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Iara Lee
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Iara Lee, a Brazilian of Korean descent, is an activist, filmmaker, and founder of the Caipirinha Foundation, an organization that promotes global solidarity and supports peace with justice projects. Iara is currently working on a variety of initiatives, grouped under the umbrella of CulturesOfResistance.org, an activist network that brings together artists and changemakers from around the world. At the center of these initiatives is a feature-length documentary film entitled CULTURES OF RESISTANCE, which explores how creative action contributes to conflict prevention and resolution.

As an activist, Iara has collaborated with numerous grassroots efforts, including the International Campaign to Ban Cluster Munitions, the Conflict Zone Film Fund, the New York Philharmonic's groundbreaking 2008 music for diplomacy concert in North Korea. More recently in May 2010, Iara was a passenger on the MV Mavi Marmara, a passenger vessel in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla which was attacked in international waters by the Israeli navy, leading to the murder of nine humanitarian aid workers. Among the many people who recorded the events on that ship, her crew was one of the only to successfully hide and retain most of the raid footage, which she later released to the world after a screening at the UN. Iara is very dedicated to the support of Gazan civilians who have been victims of war crimes committed by the Israeli military during "Operation Cast Lead" and who suffer from the Israeli government's ongoing acts of collective punishment.

At the onset of the Iraq war in 2003, Iara, eager to understand the conflict better, decided to travel and live in the MENA region (Middle East & North Africa). While residing in Lebanon in 2006, Iara experienced firsthand the 34-day Israeli bombardment of that country. Since then, moved by that experience, she has dedicated herself to the pursuit of a just peace in the region, and is an enthusiastic supporter of those initiatives which strengthen adherence to international law in enforcing human rights. In 2008 Iara lived in Iran and supported a number of cultural exchange projects between that country and the West with the goal of promoting arts & culture for global solidarity.

From 1984 to 1989 Iara was the producer of the Sao Paulo International Film Festival. From1989-2003 she was based in New York City, where she ran the mixed-media company Caipirinha Productions to explore the synergy of different art forms (such as film, music, architecture, and poetry). Under that banner, Iara has directed short and feature-length documentaries including Synthetic Pleasures, Modulations, Architettura, and Beneath the Borqa.

Iara Lee is a member of the President's Council of The International Crisis Group (ICG) and the Council of Advisors of the National Geographic Society, as well as a trustee to the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), North Korea's first and only university whose faculty will be entirely composed of international professors.

Entries by Iara Lee

Syria: Accidental Diplomacy in the Devils' Playground

(10) Comments | Posted September 16, 2013 | 5:46 PM

It's unfortunate that diplomacy has now become an accident of U.S. foreign policy. After John Kerry's slip-of-the-tongue in London last week, warmongers in and outside the beltway are sulking at the idea that a peaceful solution might prevent them from going to war in another Middle Eastern country.

Washington politicians'...

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Does Foreign Intervention Doom the Arab Spring? A Conversation With Trita Parsi and Stephen Zunes

(32) Comments | Posted February 14, 2013 | 3:46 PM

Two years ago, starting in February 2011, much of the world became absorbed in the Arab Spring uprisings happening throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Many international observers were excited by the successes in countries such as Egypt and Tunisia. However, in other cases, regimes in power were successful...

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The Only True Revolution in Syria Is Nonviolent

(42) Comments | Posted May 15, 2012 | 10:53 PM

The present conflict in Syria is a rather ugly mutation of the Arab uprisings that erupted across the Middle East and North Africa over a year ago. As in other countries, the uprising in Syria began with peaceful demonstrations for democratic reform, only to devolve into a violence that has...

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The Battle for the Xingu in Brazil (Video)

(2) Comments | Posted September 29, 2011 | 12:18 PM

This month, I would like to share a piece on the movement to prevent the construction of what would be the world's third-largest hydroelectric dam on Brazil's Xingu River. Our Cultures of Resistance film crew was there for a massive indigenous demonstration in 2008. Today, the Battle for the Xingu...

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"Obstructing Business": South Koreans on the March

(12) Comments | Posted August 29, 2011 | 8:57 PM

I was in Seoul, South Korea this month at the invitation of the wonderful EBS TV Documentary Festival, and was truly, happily surprised to see a resurgence of activism among ordinary Koreans. Don't get me wrong. Since its founding, Korea has had a tradition of fierce, die-hard activism (which Koreans...

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Bahrain and the True Face of US Foreign Policy

(56) Comments | Posted July 28, 2011 | 9:40 AM

It is no coincidence that the two main success stories of the "Arab Spring" -- Egypt and Tunisia -- were both non-violent and non-western in nature. These anti-authoritarian protests across the Middle East and North Africa have been a time of awkward shuffling for much of the western world, and...

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A Look at Global Militarization (VIDEO)

(30) Comments | Posted November 2, 2010 | 11:07 AM

In 2009, the United States government spent some $650 billion on its military. This is more than the next 46 highest-spending countries combined. Much of this treasure ended up in the hands of profit-driven weapons manufacturers. In the following short film, I take a brief look at the current state...

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Blood Gadgetry -- Why I am Going to the Congo

(14) Comments | Posted August 6, 2010 | 9:59 AM

The Israeli government's increasingly militaristic foreign policy must remain a fundamental concern to anyone who strives for peace and justice on our planet. I am under no illusions, however, that what is happening to the Palestinians should somehow eclipse all other conflicts taking place in the world. Given recent events,...

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Hip Hop as Global Resistance

(25) Comments | Posted July 27, 2010 | 10:52 AM

In making my documentary film about electronic music, Modulations (1998), I learned a great deal about rap music. The genius of hip hop emerged first as party sport -- the urban poor salvaging musical parts to create something entirely new -- but soon morphed into an expression of grief and...

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Slandering the Good Guys: Some Basic Facts About IHH

(340) Comments | Posted July 16, 2010 | 5:02 PM

In the immediate aftermath of the massacre aboard the Mavi Marmara on May 31st, 2010, while journalists and activists were detained and isolated from the world, the Israeli government was quick to unleash their own version of events. Like the physical assault on the boat, the Israeli media assault was...

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Iran, We Hardly Know Ye

(44) Comments | Posted July 6, 2010 | 3:50 PM

I would like to say that I am disappointed by this new round of sanctions leveled against Iran by Congress, but the sad fact is that I didn't expect anything less than the aggressive wrong-headedness displayed by our elected legislators last week. And so, as the war drummers up their...

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The Video Israel Doesn't Want You to See: Smuggled Footage From the Flotilla Attack

(833) Comments | Posted June 22, 2010 | 11:56 PM

As a passenger of the Mavi Marmara, the flagship vessel of the humanitarian convoy that Israel attacked in international waters, I am cautiously optimistic about Israel's announced plan of "easing" the Gaza blockade.

Easing, after all, is not the same as "complete lifting," and it is yet to be determined...

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