Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Swat Woman Of Courage Gets Sisters' Council To Speak Up

In the face of considerable opposition, Pakistani mother of four Tabassum Adnan took the bold step of establishing a tribal council of women in the deeply conservative Swat Valley.

Tabassum Adnan wants women to stand up for their rights.

That's a dangerous message to send where she comes from -- Pakistan's Swat Valley. And that's the reason she was just awarded the U.S. Secretary Of State's International Women of Courage Award.

RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal caught up with the 38-year-old mother of four upon her return from Washington, and spoke to her about her groundbreaking work and plans for the future.

She rose to prominence in Swat in 2013, when she broke with tradition by forming Pakistan's first all-women jirga, or tribal council.

Tradition held that membership in a jirga was reserved for male elders, who met to settle local disputes and grievances. Decisions were often made without the presence of women.

Her answer was to form the 25-member Khwendo Jirga, or the Sisters' Council.

"In our society, women are not allowed to participate in a jirga.," Adnan said on April 1. "So I challenged the set norms for my rights, for the rights of our women, and for the rights of every oppressed person."

Although the idea initially faced opposition, the Khwendo Jirga gained acceptance after it brought culprits to justice in a child-rape case in a Swat village in 2014.

"We have since resolved a number of cases and helped a number of people," Adnan said, noting that the council has successfully intervened in blood feuds calling for the exchange of women, the sale of girls into marriage, murder cases, and situations involving the trafficking of women.

The Khwendo Jirga also advocates women's access to education and health care, and supports their right to vote.

Adnan's own story is one of perseverance. She was a child bride, married off by her family at the age of 13. Adnan divorced her husband 20 years later after suffering two decades of domestic abuse.

She had approached male jirgas to seek justice for the violence she suffered, but was unsuccessful. But from that rejection was born her idea to create her own jirga.

-- Farangis Najibullah, based on an interview by RFE/RL Radio Mashaal correspondent Niaz Khan

Iran Talks: The Things Bored Journalists Tweet

Iranian journalists try to escape the rain during Iranian nuclear talks in Lausanne.

As they await the results of closed-door nuclear negotiations between Iran and world powers in the Swiss city of Lausanne, journalists are tweeting the time away.​

Kerry To Go

Featuring chicken, bacon, onions, and rocket salad, the "John Kerry mini-pizza" went on sale on March 30 at a Lausanne restaurant. The price? 18 Swiss francs -- just over $18.

View From Afar


​Bird Watching

Big Brother

Deal On The Horizon

Inside The Machine

Foul Territory

Take A Hike

-- Frud Bezhan

The Week Ahead: March 30 - April 5

April 2: World Autism Awareness Day.

The Week Ahead is a detailed listing of key events of the coming week affecting RFE/RL's broadcast region.
Now on Twitter! Daily updates at @The_Week_Ahead.

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MONDAY, March 30:
Russia/Armenia: Russian parliament speaker Sergei Naryshkin visits Yerevan.

U.K./Afghanistan: Chatham House in London hosts a discussion titled Changing The Odds? Achieving Stability In Afghanistan.
TUESDAY, March 31: ​
Georgia/EU: Georgian Foreign Minister Tamar Beruchashvili visits Brussels.
Kyrgyzstan/Germany: Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev visits Berlin (to April 1).
Tajikistan: Serbian Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairman Ivica Dacic visits Dushanbe (to April 2).
WEDNESDAY, April 1: ​
EU: The European Central Bank Governing Council meets in Frankfurt.

Serbia/Slovakia​: Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic visits Bratislava (to April 2).

THURSDAY, April 2:
Azerbaijan: Baku hosts an International Travel & Tourism Fair (to April 4).
FRIDAY, April 3:
Russia/Slovakia: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov makes a working visit to Bratislava.
SATURDAY, April 4:
SUNDAY, April 5:
Global: Western Christianity celebrates Easter holiday.

15 Years Of Putin

A political cartoon from Sergei Elkin for RFE/RL's Russian Service, marking the 15th anniversary on March 27 of President Vladimir Putin's first election victory, in 2000, nearly three months after Boris Yeltsin stepped down and named Putin his successor.

The Week Ahead: March 23-29

March 24: European Parliament holds a debate with Crimean Tatar Mejlis movement leader Refat Chubarov, Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev, and members of the Ukrainian parliament on Crimea’s militarization and security situation.

The Week Ahead is a detailed listing of key events of the coming week affecting RFE/RL's broadcast region.
Now on Twitter! Daily updates at @The_Week_Ahead.

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MONDAY, March 23:
Kyrgyzstan: Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev visits Vienna.
U.S./Iran/Russia: Wilson Center in Washington hosts a discussion titled Russian-Iranian Relations In The Shadow Of Ukraine.
TUESDAY, March 24: ​

Global: Tunis hosts the World Social Forum 2015 (to March 28).
Russia/Latin America: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visits Cuba, Columbia, Nicaragua, and Guatemala (to March 26).​
U.K./Russia: Chatham House in London hosts a discussion titled The Impact Of Sanctions On Russia's Domestic And Foreign Policy
WEDNESDAY, March 25: ​
EU/Kosovo: EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn visits Pristina.
EU/Ukraine: European Parliament is scheduled to hold a vote on whether Ukraine should be granted up to 1.8 billion euros ($2.086 billion) in EU macro-financial assistance for economic and political stabilization and reform. 

U.S./Afghanistan: Wilson Center in Washington hosts a discussion titled Afghanistan: The Next Phase.

THURSDAY, March 26:
Council of EuropeJustice Ministers from the 47 Council of Europe member states meet in Brussels to discuss the reform of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) system (to March 27).
EU/Kosovo: EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini visits Pristina.
IranThe next round of nuclear talks between Iran and six major world powers -- the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia, and China -- is scheduled to start.
Kyrgyzstan/EU: Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev visits Brussels (to March 30).
U.S./Belarus: Freedom House in Washington hosts a discussion titled Belarus On The Eve Of A Presidential Election.
FRIDAY, March 27:
EU/Serbia: EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini visits Belgrade.
SATURDAY, March 28:
EgyptArab League foreign ministers meet for the annual Arab Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh (to March 29).
World: Earth Hour - a global annual event where millions of people switch off their lights for one hour.
SUNDAY, March 29:
Russia/Armenia: Russian Parliament Speaker Sergei Naryshkin visits Yerevan (to March 30).

Uzbekistan: Presidential Election.

Video Ukrainian Oligarch Tears Into RFE/RL Journalist

Ukrainian oligarch and politician Ihor Kolomoyskiy

One would expect Ukrainian oligarchs and politicians to be made of sterner stuff.
Billionaire oligarch and Dnipropetrovsk Governor Ihor Kolomoyskiy, however, lost his cool in the late-night hours of March 19-20 when a reporter from RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service -- together with other journalists -- asked him why he had just spent six hours with a group of armed men in the headquarters of the state-owned Ukrtransnafta oil-transit company.
The question by journalist Serhiy Andrushko sent Kolomoyskiy into an expletive-filled rant in which he urged RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, known locally as Radio Svoboda, to go looking for Russian saboteurs rather than tracking his movements. The profanity-laced tirade lasted more than a minute and was caught on video.
On March 19, the supervisory board of Ukrtransanafta, in which Kolomoyskiy's PrivatGroup holds a 42 percent stake, dismissed the board chairman and Kolomoyskiy associate, Oleksandr Lazorko. 
This followed a decision by Ukraine's parliament to lower the necessary quorum for shareholder votes at state-owned companies, from 60 percent to 50 percent.
Kolomoyskiy called the actions a "corporate raid." 
WATCH: Ihor Kolomoyskiy's tirade (in Russian, no subtitles)
The governor, who also provides funding for pro-Kyiv battalions, may also have been upset with Andrushko and Radio Svoboda because of a video report published on March 12 that outlines Kolomoyskiy's manipulation of his political ties to benefit his business interests.
In one exchange from last year shown in that report, Andrushko asks why Kolomoyskiy has Ukrainian, Israeli, and Cypriot passports when Ukrainian law forbids dual citizenship.
"In the constitution it says dual citizenship is forbidden," Kolomoyskiy says. "But triple citizenship is not forbidden."
Ukraine's state Committee on Freedom of Speech and Information has called on Kolomoyskiy to apologize to Andrushko, saying he violated his oath as a public servant and the rant showed "signs of obstruction of journalism." 
In a statement, RFE/RL editor in chief Nenad Pejic condemned Kolomoyskiy's "verbal attack."
"It is a violation of all international standards and decency that a public official would verbally abuse a journalist," he said. "It is also reckless and potentially dangerous. We also condemn the outrageous accusations made against RFE/RL, whose job is to serve the public interest by providing independent, unbiased, and accurate reporting to the people of Ukraine."
-- Robert Coalson, based on reporting by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service 

The Week Ahead: March 16-22

March 21: International Day of Nowruz.

The Week Ahead is a detailed listing of key events of the coming week affecting RFE/RL's broadcast region.
Now on Twitter! Daily updates at @The_Week_Ahead.

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MONDAY, March 16:
EU: Brussels hosts an EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting.
EU/Moldova: Moldovan Prime Minister Chiril Gaburici visits Brussels, attends EU-Moldova Association Council meeting.
Russia: The UN Human Rights Committee meets to review Russia (to March 17).​
Ukraine: OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Astrid Thors travels to the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine (to March 20).

Ukraine/Germany: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko visits Berlin.

U.S./IranU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif meet in Lausanne for talks to secure an agreement on Iran's controversial nuclear program. 

TUESDAY, March 17: ​
Russia/Georgia: The 31st round of regional peace talks between Georgia and Russia starts in Geneva (to March 18).
Ukraine: Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland visits Kyiv (to March 18).
WEDNESDAY, March 18:
Armenia: EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn visits Yerevan.​
U.S./Azerbaijan/Turkey: Freedom House in Washington hosts a discussion titled Independent Media And Civil Society In Turkey And Azerbaijan.
THURSDAY, March 19:
EU: EU leaders meet for the European Council to discuss further orientations in view of building an Energy Union (to March 20).
Iraq: Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari visits Moscow (to March 20).
U.S./Ukraine: The Wilson Center in Washington hosts a discussion titled The War In Ukraine: The Roots Of Russian Conduct.

FRIDAY, March 20:
SATURDAY, March 21:
SUNDAY, March 22:

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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