New Internationalist

Radio New Internationalist

AIDS without the aid

In the Western World it feels like HIV/AIDS is well and truly under control. Yet world figures tell a different story. HIV/AIDS kills more people than all world wars and conflict - 1.2 million in 2007. The United Nations estimate of the people living with HIV last year was over 33 million. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, over 2,000 men become infected every day. But while the United Nations has calculated that the world needs $41 billion annually by 2010 to reach full universal access to treatment prevention and care of AIDS, only a proportion of that has been pledged so far. and diplomat, Stephen Lewis, co-director of AIDS-Free World, and before that the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, joins Chris Richards to dissect the politics behind HIV/AIDS - the indifference of Western World governments; the negligence of international institutions; and the mass misogyny that has meant that women in parts of Africa are now being deliberately infected at a far greater rate than men.

• Brazil was the first nation to provide anti-AIDS therapies free to patients who were prescribed it. Dr André de Mello e Souza - from the Pontifíca Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro - explains how dusting-down the dollars that big pharmaceutical companies make from AIDS treatment produces better health for less cost in Brazil.
• The militias in Congo are using the genitals of women as a weapon of war on a massive scale - leaving their torn flesh open to HIV. Marie Claire Faray, spokesperson of COMMON CAUSE UK - a platform for Congolese women in the United Kingdom - explains the war on women and what the international community must do to help stop it.
• In Tamil Nadu in the south of India, there is now a whopping 99 per cent AIDS-awareness. Dheepthi Namasivayam talks with sex workers, who are now AIDS awareness workers with the Indian Community Welfare Organization, about the power of their voices.

The spotlight in this program is on Kenge Kenge - which, roughly speaking, means the fusion of small, exhilarating instruments. In the CD Introducing Kenge Kenge, traditional sound boxes, one-string-fiddles and gongs combine with modern day drums and flutes to produce their dance-until-dawn Afrobeat.

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Human Tides

An estimated one billion people will flee their homes by 2050…

What’sthe most urgent threat facing poor people in developing countries. War?Climate change? Mega-development? A recent report says it’s the resultof all three - that people are being forced from their homes. Oncurrent trends a staggering one billion people will flee their homes inthe next 40 years - the majority because of climate change and thebuilding of mega-projects like dams and mines. Today’s co-host, JohnDavison - one of the authors of the report Human Tide: the realmigration crisis - joins Radio New Internationalist’s Chris Richards tovisit some startling scenarios and meet the people who are affected:

• Ten years after Cyclone Mitch hit Honduras, Juan Almendares from Friends of the Earth reveals how displacement and disruption still endures.
• Development projects like dams displace 15 million people a year. Medha Patkar - the leader of the Save Narmada Movement - recounts how the World Bank helps fund them.
• Two hundred and fifty million people are going to be displaced because of climate-change through floods, droughts, famines and hurricanes between now and 2050. That’s more than double the entire populations of Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Ibrahim Togola - from the Mali Folke Center - explains how it’s already happening in Africa.
• Professor Walter Kälin, Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, presents compelling reasons why the Rich World should pay to climate-proof the Poor World.

In today’s CD - UrbanGypsy performed by the Romanian-born Shukar Collective - traditions ofthose perennial refugees - the gypsies - meet the electric sounds ofmodern musicians.

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Pathways to peace (part 3)

If peace had a personality, what would it be?…

Have you ever wondered why war, not peace, is higher on societies’ agenda? Peopleseem more preoccupied with stopping war than building peace. It’s an important difference. Cabinet rooms and news desks; in school and university curricula; around kitchen tables and work rooms; the concentration is more on the immediate gunfire and bombings than along-term look at the tools we all need to get on better with aneighbouring person or country - the very things that will preventconflict from breaking out in the first place.

Over the last two months Radio New Internationalist has been exploring pathways topeace. Today’s program explores the human characteristics that theworld needs to put peace into practice - the qualities that we’ll needto nurture if we’re going to stop conflict from war-zones towar-in-homes. And it’s women who are in the drivers’ seat:

• If peace had a personality, what would it be like? Rebecca Spence - founder of Peaceworks, an organization that designs training programs to build peace in deeply divided communities around the world - sketches some profiles.
• Even though victims of conflict are traumatized by the violence they’ve experienced, many go on to inflict it on others. Robi Damelin - a Jewish woman whose son died in the Arab-Israeli conflict - considers the consequences (with Sally Golding Advocacy Manager for Christian Aid in the United Kingdom, who recorded Robi’s story).
• With four coups in two decades in a warrior nation, Fiji’s men have problems putting down their guns. Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls - coordinator of femLINKPACIFIC - takes a suitcase radio out into the rural areas of Fiji to record the voices of the people and play them back to policy makers and politicians. She tells us the results.

Zena Bacar - the golden voice of Mozambique - sings herway through this week’s program from her comeback performances in theCD Yellela.

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Telling truths

The power in truth and the justice in revenge…

What’s wrong with a bit of revenge? It may be a base emotion, but it has some redeeming qualities that we ignore at our peril. For individuals, it acknowledges the harm done to the victim and punishes the perpetrator - needs which, if unmet, can be psychologically devastating to a victim. Within countries, ‘moving on’ from conflict without meeting the needs of victims can mean widespread community violence decades later. So when a war is over, and yesterday’s enemies are now one’s neighbours, how do the victims of conflict obtain justice without revenge? How is it possible for people to move towards peace when they can see their torturers or rapists - the people that they have nightmares about - in the street enjoying life, free and prosperous?

Today’s co-host - law professor Teresa Godwin Phelps - has written a book about it: Shattered Voices: Language, Violence and the Work of Truth Commissions. Together with today’s guests, she explores the power of Truth Commissions to help a country face up to its past and move into its future.

On behalf of indigenous peoples abused by their governments, National Chief Phil Fontaine from Canada’s Assembly of First Nations has been at the forefront of obtaining both words of apology and the action that must flow from them. He weighs up the weaknesses and strengths of saying sorry.

The people of some countries are demanding more than an acknowledgement of the past. Thun Suray - Chairman of the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee - puts the case for prosecuting military murderers through trial and punishment.

Rita Arditti - the author of Searching for life: The grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo and the Disappeared Children of Argentina - recounts the resilience of truth and how it is uncovering the identities of children stolen during Argentina’s military regime thirty years ago.

In the melodies taken from today’s CD, Sahara, Spanish singer-songwriter Javier Ruibal delivers performances that are beautiful but haunting, staying with those experiencing it well after they are finished… just like the unresolved injustices that are discussed throughout this program.

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Inside China's Prisons

Swinging open China’s cell doors to hear who’s inside, and why…

Civilunrest is rising in China, particularly in rural areas where people areincreasingly disgruntled because of corrupt or inefficient officials.In a push upwards by the people, more and more protesters are claimingfreedom of speech and demanding a right to be heard. Seeing thispotential growing amongst labour rights activists in 2002, Dr YangJianli to China for two weeks to assist with strategy and negotiation,then spent the next five years in prison. He was one of thousands ofpolitical prisoners - prisoners of conscience jailed because of whatthey believe or say - interrogated, beaten, placed in solitaryconfinement and then left to serve out his sentence in China’s gaols.Together with today’s guests, he shows us who’s imprisoned there andwhy.

• When political prisoners are convicted, so are theirpartners. Lee Tan, from the Australian Conservation Foundation, readsextracts from an essay by Ouyang Xiaorong called: ‘The life of apolitical prisoner’s wife’.

• Like Tibet, Xinjiang is presentlyclaimed by China as a province in its far-east region. And also likeTibet, thousands of it people have been imprisoned while seeking moreautonomy. But unlike Tibet, their cause is rarely heard on theinternational stage. Alim Seytoff - the Director of the Uyghur HumanRights Project and General Secretary of the Uyghur American Association- explains why.

• While Dr Yang describes how prisoners’organizing to share their knowledge creates harmony inside Chineseprisons, Australia’s first doctoral candidate studying in prison isfinding the opposite. In an essay read by Colm McNaughton, CraigMinogue - serving a 23 years jail sentence - describes the subtle andnot-so-subtle ways that the prison bureaucracy bucks when it finds outthat he’s lent a helping hand.

Today’s CD - Lumière - lights upthe program. Performed by one of this show’s favourite artists, BobBrozman, this amazing CD combines musical influences of a range ofAsian and the Pacific countries.

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Politics of war - pathways to peace (Part 2)

The unseen politics propping up war…

Unquestionably, the greatest violations of human rights occur in times of war; not justbecause of the mass slaughter, unspeakable rapes and torture.Everything that we value is under attack: homes and schools; family,friends, and food; political debate, participation in government,protection by the rule of law. And as we probed in the last program,these effects reverberate for decades, even centuries later as thelegacy of violence is inherited from one generation to the next. Thegood news is that major armed conflict - conflict causing at least1,000 deaths within a year - is falling. The bad news is that itdoesn’t seem that way.

The United States - hell bent onremoving global risks to its economic and social security - isaggressively intervening in the Middle East and Latin America. And - inthe case of Iraq - a collection of Rich World countries that aregloriously free from internal conflict have armed their troops to jointhe fight. The cost can be immense. So why do it? Two passionateadvocates against war and for human rights - one from a country thatpromotes war and another that is a victim of it - join Chris Richardsto explore the unseen politics propping up war and internationalinterventions. They unravel the complexities of the Iraq and Colombianconflicts along the way:

Kathy Black - a convenor of the US Labor Against the War - explains how military intelligence, fundamentalist religion, education, and the American psyche have helped build and maintain US war-mongering;
Alirio Uribe Muñoz - a member of a death-defying human rights lawyers’ collective, the Corporación Colectivo de Abogados ‘José Alvear Restrepo’ in Bogotá - takes us inside Colombian conflict to find out why the United States is pouring money and troops into it, and the interests it seeks to protect. David Feller, also from the collective, translates.

Alsofrom Colombia, the music threading its way through this program is theCD Canta Bovea y Sus Vallenatos con Alberto Fernandez featuring the up-beat sassystrains of the accordian led vallenato music.

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Pathways to peace (part 1)

How the effects of violence are inherited…

There’s no escaping it. It seems like violence is everywhere! Turn on the radio and hear about the latest war - mass rapes, murder and destruction. Closer to home it’s a body found in a trunk; a grandmother bashed for her bag; or a child that’s been sexually assaulted. How to respond? Give comfort and support to the victims? Time, they say, is a wonderful healer. But is it?

What if trauma is inherited - a violent legacy that’s passed down from one generation to another. Suddenly the wars that are happening far away - wars we didn’t think were even relevant to us - can come back years, decades, even centuries later to haunt our communities just because someone’s grandfather or aunt was there.

This is the first of four programs that will be broadcast over the coming months in search of sustainable pathways to peace. Independent Australian broadcaster Colm McNaughton kicks off this series with his excellent documentary, Awakening from History, which was commissioned by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. In it, Colm returns to Ireland - the home of his parents and for a short time the cradle of his own childhood - to confront the profound effects that the war between the British and the Irish had on himself and his family, decades and generations later.

Unfortunately, while this part of the program has been broadcast by the 50 community radio programs across the world now scheduling Radio New Internationalist, for copyright reasons we are unable to make this documentary available to the general public through our website. However, here is the interview that followed the documentary, with indigenous member of the New South Wales Parliament, Linda Burney. Linda takes our understanding another step further as she considers whether the violence that deprived Australian Aboriginal people of their land up to two centuries ago can explain why their communities are full of violence today.

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Ballot boxes Burma

May 10th vote may give Burma’s generals permanent control…

From a country that employs one soldier for every citizen - where demonstrators are tortured and where political joke-tellers end up in jail - some incredibly brave men and women step up to Radio New Internationalist’s microphones today to talk about the latest developments in their country. Since 1962, military generals have run Burma with iron fists and frozen hearts. As the generals’ bank balances rise, the standard of living of the Burmese continues to fall, with an estimated one in ten of Burma’s people now suffering from chronic malnutrition.

On Saturday 10th May the Burmese people will be asked to give the generals permanent control over the government of their country by endorsing a new constitution: one that most voters won’t be able to read before they place their vote. Just back from Burma, New Internationalist co-editor Dinyar Godrej shares some stories about the generals and their grip on power with three resisters of the military regime who are forging new horizons for Burma:  

  • Bo Kyi from Burma’s Assistance Association for Political Prisoners spent a total of seven years and three months in Burma’s jails because he organized a demonstration. He explains the way tens of thousands of political prisoners have been abused in a justice system that the military kidnapped decades ago.  
  • Charm Tong from the Shan Women’s Action Network reports on how military madness is burning ethnic villages off Burma’s map - killing the villagers and using rape as a weapon of war.
  • Htoo Paw from the Karen Women’s Organization has been part of a process to draft a Constitution that’s alternative to the one being proposed by the military. She outlines a system to unite the country and still deliver autonomy to minorities.

Today’s CD is a collection of ambient funk from Asia from the Ryukyu Underground, which takes original Japanese recordings and mixes them with a beat pulsing with an independent spirit.

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Indigenous Sunrise

A brighter horizon may finally be dawning for some of the world’s 350 million indigenous peoples. It’s a nice change. In country after country, indigenous peoples are often the most deprived: more likely to be in prison; more likely to die early; and more likely to be hungry. Stripped of their land by foreign invaders generations ago - often with deadly consequences - community after community still struggles for a decent place within their own homeland. But the storyline is changing as indigenous peoples become more organized and demand justice. Two and a half years ago indigenous leader Evo Morales was elected President of Bolivia. New Internationalist co-editor Vanessa Baird joins the Radio New Internationalist team on a trip to Bolivia to discover how redistributing parliamentary power, resource wealth and land can deliver social justice to indigenous peoples.

  • An indigenous head of state means far more than a fair share of the country’s money and resources. Bolivian anthropologist Xavier Albó salutes power’s crowning glory - dignity.
  • Saturnino (Jun) Borras - one of the founders of the international peasants movement La Via Campesina - digs up the good, the bad and the ugly ways of dividing up a nation’s land.
  • While cocaine is being cooked chemically from coca, the United States Embassy in Bolivia is serving coca tea to its visitors. Given its substantial health and export potentials, Jim Shultz argues that - when it comes to the coca leaf - its time that the international community gets real.

Also in this program, power dances to a different beat as Cuban band Sierra Maestra performs passionate love songs both to Latin America and the rumba from their CD Rumbero Soy.

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Privatization continued

Inside the minds of politicians privatizing public assets…

Despite widespread and vocal global disgruntlement about privatisation, governments keep on keeping it on. They’re selling public assets at ridiculously low rates. They’re giving corporations monopoly control of a dizzying array of essential public services. And they’re exposing education, health and transport to a profit motive delivering less quality at more cost. Just what can politicians who privatize be thinking? Radio New Internationalist decided to ask.

  • Laila Harré - a former New Zealand Cabinet Minister - joins today’s program to explore what goes on in the minds of our governments when they’re making these huge and irreversible decisions: decisions that effectively let companies take over the functions entrusted to government. As she outlines the players, the politics, and the psychology of privatization, she paints a clear picture of what’s coming up next on privatization’s broad horizons.
  • The privatization cheer-leading squad contains a colourful array of financiers and advisors who are driving the process behind the scenes. New Zealand researcher, writer and activist Bill Rosenberg from the Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) provides some profiles, as he outlines some of the international pressures driving privatization.
  • A massive 30 per cent of South Africans have no access to electricity even though it’s a right given to all by South Africa’s Bill of Rights. Silumko Radebe from the South African Anti Privatization Forum explains how he and his colleagues are reconnecting people with the energy services that privatization is trying to take away. 

Today’s CD is called Sabou performed by that legendary West African singer Mory Kante. He’s a millionaire of a different sort - the first African artist to sell a million singles.

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Ethical travellers

To fly or not to fly…

Now that we’re more conscious of combating climate change, cutting back on carbon emissions is high on the list. To fly or not to fly - that is the question. After all, heating a home for a whole year produces on average less carbon dioxide emissions than one person taking a return flight from New York to London. But helse do you get there? You can’t take a train, and who’s got time for a boat? Should you go at all? ‘s just one of many dilemmas that confront ethical travellers. It’s no easy ride. here to go? Who to travel with? How to maximize the amount of your money that goes to local people - not big companies - in the places you visit? So strap on your seat belt as New Internationalist co-editor Chris Brazier away the ecotourism marketing hype and guides us through a host of travelling experiences destined to do more good than harm.

  • Combine carbon emissions with the increasing cost of a place on a plane and the desire for plane travel might be crashing. Cameron Forbes - author of ‘Under the volcano: The Story of Bali’ - considers what would happen to the Indonesian island of Bali if the tourist dollar disappears.
  • From rubbish and water waste to the over-development of sensitive areas, tourism’s environmental impacts are significant. Syed Liyakhat from the Indian NGO Equations sets out the effects that tourism has had on Indian people, places and culture.
  • Peter Richards - from the Community Based Tourism Institute in Chiangmai, Thailand - shows us snapshots of communities in the Majority World that are benefiting best from tourism.

The revved-up rhythms in today’s program come straight off the streets surrounding Colombia’s Caribbean coastline as Colombi-africa - the Mystic Orchestra perform their Voodoo Love Inna Champeta-Land CD.

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