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Afghanistan's refugees: Dying for a better life


Afghanistan's refugees: Dying for a better life

A family who lost both of their children at sea describe returning to Afghanistan with nothing but two small coffins.

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Afghanistan's refugees: Dying for a better life


Afghanistan's refugees: Dying for a better life

A family who lost both of their children at sea describe returning to Afghanistan with nothing but two small coffins.

Al Jazeera
April 2016


Afghanistan's refugees: Dying for a better life

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — The pain etched on refugee faces on Greek and Turkish shores does not remain there. For many Afghans, it follows them home as they are deported back to Afghanistan - the bodies of their drowned loved ones, if they are found, in tow.

Loss followed Massoud Ahmad, 35, and his wife, Weeda Jan, 32, back to Kabul on December 28, along with the bodies of their two children - Gholam Seddiq, nine, and Elaheh, eight.

"They were the top of their class," says Ahmad, wiping tears from his eyes. He lets the tea in front of him grow cold as he tells his story.

He has been crying since the December night when, about 15 minutes into their journey, the boat his family was travelling in tipped after the engine failed and the waves did their worst. All 21 people on board, including the captain, fell into the frigid sea, as the boat rose up, then disappeared into the water.  read more →

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Afghan refugee trapped in Turkey: 'Unfortunately, I'm still alive'


Afghan refugee trapped in Turkey: 'Unfortunately, I'm still alive'

The story of one young asylum seeker hoping to make a new life in the EU

 

 

 

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Afghan refugee trapped in Turkey: 'Unfortunately, I'm still alive'


Afghan refugee trapped in Turkey: 'Unfortunately, I'm still alive'

The story of one young asylum seeker hoping to make a new life in the EU

 

 

 

ThinkProgress
April 2016


Afghan refugee trapped in Turkey: 'Unfortunately, I'm still alive'

On Saturday, Baaz Muhammad Kakar left the coastal city of Mersin in Turkey and boarded a bus to Istanbul – another step in his long journey from home. He had eaten only a biscuit in the past 24 hours.

He caps that update to me with, “Unfortunately, I’m still alive.”

A 23-year-old Afghan asylum seeker, and an example of the collateral damage of America’s longest war, Kakar has been stuck in Turkey since March 20, waiting for human smugglers to get him to Greece. But things have recently tightened up in the Mediterranean route, with Greece even sending some asylum seekers back.

Kakar and I first met in Kabul in February, when he was planning to leave Afghanistan. He was a sports presenter at a local TV station. Ever watchful, the Taliban, who basically operates like the mob, put pressure on him to either join them in his hometown of Ghazni, their turf, or get a job of which they approved – nothing in the media or involving foreigners – and send money to them.

Hopeless, Kakar got a tourist visa to Iran, paid a smuggler, and walked nine hours through the mountainous northern border to reach Turkey.  read more →

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Afghanistan's internal refugee crisis


Afghanistan's internal refugee crisis

For the poorest of the poor, prohibitive costs bar even bigger waves of asylum seekers bound for Europe.

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Afghanistan's internal refugee crisis


Afghanistan's internal refugee crisis

For the poorest of the poor, prohibitive costs bar even bigger waves of asylum seekers bound for Europe.

Al Jazeera
April 2016


Afghanistan's internal refugee crisis

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN  Hamidullah takes a moment to consider his surroundings after asking a young man to fetch him some drinking water.

"Oh, what clean water we had in Kunduz," the 35-year-old said of his hometown, which lies near the Tajik border. "What clean air."

"Here, everything is so polluted. We are surrounded by rubbish," he said. "Look at how we're living."

The "here" Hamidullah refers to is one of the newer camps created by the country's internally displaced people, most of whom have fled other provinces due to fighting and instability.

On the outskirts of this city of roughly 3.7 million people are several such camps - mud huts and tattered tents held together by ropes and plastic bags, connected by narrow pathways with gutters running through them. There are 50 or so  camps for the internally displaced near Kabul, varying in size from just a handful of families to several hundred.  read more →

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The plight of rejected Afghan asylum seekers


The plight of rejected Afghan asylum seekers

While they leave war-torn Afghanistan in droves, Afghans are also being returned and deported in record numbers

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The plight of rejected Afghan asylum seekers


The plight of rejected Afghan asylum seekers

While they leave war-torn Afghanistan in droves, Afghans are also being returned and deported in record numbers

 

Al Jazeera
March 2016


The Plight of rejected Afghan asylum seekers

KABUL,  AFGHANISTAN — Sitting in an underground coffee shop in the heart of Kabul, Akhtar tried to describe the dreams and hopes he had held for the future, but was overcome with tears.

"My parents had sent me here to get an education with a hundred hopes …" he said as he buried his head in his hands, weeping.

He had big plans - with a visa in hand, he was about to take off for Iran the following week. Akhtar is educated, with a degree in economics and a job, but he said he had no choice but to leave everything behind.

He had travelled here from Ghazni Province, roughly 120km southwest of Kabul - a hub of Taliban activity. Back home, the Taliban had been hounding him for a while, Akhtar told. They gave him two options: work for them or get a job - not one involving the media or foreigners - and hand over his earnings. read more →

 
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Selling American Girls


Selling American Girls

Until recently, the victims were the ones being arrested

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Selling American Girls


Selling American Girls

Until recently, the victims were the ones being arrested

 


Al Jazeera America
April 2015


Selling American Girls

LOS ANGELES — On a cool, quiet Thursday night, crimes of all types unfurl on South Figueroa Street.

This is one of the main tracks for prostitution in Los Angeles, a strip where sex can be purchased from teenage girls on almost any given corner, where pimps, some of them gang affiliated, carefully guard their turf and property.

At about 200 blocks, most of them rough, the Fig, as it’s called, can hide a lot. In April it was hiding a 16-year-old named Stacey, missing since December.

She contacted a cousin on Facebook earlier that month, using someone else’s phone. She was with a pimp, she said. Then a big break: She called her mother from a blocked number, saying she didn’t know where she was and that she was scared. read more →

 
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Lebanon’s immigrant domestic workers remain vulnerable to abuse


Lebanon’s immigrant domestic workers remain vulnerable to abuse

Fighting to legitimize their union, immigrant domestic workers want to be protected under Lebanon’s labor laws

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Lebanon’s immigrant domestic workers remain vulnerable to abuse


Lebanon’s immigrant domestic workers remain vulnerable to abuse

Fighting to legitimize their union, immigrant domestic workers want to be protected under Lebanon’s labor laws

 


Al Jazeera America
June 2015


Lebanon's Immigrant domestic workers remain vulnerable to abuse

BEIRUT, LEBANON — At a meeting of domestic workers in the Wata El Msaytbeh neighborhood on a sleepy Sunday, 20 women from Asian and African countries gathered to do what seemed impossible just a few months ago: Create an action plan for a newly formed union to protect the rights of domestic workers.

In the Middle East, where domestic work is rarely classified as labor under the law, a formal proposal in late December for Lebanon’s government to form a union for domestic workers attracted international attention.

But little has changed since then, including what the women who work in people’s homes — cooking, cleaning and looking after children — say is their need for protection from unscrupulous recruiters and abusive employers.
read more →

 
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Oklahoma: Doctors have no duty of care in executions


Oklahoma: Doctors have no duty of care in executions

The state does not believe the doctor who botched Clayton Lockett’s execution should be investigated for negligence

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Oklahoma: Doctors have no duty of care in executions


Oklahoma: Doctors have no duty of care in executions

The state does not believe the doctor who botched Clayton Lockett’s execution should be investigated for negligence

 


Al Jazeera America
September 2015


Oklahoma: Doctors have no duty of care in executions

In its response a brief filed by a physicians' group asking that the doctor who botched Clayton Lockett’s April 2014 execution be named and investigated, the state of Oklahoma said a doctor carrying out executions is not acting as a doctor, even though the state requires a doctor to do the job.

"Even if some of the actions are medical in nature, it does not follow that doctors participating in executions are engaged in medical practice," reads the response, filed on Tuesday at the federal appeals court in Denver.

The response states, "Doctors who participate in executions do not have a physician-patient relationship with the inmate that is being executed."

"Obviously, we're not surprised that the state of Oklahoma opposed the amicus memorandum that we filed on behalf of the doctors," said Katherine Toomey, an attorney at Lewis Baach, the firm representing the physicians' group, Doctors for the Ethical Practice of Medicine.  read more →

 
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Italy's disappearing migrants


Italy's disappearing migrants

After arriving in massive numbers, most of the migrants from Syria and Eritrea abscond from refugee centres.

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Italy's disappearing migrants


Italy's disappearing migrants

After arriving in massive numbers, most of the migrants from Syria and Eritrea abscond from refugee centres.

 


Al Jazeera
July 2014


Italy's disappearing migrants

CATANIA, ITALY — They've been coming here for years, by the ship-full, risking perilous Mediterranean waters in crafts that are seldom seaworthy or suited for the number of people packed onto them.

Their numbers have been spiking since the Arab Spring uprisings began in 2011. More and more migrants, mostly from Africa, North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia, have been arriving on the shores of southern Italy.

According to Amnesty International, 63 percent of those arriving "irregularly" by sea to the continent in 2013, were from Eritrea, Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia - countries rife with violence and rights abuses.

Catania mayor calls for EU help with migrants Statistics from the Italian Ministry of the Interior show that in 2013 most of them were in fact Eritrean (9,834) and Syrian (11,307).

Yet the number of asylum requests in Italy from those two countries is fairly low for the same year: 695 from Syria and 2,216 from Eritrea.  read more →

 
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Who is watching Afghanistan's elections?


Who is watching Afghanistan's elections?

Some international observers pulled out amid security concerns, creating legitimacy fears for presidential vote.

 

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Who is watching Afghanistan's elections?


Who is watching Afghanistan's elections?

Some international observers pulled out amid security concerns, creating legitimacy fears for presidential vote.

 

 

Al Jazeera
April 2014


Who is watching Afghanistan's elections?

KABUL , AFGHANISTAN — Security has been a scarce commodity in Afghanistan for some time, but the Taliban's recent spate of attacks intended to disrupt the April 5 elections - and the promise of more to come – have amplified the sense of insecurity.

Assaults targeting international observers and the election commission itself have left open questions regarding the legitimacy and the security of Saturday's vote.

In an attempt to calm nerves and promise a safe day at the polls, the Interior Ministry, coupled with Afghan Special Forces, planned a press conference on Thursday to answer security questions.

But things did not go as planned; after Wednesday's deadly attack on the MOI's compound within central Kabul's heavily guarded "steel belt", it started to seem that the Taliban can strike at will.  read more →

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Can Japan revive its nuclear ghost towns?


Can Japan revive its nuclear ghost towns?
The instability of the Fukushima Daiichi plant continues to keep evacuees away from the disaster zone.

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Can Japan revive its nuclear ghost towns?


Can Japan revive its nuclear ghost towns?
The instability of the Fukushima Daiichi plant continues to keep evacuees away from the disaster zone.

Al Jazeera
March 2014


Can Japan revive its nuclear ghost towns?

NIHONMATSU, JAPAN   It's from a distance that Naoki Kobayashi tries to manage the reformation of his town Namie, which sits empty 10km away from the leaking nuclear plant that has wrought chaos on the lives of those in its radioactive reach.

In the relocated town office in Nihonmatsu, roughly 66km west of Namie, Kobayashi and his colleagues are wrestling with a major dilemma: How do you rebuild a town when you're not sure anyone - especially the young - even wants to go back?

At least that's the upshot from questionnaires sent to former residents.

Of the 60 percent who responded, about 30 percent said they don't plan to return to Namie, and another 30 percent indicated they're not sure they'll ever go back.

"We had 21,000 people in Namie, but it's impossible to rebuild for 21,000 … It's mostly the younger people who don't want to come back, and the main reason is fear of radiation," said Kobayashi, an administrative officer for Namie's revitalisation and recovery department.
read more →

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Smell of death lingers in Cairo's Iman mosque


Smell of death lingers in Cairo's Iman mosque
Hundreds of bodies line floors of makeshift morgue, some of them charred and impossible to identify.

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Smell of death lingers in Cairo's Iman mosque


Smell of death lingers in Cairo's Iman mosque
Hundreds of bodies line floors of makeshift morgue, some of them charred and impossible to identify.

Al Jazeera
August 2013


Smell of death lingers in Carior's Iman mosque

CAIRO, EGYPT — One day after Cairo police cleared two sit-ins held in support of deposed President Mohamed Morsi, the capital city was slow to wake.

Hours after the state-of-emergency curfew was lifted, traffic and signs of life began to appear by late morning on Thursday.

But in some quarters, life was not going back to normal after at least 525 people were killed in the clearings in Cairo and ensuing clashes here and across the country.

In Giza, hundreds of Morsi supporters set fire to the local government offices, prompting the government to authorise the use of live ammunition on anyone attacking state buildings.

And in the al-Iman mosque in Nasr City, the neighbourhood where a massive, 47-day vigil was held at the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, hundreds of bodies from Wednesday’s violence still lined floors of the makeshift morgue.

Wrapped in shrouds and kept cool with blocks of ice, most of the bodies bore gunshot wounds, but a number were charred, making them hard to identify for family members.  read more →

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Dorothy Parvaz: Inside Syria's secret prisons


Dorothy Parvaz: Inside Syria's secret prisons
'We could clearly hear the interrogator pummelling his fists into his subject,' writes our correspondent.

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Dorothy Parvaz: Inside Syria's secret prisons


Dorothy Parvaz: Inside Syria's secret prisons
'We could clearly hear the interrogator pummelling his fists into his subject,' writes our correspondent.

Al Jeezra
May 2011

Dorothy Parvaz: Inside Syria's secret prisons

DAMASCUS, SYRIA — I was standing in two fist-sized pools of smeared, sticky blood, trying to sort out why there were seven angry Syrians yelling at me. Only one of them - who I came to know as Mr Shut Up during my three days in a detention center, where so many Syrians 'disappeared' are being kept - spoke English.

Watching them searching my bags, and observing the set of handcuffs hanging from the bunk bed wedged behind the desk in the middle of the room, I guessed that I was being arrested - or, at the very least, processed for detention.

"Why are you doing this?" I asked.

"Shut up! SHUT UP!" said Mr Shut Up.  read more →

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In Iran, Specter of One Election Looms Over Next


 

In Iran, Specter of One Election Looms Over Next

 

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In Iran, Specter of One Election Looms Over Next


 

In Iran, Specter of One Election Looms Over Next

 

Committee To Protect Journalists


Committee To Protect Journalists
February 2012


In Iran, Specter of One Election Looms Over Next

As Iran's June 2013 presidential election approaches, the media landscape is extremely bleak. At the last election, in 2009, journalists took advantage of a slight loosening of the country's traditionally stringent media controls to push against the boundaries, bringing the world news of alleged voting irregularities, public anger, protests, and the ensuing crackdown by the hard-line leadership.

That crackdown, however, hit the media sector as hard as any. The authorities have used imprisonment, the closing of news outlets, the intimidation of reporters and sources, and suffocating Internet surveillance to silence the independent media. Scores of journalists have fled into exile. With only a handful of severely weakened reformist media outlets now operating in Iran, and with most working journalists in fear of the revolving door to the country's courts and prisons, a repeat of 2009 seems unlikely. Without any kind of free or healthy press, and with reformist leaders under house arrest, political discourse has been quashed.  read more →

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16 Days in Evin Prison


16 Days in Evin Prison

 

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16 Days in Evin Prison


16 Days in Evin Prison

 

PBS - Frontline

Notebook
January 2012


16 Days in Evin Prison

TEHRAN BUREAU — "We've convicted people with thinner files and less evidence," a judge told me on my first morning in Iranian detention.

Pointing to a thick folder, he continued, "You might as well just tell us which American agency you work for."

Ending up in Evin is every Iranian's nightmare. It's not the only prison and detention center in Iran, but it's probably the most infamous.

Horror stories pouring out of Iranian prisons are in no shortage, and cases of torture and rape have been reported by opposition and foreign media, as well as rights groups from the Shah's time and since.

I was in Evin in May after the Syrians (who didn't care for an Al Jazeera journalist reporting the events there) alleged that that I was a spy and forced me onto a flight to Iran. But not before locking me up and interrogating me for a few days in one of their own hell holes -- a secret detention center not far from the Damascus airport.

Those three days in Syria were all blood, screams and cruelty meted out casually to Syrians, with me as a witness.

Despite all of that -- including the 16 days of solitary confinement and interrogation in Evin (after which Iranian authorities released me, saying only that there was "nothing wrong" with my passport) -- it's clear that I am among the fortunate. I have multiple citizenships, so there would be more to answer for in harming me, and the intense social media campaign launched by my high-profile employer, family, multiple rights groups, and network of amazing friends put extra pressure on my captors to free me.  read more →

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An expatriate rediscovers her homeland — Iran


An expatriate rediscovers her homeland Iran

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An expatriate rediscovers her homeland — Iran


An expatriate rediscovers her homeland Iran

Seattle P-I

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
November 2006


An expatriate rediscovers her homeland — Iran

My friends and colleagues keep asking me if I'm scared. They look worried when they tell me I should be careful.  By "they," my friends mean the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is where I'm going, having been away for more than two decades.

The concern is that I'm an Iranian citizen who is working as a journalist in the U.S.

"They might think you're a spy. What if they arrest you?"

Good question. I'm certainly not a spy, but I do look sketchy on paper. I was born in Iran to an Iranian father and an American mother. At age 10, I relocated to Dubai with my father, stepmother and sister and lived there almost four years, spending summers in Iran visiting my grandmother. We moved again in 1985, this time to Canada, where we became citizens. I finally got my American passport at age 23. I'm an Iranian with two Western passports -- and I work for one of the Great Satan's newspapers.   read more →

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Politics can't crush arts, culture


Politics can't crush arts, culture

People yearn to share their music, heritage

 

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Politics can't crush arts, culture


Politics can't crush arts, culture

People yearn to share their music, heritage

 

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
November 2006


Politics can't crush arts, culture

TEHRAN, IRAN — It's a weeknight, but Alighapoo restaurant is packed with customers looking forward to live music. Hours of it.

At restaurants with entertainment, reservations are a must. Stand-up comedians make fun of various Iranian tribes, political correctness be damned. The Turks rip on the Lors for being stone-cold stupid. The Lors respond in kind. Everyone makes fun of the Esfahanis for being greedy and the Rashtis for being simple. Also popular is something called seeyah bazi, a sort of blackface comedy theater. A traditional routine in the style of a court jester, seeyah bazi remains uncontroversial largely because Iran's history of slavery and race relations don't mirror those of the West.

Dinner isn't served before 9 p.m., but people arrive early just to drink tea and watch the show. The food is secondary. It will come when it comes.

A particularly dour Turkish singer takes the stage and fails to rouse the audience until he bursts into Iran's national anthem, "Ey Iran" ("Oh, Iran"). The crowd rises, clapping and singing along.  read more →