VOMENA: June 10, 2015

Erdem Yörük on Turkey’s Parliamentary Elections

A rally for the HDP. Photo: Middle East Institute

A rally for the HDP. Photo: Middle East Institute

Sunday’s parliamentary election in Turkey was supposed to be an affirmation for the leadership of President Erdogan.Since 2002, The ruling Justice and Development Part AK Party had always won a majority in every Turkish election. On Sunday June 6, however, the party lost its parliamentary majority and was handed their first decline in support in over a decade falling from 49% of the vote to 41%.Meanwhile, The leftist People’s  Democratic Party (HDP) won a major victory, with 13% of the popular vote. HDP crossed the country’s unusually high 10 percent electoral threshold that affected the distribution of seats and, consequently, the power of the ruling party.

This week, we speak with  Professor Erdem Yörük to discuss the underlying reasons for the shift of popular support away from the ruling party.  Erdem Yörük is an assistant professor of sociology at Koç University in Turkey. (Photo: Middle East Institute)

Lindsey Hilsum on the Mediterranean Refugee Crisis

Photo: Booksmith.com

Photo: Booksmith.com

Everyday thousands of people from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria and a host of other African countries attempt the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean to the shores of southern Europe. According the European Union border control agency, Frontex, the death toll of the immigrants is on the rise. At least 1,770 people have died traversing the Mediterranean so far this year, compared to only  56 at this time last year. The International Organization for Migration warns that the migrant death toll could reach upwards of 30,000 in 2015. On this program, we hear from award winning journalist Lindsay Hilsum about her reporting trip to the Libyan port city of Misrata, where she spoke to detained refugees.

Lindsey Hilsum is an award winning journalist and  the international editor  of Channel 4 News in London. She has reported extensively on the Middle East and North Africa. She is the author of Sandstorm: Libya in the Time of Revolution.


The Guardian’s coverage of the June 7 elections in Turkey.

Death Toll of Mediterranean Refugees

Review of Sandstorm: Libya in the Time of Revolution


VOMENA: June 3, 2015

Sandy Tolan on Children of the Stone

stolanThe constant struggle for Palestinians to lead anything resembling  normal lives  in the occupied territories is expressed in many forms. In the case of Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, normalcy means being able to play the viola. This week, we speak with Sandy Tolan about his new book Children of the Stone: The Power of music in a Hard Land, which tells the story of Ramzi, a child of the first Palestinian Intifada, whose Al Kamandjati music center serves hundreds of Palestinian Children in the west bank and refugee camps in lebanon. The book examines the transformative power of music to help inspire children dealing with military occupation.

Sandy Tolan is a journalist, teacher, and documentary radio producer. He is associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at USC. He has written three books, including two dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the acclaimed work The Lemon Tree and his latest, Children of the Stone: The Power of music in a Hard Land . He is speaking at the Bay Area Book Festival this Saturday, June 6th.

Also in the program, veteran war journalist Anna Bakhen  speaks with us about her  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. Anna Badkhen writes about people in extremis. She has written five books about war and peace in the Global South, including Walking with Abel.


LA Times review of Children of the Stone

Bay Area Book Festival

“The World is a Carpet” Pulitzer Center review







VOMENA: May 27th, 2015

Marnia Lazreg on the May 8, 1945 French Massacre of Algerians.

may81945On May 8, 1945, as France celebrated its victory against Nazi Germany, simultaneously,  its colonial army was busy massacring tens of thousands of Algerian civilians in Sétif, Guelma and Kherrata. The tragic events provided the spark for Algeria’s war for independence nine years later.

Le Monde Diplomatique writes of the massacre, “The army’s actions caused a military historian, Jean-Charles Jauffret, to say that its conduct “resembled a European wartime operation rather than a traditional colonial war” …The final toll is speculative, as the French government closed the commission of inquiry directed by General Tubert and the killers were never tried. We know all about the judicial measures that were taken and the number of Europeans who died, but the number of Algerian victims is a mystery and is still debated among Algerian historians (5). The figures released by the French authorities are not reliable. Pending impartial investigations (6), we must agree with Rey-Goldzeiguer that, for 102 European dead, thousands of Algerians paid with their lives.

There were many repercussions: any hopes of a deal between the Algerian people and the European colony were off. In France the political forces of the wartime resistance movement failed their first test on decolonisation, allowing themselves to be taken over by the pro-colonial party.”

This week, to mark the 70th anniversary of the May 8 massacres, we speak with Hunter College Sociologist Marnia Lazreg about the gruesome events of that fateful day and its continuing moral and political implications for non-european victims of genocide. Marnia Lazreg is Professor of Sociology at Hunter College. She is the author of several books, including her most recent, titled Torture and the Twilight of Empire: From Algiers to Baghdad.

Read more from Le Monde Diplomatique

Marnia Lazreg’s latest book

VOMENA: April 29, 2015

Christoph Reuter on the Origins of ISIS

christophA  7-month investigation based on recently aquired documents  by Der Spiegel’s Christoph  Reuter shows for the first time, a direct link between the IS and Saddam Hussein’s former intelligence and military officials – as well as indirect links with the current Assad regime.  The documents outline former Iraqi Intelligence colonel Haji Bakr’s plan for the tactics and structure of the Islamic State.  This week, we speak with  Christoph Reuter about his findings and their implications for the future of the region. Christoph  Reuter is the Middle East correspondent   for the German magazine Der Spiegel.

Also in this program, we bring back a 2005 interview in which Juliano Meir-Khamis spoke with professor Beshara Doumani about his award winning documentary, “Anna’s Children”. Juliano Meir-Khamis was a leading Palestinian rights activist, actor, filmmaker and Artistic Director of Freedom Theatre in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West bank. He was mysteriously murdered  April 4th 2011 as he was leaving the theater.


Christoph Reuter’s article on the connections between IS and Hussein’s former officals

The Freedom Theatre

Article on Juliano Meir-Khamis

VOMENA: April 22, 2015

100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide

Armenian_woman_kneeling_beside_dead_child_in_fieldApril 24th marks the centennial of the 1915 Armenian Genocide, when the Ottoman Empire began carrying out a systematic plan to annihilate its Armenian population. As a result, between 1 million and 1.5 million people were killed or died of starvation.  This week, to mark the 100th anniversary of this tragic event, we  bring back a 2006  conversation Beshara Doumani had with  Dr. Stephan Astourian,   about the historical circumstances that led to the  genocide. Beshara Doumani is a Professor of Modern Middle East History and Director of the Middle East Studies at Brown University.  Dr. Stephan Astourian is the Executive Director of the Armenian Studies Program and associate adjunct  Professor of History at UC Berkeley.

Dr. Hatim Kanaaneh: The Life of a Palestinian Doctor

For the past 35 years,  Dr. Hatim Kanaaneh has  provided healthcare  to his fellow Palestinians in  the Galilee. In 1981, he  set up The Galilee Society, an NGO working for equitable health, environmental and socio-economic conditions for the Palestinian citizens of Israel. In 2008, he published his first book, a work of non-fiction, about his life as a Palestinian doctor in his memoir, A Doctor in Galilee: The Life and Struggle of a Palestinian in Israel. On this program, we speak with Dr. Kanaaneh about his recently published book, “Chief Complaint: A Country Doctor’s Tales of Life in Galilee,” which provides a unique look at the Palestinian struggle in historic Palestine through a series of fictional short stories based on his experience and the experience of patients he treated in Galilee. In a light-hearted and entertaining way, this book explores the changing, precarious, and ever-shrinking world of Palestinians living in Israel

We at VOMENA want to remember a very special member of the KPFA community, our dear and irreplaceable board-up engineer Wesley Burton, who was also the co-host of KPFA music shows, Sideshow Radio. Westley died early Saturday morning in a hit-and-run car accident. The KPFA family grieves the sudden loss of Wesley,  a kind, helpful, generous person and committed broadcaster. Our deepest condolences go out to his wife Lucrecia, his three children and all of his family and friends.  Wesley will be profoundly missed. To donate to the  fund set up to help Wesley’s family click here


The Armenian Genocide and Memory

The New York Times Armenian Genocide Overview

Dr. Hatim Kanaaneh speaking at Berkeley Methodist United Church on April 26.

Review of “A Doctor in Galilee”

The Galilee Society



VOMENA: April 15, 2015

Atiaf Al-Wazir on the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen 

Atiaf_1As the world stands by, Saudi led military intervention against the Houthis in Yemen has devastated its population and infrastructure. According to the UN,  since March 25th, the start of the Saudi led military intervention,  more than 600 people have been killed and 2,000 wounded in in Yemen. The ongoing airstrikes have caused more than 120, 000 people to flee their homes. The intervention coupled with the coalition’s  naval blockade of Yemen’s ports have created an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the poorest country in the Arab world.  This week, we speak with Atiaf Al-Wazir, an independent researcher, journalist  and co-founder of the media advocacy group SupportYemen about the dire humanitarian crisis in Yemen  and the political consequences of the military intervention in the country.

Safa Al-Ahmad Discusses the Making of Her New Documentary The Fight For Yemen

Journalist and documentary filmmaker Safa Al-Ahmad began filming in  Yemen’s capital just two weeks after the Houthis had taken over the city. Safa’s new FrontLine/BBC Arabic documentary The Fight for Yemen, is a rare and extraordinary look into the Houthis a once-unknown band of rebels from the mountains of northern Yemen who rose to power last September.  Safa Al-Ahmad is a journalists and documentary filmmaker maker based in London. Her last documentary, Saudi’s Secret Uprising is the joint recipient of the 2015 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award for Journalism.


Support Yemen Web Page 

Safa Al-Ahmad’s BBC Arabic/FRONTLINE documentary The Fight for Yemen.






VOMENA: April 8, 2014

Mansour Farhang on The Politics and Impacts of Iran’s Nuclear Program

Arak_Heavy_Water4After long days of negotiations in Switzerland, on April 2nd the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany agreed on a frame work with Iran that would radically scale back the country’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. With the deadline to finalize the details of the agreement is set for the end of June, there is much more diplomatic work to be done. However, the framework agreement marks an important first step in the negotiation process. This week we spend the hour with Mansour Farhang,a professor emeritus of International Relations at Bennington College to discuss the impacts of the sanctions on Iran and how this latest agreement has been received within the political and military establishment in the country. Professor Mansour argues that the agreement serves the  Iranian people and their national interest, and that this may be the first time that the  regime has ever made a decision in the national interest of Iranian people.



VOMENA: April 1, 2015

Ilan Pappé On the Israeli Election

Israeli Knesset (parliament) electionsThe recent Israeli election has become a public relations disaster for Western governments, with reelected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party promising not to allow the creation of a Palestinian state. Many thought the more liberal Zionist Union would be able to oust Netanyahu, but prominent Israeli historian Ilan Pappé expressed no surprise at the results. In a post-election article in Electronic Intifada, he wrote  “Those of us who know the nature of the beast could not have been surprised by the results of the Israeli election. Like many of my friends, I was also relieved that a liberal Zionist government was not elected. It would have allowed the charade of the “peace process” and the illusion of the two-state solution to linger on while the suffering of the Palestinians continues.” (Photograph: Salih Zeki Fazlioglu—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

This week, Khalil Bendib spoke with professor Pappe to get his take on what Netanyahu’s re-election says about Israeli society and whether we might now see a shift in the West’s unconditional support for Israel. Ilan Pappé is a renowned Israeli historian and the author of a number of books on Palestine, including his most recent which he co-authored with Noam Chomsey, titled we celebrate National Poetry Month by  bringing you some of the work of the Middle East’s most celebrated poet, Palestinian Mahmoud Darwish, translated by Iraqi poet Sinan Antoon.

Additional Information

Ilan Pappé’s newest book, On Palestine

Ilan Pappé on Electronic Intifada

Effects of the Election on Israeli-U.S. Relations

Poetry By Mahmoud Darwish


VOMENA: March 25, 2015

Yemen At Crossroads: An Interview with Activist Hisham Al-Omeisy

Yemen has grabbed the world’s attention as the country’s political crisis appears to have been deepened with the Saudi-led military intervention. According to The Guardian and other news organizations, the U.S. is providing “logistical and intelligence support” to the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthi forces in Yemen. In the absence of independent on-the-ground reporting by the major media outlets on the turmoil in Yemen, social media platforms are once again providing the much needed platform for activists in the country to post images, express their views, and raise their concerns about the fate of their country.

On Tuesday, twenty-four hours before the air strikes by Saudi Arabia, in the Yemeni city of Taiz, thousands of people protested the advandcement of Houthi forces to the southern city of Aden. Shahram Aghamir spoke with Yemeni activist Hisham Al-Omeisy about the worsening political climate in the country and the popular sentiments towards what was then a possible foriegn military assault.

Yemeni Activists on Social Media

Hisham Al-Omeisy @omeisy

We are all anti-Houthi but Hadi will forever be remembered as the prez whom allowed foreign forces to bombard own nation #Yemen

Mya @MaysaAlYemen 

I’m against Houthi and I’m 100% against Saleh, but today I am a YEMENI! I’m against any Saudi intervention in my country

Yemen Peace Project ?@YemenPeaceNews

Any air campaign against San’a will result in bloodshed, zero political progress. US support for KSA is a huge mistake here. #Yemen

Additional Information

Saudi Involvement in Yemen

Arab Nations’ Coalition Against Houthi forces

Opposition to Pakistani Involvement in Yemen


VOMENA: March 18, 2015

Rijin Sahakian On the Destruction of Archeological Sites in Iraq

Assyrian siteMarch 19th marks the 12th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.  Today, Iraq is back in the headlines because of the brutality with which ISIS has been trying to destroy what is left of Iraq’s diverse cultural and human landscape.  Since ISIS has moved into Northern Iraq, they have displaced over a million people and gone after the cultural heritage that make Iraq such an irreplaceable locus of world history. They have destroyed mosques, burned thousands of books in the library at Mosul and, in the past few weeks, desecrated some of the country’s most significant ancient archeological sites. (Photograph: Alamy, The Guardian)

This week, Malihe Razazan speaks with Rijin Sahakian, Iraq American International curator, about the incredible human and cultural losses that Iraq has endured as a result of more than a decade of sanctions, occupation and sectarian violence. Rijin Sahakian is an international curator and the Founding Director of Sada, a non-profit organization whose mission is to support the generation, presentation and preservation of contemporary art in Iraq. You can visit Sada’s website here.

This week’s program also features award winning Iraqi poet and novelist Sinan Antoon reading his poem “A Letter to Al-Mutanabbi Street,” from the book, Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, a project of Beau Beausoleil and Sarah Bodma.

Additional Information

The New York Times on the ISIS attack on Nimrud

Article on the Burning of Ancient Manuscripts at Mosul

Poems By Sinan Antoon

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