hale visited Iran in March of this year along with 12 others as a Civilian Diplomat to discuss US/Iranian relations with members of the Iranian government including former President Khatami. Hale has been interviewing with the media about the trip over the last six months, as well as giving formal presentations to discuss it with the public. He has also written about it on his blog, The Transcendence Diaries. Photos from the trip can be viewed by visiting Hale’s Flickr page here. This meeting in the US is being held in order to introduce Ahmadinejad to the peace community in the United States and to illustrate how this sector of civil society works to oppose war and the use of violence to resolve differences. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and UN Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee will also be in attendance.
In response to those who have vocally protested his involvement in meeting with Ahmadinejad, Hale had this to say: “Iran and the United States have not spoken diplomatically in over 25 years. When the governments of these nations do speak to each other it is usually behind closed doors through special envoys in some remote neutral country or they speak AT each other publicly through the media making accusations and threats and bullying each other. Israel is also involved in this childish power struggle. All three countries need to grow up and start representing the people of their nations in a more mature and responsible manner that respects human life. Until the governments of our countries are willing to stop the chest beating and start a real dialogue about the most pressing issues that the people are facing — most importantly peace between our countries — then we the people need to step up and do the talking for them. This is what Civilian Diplomacy is about. It is imperative that someone say something constructive that moves us forward; at the same time we need to start listening to each other more. For me personally I don’t care who I have to meet with if it means that it might potentially save human lives. Our meeting with President Ahmadinejad does not imply that we agree with his Holocaust denial statements anymore than our meeting with Dick Cheney would imply that we support the invasion of Iraq. What is most important is that we get the message out to as many people around the world as possible that peace is possible and that if we have to then we the people will make that happen if the governments of the world are not willing to. We certainly cannot continue in the direction we are headed in now. We need to open the lines of communication in order to assure that we save more lives. That’s what this meeting is about.”