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Archive for the ‘Asia’ Category

As the war in Afghanistan approaches its tenth year, women and girls worry that the peace they want will come at the price of the few freedoms they have gained since the Taliban was overthrown in 2001. From school closures to increased threats against working women, the rights women want seem to be slipping away. Read more about the difficult situations women are facing in Afghanistan in this article from the New York Times.

This month the Council will present two programs about strong women who are working to empower women. On August 11, the Asia Foundation will co-sponsor a program with Samar Minallah, the Asia Foundation Chang Lin Tien Visiting Fellow at the Global Fund for Women and the founder of Ethnomedia. Minallah is an anthropologist, writer, human rights activist and one of Pakistan’s few documentary filmmakers. She will share excerpts from her documentaries and discuss using video as an advocacy tool for women’s rights in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Asha Hagi, the co-founder and chairperson of Save Somali Women and Children, will speak on August 27 in a co-sponsored program at the Commonwealth Club. Hagi will describe the innovative creation of a women’s network, The Sixth Clan, to facilitate full participation in national politics and the peace process.

To register for either program, please visit the Council’s online calendar.

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Last Thursday’s guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Jere Van Dyk,  will be at the Council on Wednesday, July 14. He is a journalist and author who is currently a consultant on Afghanistan, Pakistan and al-Qaeda for CBS News. In 2008, Van Dyk was captured and imprisoned by the Taliban along the boarder between Afghanistan and Pakistan. His new book, Captive: My Time as a Prisoner of the Taliban, chronicles this experience.

To register for the event, visit the Council website. Watch Van Dyk’s Daily Show appearance below.

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Jere Van Dyk, posted with vodpod
Van Dyk was also featured on NPR’s Talk of the Nation last week. Listen to the story here.

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From the myth of Mother Korea and her children to that of the Dear Leader and “Yankee Colony” to the south, there has been little discussion, and much less understanding in the Western world of North Korea’s official ideology and worldview.

While many have characterized the nation’s beliefs too absurd to take seriously, what should we know about how North Koreans perceive their leadership, unique moral purity and “military-first” policy? Moreover, what can these values tell us about the likelihood of future disarmament talks working between the US and North Korea?

To gain more insight into the “Child Race”, the personality cult of the two Kim’s, and popular anti-American tale, entitled Jackals, join the Council  on Thursday, February 11 for a discussion with B.R. Myers on the origins of North Korea’s national myths, and how the nation’s propaganda can shed light on its relationship to the outside world.

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On January 19th the Council was fortunate to host H.E. Zhou Wenzhong, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China. The Ambassador expressed his optimism about current US-China relations and noted that both nations have much in common but should respect and accommodate each others’ core interests. Ambassador Zhou took a number of questions from the audience on a range of topics, including the issue of Google’s potential withdrawal from China, US perceptions of the People’s Republic and the importance of student exchanges.

To listen to the entire program with Ambassador Zhou, visit our online audio archive. To read about China’s recent warning to the US on account of President Obama’s scheduled meeting with the Dalai Lama, visit The New York Times.

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According to a Foreign Policy magazine article by Robert Fogel in the January/February issue, China’s economy will reach $123 trillion dollars in 2040. That’s almost three times the economic output of the entire world in 2000.

To continue the discussion about China and its relationship to the rest of the world, join the World Affairs Council on Tuesday, January 19 for “US-China Relations: Present and Future” with the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency Zhou Wenzhong. He will discuss the significance of strong US-China bilateral relations, as well as offer the Chinese perspective on its growing role in the world.

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While his new book, Stripping Bare the Body: Politics, Violence, War discusses three different conflicts, Mark Danner focused his remarks on the “War on Terror” at the Council last Thursday. Danner described the torture of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, specifically that of Abu Zubaydah, the first of the “high-value detainees” to face interrogation and torture under the post-9/11 directives. The information was recorded by the International Committee of the Red Cross in a classified report that was leaked to Danner in 2008, and later published by him on the New York Review of Books’ website.  Danner urged all in attendance to read it to be better informed about these post-9/11 tactics sanctioned by the Bush administration. Danner does applaud the Obama administration’s reversal of numerous interrogation and detention procedures, especially the decision to close Guantanamo. Looking to the future, Danner is concerned about the current situation in Afghanistan, but is optimistic that Obama’s patience and unwillingness to be bullied will lead the president to make the right decision about Afghanistan when he’s ready.

To hear the entire program with Mark Danner, please visit our online audio archive. Read more about President Obama’s Afghanistan decision in an article from today’s New York Times.

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Why are women treated poorly in Islam? And, why don’t moderate Muslims denounce jihad? Tamim Ansary, author of Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes, offered his perspective on these two most frequently asked questions at the Council last Thursday. Ansary describes himself as a storyteller and has recently focused on the story of the Islamic world, how it differs from Western history and how the two are beginning to cross paths like never before. He spoke about the Muslim idea of “ummah,” or community, and the ways it has changed over many centuries. Ansary closed by speaking on the threat of Islamic fundamentalism and said that the way to diffuse this threat is to address underlying issues, such as land ownership and water rights, that drive Muslims to fundamentalism and jihadist actions.

To hear the full program with Tamim Ansary, visit our audio archive here.

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Next Wednesday, October 28, the Council will be joined by Iranian-American scholar Haleh Esfandiari. In 2007, Esfandiari was imprisoned in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison because the Iranian government believed her to be a part of an American conspiracy for “regime change” in Iran. Her arrest sparked international outrage and protests from the likes of Barack Obama and Madeleine Albright. She will present her story and a view of Iran today and how it came to be.

This week Iran sentenced a friend of Esfandiari’s, Iranian-American academic Kian Tajbakhsh, to a 12-year prison term on account of his alleged involvement in the summer’s election demonstrations. Esfandiari spoke on NPR’s All Things Considered program this week about the case. You can listen to the interview or read the transcript here.

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Zachary Karabell, noted author and economic trend analyst, will be joining the Council on October 21 to discuss the economic relationship between China and the United States and the speed at which it is changing. This week Karabell wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Deficits and the Chinese Challenge,” which uses the post-war British experience to warn of the challenges faced by a superpower in debt.

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After 60 years of Communist rule, the People’s Republic of China celebrated their anniversary today with military demonstrations, parades, and fireworks. Hu Jintao, Communist Party leader and President, spoke in Tiananmen Square from the same spot Mao Zedong had declared the creation of a new China: “[We] have triumphed over all sorts of difficulties and setbacks and risks to gain the great achievements evident to the world. Today, a socialist China geared towards modernization, the world and the future towers majestically in the east. We have realized the goal of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”

You can read more about the anniversary celebration in this article from the New York Times and watch highlights from the celebration below.

As the People’s Republic of China celebrates its 60th anniversary, on Monday, October 5th, the World Affairs Council will be hosting a distinguished panel of China experts who will examine the future role for democracy in the People’s Republic of China.

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The disclosure on Friday of a nuclear site near the city of Qum and Sunday’s test-fire of three short-range missiles has put the world’s focus on Iran. Iran insists it has done nothing wrong, but leaders of the United States, France, and Great Britain have called on the country to allow intense international inspections of the nuclear facility. Opinions differ on whether or not to impose harsher sanctions against Iran, with the US arguing for stricter economic sanctions and European allies against them for fear of the damage they might do to ordinary Iranians. To learn more about the debate on sanctions, check out this article from the New York Times.

Tonight’s program at the World Affairs Council is a discussion with Charles Ferguson, Director of the Council on Foreign Relations-sponsored Independent Task Force, and Task Force member Scott Sagan. They will present key recommendations to reduce the world’s nuclear arsenal. Ferguson spoke to CNN on Friday about the events in Iran. You can watch the interview here.

This event will be followed on Wednesday with a program featuring former Prime Minister of Norway, Kjell Magne Bondevik. He will discuss his work as president of The Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights as well as his recent partnership with the former President of Iran, Mohammad Khatami, and how the two have been working together to increase understanding, reduce tensions, counter stereotypes, and promote peaceful dialogue between the Islamic world and the West.

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“You cannot hide a dead elephant with a lotus leaf, ” according to Mu Sochua, Cambodian parliament member and human rights advocate.  This local Cambodian proverb best describes the disconnect she finds between the positive image presented to the international community by Prime Minister Hun Sen and the daily troubles faced by the average person in the country.  Mu Sochua spoke last Thursday about her view of the current political situation in Cambodia.  Discussing the difficulties women have in receiving the most basic human rights, education and health care, she argued that women must be given healthy bodies and minds in order for them to reach a power-equality. Sochua urged the audience to work with her to fight government corruption, raise the status of women, and support NGOs by writing to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with whom she recently met in Washington DC, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

For more on Sochua’s trip to Washington and her presentation to the Human Rights Commission, read this post from the blog of the Vital Voices Global Partnership, which awarded Sochua the Vital Voices Human Rights Global Leadership Award in 2005 for her work to end human trafficking.

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