Earlier this year, the Saudi female rights activist Loujain Al-Hathloul was released from prison. While certainly a cause for celebration, to many it was also a reminder of the persistent lack of political freedom in Saudi Arabia. Loujain Al-Hathloul was originally arrested for protesting the ban on women driving, and although this ban was lifted in 2018, she still remained in prison. Even after her release, she won’t be allowed to travel for the next five years.
To understand women’s inequality in Saudi Arabia beyond the headlines, we need to have a conversation about the male guardianship system--a term that refers to a variety of formal and informal barriers women in Saudi Arabia face when attempting to make decisions or take action without the presence or consent of a male relative. Human Rights Watch has released a comprehensive report on the male guardianship system, which you can find here.
Today, we have a conversation with the author of this report, Kristine Beckerle. We talk about the dynamics of being a Western reporter covering the Middle East, Loujain Al-Hathloul’s story, feminist solidarity, and the complexities of the male guardianship system.
Image by Carlos Latuff, 2011
A decade has elapsed since the protests that sparked the Arab Spring and ousted Tunisia’s long-standing dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Despite significant democratic reforms in the North African nation, Tunisians are still taking to the streets en masse in 2021.
To understand why, in this episode, War News Radio speaks with Narimen Zorgui, a student and activist in Tunisia who grew up amidst the 2011 revolution. She has witnessed first-hand the nation’s evolution from a stable but repressive dictatorship to the wavering democracy it is today*. We also hear from Ghaya Ben Mbarek, a Tunisian journalist who covers political and social issues, including the Tunisian police’s human rights abuses — despite the hostility and repression critics often face.
This episode of War News Radio was written, narrated, and produced by Sophia Becker and Zane Irwin. Special thanks to Ali Abid for helping us research this piece, and to Narimen Zorgui and Ghaya Ben Mbarek for speaking with us.
*Since the completion of this episode, Tunisia has faced a dramatic threat to its democratic institutions, with President Kais Saied's removal of the prime minister and suspension of Parliament in July of 2021.
For this episode of War News Radio, we’re taking a closer look at two of the Pacific territories, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, whose historical relationships to the United States are defined by conflict and colonialism. This has drastically disrupted the lives of the native Chamorro people who have inhabited Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the rest of the Mariana Islands archipelago for the past 4-5,000 years. There are cultural and historical differences between Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, which led to Guam rejecting reunification with the Northern Mariana Islands in 1960. But both territories still face many of the same challenges today.
The U.S. acquired Guam from the Spanish in 1899 after winning the Spanish-American War. The Northern Mariana Islands has a more complicated colonial history, and was passed more or less from the Spanish Empire to Germany, then Japan, then the United Nations, and was officially established as a commonwealth in political union with the United States in 1986. Although the pasts of the two territories differ, the relationship between the U.S. and both territories has been historically characterized by intense militarization, a trend that continues to this day. But increasing calls for decolonization and self-determination could be changing this dynamic. In order to understand this shift happening in the pacific territories, we talked to residents of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands about colonial history, militarism, political representation, and more.
This episode of War News Radio was written and produced by Lucas Meyer-Lee, Anya Slepyan, Max Winig, and Sophia Becker.
The asylum process in the United States has been in the national spotlight consistently over the past four years, centering on the Trump administration's grave mistreatment of immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border and its policy of family separation. But what actually is the asylum process, how is it supposed to work, and where has it gone wrong? In this episode, we talk to M, a Cameroonian asylee who has seen both the way the asylum process should work and the many ways in which it does not. While M was granted asylum after fleeing Cameroon, her brother remains detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement with no end in sight. We also talk to Philippe Weisz, Managing Attorney at HIAS Pennsylvania, about the current legal process of granting asylum and the myriad challenges asylum seekers face before and after arriving in the United States.
This episode of War News Radio was written and produced by Zane Irwin and Nick Hirschel-Burns. Thank you to Philippe Weisz of HIAS Pennsylvania and M for speaking with us.
Image: Anti-Deportation Protests in 2017 (Daily Chalkupy via Flickr)
Anti-government protests in Thailand rocked the nation in 2020. The protests that began with anger at the dissolution of a political party, have found mass appeal including the unprecedented public demand to reform the Thai monarchy and a call to draft a new constitution. We speak with a Peera, a freelance journalist and Jason, a student studying abroad, who both grew up in Thailand. We get their perspectives of the political landscape on the ground that spurned the demonstrations and what it is like to live under the rule of a monarchy where any public criticism is taboo.
This episode was reported by the War News Radio team, written by Louie Kant, Sophia Peterson, Martin Tomilson and Bryce Bussert, and produced by Jaydeep Sangha.
Image: "Pro-democracy protestors flash three fingered salute" (from Gemunu Amarasinghe via AP)
When the U.S. drew down its military presence in Northeast Syria last fall, it was a huge blow to the region’s predominantly Kurdish populace. However, it was “not the first time the Kurds ha[d] been betrayed by the American government,” according to Nejeer Zebari. In the second of two episodes on the Kurds’ external conflicts and internal tensions, we explore divisions among Kurds, Turkey's relationship with the Kurds, and conflicting visions of a Kurdish future.
This episode was reported by the War News Radio team, written by Lucas Meyer-Lee, Sophia Peterson, and Nick Hirschel-Burns, and produced by Ross Layton.
Image: "Kurdish PKK Guerrillas" (from Kurdishstruggle via Flickr)
When the U.S. drew down its military presence in Northeast Syria last fall, it was a huge blow to the region's predominantly Kurdish populace. However, it was "not the first time the Kurds ha[d] been betrayed by the American government," according to Nejeer Zebari. In the first of two episodes on the Kurds' external conflicts and internal tensions, we explore recent developments in—and the long history of—this stateless people's fraught relations with its regional neighbors and the U.S.
This episode was reported by the War News Radio team, written by Lucas Meyer-Lee and Sophia Peterson, and produced by Ross Layton.
Image: "Kurdish YPG Fighters" (from Kurdishstruggle via flickr)
Mass protests toppled Sudan's decades-old dictatorship last April. The country is now governed by a transitional council, and many advocates for democracy are hopeful. But at this crucial juncture in their history, the Sudanese people are confronted with an increasingly familiar challenge: propaganda disseminated through Facebook and other online platforms. In this episode, we explore Sudan's struggle with anti-democratic social media propaganda.
This episode was produced by Miles Dyke, Ross Layton, Lucas Meyer-Lee, and Sophia Peterson.
Image: Sudan Revolution (from Hind Mekki via flickr)
The 2016 peace deal between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was hailed as a historic agreement, with then-president Juan Manuel Santos awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. Three years later, the reality is far murkier. What can be done to continue moving forward toward a peaceful future for Colombia? War News Radio's Bryce Bussert and Nick Hirschel-Burns investigate.
Refugees and refugee resettlement agencies are facing incredible uncertainty following measures by the Trump administration to significantly curtail refugee entry to the lowest admittance since the 1970s. To gain a better perspective the impact these policy changes have on refugees and resettlement agencies, we speak with Stephanie Gromek, the communications coordinator for Church World Service, one of the largest refugee resettlement organizations in the United States. In this episode we also chat with Hamzeh Alturk, a Syrian student now studying at Miami Dade College following the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War. Hamzeh shares his own experiences which help to better comprehend the challenges and aspirations a displaced person might face.
This piece was produced by Jaydeep Sangha, and narrated by Siddharth Srivatsan, Alexandra Thomas, Jeff Duncan, and Yusa Parcali