There’s a new climate of fear in Sri Lanka. This time it’s the Muslim community who are fearful of the future. The Easter bomb attacks in Sri Lanka - targeting churches and international hotels - horrified the island. It’s suffered civil war - between the majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamils - but never known jihadi violence. But the attacks also intensified a creeping campaign by the Sinhala Buddhist majority against the Muslim community - with Muslims murdered, their businesses burned or boycotted. Jill McGivering investigates the growing climate of fear now driving many Muslims to emigrate and casting a shadow over those left behind. Caroline Finnigan producing.
The Man Who Laughed at al-Qaeda
Raed Fares, founder of Syria's legendary Radio Fresh FM, was mowed down by unknown gunmen as he left his studios in rebel-held Idlib in November 2018. The death of the man who fought hatred with humour and laughed in the faces of President Assad, ISIS and al-Qaeda, sent shockwaves way beyond his troubled homeland. When ordered by Islamist extremists to stop broadcasting music he had replied with bird song and clucking chickens. On being told to take his female presenters off air, he put their voices through software to make them sound like men. In tribute to its founder, Raed Fares's radio station has refused to die with him. One year on from his killing it continues to broadcast the comedy programmes he loved, as Assad's troops close in and bombs fall around it.
Presenter: Mike Thomson
Producer: Joe Kent
Russian Women Fight Back
Domestic abuse in Russia is endemic with hundreds maybe thousands of women dying at the hands of their partners every year. Despite this a controversial law was passed in 2017, which scrapped prison sentences for first-time abusers. Beatings that do not cause broken bones or concussion are now treated as administrative offences rather than crimes. As one activist puts it: “the punishment for beating your wife now feels like paying a parking ticket.”
But Russian society is waking up to the crisis. The case of three girls - the Khachaturyan sisters - who face long prison sentences for murdering their tyrannical father, has sparked mass protests. More than 300,000 people have signed an online petition urging prosecutors to drop the murder charges. The girls’ mother tells reporter Lucy Ash that her daughters were acting in self-defence against a man who had abused them physically, emotionally and sexually for years.
Lucy also meets the mother of a woman stabbed to death by her husband who was discovered in her blood soaked bed by her seven year old son. In both cases, the frightened women had appealed to the police but to no avail. These tragedies might have been averted if only the authorities had taken earlier warnings seriously.
In Moscow, Lucy talks to activists who are fighting back by supporting victims, pushing for legal reforms and drawing attention to the cause through art, video games and social media. And she meets a lone feminist MP in the Russian Duma who is trying to bring in restraining orders for violent husbands, boyfriends and family members. Today Russia has no such laws and domestic violence is not a standalone offence in either the criminal or the civil code.
Producers: Josephine Casserly and Albina Kovalyova
Research: Nina Nazarova
(Image: This woman asks whether silence is really golden – more Russian women are speaking out against domestic violence. Credit: Sergei Konkov\TASS via Getty Images)
The Bitter Song of the Hazelnut
Every August tens of thousands of Kurdish migrant workers, including children, toil long hours for a pittance in the mountains of northern Turkey picking hazelnuts for the spreads and chocolate bars the world adores. Turkey provides 70% of all hazelnut supplies – and the biggest buyer is Ferrero, maker of Nutella and Kinder Bueno. The confectionery giant says it’s committed to ethical sourcing, and aiming for its hazelnuts to be 100% traceable next year. But how is that possible in Turkey, with its half a million tiny family orchards, where child labour is rife? Tim Whewell investigates Ferrero’s complex supply chain and finds that while hazelnuts are celebrated in Turkish culture and song, it’s a sector where workers and farmers feel increasingly unhappy and reform is very hard to achieve.
Colombia’s Kamikaze Cyclists
Precipitous mountain roads, specially modified bikes, and deadly consequences. Simon Maybin spends time with the young men who race down the steep roads of Colombia’s second city Medellin. Marlon is 16 and he’s a gravitoso - a gravity biker. He hooks onto the back of lorries or buses climbing the precipitous roads to reach high points around the city. Then, he lets gravity do its thing and - without any safety gear - hurtles back down the roads, trying to dodge the traffic. This year, two of his friends have died gravity biking and Marlon has had a near-fatal accident. But he’s not quitting. So what drives young men like him to take their lives into their own hands? And what’s being done to stop more deaths? Produced and presented by Simon Maybin.