America has been buzzing about the dresses,the stars,the winners,and the hit films all week. But the most important part of the Oscars is a real-life drama that is still playing out.
It is not unusual for Hollywood actors to use their stardom to bring attention to human rights and humanitarian causes. But it is surprising when they do so in an effort to do right by U.S. national security.
This is what Zero Dark Thirty actors Jessica Chastain and Jason Clarke did when they called for the release of Dr. Shakil Afridi,who helped the U.S. track Osama bin Laden,at Sunday’s annual Academy Awards. Zero Dark Thirty,the story of the hunt for bin Laden,was nominated for five Academy Awards,including Best Picture.
A full-page ad in The Hollywood Reporter had urged the members of the Zero Dark Thirty cast and crew to highlight the travesty of the Afridi case. Noting that “without Dr. Afridi’s sacrifice,we may not have pinpointed the world’s most dangerous terrorist,” the ad also asked,“Who will stand up to help America if this is how we treat our friends?”
Dr. Afridi,a Pakistani citizen,was picked up by the Pakistani authorities a few weeks after the May 2,2011,raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The doctor,at the behest of the U.S.,apparently led a phony vaccination campaign in Abbottabad,Pakistan,in an attempt to secure DNA evidence from the residents living inside the bin Laden compound. Afridi was unable to obtain the samples,but U.S. officials have acknowledged he provided information that helped U.S. officials locate bin Laden.
Photo Credit:wyvernfm (Creative Commons)