Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan make up the Caucasus Triangle; a region that is not often mentioned in the mainstream news. Over the past year, Letizia Gambini has made it her business to learn all about this complex region and its many layers.
Her project, a documentary that will follow three young activists from the three South Caucasus countries, is the focus of this podcast. Together we also talk about her travels as delve into the world of culture, politics, history, conflicts and human rights in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
For more information and to follow the progress of the Caucasus Triangle project, subscribe to Letizia’s blog.
It was a Monday late afternoon as N and I walked onto the extremely crowded Istiklal, Istanbul’s see-and-be-seen pedestrian avenue lined with all the coolest shops and restaurants. She and I walked among the masses on our way to meet a friend for dinner, chatting about her work and upcoming events at the University, when all of a sudden out of the hundreds of voices rose one extremely angry and violent? male tone, shouting in Turkish in such a manner that you needn’t understand Turkish to understand that this man was on the verge of hurting someone or something.
Not the sexiest topic for the mass media to cover, but over in a city I like very much – Istanbul – the 5th World Water Forum is taking place.? Essentially a meeting about addressing the state and future of the planet’s water, this is supposed to be the gathering where conflicts and concerns are discussed and hopefully solutions are found.
Looking around at what organizations and individuals are attending, one could argue that the concerns about protecting access to water, quality and affordability especially, is definitely on the agenda.? But as with the previous 4 meetings, the big name water companies like RWE and Suez will also be there, corporations that have been busy buying up water systems throughout the world for more than a decade.? Naturally if any discussions are going to take place, it makes sense that all stakeholders in the water management world are a part of them. Yet the record of many of these players call into question any serious claim of wanting water as a human right and an essential resource for life, to be protected and respected. The spirit of viewing water as a commodity is very much still out there.
Over the next 5 days I’ll gather up what I can coming from the conference and its participants. Taking a look at what gives hope and what brings concern from the 5th World Water Forum.
Kaos GL started publishing in the 90’s in an effort to get LGBT issues into the public sphere as part of the struggle for equal rights and equal protection under the law.? But what is the state of the state when it comes to gay rights in Turkey? What are the major obstacles and issues that the community struggles with on a daily basis, and how does a community oriented publication survive in the current cultural and political climate?
While in Istanbul I had a chance to sit down with Bawer of Kaos GL to discuss these questions and more.
I received news from Eowyn earlier today that BaghdadBrian has been freed and is en route to Los Angeles.? 7 other US citizens were also released.? Unfortunately 2 other international detainees who I believe were being held with Brian are still being held and their fate is unknown.
Apparently the amount of international pressure demanding their early release was quite significant and may have been a factor in these events unfolding as fast as they have.? I’ve been told that the story of Brian/the Beijing 6 had spread through the internets and to several high profile major media outlets.
Whatever the cause, I’m relieved that my friend and colleague is safe and out of such a dangerous place for journalists. Though still and always concerned for those who remain incarcerated regardless of their nationality, held for exercising basic universal human rights which the Chinese government claims to respect.
Fellow independent video blogger and friend Baghdad Brian, along with 5 other individuals, was arrested Thursday in Beijing. They are accused of being part of an overseas pro-tibet activist group. Brian was there to report about the demonstrations during the olympics as an independent journalist.
Chinese authorities say they must serve a 10 day jail sentence, according to the American embassy the conditions they are living in are better than average (perhaps because they’re foreigners). Since the start of the olympic games at least 400 people have disappeared as part of the continued repression of pro tibet and other human rights demonstrations. These disappeared include many journalists who are their without the supervision of Chinese government handlers.
The following podcast features an interview with Brian’s wife, Eowyn, who explains what she knows about Brian’s situation, the group, and people who have risked their freedom and well-being in protest of the Chinese government and their disregard for basic human rights. More information can be found here. Please listen to the program and do pass on the link, otherwise all we have is the image of the mainstream press… the picture perfect images of the olympic games and China on television.
Phil Ochs – I’m Going to Say it Now
Utah Phillips – Ain’t it Grand