First International Resolution to Protect Interpreters from Threats, Kidnapping, Injury, Death and Imprisonment
Linguists, more popularly known as translators, who work behind the scenes for the military, are in constant danger. Allies and foes alike view these professionals as spies, and do everything in their power to prevent the linguists from carrying out their mission: to protect fellow soldiers by translating broadcasts, yells on the battle field, and diplomatic conversations, risking their own lives.
Sadly, linguists are not covered by any international legal text. Government policies do not address their needs, and the tools used in criminal justice are painfully inadequate. Very little effort has been made to improve programs that help relocate endangered interpreters and their loved ones.
In 2003, the Department of the Army (US) helped create the military occupational specialty (MOS) 09L, for translators and interpreters. This program was made to create skill identifier codes for different languages, station the workers at select military base inside the US, and establish centralized staff support for training, funding, sourcing, recruiting, and deploying. (Cook, 66)
Even with all this, the system is lacking. Not only are the translators and interpreters putting their lives on the line for their fellow soldiers, many of the family members of those who choose to serve remain in their native countries, at great personal risk. And the families that do come have the difficult task of immigration and integration into a foreign country.
Therefore, the issue is twofold. The translator and his immediate family can be taken to another country after they serve the military, but the rest of their family cannot. The most common reason is the cost to move, or the simple unwillingness to leave all that they know and love behind.
In spite of all this, there is hope. Petitions have been started to get the attention of the United Nations, in hopes of starting a UN Resolution. The petition linked to above has been backed by the Red T, the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC), the International Federation of Translators (FIT), the International Association of Professional Interpreters and Translators (IAPTI), Critical Link International (CLI) and the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI). There is also a letter addressed to the Pope about this very issue. Please, help spread the word, and help protect these brave men and women.
Open Letter to the Pope
Army Translator and Interpreter Companies: A Wasted Resource
You may also be interested in the following:
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Article: The Human Brain and Language