We were basically silenced

PeaceCorpsOnline.org, an Independent News Forum that is not affiliated with the US Peace Corps, recently posted an article that concerns first amendment rights by volunteers serving in the Peace Corps. Having been kicked out of the Peace Corps for exercising my rights by maintaining a personal Web site, audio diary, online photo albums, and Guyana RPCV listserve, I had great interest in this story. Here is a description of the story:

The story is about a group of sixty Peace Corps volunteers in the Dominican Republic who had planned a peace demonstration at the US Embassy against US policy in Iraq in March. Three days before the demonstration was scheduled, Peace Corps officials sent an e-mail to all volunteers warning that anyone taking part could face administrative separation. Fearful of being sent home, the vast majority who had planned to protest dropped out, and in the end, only three protesters showed up. Peace Corps investigated the case but found no grounds for discipline, which made co-organizer Andy Kauffman bitter that the larger march was suppressed. “We were basically silenced,” says Kauffman.

Should volunteers retain the same first amendment rights while serving overseas as they do as citizens living in the United States? Is it all right for Peace Corps Volunteers to protest US foreign policy if they do not identify themselves as volunteers? Should the Peace Corps spell out rights and responsibilities of new volunteers and have them sign a contract in which each volunteer acknowledges the conditions under which political expression can be made while serving as a volunteer? Read the story, make up your mind, and leave your comments.