News Promo: April 2012 Archives

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Award winner for human rights reporting on Argentina's dirty war

Rosa Gomez and Antonio Savone suffered at the hands of the same torturers. They reunited to try to jail their tormentors. Photo/Alison Crawford

Still cleaning up after Argentina's dirty war

Some guilty verdicts were handed down this week (October 2011) in a case that began many years ago in a very dark place in 1970s Argentina.

They called it "the Singing Room." And sometimes, "the Barbeque," which is closer to what it really was; a torture chamber in the basement of a Mendoza police station.

And it was bad, what they did to Antonio Savone. Much worse for Rosa Gomez, the woman whose eyes he could see -- and whose cries he could hear -- coming from the cell facing his.

Argentina was in the grip of a murderous dictatorship, and last March, Antonio headed back to meet Rosa face-to-face, and confront their captors.

The CBC's Alison Crawford begans our story in Antonio's Toronto home, as he packed to testify in Mendoza.

Listen to Alison's dispatch

This week (October 2011), five of the six defendants in the D-2 case were convicted of crimes ranging from kidnap to torture and murder.  The judge called them all "crimes against humanity."  Four were given life sentences, including the man who killed Rosa's husband. A fifth got twelve years and another was acquitted, but is already convicted of crimes in another detention centre. All will go to prison; they had been under house arrest. Report in El Sol (the Mendoza Sun)

And Antonio was in court to hear the verdict. He'll return in 2012 to testify against those accused of sexually assaulting Rosa Gomez.

Meanwhile, two judges have been suspended as a result of the investigation into human rights violations, though the prosecutor, that signed off on the "confession" Antonio was unaware of until his trial, has skipped the country and is claiming refugee status in Chile.

Antonio has also been contacted by a novelist and a filmmaker interested in documenting his story.  And an artist who wants to draw his eyes. 

Finally, he tells us by email that he speaks with Rosa all the time. "I feel very close to (her)" he writes. She is now, "a part of my life."

Dispatches thanks CBC producer Mariel Borelli for performing the voice over translation for Rosa Gomez.


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Diplomatic Impunity: filmmaker's bluff lets him smuggle diamonds

Danish film director Mads Bruger in a scene from The Ambassador. He posed as an diplomat in order to document corruption in Liberia. Here he is appointed Liberia's ambassador by that country's Foreign Minster, Toga McIntosh. (Photo/Pressestil)

Our next guest is a documentary filmmaker who doesn't need to be told to think outside the box, because near as we can tell, he's hardly ever in it.

His name is Mads Brugger, and he has a new film showing at the Hot Docs Festival in Toronto this week and next.

The Ambassador starts with an outrageous premise that never looks back.

It's Brugger commiting what he calls "performative journalism", buying diplomatic credentials from one African state to gain immunity he can use to smuggle diamonds from another.

Along the way he spills the stones all over the carpet. Bribes everything that moves.

Even plays recordings of whale calls for a pair of stoic pygmies.

A man in a box of his own.

But along the way, the Danish filmmaker reveals the cozy world of politics and diplomacy isn't as noble as it might have you believe. He joined us via Skype from Copernhagen to explain.

Listen to Rick's interview with Mads Brugger

In The Ambassador filmmaker Mads Brugger bugs, bribes and buys diplomatic credentials to expose larceny lurking beneath.

Here's an excerpt.

Listen here to the rest of this week's show.
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Azerbaijan: a lot of grief for the spotlight of a pop song show

Explicit videos of Khadija Ismayilova were sent to her. She says she was told to stop investigating the financial dealings of Azerbaijan's president Ilham Aliyev and his family. She refused. (Photo: RFE-RL/Turkhan Kerlmov)


This is the syrupy tune that won Azerbaijan the right to stage the long-running Eurovision Song Contest next month.

The title of the song incidentally, is called Running Scared, which sums up the life some are leading these days in Azerbaijan.

Critics are asking if Azerbaijan is a fitting host for an international talent show featuring performers from over 70 nations and watched by hundreds of millions around the world.
Human Rights Watch reports people are being forcibly evicted from their homes to make way for Eurovision contest venues.

Journalists who show the State in unflattering light, like Idrak Abbasov, have been attacked and beaten.

And when his friend Khadija Ismayilova refused to bend to blackmail, someone installed a hidden camera in her bedroom and posted intimate moments online.

She remains unbowed, and joined Rick from Azerbaijan's capital of Baku to explain.

Journalist Khadija Ismayilova, a freelancer with Radio Free Europe, hosts a radio talk show in Baku.  She co-ordinates the Caucasus for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

Listen to the rest of this week's show here.
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Yemen: A lesson in insecurity

The Romans called it "Arabia Felix".  Happy Arabia.

But Yemen, as it's known today, is anything but. Buffeted by rebellion and its own Arab Spring, political instability is on vivid display now that miltants have seized an entire province and sent its residents packing.

Today many live with the legacy of unrest that's driven them from their homes to refuge in distant schools where Canadian journalist Lindsay Mackenzie says the only lessons they learn, are the hard ones.

Listen to Lindsay's documentary

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Peace without justice in Liberia

Comfort Tokpah, 50, lost her husband and brother in Liberia's civil war and was forced to marry a child soldier. (Photo: Bonnie Allen)

Later this month, we'll hear a verdict in the case of the first African Head of State ever tried for war crimes.

Charles Taylor, a former President of Liberia, faces 11 counts for crimes he allegedly committed in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

They include murder and rape, and recruiting child soldiers

Remarkably enough, neither he -- nor anyone else -- faces any charges for triggering a war in his own country, which killed 1/4 million Liberians. 

The innocent now live side-by-side with people guilty of committing atrocities against them. Dispatches contributor Bonnie Allen tells us two of those stories.

Listen to Bonnie's documentary

And a cruel footnote to that story: Alhaji Kromah, the former rebel leader in charge of the state broadcaster where Moses works, just got a new, more important, government job.

The President's appointed him an Ambassador-at-large in the Foreign Ministry. Observers say it likely means his prospects for prosecution are even more distant. But on the upside, it means Moses won't have to look at him every day.

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Turkish minorities tread carefully in opening doors to multi-culturalism

People in Instanbul enjoy the newly-revived Baklahorani Carnival. What was once a pagan Christian rite, has morphed into one of the few celebrations of Turkey's multi-cultural past and present. Dominant Turkish nationalism has made its organizers tread with caution. (Photo/Meghan MacIver)

Dancing to the tune of reconciliation

With a history of conflict dating back more than 600 years, Greeks and Turks are not often found at the same party. As recently as the 90s, they sent warships into the Aegean in a sovereignty dispute over a tiny rump of rock cherished only by goats. And don't even get them started on Cyprus.

But now it seems, times are changing, ever so slightly.

Canadian journalist Meghan MacIver has found some Greeks and Turks dancing to the same tune at an unusual, and very historic party in Istanbul.

Listen to Meghan's dispatch

The April 5 Dispatches program

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