News & Events
Red T Blog
Urge the UN to protect translators and interpreters: Sign the petition!
The world cannot function without translators and interpreters. But they are at risk.
Too many translators and interpreters are being threatened, imprisoned, attacked, injured and killed across the globe. Just for doing their job.
Red T, AIIC, FIT, IAPTI, CLI and WASLI have been working to raise awareness of their plight. Now the world's governments must act.
A UN resolution, similar to those adopted for journalists, would be a critical first step in protecting translators and interpreters.
Join us in asking the UN to take urgent action. Please sign this petition and share it with others:
Red T at GALA in Boston, MA
When: March 13–16, 2018; exhibits open March 14 at 10:30 am
Where: Sheraton Boston Hotel, 39 Dalton Street, Boston, MA
First of all, congratulations to the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) for holding its Tenth Annual Conference. Red T looks forward to being part of this anniversary event that will take place in Boston, MA (details above). If you are attending the conference, please come see us at the Red T partner table! We can’t wait to tell you about the progress we’ve made toward achieving protected-person status for translators and interpreters in conflict situations.
Our gratitude goes to GALA for sponsoring Red T’s participation and giving us a platform to raise awareness of our cause among its many members. A non-profit membership organization, GALA is the world’s premier trade association for the language industry. It supports “member companies and the language sector by creating communities, championing standards, sharing knowledge, and advancing technology.” For more information, please visit http://www.gala-global.org
Progress in the European Parliament towards protected status for T/Is
On January 31, 2018, our international language coalition was fully represented at a cross-party hearing in the European Parliament on how to protect former interpreters in conflict zones. Linda Fitchett, chair of the AIIC Conflict Zone Interpreter Group (who was instrumental in organizing the hearing), and Maya Hess from Red T spoke on behalf of the coalition and advocated for a UN Resolution as well as better protective policies for linguists left behind in war zones or stranded across Europe.
Maya Hess (Red T) and Linda Fitchett (AIIC) listen as MEP Ana Gomes opens the hearing. Photo credit: European Parliament
Red T at SlatorCon Zurich
When: December 5, 2017
Where: Hotel Atlantis by Giardino, Döltschiweg 234, 8055 Zurich, Switzerland
Session time: 1:00–8:00 pm
We are grateful to Slator for sponsoring Red T’s participation in SlatorCon Zurich. This cutting-edge conference brings together the language industry’s movers and shakers–whether LSP executives, M&A specialists, researchers, or language service buyers–to discuss the ever-changing nature of the business. It also presents a great opportunity for our founder and CEO, Maya Hess, to bring Red T’s mission to her home country and familiarize attendees with the cause. And all in Schwizertütsch (Swiss German).
For more information on Slator, check out their website: https://slator.com
CUNY Graduate Center honors Red T founder and CEO with Graduate of the Last Decade Award
When: November 15, 2017
Where: Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY), William P. Kelly Skylight Room, Ninth Floor, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY
Time: 6:00 pm
Topic: 2017 Graduate Center Alumni Achievement Awards
We are proud to announce that our founder and CEO, Maya Hess, will be the recipient of the Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) Award for her humanitarian and educational work on behalf of linguists at risk. Maya received her PhD in Criminal Justice from the CUNY Graduate Center, focusing on translators and interpreters who operate in the terrorism arena. Red T is her dissertation in action. Please join us for the award ceremony and reception by RSVPing to Jim Cronin at email@example.com.
Red T at SlatorCon New York
When: October 12, 2017
Where: Dream Downtown Hotel, 355 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011, USA
Session time: 1:00–7:30 pm
Thanks to the generosity of Slator, the premier Language Industry Intelligence hub, we will be raising awareness for the Red T cause among key industry players at SlatorCon New York. We are excited to have this opportunity to network in our Chelsea neighborhood on October 12 and look forward to meeting C-level executives from major LSPs and buyers of language services.
For more information on Slator, check out their website.
Red T chair Vigdis Eriksen gives statement on behalf of international linguist coalition
On September 28, Red T chair Vigdis Eriksen attended the opening ceremony of a photo exhibition celebrating the first International Translation Day recognized by the United Nations. She gave a statement on behalf of our worldwide linguist coalition that includes Red T, AIIC, FIT, IAPTI, Critical Link, and WASLI. We thank the Belarus mission for advancing the coalition’s joint cause of obtaining a legal instrument to protect translators and interpreters in high-risk settings.
For details on this event and the coalition’s work, please read Eriksen Translations’ blog piece at https://www.eriksen.com/united-nations-translation
Red T to give keynote at the Fifth International Symposium “Traducción profesional y construcción de sociedad” organized by ACTTI and the University of Antioquia in Medellín, Colombia
When: September 29, 2017
Where: Universidad de Antioquia, Auditorio principal de la SIU, Sede de Investigación Universitaria, Calle No. 52-59, Medellín, Colombia
Session time: 2:30–4:00 pm
Topic: Linguists in the crosshairs
Red T is honored to celebrate International Translation Day with the Colombian Association of Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters (ACTII) and the University of Antioquia in Medellín. This year’s ITD is particularly momentous, since it marks the historic passing of Resolution A/RES/71/288 by the United Nations General Assembly on May 24, 2017, which FIT, AIIC, and Red T were privileged to witness. In adopting this text, the UN recognized “the role of professional translation in connecting nations, and fostering peace, understanding and development” and declared September 30th UN International Translation Day. Our thanks go to H.E. Ambassador Andrei Dapkiunas, then-Permanent Representative of Belarus to the United Nations, and the International Federation of Translators, which spearheaded this initiative.
Connecting nations, bringing understanding, and building peace, however, often come at a great cost to our profession and there is a trail of bloody evidence attesting to this. Red T presents some of this evidence by shining a light on the fate of linguists in conflict situations around the world. The people of Medellín and Colombia at large know all too well a reality filled with conflict. But, to quote ACTII’s president Mateo Cardona, the country has now “decisively engaged in a sinuous path of dialogue and peace building.” It is in this spirit that Red T and the coalition it represents offer solutions and a vision for the future of our embattled colleagues.
Red T Chair Vigdis Eriksen comments on the progress made at the UN for linguists worldwide
May was a great month for translators and interpreters! On May 24, the United Nations adopted Resolution A/71/L.68, making September 30th International Translation Day. This historic resolution acknowledges the crucial contribution language professionals make to the United Nations. International Translation Day is already being celebrated each year on September 30, but the UN’s formal establishment of this day raises additional awareness about the important role translators and interpreters play in connecting nations and fostering peace, understanding, and development around the world.
Left to Right: Ruslan Varankov, Counsellor/Legal Advisor to the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Belarus to the United Nations, Vigdis Eriksen, chair of Red T, Linda Fitchett, chair of the conflict zone interpreter group of the International Association of Conference Interpreters, Henry Liu, president of the International Federation of Translators, Ambassador Andrei Dapkiunas, Permanent Representative of Belarus to the United Nations, and Maya Hess, founder and CEO of Red T.
Red T founder a panelist at the CUNY Graduate Center, New York City
When: April 20, 2017
Where: Graduate Center, City University of New York, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016, Room C197
Session time: 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Topic: Red T: A dissertation in action
The CUNY Graduate Center is hosting a “Careers in Entrepreneurship” panel that features GC alumni who have built their own non-profit organization, for-profit company, consultancy, or freelance business. The objective is to demonstrate how PhD skills can be transferred successfully to non-academic environments. Within this framework, Red T will introduce current students to its global advocacy work and its various initiatives. Specifically, we will describe how the Red T vision, which was first laid out in our founder’s dissertation, was transformed into a vibrant all-volunteer non-profit organization for the protection of translators and interpreters in high-risk settings.
A special thanks to Dr. Jennifer S. Furlong, Director, Office of Career Planning and Professional Development, for including Red T in this panel.
Red T to speak at the Associazione Italiana Traduttori e Interpreti Conference in Bologna, Italy
When: April 7, 2017
Where: Hotel NH Bologna de la Gare, Piazza XX Settembre, 2, 40121 Bologna, Italy
Session time: 12:00–12:30 pm
Topic: Red T: Advocating for linguists at risk
The Italian Association of Translators and Interpreters (AITI) is Italy’s oldest and largest professional association. This year’s conference is fittingly taking place in the historic city of Bologna, home to the oldest continuously operating university in the world. We are grateful for the opportunity to be part of this event and introduce AITI members to Red T’s advocacy work on behalf of translators and interpreters in high-risk settings.
We thank AITI’s Vice President Orietta Olivetti and board for extending this invitation.
Red T at New York University
When: April 3, 2017, 6:30–8:00 pm
Where: NYU School of Professional Studies, 7 East 12th Street, New York, NY 10003, Third Floor, Room 322
Topic: Linguists at risk: Red T in action
We are excited to speak to the students of the NYU Masters in Translation program and introduce them to Red T’s advocacy initiatives. In an increasingly volatile world that poses a range of challenges to translators and interpreters, it is important for the next generation of linguists to be aware of the hazards inherent in their chosen profession. Case histories, facts and figures, policy solutions, and opportunities for involvement will all be part of the presentation, with a Q&A to follow.
Our thanks go to Ms. Yun Han Jenny Yang, head of the NYU Translation Society, for hosting this event. The Translation Society organizes activities for students at NYU’s School of Professional Studies who are pursuing a career in translation and/or interpretation. To learn more about the program, click here:
Red T at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), Winterthur, Switzerland
When: March 1, 2017
Where: School of Applied Linguistics, Room SM O1.01, Theaterstrasse 15c, 8401 Winterthur, Switzerland
Session time: 5:30–7 pm
Topic: Red T: A vision for protecting translators & interpreters
Linguistic diversity is a hallmark of Switzerland. That is why it’s particularly fitting for Red T to present its advocacy work on behalf of linguists at risk to the students and faculty at ZHAW’s School of Applied Linguistics. What’s more, we are excited that this awareness-raising is happening practically in our own backyard; Winterthur, the site of the talk, is near the hometown of our founder, Maya Hess. Please join us and learn all about Red T’s vision for protecting translators and interpreters worldwide.
Our sincere thanks go to Prof. Dr. Michaela Albl-Mikasa from the Institute of Translation and Interpreting for organizing the event. We are also grateful to Florian Fäs, Co-Founder of Slator, for the pro bono announcement in the Slator Language Industry Intelligence newsletter:
Red T at the Tenth Cuba-Québec Symposium on Translation, Terminology, and Interpretation, Varadero, Cuba
When: December 6–8, 2016
Where: Iberostar Playa Alameda Hotel, Varadero, Cuba
Session time: December 7, 11:05–11:25 am, Sala A
Topic: From Afghanistan to Guantánamo Bay: The perils of translating/interpreting in high-risk settings
In stark contrast to the beautiful backdrop of the pearl of the Antilles, Red T will be focusing on the heartbreaking narratives of translators and interpreters who work in conflict zones, detention camps, and sites of political unrest. Members of the audience will be introduced to our advocacy work as well as our vision for the future.
Organized jointly by the Asociación Cubana de Traductores e Intérpretes (ACTI) and the Ordre des traducteurs, terminologues et interprètes agréés du Québec (OTTIAQ), the symposium, “From Babel to Google Translate: Translation and Interpretation, a Bridge between Peoples,” offers participants a forum for exchanging ideas on central issues that affect the profession today.
We hope you’ll join us.
Red T to give keynote address at ProZ.com’s 2016 International Conference in Stockholm, Sweden
When: September 3–4, 2016
Where: Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Guldgränd 8, Stockholm, Sweden
Session time: September 3, 09:30–10:30
Topic: A moral imperative: Protecting translators and interpreters at risk
This year’s ProZ.com International Conference, entitled “A noble profession: The human face of translation,” highlights the paramount value of and threat to people in our trade. This theme is consistent with Red T’s global mission, which focuses on protecting linguists in high-risk settings. We hope you will join us and ProZ.com – “the world’s largest community of translators” – in helping to illuminate the “human” side of translation, and, in so doing, demonstrate our own humanity by lending support to colleagues in need.
For more information on the conference, please visit
For the keynote abstract, click on
To learn more about ProZ.com, check out their website
Join Red T and AIIC at Critical Link 8: Future-proofing interpreting and translating
When: June 29–July 1, 2016
Session time: June 29, 12:15–12:45
Where: Heriot Watt University, Edinburg, Scotland, UK
Topic: The solidarity project: Protecting interpreters today for tomorrow
Civilian interpreters in conflict situations embody the very essence of community interpreting. By providing language skills and cultural expertise, they enable militaries to talk to local populations, assist humanitarian organizations in bringing relief, and help journalists inform the world. In doing so, they promote democratic principles, alleviate suffering, and sustain the global human community.
However, their courage comes at a high price. Interpreters are targeted by state and non-state actors alike, whether by the Chinese government, insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq, or rogue parties in Uganda. They receive night letters and texted death threats, are prosecuted and imprisoned on trumped-up charges, and, in extreme cases, kidnapped, tortured, and murdered.
In the context of these challenges, the protection of interpreters gains particular urgency. That is why Red T, a non-profit advocacy for translators and interpreters in high-risk settings, and the world’s five major language associations – AIIC (International Association of Conference Interpreters), FIT (International Federation of Translators), IAPTI (International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters), CLI (Critical Link International) and WASLI (World Association of Sign Language Interpreters) – have joined forces in a historic first in solidarity. By drawing the attention of the public, governments, and other bodies to the terrible fate of linguists at risk, these organizations strive to achieve greater recognition and protection for their colleagues.
This session, led by AIIC’s Linda Fitchett and Red T’s Maya Hess, lays out the current landscape for interpreters in conflict settings; presents ongoing activities such as the Open Letter Project, the development of safety guidelines, and the push for international legal instruments; and charts future endeavors. Above all, it seeks to inspire members of the audience to get involved and raise their voices on behalf of their endangered fellow interpreters.
Red T at UMass Amherst
When: April 26, 2016, 4:00 to 6:00 pm
Session time: June 29, 12:15–12:45
Where: University of Massachusetts Amherst, Herter 301, 161 Presidents’ Drive, Amherst, MA 01003
Topic: Red T: Protecting Translators and Interpreters in High-Risk Settings
We are excited at the opportunity to present Red T’s advocacy initiatives to students and faculty of the Translation Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In fact, our work dovetails closely with one of the research interests of its Director of Translation Studies, Professor Moira Inghilleri, an expert on the role of translators and interpreters in violent contexts. In her article entitled “You don’t make war without knowing why: The decision to interpret in Iraq,” which appeared in the journal The Translator, for example, she explored the complex relationship between interpreters and US troops (Inghilleri, 2010). She also guest-edited Translation and Violent Conflict (2010, with Sue-Ann Harding), a special issue of The Translator that addresses themes such as agency and ethics in relation to linguists in conflict situations using a variety of theoretical and methodological lenses.
For more information on the UMass Translation Center and its programs, go to:
Inghilleri, M. (2010). You don’t make war without knowing why. The Translator, 16(2), 175-196. Inghilleri, M., Harding, S.A. (Eds.). (2010). Translation and Violent Conflict [Special Issue]. The Translator, 16(2).
AIIC and Red T to Give Keynote at Monash University’s International Symposium on Interpreter Training and Humanitarian Interpreting in Melbourne, Australia
When: April 1-2, 2016
Where: Monash University Law Chambers, 555 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, Australia
Topic: Joining forces: The quest for protected-person status for linguists in conflict situations
From Monash University’s website:
The work of interpreters in the 21st century is characterized by a need to adapt to many different contexts and modalities of work. One of these is the humanitarian context: in conflict zones, in disaster zones, or in refugee camps for example, interpreters have to cope with specific demands and realities. How do interpreters respond to them? How are they prepared to face them? What policies are put in place to help and protect them?
This two-day symposium will look at the challenges and difficulties posed by such contexts of work and presentations will offer diverse perspectives on these and other related questions. This symposium is intended for not only practitioners, trainers and researchers, but also end-users, policy makers, representatives of NGOs, and stakeholders from the full spectrum of industries involved in relevant areas. The invited speakers are all experts in distinct but complementary fields which are fundamental to this important area of the professional work of interpreters which is now attracting greater attention and visibility.
For the two-day program, click here: http://artsonline.monash.edu.au/translation-interpreting/files/2016/02/Symposium-draft-programme-Feb.pdf
For the abstract, click here: http://artsonline.monash.edu.au/translation-interpreting/files/2016/02/Fitchett-Hess-Abstract.pdf
Red T at GALA in Brooklyn, NY
When: March 20-23, 2016; exhibits open March 21 at 8:30 am
Where: New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge
333 Adams Street, Brooklyn, New York
Red T will be putting its mission front and center at the 2016 Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) conference in Brooklyn, NY, on March 20-23. If you are attending the conference, please come see us at the Red T partner table in the exhibit hall of the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge. We look forward to meeting you.
We thank GALA for generously sponsoring Red T’s participation and helping us connect with its many members. GALA, a non-profit membership organization, is the world’s premier trade association for the language industry. It supports “member companies and the language sector by creating communities, championing standards, sharing knowledge, and advancing technology.” For more information on what GALA does, visit http://www.gala-global.org
Join Red T at Princeton University for an Awareness-Raising Talk!
When: February 15, 2016, 12:00 pm – Open to the public
Where: Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, Aaron Burr Hall, Room 216
Corner of Washington Road and Nassau Street (Rt. 27), Princeton, NJ 08544
Topic: Protecting Translators and Interpreters in High-Risk Settings
At this session of the Translation Lunch Series organized by the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication (PTIC), students will be introduced to Red T and its advocacy work. They will learn about the hazards of their chosen profession, in particular, the challenges associated with working in such high-risk settings as sites of political unrest, war zones, and the terrorism arena. They will also hear about various Red T initiatives, among them the Open Letter Project – a solidary undertaking with the five major international language organizations AIIC (International Association of Conference Interpreters), FIT (International Federation of Translators), IAPTI (International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters), CLI (Critical Link International), and WASLI (World Association of Sign Language Interpreters) – as well as efforts to obtain protected-person status for linguists in conflict situations.
Join AIIC and Red T in Greece for a presentation/roundtable discussion on
conflict zone linguists
When: November 13, 2015, 2:30 pm
Where: Goethe Institut, Omirou Str. 14-16, 10033 Athens, Greece; Ομήρου 14-16, 10033 Αθήνα
Session: Communicating in conflict: Our common cause
Conference Link: https://www.goethe.de/resources/files/pdf52/Brochure-_web_version1.pdf
Debate in the British Parliament on protecting translators and interpreters
Red T's work is discussed by Baroness Jean Coussins in the House of Lords.
Baroness Coussins: I will now focus on what more needs to be done, including by Her Majesty's Government, to recognise and respect the professionalism and the precariousness of the translator's position during their service, not just after it. I would like to draw attention to the work of some of the organisations that represent or advocate on behalf of interpreters and translators, particularly those in conflict zones and other high-risk settings. Red T, for example, is an international NGO based in New York, which gives a voice to linguists at risk and monitors incidents involving the translator-traitor mentality. In 2012, Red T, together with the International Federation of Translators and the International Association of Conference Interpreters, produced the first ever conflict zone field guide for translators and interpreters and the users of their services, with sections on the rights and responsibilities of both sides.
Clear guidance for the user includes the need: to respect the translator or interpreter; to protect them and their families during and after the assignment; to provide them with protective clothing but not arms; never to release their names, addresses or images without permission; and not to ask them to undertake tasks unrelated to interpreting. Maya Hess, the head of Red T, said:
Join the AIIC Conflict Zone Interpreter Group and Red T at IAPTI's 3rd International Conference in Bordeaux, France
When: September 5-6, 2015
Where: Hotel Mercure Chateau Chartrons, 81 Cours Saint-Louis, 33300 Bordeaux, France
Session: Sunday, September 6, 9:00-9:50 am
Conference Link: https://www.iapti.org/conferenceFR
Protecting translators and interpreters worldwide:
A first in solidary action
Protecting translators and interpreters worldwide: A first in solidary action Abstract: Translators and interpreters are in the crosshairs of state and non-state actors around the globe. Hunted down and killed by insurgents, tortured by military regimes, prosecuted and imprisoned even in "free-world" countries, the assault on linguists is surprisingly far-reaching. To combat this critical state of affairs, Red T, a non-profit advocacy for translators and interpreters in high-risk settings, and the five major international language associations - AIIC (International Association of Conference Interpreters), FIT (International Federation of Translators), IAPTI (International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters), CLI (Critical Link International), and WASLI (World Association of Sign Language Interpreters) - have joined forces in solidarity. By drawing the attention of the public, governments and other bodies to the terrible fate of many of their colleagues, these organizations seek to achieve greater recognition and protection for translators and interpreters at risk. The session will be led by AIIC's Linda Fitchett and Red T's Maya Hess and will lay out the current landscape for conflict zone linguists; present ongoing activities such as the Open Letter Project, the development of safety guidelines, and the pursuit of a UN Resolution for the Protection of Civilian Translators/Interpreters in Conflict Situations; as well as chart future endeavors.
Join Red T at the 19th Annual Conference of the New England
Translators Association (NETA)
When: Saturday, May 9, 2015 / 8 am - 7 pm;
Where: Hampton Inn Executive Conference Center - 319 Speen Street, Natick, MA 01760
Red T: Afternoon Session I, 1:15 - 2:30 pm
From NETA's website:
The New England Translators Association invites all translators, interpreters, and language lovers to its 19th annual Conference and Exhibition. This year's conference will be especially festive as NETA celebrates its 40th anniversary. A special luncheon is planned to mark the occasion, and a table in the exhibit area will showcase books translated by NETA members over the past four decades. The conference finale will consist of a panel discussion on "NETA's Forty Years: Perspectives on our Profession," with long-time NETA members Alice Berglund, Rudy Heller, Joan Sax, Frank Geoffrion, and moderator Ken Kronenberg.
NETA is honored to have Arthur Goldhammer as our keynote speaker. He is the translator of Thomas Piketty's acclaimed Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2014), as well as 125 other books in history, fiction, philosophy, social sciences, and economics over a career spanning four decades.
We have many other outstanding presentations lined up, including Maya Hess, founder of Red T, which advocates on behalf of interpreters in conflict zones; Jerome Henry Rudes, who will discuss film subtitling and offer a workshop; Maria Karra of the International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters, who will give a global perspective on the crisis in translation; plus many other presentations such as working effectively with agencies, interpreting clearly in English, and our perennial "Getting Started" panel for new T&I professionals, among other intriguing sessions."
For more information, go to http://www.netaweb.org/ConferencePage
FIT XXth World Congress
Red T will be joining the International Federation of Translators (FIT), the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) and the International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters (IAPTI) in a panel discussion chaired by FIT's Human Rights Committee. The panel is entitled "Protecting Translators and Interpreters in High-Risk Settings," and the emphasis will be on the joint efforts of FIT, AIIC, IAPTI and Red T. Representatives of each organization will report on the activities undertaken to date as well as discuss future ones. Panelists will explore avenues on how to strengthen the collaboration, including broadening the involvement of national members. The open question section will focus primarily on the expansion of protective actions geared at safeguarding linguists across the world.
When: Monday, August 4, from 4:30-6 pm;
Where: Senatssaal, Freie Universität Berlin, Henry Ford Building, Garystraße 35, 14195 Berlin-Dahlem.
Please also join us at FIT's booth on August 5, 10:30 to 11 am.
For more information on the FIT XXth World Congress, go to http://www.fit2014.org/
The Only Thing Worth Globalizing is Dissent -
Translation and The Many Languages of Resistance
From the conference website:
Activists from various regions and countries connect with and influence one another through practices involving various types of translation, including video subtitling, written translation, and oral interpretation. The Egyptian Revolution and the activists and collectives who have worked to move it forward have been highly visible to other protest movements in large part through such practices. This conference aims to explore themes related to translation and its role in creating a global image for protest movements, and in connecting different movements to one another.
Bringing the Bridges Home
"Increasingly, linguists, media professionals, NGOs and advocacy groups are stepping up demands for international recognition of interpreters' human rights to safety and sanctuary." This article puts Red T's advocacy front and center.
Former ICC interpreters from the Central African Republic need your help!
In March 2010 a group of Sango field interpreters joined the ICC to be trained as simultaneous court interpreters, the first Sango booth in the world. After qualifying as simultaneous court interpreters at the ICC, they went on to interpret between Sango and French in the case of The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the Central African Republic (CAR). The trial started in November 2010 and continued until November 2013, when their contracts ran out and they had to leave the Court.
AIIC's Luigi Luccarelli interviews Maya Hess
This interview originally appeared in Communicate!/The AIIC Webzine. Reprinted with permission.
Linguists working in conflict zones and certain other contexts face various risks. Maya Hess believes that a paradigm shift in how translators and interpreters are perceived and treated is needed.
Red T was established in 2010 to advocate for the protection of translators and interpreters working in conflict zones and other high-risk settings. Changing the way linguists are perceived by those who employ them and by the broader public is an essential part of that effort.
Founder and CEO Maya Hess is a forensic linguist who has provided language support and expert witness services in many high-profile terrorism trials. Currently, she is also a doctoral candidate in Criminal Justice at the City University of New York.
LL: Maya, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Could you start by telling us how the idea to found Red T came about?
MH: Thank you, Luigi, for this opportunity.
Red T at GALA Miami 2013
Learn all about Red T and our mission at the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) conference in Miami Beach on March 17-20. GALA is a non-profit organization that provides resources, education, knowledge and research to companies that specialize in language services or technologies, including translation vendors, localization service providers, interpretation companies, globalization consultants, and language technology developers. For more information on what GALA does, visit http://www.gala-global.org
We thank GALA's CEO Hans Fenstermacher and his board for sponsoring Red T's attendance at the conference and helping us spread the word among GALA's thousands of member companies. So if you are registered for the conference, come see us at the Red T partner table in the exhibit hall of the Eden Roc Renaissance Miami Beach Hotel, 4525 Collins Avenue, and join our information session in the Key Biscayne Room (details below). We look forward to meeting you.
Red T's First Fundraiser
On February 28, Eriksen Translations is hosting the New York book launch of Found in Translation by Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche, an event doubling as Red T's first fundraiser. Copies will be available for purchase, and Nataly will be on hand to sign them and talk about the book. All profits will benefit Red T, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and public charity.
"Right this very minute, translation is saving lives, perhaps even yours," the authors write. I couldn't agree more. Having waded through millions of translated words involving national security, I know just how critical the work of translators and interpreters is, whether in the terrorism arena or other adversarial settings. Tragically, however, it is precisely these linguists who are most in danger, targeted by state and non-state actors alike. In their chapter "Waging War and Keeping the Peace," Nataly and Jost address the extreme vulnerability of translators and interpreters in theaters of war, and powerfully relate the complexities and dangers of working under such conditions. In doing so, the authors are performing an invaluable service, not only to our colleagues at risk but to the public at large.
From Real Estate to Red T
Two years out of college, and under-challenged at a real-estate job, I reached out to Red T. By volunteering for an advocacy that raises awareness for translators and interpreters (T&Is) worldwide, I would be able to put my multi-lingual research and writing skills to good use, while also learning the non-profit ropes.
My activities at Red T thus far have included scouring the news for mentions of T&Is, conducting case research for the Open Letter Project on behalf of linguists who are unjustly imprisoned across the globe, and corresponding with potential volunteers to match their skills to Red T's needs.
I love that my work raises awareness for T&Is at risk. I feel privileged to be involved in this collective effort and find it extremely heartening to witness Red T gain momentum.
A Paradigm Shift in Perception
Translation is my life's work. And it's good work, at least here in Turtle Bay, the neighborhood of the United Nations. But for translators and interpreters caught up in battle zones or legal limbos, it's a career that kills or lands them in prison. Translators are sometimes considered traitors, and are treated as such in many parts of the world.
So when I first heard about the Red T, and the idea that linguists in war zones, detention camps and other areas of tension ought to be protected, I was struck by the essential decency of it. I imagined the Red T as something akin to the Red Cross, or "TV" affixed in gaffer's tape on the side of some journalist's dusty rental van in some conflict zone. And while this may not stop a bullet, it represents a paradigm shift from how translators and interpreters in such settings are often perceived.
This shift is long overdue. The lack of trust facing our colleagues not only places them and their families in harm's way, it puts us all at risk. But to accomplish this, much needs to be done.
End-of-Year Message from Red T
With 2011 coming to a close, we at Red T want to take a moment to recognize everyone who has contributed to our cause.
We are thankful for the pro bono support of the esteemed lawyers and law firms that have helped us move forward in fulfilling our mission, namely, Rene Kathawala, Esq., and Victoria Boyne, Esq., at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in the United States; Dr. Kerstin Ebock at Orrick HÃ¶lters & Elsing in Berlin for the European Union; and Dr. Markus Wang at BÃ¤r & Karrer in Switzerland.
We would like to tip our hats to our Board Members and Directors, with special thanks to all the volunteers across the world who have signed up and keep the Red T growing.
America's Iraqi Linguists - They Can't Escape Without Our Help!
Jeana, a loyal employee of the U.S. government, awaits safe haven in America. Since 2003, she has worked for the United States in Iraq as an interpreter. Her bachelor's degree in English qualified her at the young age of 22, and then her life in Iraq instilled the desire to migrate to America.
Jeana first came into contact with Americans in 1991, at 10 years of age, when U.S. troops forced Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. Because of her Kurdish heritage, she supported America in its fight against the Saddam regime that had massacred or displaced thousands of Kurdish people. Growing up amidst the horrors of the Iran-Iraq War, the Gulf War, and Operation Iraqi Freedom, Jeana was so traumatized that escape became her only hope for survival. She is still haunted by memories of neighbors killed in the street, a family of four burning alive in a car bombing, a fellow interpreter assassinated on his way home from work, and her cousin gunned down at his jewelry shop.
The MO of Red T
Translators and interpreters can be found in every setting, from boardroom to courtroom, from prison to war zone. And their interactions in these venues often involve differences of culture, ideology, and faith. But while T&Is as private individuals may hold certain views, T&Is as working professionals must remain as objective as possible and serve only as facilitators of communication.
Similarly, Red T serves as a facilitator of communication between the public and T&Is by speaking out about issues involving T&Is. More importantly, our public statements are independent of any associated controversies. While we draw attention to news and events relating to linguists in conflict zones, we do not take a position on the larger issues surrounding the conflicts themselves. While we report on asylum and legislation within various nations, we do not promote any particular system of government or law. And while we encourage awareness of topics relevant to T&Is around the world, we do not endorse any specific political opinion, agenda, party, or administration. Red T's values stand solely for the furthering of human rights by helping T&Is stand up for those rights.
As we state on our About page, Red T embraces all people, linguists and non-linguists alike, regardless of professional affiliations, educational level, nationality, ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, and/or religion. It is our belief that social justice and safety for everyone, everywhere, can only be achieved by putting such distinctions aside.
Red T - An Introduction
Welcome to Red T!
(For those unfamiliar with our cause, please read the About section to learn more about who we are and what we do.)
This is the debut post for the Red T blog and we look forward to introducing ourselves. We are presently in the initial stages of our website - in the coming months, you will see a lot of new content added. There will be more information made available, concerning both our organization and the issues we seek to address. Through this site you will be able to learn about our story and what we stand for, the plight of translators & interpreters in high-risk settings, the history of the translator-traitor mentality, and the changes we envision.
One of the main purposes of this website is to keep connected with the public and those we strive to help. As stated in our Priority Action Steps, we wish to "encourage discussion about T&I issues and provide a base forum for the exchange of ideas." This blog will serve as that forum, and through it we aim to engage the public and the T&I community alike. We hope to open up discussion about topics that directly affect T&Is in different capacities. We also will provide updates on our initiative and provide informative news regarding T&I-related subjects.
Your responses and stories, above all, will be essential to fueling our continued growth and effort, so please leave us a message in the comments section of this post.
We encourage you to check back as we will be constantly updating sections. As our site evolves, so will Red T. We hope you'll be part of it.