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Kissing On The Dancefloor of Horoom

Thu, 2017-08-17 12:03
The beats pulsing from techno music force the walls to shudder as smoky air dances through green support beams in the underground space. Dim stars seemingly sway across that dark dancefloor, but these are the cigarettes. Everyone is smoking. This is Horoom, a secret underground queer rave in Tbilisi, a city that is known for its homophobia. It is a city that has a thousands-strong, anti-gay march on its main avenue every year. It is the capital of Georgia, a country where an estimated 91.5% percent of Georgians believe that homosexuality will never be acceptable, according to a 2009 study by the Caucasus Research and Resource Center. {image-1} This makes Horoom, a secret queer monthly rave, a radical space for queer people.

Meet Our Newest Fellows

Mon, 2017-08-14 10:20
The International Reporting Project is awarding fellowships to report on three different topics around the world. The deadline to apply for the gender/LGBTI rights and religion reporting fellowships for fall and winter travel is rolling. The application for peacebulding and conflict resolution in Africa is closed and fellows have been selected. {image-2}                       Religion Issues We congratulate the following journalists who were awarded fellowships in 2017 to cover religion issues: Jessica Aguirre is a journalist based in Germany who will report in Bolivia. Sarah Pulliam Bailey is a religion reporter for The Washington Post who will report from Brazil. Ian Bateson is a freelance journalist based in Ukraine who

Meet Our Newest Fellows

Mon, 2017-08-14 10:20
The International Reporting Project is awarding fellowships to report on three different topics around the world. The deadline to apply for the gender/LGBTI rights and religion reporting fellowships for fall and winter travel is rolling. The application for peacebulding and conflict resolution in Africa is closed and fellows have been selected. {image-2}                       Religion Issues We congratulate the following journalists who were awarded fellowships in 2017 to cover religion issues: Jessica Aguirre is a journalist based in Germany who will report in Bolivia. Sarah Pulliam Bailey is a religion reporter for The Washington Post who will report from Brazil. Ian Bateson is a freelance journalist based in Ukraine who

Suharto Museum Celebrates Dictator’s Life, Omitting Dark Chapters

Sun, 2017-08-13 10:09
KEMUSUK, Indonesia — Indonesia’s former dictator looms in bronze over the entrance to the small museum set amid the palm trees and emerald rice fields of central Java. Depicted in a military uniform and peaked officer’s cap, he radiates calm authority over the village of his birth. To many, the New Order government that Suharto led from 1967 to 1998 is a byword for corruption and repression on a grand scale, including a brutal campaign of anti-Communist purges that historians describe as one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. {image-1} As president, Suharto jailed and exiled his political enemies, and crippled democratic institutions. In 2004, the antigraft organization Transparency International described Suharto as the most corrupt leader

Ghosts of Pogroms Past Haunt Indonesia

Fri, 2017-08-11 10:34
JAKARTA — Nearly two decades after anti-Chinese riots tore through this part of Indonesia’s capital, one busy road still bears the scars. Amid the clamor of heat and traffic of Glodok, Jakarta’s Chinatown, a row of shop-houses lies abandoned, an octagonal feng shui tile still attached to a bricked-up window. Across the street, through locked steel shutters, one can still make out the charred beams and blackened walls of rooms gutted by fire in 1998. A nearby three-story building stands in ruins: a former furniture store destroyed during the rioting. “It’s been empty since 1998,” said Iskandar, 60, a street-side portrait painter who stores uses the space to store his wares. While the building has

Beijing Won’t Let Indonesia’s Chinese Burn Again

Fri, 2017-08-11 10:34
JAKARTA — Nearly two decades after anti-Chinese riots tore through this part of Indonesia’s capital, one busy road still bears the scars. Amid the clamor of heat and traffic of Glodok, Jakarta’s Chinatown, a row of shop-houses lies abandoned, an octagonal feng shui tile still attached to a bricked-up window. Across the street, through locked steel shutters, one can still make out the charred beams and blackened walls of rooms gutted by fire in 1998. A nearby three-story building stands in ruins: a former furniture store destroyed during the rioting. “It’s been empty since 1998,” said Iskandar, 60, a street-side portrait painter who stores uses the space to store his wares. While the building has

The Church of Duterte

Tue, 2017-08-08 13:48
On July 22, the Philippine Congress extended the martial law, which was first enacted in May, on the southern island of Mindanao for an additional five months. The army continues to battle militants inspired by the Islamic State (also called ISIS) in the regional city of Marawi, and the extension—coupled with the bellicose rhetoric of President Rodrigo Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address, held two days after martial law was extended—has conjured yet more comparisons between Duterte and Ferdinand Marcos, the kleptocratic dictator who was toppled in 1986 after ruling the Philippines 21 years, 9 of them under martial law. The Duterte-Marcos parallels also bring to mind another figure from the past: Cardinal Jaime Sin, whose rallying

Taking Back the Internet for Pakistani Women

Tue, 2017-08-08 10:42
When you buy pads or tampons in Pakistan, grocery-store owners double-bag the purchases, ostensibly so people on the street can't see what lies within layers of brown-paper bags. {image-1} This culture of secrecy and shame around women's lives and bodies is an apt parallel of life for women in Pakistan. Conversations about everything from sex lives to physical health are "brown-paper-bagged." If women do speak, they do so in hushed tones or they're immediately shouted down. The Internet is opening up spaces for women, leading to private Facebook groups like Soul Sisters, a space for women to seek advice from their peers and talk about personal issues, with over 16,000 women who discuss everything from workplace issues to

Scenes From Central Asia’s Forever War

Mon, 2017-08-07 15:17
OSH, Kyrgyzstan — Tall and slender, “Muhammad” sits underneath a fast-spinning ceiling fan in a small teahouse in southern Kyrgyzstan as he nervously asks to be identified with a pseudonym. Earlier this year, Kyrgyzstan’s security service, the GKNB, and local police officers detained and questioned him and some of his friends. They asked about their alleged ties to extremist groups and accused them of planning to go to Syria to wage jihad. Muhammad says the allegations were false and the supposed evidence circumstantial, and the GKNB officers soon left them alone. But that didn’t stop local police from extorting a hefty bribe from him and his friends’ families in order to drop the

The Omnipresence of Dust in Kathmandu

Mon, 2017-08-07 13:06
It's the middle of winter, and the wards of Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in downtown Kathmandu, Nepal, are full of people who can't breathe. {image-1} On the third-floor pediatrics ward, Basanta K.C. balances his baby daughter, Bursa, in his right arm and deftly threads a narrow plastic tube into her nostrils. As she struggles for air, her eyes bulge slightly, and her skin pulls tautly against tiny neck muscles. "Sometimes she plays a lot, but within minutes she has problems breathing," says Bursa's mother, Dipa, surveying the pair. Bursa curls against her father with a look of preternatural calm; Dipa's forehead is knitted in concern. At 24, Dipa retains a measure of good humor, but faint

Gay and Undocumented, Burmese Refugees Struggle in Thailand

Wed, 2017-08-02 16:18
“Queer migrants” or LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex) refugees from Myanmar – called as such because they had to leave their countries and go somewhere else to be able to live safely as themselves – have looked at Thailand as the ideal destination, with its louche, gay-friendly lifestyle. But in too many cases, in the refugee camps scattered along the border, being themselves can turn into a nightmare. It was the perilous combination of Myanmar’s military regime, traditional religious beliefs and laws against LGBTQI that drove Burmese queer migrants to the neighboring country, where they seemed to enjoy visibility and even a sense of freedom, if not boundless equality. Silence in Mae La

Lesbians in Senegal just want a place where they can be themselves

Wed, 2017-08-02 15:49
It is not easy to find gay women in Senegal. Homosexuality is illegal in the country, though several small LGBT rights groups operate there. But because they were founded during the AIDS crisis and considered as actors in keeping down HIV infection rates, they are focused on men. Lesbian women are now starting to fight for recognition, both in the broader culture that rejects them and in the activist world that leaves them out. There are no openly gay clubs in the capital Dakar and few, if any, places for gay people to spend time together where they feel safe — which is why gay rights groups organize gatherings, like a recent workshop hosted by Sourire de Femme (Woman's

‘Our Future Will Be Violent Extremism’

Tue, 2017-08-01 23:52
AKTOBE, Kazakhstan — A quiet Sunday morning came to an end on June 5, 2016, as 27-year-old Dmitry Tanatarov led a group of 25 young men in what would become Kazakhstan’s largest terrorist attack ever. The group, whose ages ranged from 17 to 28, moved quickly down a dusty street in downtown Aktobe, an oil city in northwestern Kazakhstan, and seized weapons from two gun shops to begin a series of attacks across the city. After securing the weapons, the men would go on to hijack a bus, assault a nearby national guard base, engage in numerous shootouts with police, and attack a police checkpoint before going underground. By June 11 — six days after the attack began — the remaining attackers had been

‘Our Future Will Be Violent Extremism’

Tue, 2017-08-01 23:52
AKTOBE, Kazakhstan — A quiet Sunday morning came to an end on June 5, 2016, as 27-year-old Dmitry Tanatarov led a group of 25 young men in what would become Kazakhstan’s largest terrorist attack ever. The group, whose ages ranged from 17 to 28, moved quickly down a dusty street in downtown Aktobe, an oil city in northwestern Kazakhstan, and seized weapons from two gun shops to begin a series of attacks across the city. After securing the weapons, the men would go on to hijack a bus, assault a nearby national guard base, engage in numerous shootouts with police, and attack a police checkpoint before going underground. By June 11 — six days after the attack began — the remaining attackers had been

You’re welcome to visit the longest beach in the world — unless you’re a refugee

Thu, 2017-07-27 10:26
It was a hot Saturday in May when Bangladesh’s prime minister dipped her feet in the ocean. Sheikh Hasina was visiting the beach town of Cox’s Bazar and, like anyone else, she wanted to take a barefoot stroll. The beach runs unbroken along the Bay of Bengal for 75 miles, enough to make it the world’s longest, according to the government’s tourism board. But it “has been always neglected,” Hasina said. “It's our duty to turn it into a lucrative tourist destination." Nearly two million people are estimated to come to Cox’s Bazar each high season, which runs from November to March, but the vast majority of

Witch-Hunting in Eastern India, Activists Fight Back

Sun, 2017-07-23 10:54
Elina Horo sits at her desk, combing through the pages of notes written in Hindi that recount the most recent killings. Horo, who is the coordinator of the Adivasi Women’s Network, is sharing some of the details of the most recent attacks of witch-hunting in this eastern Indian State. There was the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law killed and buried in a nearby pond after villagers said they were practicing witchcraft. In another case, five women in Mandar were proclaimed witches and lynched in a late-night raid. Home to 32 indigenous tribes known as Adivasi, India’s Jharkhand State is one of several states where women are often targeted over land disputes and deemed witches, Horo says. Women may also

Who Bears the Brunt of Thailand’s Crackdown on Migrant Workers?

Sat, 2017-07-22 10:55
It has been more than 10 years since Aye Min fled Myanmar amid the fighting between the military and the Karen nationalist forces. With nothing but the clothes on her back, Aye Min boarded a boat in 2006 and crossed the Moie river to Mae Sot, a district located at the border of Thailand and Myanmar. Now 43, Aye Min lives in a house in Mae Sot where she works as a cleaner, receiving 300 baht (US$8) at most in a week. She hardly goes out though, afraid that she may be caught by the police and deported to Myanmar. “I have no documents,” she said in Burmese. The other option for Aye Min is to go back to Mae La, the

Nepal: Economic migrants spark unlikely shifts in power

Tue, 2017-07-18 13:01
Each day, thousands of Nepalis fly out of Kathmandu for work. They serve in restaurants in Europe and farm plantations in East Asia, but an increasingly large percentage are employed in menial jobs in the Gulf states, where work visas are easy to come by, and labour is badly needed. Today, about three million Nepalis, some 10 percent of the population, work abroad. Their migration lends an outsized role to the economy. According to a UN report released last month, no country in the world is more reliant on remittances than Nepal, where it makes up 32 percent of the GDP. That figure has nearly doubled since 2007 when it stood at 17 percent. Much has been written about the risks attendant in such

Nepal: Economic migrants spark unlikely shifts in power

Tue, 2017-07-18 13:01
Each day, thousands of Nepalis fly out of Kathmandu for work. They serve in restaurants in Europe and farm plantations in East Asia, but an increasingly large percentage are employed in menial jobs in the Gulf states, where work visas are easy to come by, and labour is badly needed. Today, about three million Nepalis, some 10 percent of the population, work abroad. Their migration lends an outsized role to the economy. According to a UN report released last month, no country in the world is more reliant on remittances than Nepal, where it makes up 32 percent of the GDP. That figure has nearly doubled since 2007 when it stood at 17 percent. Much has been written about the risks attendant in such

Nepal: Economic migrants spark unlikely shifts in power

Tue, 2017-07-18 13:01
Each day, thousands of Nepalis fly out of Kathmandu for work. They serve in restaurants in Europe and farm plantations in East Asia, but an increasingly large percentage are employed in menial jobs in the Gulf states, where work visas are easy to come by, and labour is badly needed. Today, about three million Nepalis, some 10 percent of the population, work abroad. Their migration lends an outsized role to the economy. According to a UN report released last month, no country in the world is more reliant on remittances than Nepal, where it makes up 32 percent of the GDP. That figure has nearly doubled since 2007 when it stood at 17 percent. Much has been written about the risks attendant in such

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