In the Picture: Brave New Burma with Nic Dunlop

• May 15th, 2013

This event is organised in partnership with the Asia House Festival of Asian Literature.

Twenty years in the making, Nic Dunlop‘s new book Brave New Burma is an intimate portrait of Burma through pictures and words. It takes the reader from the front lines of the ongoing civil war to its deceptively tranquil cities; from the home of Aung San Suu Kyi to the lives of ordinary people and their struggle to survive.

In a talk chaired by BBC foreign correspondent and writer Fergal Keane, Dunlop will present images from Brave New Burma and speak about the changes he has witnessed in the two decades he has covered Myanmar as it opens up to the outside world.

Nic Dunlop is a Bangkok-based photographer and writer represented by Panos Pictures in London. In 1999, he received an award for his discovery and exposure of Pol Pot’s chief executioner Comrade Duch, a story told in his book, The Lost ExecutionerDunlop also co-directed Burma Soldier, an HBO film which was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at the United Nations Association Film Festival and nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing.

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Russia’s surveillance state

• May 14th, 2013

The surveillance culture in Russia is well documented. In the digital age as we see more protests on the streets of Moscow and elsewhere the FSB (the successor to the KGB) are developing new surveillance technologies.

Towards the end of last year as debate about the draft Communications Data Bill was raging in the UK, in Russia advanced internet-censorship and monitoring technologies were introduced. In reaction to this Privacy InternationalAgentura.Ru, the Russian secret services watchdog, and Citizen Lab have joined forces to launch a new project entitled Russia’s Surveillance State.

We will be joined by those involved in this new project and other experts to discuss the surveillance practices in Russia and how they are developing.

Chaired by Misha Glenny, an investigative journalist, author and broadcaster. He is one of the world’s leading experts on cybercrime and on global mafia networks. He is author of McMafia: Seriously Organised Crime and DarkMarket: How Hackers Became the New Mafia.


Edward Lucas is international editor of The Economist and author of Deception: Spies, Lies and how Russia Dupes the West. He has covered Russia and Central and Eastern Europe for more than 20 years.

Andrei Soldatov is an investigative journalist and editor and co-founder of Agentura.Ru, an information hub on intelligence agencies. Soldatov regularly makes comments on terrorism and intelligence issues for Vedomosti, Radio Free Europe and the BBC. He authored a chapter on Russia’s secret services in the PSI Handbook of Global Security and Intelligence: National Approaches and is co-author of The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia’s Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB.

Irina Borogan is an investigative journalist and deputy editor and co-founder of Agentura.Ru. She covered the NATO bombings in Serbia, and the Lebanon War and tensions in West Bank and Gaza Strip for Novaya Gazeta. In 2009 she started a series of articles investigating the Kremlin’s campaign to gain control of civil society and strengthen the government’s police services under pretext of fighting extremism, the series was published in Ezhednevny Journal and on Agentura.Ru.

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The case of the US vs Bradley Manning

• May 13th, 2013

In February this year Private First Class Bradley Manning pleaded guilty to sending restricted documents to Wikileaks in violation of military regulations, making him the source of the largest intelligence leak in US history. Ahead of his trial in June we will be examining the charges he faces and the implications if he is found guilty.

In his statement to the court he talked about “revealing the true costs of war” and how he “believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information… this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general”.

Manning has denied some of the most serious charges such as “aiding the enemy” which would see him face a life sentence, but has pleaded guilty to 10 out of 22 charges, which could carry a sentence of up to 20 years.

We will be discussing the questions raised by this case about the fate of whistleblowers and the future of relationships between journalists and their sources.

Chaired by Richard Gizbert, presenter of The Listening Post on Al Jazeera English.

The panel:

Naomi Colvin is a London-based writer and activist. In late 2010 she founded UK Friends of Bradley Manning, which successfully lobbied the UK government to recognise Bradley Manning’s dual citizenship status.

Professor David Leigh was the Guardian‘s investigations editor until 2013 and is a professor of journalism at City University. He is one of Britain’s leading investigative journalists, and winner of the 2007 Paul Foot Award for Campaigning Journalism. He is co-author of WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy.

Chase Madar is a human rights attorney in New York, where he specializes in youth law, LGBT law and disability law. He reports and reviews for the London Review of BooksLe Monde diplomatiqueCounterPunchAl Jazeera, and the TLS. He is author ofThe Passion of Bradley Manning: The Story Behind the Wikileaks Whistleblower.

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Attacks on the press: Stamping out impunity

• May 8th, 2013

Across the world everyday journalists face injuries, kidnappings and death in the line of their work. In the majority of cases the perpetrators are not brought to justice and this evading of punishment often leads to self censorship by other journalists.

Reporting on corruption, crime, conflict, politics and human rights is crucial in society, but how can we better protect the journalists doing this work?

Following World Press Freedom Day we will be bringing together some of the key players that are working on tackling impunity, to discuss the level of the problem and the work they are doing to combat it.

Chaired by Peter Horrocks, the director of BBC Global News, responsible for leading the BBC’s international news services across radio, television and new media. He has worked at the BBC since 1981.

The panel:

Kim Sengupta is the defence and diplomatic correspondent at The Independent. He covers international and domestic news and his extensive reporting from around the world has included many of the major conflicts in recent times.

Heather Blake is the UK Director for Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières) and an affiliate to Pembroke College, Oxford University, Changing Character of War programme.

Elisabeth Witchel is a Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) consultant, she served for many years as the organisation’s journalist assistance coordinator. She launched CPJ’s Global Campaign Against Impunity.

Aidan Sullivan is a photographer, picture editor and vice president of Getty Images. He is the director of the Ian Parry Scholarship and founder of the campaign A Day Without News?.

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First Wednesday: Pakistan goes to the polls

• May 1st, 2013

Wednesday 1 May 2013

As Pakistan gears up for critically important elections, we are joined by a panel of experts who will be discussing the significance of this election and analysing the candidates, their alliances and policies.

On 11 May Pakistanis will go to the polls and for the first time in the country’s 65-year history the current democratically elected civilian government will transfer power directly to the newly elected government.

Set against a backdrop of violence and extremist attacks, this is a big test for Pakistan’s democracy. We will be examining the challenges facing the incoming government.

Chaired by Paddy O’Connell of BBC Radio 4′s Broadcasting House.

The panel:

Wajid Shamsul Hasan is the High Commissioner of Pakistan to the UK, a position he has held since 2008. After graduating from the University of Karachi in 1962 he joined Pakistan’s largest media group, the Jang Group of Newspapers. He became editor of its English newspaper the Daily News in 1969, he also edited its English weekly magazine – The Weekly MAG.

Pir Zubair Shah is the Edward R. Murrow press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He joins CFR from the New York Times, he was a reporter in Pakistan, working in the Waziristan tribal area along the border with Afghanistan. He shared the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting for his work at the New York Times and was the 2012 Nieman Fellow.

Irfan Husain is a columnist with Dawn newspaper in Pakistan and author of Fatal Faultlines: Pakistan, Islam and the West.

Umber Khairi is a producer and radio broadcaster with BBC Urdu at the BBC World Service. She worked in Pakistan from the late 80’s through the 90’s, during which time there were four elections.

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North Korea: Sabre-rattling or imminent threat?

• April 26th, 2013

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has announced that it has entered into a ‘state of war’ with the US and the Republic of Korea (ROK). The US defence secretary, Chuck Hagel, has declared that DPRK poses “a real and clear danger”. Is this a war of words or could talk of war precipitate a full-blown military conflict?

Join us with a panel of experts to break down the escalating rhetoric and examine the intentions of DPRK. We will be asking if Kim Jong-un, the 29-year-old inexperienced leader, is just attempting to bolster his image at home or if there is any weight behind his threats.

Chaired by Charles Scanlon, BBC East Asia editor. He was BBC Korea correspondent from 1994 – 1997 and Japan and Korea correspondent 2000 – 2007.


Dr John Swenson-Wright is Fuji Bank University senior lecturer in Modern Japanese Studies at the East Asia Institute, University of Cambridge. He is a senior consulting fellow at the Asia Programme, Chatham House.

Andrea Berger is a research fellow for nuclear analysis at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and deputy director of the UK project on nuclear issues.

John Everard is a retired British diplomat, who served as British Ambassador to North Korea. He is author of Only Beautiful, Please: A British Diplomat in North Korea and is now a consultant for the UN.

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Presidential elections in Iran: Crackdowns and power struggles

• April 24th, 2013

Wednesday 24 April 2013

On 14 June, Iranians will go to the polls to vote in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s successor. As debate around the elections begins to heat up we will be joined by a panel of experts to talk us through the power struggles and the state of opposition movements.

Although Ahmadinejad cannot run again, he has made clear he has no intention of ending his second term quietly. Our panel will be examining the power struggle at the heart of Iran’s political system and how it will play out in the lead up to the election.

A crackdown on the media has already been seen, with the arrests of 15 journalists at the end of January. With opposition leaders still under house arrest following the disputed 2009 elections, we will be asking if, once again, we will see protests on the streets of Tehran.

Chaired by Azadeh Moaveni, a former Middle East correspondent for Time magazine who has reported on Iran since 1999. She is the author of Lipstick Jihad, Honeymoon in Tehran, and co-author, with Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi, of Iran Awakening. She writes widely on Iran and the Middle East for Foreign Policy, the Washington Post, and other publications.

The panel:

Mehri Honarbin-Holliday is senior research fellow at Canterbury Christ Church University and fellow at the Centre for Gender Studies at SOAS. She is the author of Becoming Visible in Iran: Women in Contemporary Iranian Society and Masculinities in Urban Iran.

Kelly Golnoush Niknejad is founder and editor-in-chief of the award-winning Tehran Bureau, which is hosted by the Guardian. She is also the inaugural recipient of the Innovator Award from Columbia Journalism School for “inspiring, creating, developing, or implementing new ideas that further the cause of journalism”.

Kasra Naji, special correspondent for BBC Persian TV and author of Ahmadinejad: The Secret History of Iran’s Radical Leader.

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The future of British journalism: A meeting of the country’s top student papers

• April 18th, 2013

Strictly by invitation only. Please contact the organisers for inquiries or view the website here.

On Wednesday 17 April, the editorial teams of the top 40 student publications in the country are coming together for an evening at the Frontline Club.

The evening will begin with a reception before moving to panel debates and talks with speakers, including: John Witherow, editor ofThe TimesSarah Baxter, editor of The Sunday Times MagazineIan Katz, deputy editor at The Guardian and Steve Richards at The Independent.

The event will be an opportunity to meet the other students running the best campus papers, with publications from the LSE, Imperial, UCL, Birmingham, Oxford, Durham, York, Cambridge, Warwick and Bristol among those attending.

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Screening: Peace vs Justice + Debate

• April 16th, 2013

The screening will be followed by a debate with Barney AfakoMugambi Kiai and Geoffrey Robertson, moderated by Matthew McAllester.

For more than 20 years, the Ugandan government has been fighting the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) led by Joseph Kony. While his army of child soldiers roams Sudan and the DR Congo, The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague hopes to try Kony one day.

Director Klaartje Quirijns filmed crucial moments in the occasionally painful process at the ICC and managed to lay her hands on rare recordings of the peace negotiations with Kony in the jungle.

She explores the different views of Western values in other countries, illustrated by the situation in Uganda. Peace vs Justice reveals the tension created by the justice offered by the International Criminal Court and the people’s desire for peace.

Directed by Klaartje Quirijns Duration: 64′ Year: 2012

This screening is supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands and TIME

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Soldiers’ Traumas - From World War Two to Afghanistan

• April 11th, 2013

Charles Glass is a veteran broadcaster, journalist and writer. His latest book Deserter explores the widely untold stories of the British and American deserters in the Second World War. He follows a group of soldiers into the heat of battle and explores what motivated them to take their fateful decision to run away.

Jake Wood is a former soldier who worked in parallel as a business analyst. In Among You he tells the story of his time serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the battle he faced upon his return when diagnosed with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Through his own experiences he examines the harsh reality of front-line combat, the courage of the troops and the devastating after-effects of service that some suffer.

They will be joining us in conversation, chaired by Frontline Club founder Vaughan Smith, to talk about their respective works and the comparisons in the trauma suffered by soldiers from World War Two to Afghanistan.

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Ten year anniversary of the Iraq War: Have lessons been learned?

• March 21st, 2013

Wednesday 20 March 2013, 8:15 PM

Despite hundreds of thousands of people having taken to the streets of London and elsewhere to voice their opposition to military action in Iraq, on 19 March 2003, air strikes on the Presidential Palace in Baghdad began.

What followed was a US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein’s government, and marked the start of years of violent conflict. Ten years on, in a debate chaired by Channel 4 News’Jon Snow, we will ask: have lessons been learned?

The legacy of the Iraq War changed Western foreign policy, but with talk of Northern Africa becoming a new front in the war on terror, have the mistakes of Iraq been sufficiently ingrained on the consciences of populations and governments? To what degree is the impact on relations between the Middle East and the West still felt?

We will also be examining what has been heard at the Chilcot Inquiry and why we are still waiting to hear the findings.

Chaired by Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow.

The panel:

Caroline Wyatt has been BBC defence correspondent since October 2007, covering the work of British Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2003 she was embedded with British troops reporting on the war and its aftermath in and around Basra. Previously she has been BBC correspondent covering Paris, Moscow, Berlin and Bonn.

Rt Hon Jim Murphy is Labour Member of Parliament for East Renfrewshire. He is currently the Shadow Secretary of State for Defence and has previously served as Secretary of State for Scotland.

Jack Fairweather is the author of A War of Choice: Britain in Iraq 2003-9. The Daily Telegraph’s Baghdad and Gulf correspondent for five years, he was an embedded reporter during the Iraq invasion, winning the British equivalent of the Pulitzer prize for his reporting. Most recently he has been the Washington Post’s Islamic world correspondent. He is a fellow of the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, and is working on a history of the Afghan war.

Peter Oborne, the Daily Telegraph‘s chief political commentator and author of The Rise of Political Lying and The Triumph of the Political Class.

Sir Jeremy Greenstock is chairman of the UN Association in the UK, the strategic advisory company Gatehouse Advisory Partners Ltd and Lambert Energy Advisory Ltd. He was a career diplomat from 1969 to 2004, developing specialisations in the Middle East, Transatlantic Relations and the United Nations. He served as UK Ambassador to the UN in New York from 1998 to 2003 and as UK Special Envoy for Iraq, based in Baghdad, from 2003 to 2004.

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In the Picture: The Grey Line with Jo Metson Scott

• March 13th, 2013

Over the last five years, photojournalist Jo Metson Scott has photographed The Grey Line, a reflection on war told from the perspectives of American and British soldiers who have spoken out against the invasion of Iraq. Their voices have been met with varying consequences, from being outcast to imprisoned, shunned to celebrated.

To mark 10 years since the invasion of Iraq, Metson Scott will be joined by Ben Griffin, a former SAS soldier, to present The Grey Line, in a talk chaired by Victoria Brittain.

Metson Scott’s work has been exhibited around the UK and commissioned by a variety of organisations including The New York TimesThe Telegraph, and The Photographers’ Gallery. The Grey Line was the recipient of the inaugural Fire-Cracker Grant and will be published in book form in March 2013.

Former SAS soldier Ben Griffin was discharged from the Army in 2005 after refusing to return to Iraq. Gagged in 2008 for revealing Britain’s involvement in the torture of detainees he is now an organiser for Veterans for Peace in the UK.

Victoria Brittain has worked as a journalist in Vietnam, Southern Africa, the Horn of Africa, and Palestine for the Guardian, BBC, ITN and various French publications. In the last ten years her work has been mainly concerned with the fallout of the ‘war on terror’. She was co-author on Moazzam Begg’s Guantanamo memoir, Enemy Combatant.

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Analysing Kenya’s election results

• March 12th, 2013

Despite being wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity, on Saturday Uhuru Kenyatta won election as Kenya’s new President. Join us as we discuss what Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory means for Kenya?

Kenyatta’s running mate William Ruto, also indicted by the ICC, is likely to become Deputy President. The turnout was high, a reported 86%, but with a marginal victory and the count plagued by delay and hundreds of thousands of spoiled ballots Kenyatta’s main rival, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, has already said he will fight the outcome. We will be examining the choices made in this crucial election and what they mean for the future of Kenya.

Since the last election, a new constitution has come into force which has divided Kenya into 47 new counties, each with its own governor and parliament. The overarching idea of the new constitution is that the people will decide. We ask if this has been effective or has resulted in further division.

Chaired by Audrey Brown, a producer and presenter on BBC Focus on Africa and Network Africa.

The panel:

Daniel Branch is an associate professor of African history at the University of Warwick. He is the author of Kenya: Between Hope and Despair and Defeating Mau Mau, Creating Kenya: Counterinsurgency, Civil War and Decolonization.

Natznet Tesfay is head of Africa Forecasting at Exclusive Analysis Ltd. Prior to joining Exclusive Analysis she worked in the field of urban development, consulting for municipal governments in the Middle East, Asia and Latin America.

Mathias Muindi is currently an editor with the BBC Monitoring office in Nairobi, which covers the entire Sub-Saharan Africa. He joined Monitoring in July 2002 after working with Kenyan media since graduating from Nairobi’s Daystar University in 1998.

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Is it a disaster if the cameras are not there?

• March 7th, 2013

Join us for a panel debate, chaired by Clive Jones, Chair of the Disasters Emergency Committee (and ITV News) with: Mike Thomson, foreign affairs correspondent for BBC Radio 4’s Today programme; Sarah Whitehead of Sky News; DFID’sDylan Winder; and Ross Preston, head of operations for international disaster relief charity, ShelterBox.

Inspired by ShelterBox, a growing emergency shelter provider in international disaster relief, we are offering a debate on how the media covers disasters, how journalists are selected, briefed and operate once in the field, and the value of their coverage.

The panel is chaired by Clive Jones CBE, the chair of the Disasters Emergency Committee. He is a former chairman of GMTV and ITV News, and an honorary visiting professor at the School of Journalism, Media and Culture Studies at the University of Wales.

The panel:

Sarah Whitehead, international affairs editor, Sky News.

Dylan Winder, head of humanitarian response, Department For International Development (DFID).

Ross Preston MBE, head of operations, ShelterBox International.

Mike Thomson, foreign affairs correspondent for BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

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First Wednesday: Syria crisis - Diplomatic shifts and developing dialogues

• March 7th, 2013

A year after Marie Colvin was killed in Homs, the war in Syria is still raging and has cost the lives of more than 60,000 people. Following new US Secretary of State John Kerry’s first foreign tour, we ask if he can deliver on his vow not to leave the Syrian opposition “dangling in the wind”.

His trip has included meetings with the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov and Friends of Syria in Rome. “We are determined that the Syrian opposition is not going to be dangling in the wind wondering where the support is or if it’s coming,” Kerry said at a news conference in London. “And we are determined to change the calculation on the ground for President Assad.”

We will be joined by a panel of experts to reflect on this latest effort by the US to engage with the crisis. Does this hint at a change in US policy toward Syria? Will this lead to any action? We will be looking at the groups and governments Kerry has met with and what their role may be in bringing the crisis in Syria to an end.

As the SNC announces plans to form a new transitional government, we ask if it is time the international community throws its weight behind them.

Chaired by Paddy O’Connell of BBC Radio 4′s Broadcasting House.

The panel:

Julien Barnes-Dacey is a policy fellow with the European Council on Foreign Relations. He was based in Syria from 2007 to 2010 as a journalist, writing for the Christian Science Monitor, the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times.

Firas Abi Ali is the Head of Middle East and North Africa Forecasting at Exclusive Analysis, recently acquired by IHS.

Sakhr Al-Makhadhi is an award-winning journalist who has covered Syria for the past decade. Formerly based in Damascus, he regularly contributes to the BBC, Foreign Policy magazine, Channel 4 News, Al Jazeera and the Guardian among others.

Dr Rim Turkmani is a founder member of Building the Syrian State movement, and is co-chair of the Damask Rose Trust, a charity that supports development and education in Syria. She is an Astrophysicist at Imperial College London, and is a specialist in the history of Arabic/Islamic science and its influence on the west.

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