Earlier today, 11 well known political prisoners including prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudhe were released from the notorious Evin prison in Tehran. In spite of today’s welcome development, there are still hundreds of prisoners languishing in Irans prisons. This week, we will have a conversation with United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, about his investigation into human rights abuses in Iran.
[Beirut train station brought to ruins during the Lebanese Civil War. The station used to link Bhamdoun to Beirut, though it was abandoned when cars became popular. Photo courtesy of rabiem22 via Creative Commons]
Later in the program, we will speak with French-Lebanese AFP photojournalist Patrick Baz, whose work is featured in the “Generation War” photo exhibit that documents 1980s wartime Lebanon. As a young man, Baz photographed the Lebanese Civil war and in 1989, he documented the First Intifada in Gaza and the West Bank for Agence France Press. He has also captured images of the war zones in Kurdistan, Somalia, Sarajevo, Iraq and Libya. In 2009, he published “Don’t Take My Picture, Iraqis Don’t Cry,” a photo book focusing on children affected by the war.
This week, Bassam Haddad, director of Middle East Studies at George Mason University, had a conversation with Shahram Aghmir about the transformation of the Syrian uprising from a peaceful movement against Bashar Al-Assad’s dictatorial rule to a proxy war among regional and international players. Later in the program, we spoke with Palestinan visual artist Khaled Jarrar about his award-winning documentary film, “Infiltrators.” Shot over the course of 4 years, the film documents the illegal crossing of Palestinians over Israel’s 20-foot apartheid wall by jumping over the wall or going through underground tunnels. Palestinians who cross in search of work, a short visit with loved ones or medical treatment they cannot receive in the West Bank, risk arrest or worse.
[Demonstrators in Iran during the 1953 coup. Photo courtesy of Frank Walsh via Creative Commons]
In August 1953, the U.S. and British governments overthrew the popular government of prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh and paved the way for the autocratic rule of Mohamad Reza Shah Pahlavi. This week, on the 60th
anniversary of the 1953 CIA and British MI6- engineered Coup in Iran, we have a conversation with Ervand Abrahamian
, Distinguished Professor
of Iranian and Middle Eastern history and politics at City University of New York, about his most recent book The Coup: 1953, the CIA, and the Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations.
Since the June 30 coup, Egypt has seen the worst turmoil in its modern history with hundreds killed, dozens of police stations burned, and growing divisions within its population. The Muslim Brothers, who were in government two months ago, are now on the run. This week independent journalist and political analyst Ahmad Shokr joined us from Cairo to discuss Egypt’s political landscape in the wake of the military’s return to power. Among the chaotic events that have transpired, is the destruction of 65 churches and 22 church-related buildings. In the second half of our show, Egyptian historian Paul Sedra from Simon Fraser University, addressed the unprecedented level of attacks on the Coptic community in Egypt.
This week, we’ll speak with UN special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, Professor Richard Falk, about the newest round of peace talks between Israel and Palestine. In our interview, Richard Falk explains why he does not think the new round of peace talks will fare any differently than previous attempts. We are also joined by Sahar Delijani, author of Children of the Jacaranda Tree. August 29th marks the 25th anniversary of a 1988 wave of mass executions of political prisoners in Iran. Between 1981 and 1985, more than 7,900 political activists had already been executed in Iran. Sahar, who was born in Evin prison in 1983, tells the story of her family and friends whose lives were forever changed by the horrors of the 80s in Iran and how the younger generation has continued the political struggle in the 2009 democracy movement in Iran.
Libya has managed to emerge from a long period of dictatorship, though it remains mired in factional rivalries for power in different areas of the country. This week, Professor Ali Ahmida of University of New England will give an update about the political, security, and economic situation in Libya today. Later in the program, Anna Bakhen will speak with us about her new book “The World is a Carpet: Four Seasons in an Afghan Village.” Through a close observation of the ancient tradition of carpet weaving, Anna Badkhen chronicles the daily lives of the 240 residents of the isolated and unmapped village of Oqa in all it complexities and simplicity.
Torn between an Arab Spring and the oppression of a brutal regime for the better part of a half-century, Syria finds itself at a historic crossroads. Juan Cole, Professor of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan and Author of “Engaging the Muslim World,” joins on the phone from Michigan to discuss the difficult road ahead for the Syrian population. Later in our program, we are joined by Anita Amir Rezvani, Author of “The Blood of Flowers” and “Equal of the Sun” and Professor Persis Karim, a poet and editor of “Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora” and co-editor of “A World Between: Poems, Short Stories and Essays by Iranian-Americans.” We will discuss the newly published anthology “Tremors: New Fiction by Iranian American Writers” with Anita Amir Rezvani and Persis Karim, both co-editors of “Tremors,” which brings together 27 Iranian Americans from a wide range of experiences. Through their stories, the authors capture the diversity and complicate oversimplified Western characterizations of Iranian diaspora experiences.
Following a small scale protest aimed at stopping the redevelopment of a park in the heart of Istanbul, there have been 235 subsequent protests in sixty-seven cities in Turkey. Over 3000 people have been arrested, more than 4,100 people wounded and two have been killed. 29 people have also been detained for “inciting riots” using social networking. Tonight, our special edition of Voices of the Middle East and North Africa will speak with UC Berkeley’s Cihan Tugal and KOC University’s Erdem Yörük. to explore the underlying factors in the ongoing mass protests in Turkey, the government’s brutal response to the protests, as well as the ruling Justice and Development AKP party policies, which have drawn disaffection among various social groups in Turkey. For an in-depth analysis of the ongoing protests in Turkey, please visit www.jadaliyya.com.
This week, Voices of the Middle East and North Africa will hold a conversation with award-winning journalist Max Blumenthal about right-wing groups that are working to promote their Zionist agenda through large donations to American Islamophobic organizations. Looking towards the upcoming Iranian presidential on June 14th, VOMENA will also speak with Firouzeh Mahmoudi, of United for Iran, and Amir Soltani, the co-author of the best-selling graphic novel Zahra’s Paradise, about the launching of a virtual presidential campaign. The virtual campaign spotlights pressing socio-political issues in Iran through the candidacy of a virtual female contender and draws attention to the lack of a democratic process and viable candidates in Iran for this year’s elections.
Land Day began 37 years ago when members of the Israeli Arab community rose up to protest the Israeli government’s intent to expropriate 60,000 dunams of Arab-owned land in Galilee. To mark the anniversary of Land Day this March, pro-Palestinian activists around the world show their support as they commemorate the historical and continuing Palestinian fight for land. This week on the program, UC Berkeley professor Samera Esmir interviews Suad Bishara, Director of the Land and Planning Rights Unit of Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel – to further discuss Israel’s contemporary land policies. Later in the show, Lina Attalah, Chief Editor of Egypt Independent and English Language Weekly newspaper in Egypt speaks with VOMENA about the future of Egypt Independent. Recently, Egypt independent’s parent organization Al Masry Al-Youm announced it would no longer fund the Egypt Independent due to financial losses incurred by the organization last year. Egypt Independent was established in 2009 as a website and began weekly print publications in 2011. It exists as one of the few media outlets in Egypt today even as it pushes to stay afloat.