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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  May 12, 2022 8:00am-9:01am PDT

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05/12/22 05/12/22 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from new york, this is democracy now! >> has been a huge blow around the arab world because she has been the primo corresponded in palestine for probably the most watched arab network. it is like somebody we are familiar with has been taken from us. it was a terrible shock. amy: palestinians in the world
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are mourning the palestinian-american al jazeera reporter shireen abu akleh after she was fatally shot in the head wearing a jacket clearly marked "press" covering an israeli military raid on the jenin refugee cap in occupied west bank. we will speak with the acclaimed palestinian-american middle east historian rashid khalidi, author of "the hundred-years war on palestine." then as russia's invasion of ukraine grinds on into the 78th day, we will speak with renowned ukrainian author andrey kurkov, usually based in kyiv, in the united states to speak about the freedom of expression. he said putin bombed the missiles are raining down but he will never destroy ukraine's culture. and we will talk to tanzania novelist abdulrazak gurnah who won the 2021 nobel prize for
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literature come the first black writer to win the award since toni morrison almost 30 years ago and the first black african writer to win the prize since 1986. his novels on his experience as a refugee. >> think of me as one of those objects that europe took away and sort of saying something like that, i was an asylum seeker in europe, in an airport for the first time -- not for the first time under interrogation. amy: all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. democratic senator joe manchin joined with senate republicans wednesday to block a bill to pass the women's health protection act which would have
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preserved federal abortion rights even if the supreme court overturns roe v. wade. president biden criticized opponents of the legislation saying their votes run "counter to the will of the majority of the american people." prior to the vote, democratic senator jacky rosen of nevada urged her colleagues to support the bill. >> we are not living in hypothetical anymore. we are staring post world war in the face and the time to act is now. i collect on the other set of the aisle have also made it clear if they regain control of this chamber, they will pass a national ban on abortion right and they may go even further. i urge every senator who cares about women, who cares about women's health, who cares about women such on any and their rights -- autonomy and the
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rights, our urged them to join me in voting to pass the women's health protection act. amy: that was democratic senator jacky rosen of nevada. the justices pledged abilene today for the first time since last week's publication of a leak draft opinion showing the court is poised to overturn roe v. wade. palestinians are holding a holding a state funeral in ramallah for al jazeera reporter shireen abu akleh a day after she was fatally shot in the head while covering an israeli military raid in a refugee camp in jenin in the occupied west bank. witnesses, including other journalists at al jazeera, said she was shot dead by israeli forces. at the time of her death, she was wearing a helmet and a vest marked "press." shireen abu akleh, who was a u.s. citizen, had worked at al jazeera for 25 years and was one of the best known television journalists in palestine and the arab world. israel initially claimed she may have been shot by a palestinian gunman but later said it was
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unclear who shot her. palestinian authorities accused israel of committing the "crime of execution" and rejected an offer from israel to carry out a joint probe into her death. on wednesday, ala' salameh, the head of the palestinian media association, spoke out against the killing of shireen abu akleh and other palestinian journalists. >> are protest today confirmed the occupation must be pursued, israeli leaders and those involved in the war crimes, the crimes that led to the death of those journalists. amy: we will have more on this story after headlines. we will speak to columbia university professor rashid khalidi. the senate is expected to move quickly to approve $40 billion in new military and economic assistance to ukraine. the massive spending package was passed on tuesday with little debate by the house with the entire democratic caucus
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supporting it. senator minority leader mitch mcconnell says he expects the senate to approve the aide as soon as possible. on wednesday, former russian president dmitry medvedev accused the united states of waging a proxy war against russia, saying the funding bill was part of a u.s. effort to "deal a serious deat to our country." meanwhile, in ukraine, authorities in the russian-occupied region of kherson have said they plan to ask russia to annex the area. the request came from an official who was put in charge of the region by moscow in april. meanwhile, ukraine has announced it will put a captured 21-year-old russian soldier on trial for war crimes. ukrainian authorities say he fatally shot an unarmed man in the head in the village of sumy. meanwhile, a top u.n. official
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in ukraine, matilda bogner, has called on both russia and ukraine to probe possible war crimes by its forces, including the use of schools as military bases and the mistreatment of prisoners of war. in other news from the region, finland's president and prime minister have announced their support for finland to join nato ending decades of neutrality. finland shares an 830-mile border with russia. russia responded to the news by threatening to take the talent tray steps in order to stop what it calls rights to its national security. sweden is also expected to also seek nato membership soon. a new report by the interior department has documented the deaths of 500 indigenous children at indian boarding schools run or supported by the federal government in the united states but the actual death toll is believed to be far higher. the report also located 53 burial sites at former schools. the report marks the first time the agency has documented some
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of the dark history at the schools known for their brutal assimilation practices, forcing students to change their clothing, language, and culture. the report was ordered by interior secretary deb haaland, who is a member of the laguna pueblo and whose grandparents were forced to attend boarding school at the age of eight. haaland spoke on wednesday. >> i come from ancestors who endured the horrors of the indian boarding school assimilation policies carried out by the same department that i now lead. this department was responsible for operating what we now know to be 408 federal boarding schools across 37 states, or then territories, including 21 schools in alaska and seven schools in hawaii. now we are uniquely positioned to assist in the effort to recover the dark history of these institutions that have hunted our families for too long. amy: deb haaland is the first
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native american cabinet member in u.s. history. the world meteorological organization has warned there is a 50% chance average global temperatures will temporarily reach 1.5 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels at some point in the next five years. climate negotiators have long aimed to keep global warming at or under the threshold which is the equivalent of 2.7 degrees fahrenheit. in northern new mexico, a massive wildfire has now burned 237,000 acres. the fire grew by 50 square miles between tuesday and wednesday. meanwhile, in california, 20 homes burned down in the cy of laguna niguel in orange county. both new mexico and california are experiencing a record-setting drought. the centers for disease control and prevention is reporting nearly 108,000 people died of drug overdoses in the united states last year. that's a 50% jump over 2019.
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the cdc said about two-thirds of the deaths involved fentanyl or other synthetic opioids. in related news, the guggenheim museum in new york and the national gallery in london have become the latest cultural institutions to remove the sackler name from rooms at their museums. the billionaire family founded purdue pharma, the maker of oxycontin, the highly addictive drug at the center of the opioid epidemic. the cdc has also found gun deaths in the united states reached a new high during the first year of the pandemic. according to the cdc, more than 45,000 people in the united states died in gun-related incidents in 2020. that is a 35% increase over the previous year. house lawmakers have announced plans to hold a hearing on the growing shortage of baby formula in the united states. analysts say over 40% of baby formula products are now out of stock, with some brands near
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impossible to buy. the shortage is due in part due to the closing of a manufacturing plant in michigan owned by abbott nutrition, the nation's largest baby formula manufacturer. the plant was shut down in february over concerns about bacterial contamination following the deaths of two babies. a former worker at the plant had warned the food and drug administration about problems at the plant in october, months before the babies died, but the fda did not interview the whistleblower until december and did not inspect the plant until the end of january. the whistleblower had been fired by abbot after raising concerns internally about safety issues at the plant. in florida, a state judge has blocked an effort by governor ron desantis and republican lawmakers to remake florida's congressional map in a way that critics say is designed to curtail black political power in the state. state judge j. layne smith, who was appointed by desantis two years ago, criticized the map saying it "diminishes the ability of african americans to elect candidates of their
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choice." the state of arizona has executed clarence dixon, a blind 66-year-old man who his lawyers say suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and was in declining health. witnesses said authorities had to wipe up a fair amount of blood after officials struggled to inject lethal drugs into him. it was the first execution in arizona in eight years. dixon was convicted of murdering a student in 1978 but he always proclaimed his innocence. in hong kong, authorities on tuesday arrested cardinal joseph zen, a 90-year-old retired roman catholic bishop. zen is a longtime critic of the chinese government. he was arrested along with three other trustees of a fund that provided legal and financial help to protesters arrested in 2019. all four have been released on bail. and north korea has declared a severe national emergency after covid-19 was detected in the capital for the first time. north korea closed its borders
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over two years ago and have not reported any covid cases until today. i thought he supported lockdowns across the country. -- authorities have ordered lockdowns across the country. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. 'm amy goodman, joined by my co-host nermeen shaikh. hi, nermeen. nermeen: hi, amy. welcome to all of our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. palestinians are holding a holding a state funeral in ramallah for the palestinian al jazeera reporter shireen abu akleh a day after she was fatally shot in the head while covering an israeli military raid in a refugee camp in jenin in the occupied west bank. witnesses, including other journalists at al jazeera, said she was shot dead by israeli forces. at the time of her death, she was wearing a helmet and a vest marked "press." i palestinian journalist was wounded alongside abu akleh.
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>> the occupation is murderous and criminal. they shot us for no reason. we were there wearing our full press uniforms in addition to the helmets with the words "press" written in large letters as big as the whole world. we were obvious. amy: shireen abu akleh, who was a u.s. citizen, had worked at al jazeera for 25 years, and was one of the best known television journalists in palestine and the arab world. israel initially claimed she may have been shot by a palestinian gunman but later said it was unclear who shot her. palestinian authorities accused israel of committing the "crime of execution" and rejected an offer from israel to carry out a joint probe into her death. on wednesday, ala' salameh, the head of the palestinian media association, spoke out against the killing of shireen abu akleh and other palestinian journalists. >> are protested a conference
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the occupation must be pursued, pursued the israeli leaders and were criminals involved in these crimes, the crimes which led to the death of those journalists. amy: for more we are joined by the acclaimed palestinian-american middle east historian rashid khalidi, edward said professor of modern arab studies at columbia university. the author of a number of books, including "the hundred-years war on palestine." welcome back to democracy now! if you could talk about what happened to shireen, the significance of what has taken place, the latest we know about her death, and even where she was covering an israeli raid in a jenin refugee camp. >> this is a terrible shock to people all over the arab world come to anyone less followed the
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events in palestine because she was probably the most prominent reporter covering what is happening there in the last quarter of a century. what she was covering was yet anothe rate on the jenin refugee camp. jenin is the site, among other things, of a very serious battle that took place during the second intifada in 2002 when a large number of israeli soldiers were killed and 50 palestinians were killed, including resistance fires and -- fighters and civilians in the camp. ever since then, israel has basically imposed collective punishment on the refugee camp in the region. all of this takes place against the background of increasing anger and frustration all across the occupied territories at the end into nature of the occupation from at the factors no political horizon whatsoever. israel refuses to change an occupation that has been in place for 55 years -- in fact,
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is tightening it. there been attacks on israelis, all kinds of outbreaks of violence. collective punishment and vengeance. wh has been happening all over the occupied territories in response to the horrific attacks on israeli civilians inside israel is state sanctioned murder. in many cases come up on our civilians. yesterday, i've and a unarmed -- an unarmed journalist who was clearly marked as a journalist with the protective vest and a helmet with "press" on her head. this is what colonial armies do. they believe only force and nothing but force is understood by the lesser peoples when they rule. that is the kind of added the israeli military had. their systematic line and cover ups, in this case, fell apart when the israeli human rights
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organization showed that israeli claims there was gunfire from the palestinians. in fact, related someplace that was hundreds of meters away where shireen and her colleagues were targeted is an area -- israeli snipers killed her, wounded one of her colleagues. nermeen: could you also speak about the significance of the fact she was palestinian-american? >> well, i have a sense that if an american journalist were killed by the russians in ukraine, we would be hearing even more about it. i have to say this is a person who is widy known throughout the arab world. but the fact this is a second american killed by israelis and the space of a couple of months, i ink three months, has not gotten the kind of outrage that
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it would have gotten in another situation. however, it has to be said the fact she is an american citizen, the fact she is well known to her colleagues of the press, i think is affecting the coverage in a positive way. nonetheless, the systematic coverups and line that government is so adept at doing will wheeled out almost immediately. claims that have been forced to back down from. but perhaps the fact shireen was in american will lead to a little more concern about the systematic brutality that the occupation is wielding all over the occupied territories. this case it is egregious. but young men are being shy. almost every day, unarmed and, demonstrators. in some cases, there are clashes but in many cases, what is happening is people who are either totally innocent or involved in demonstrations are being murdered by israeli
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snipers. this is what seems to have happened in this case. nermeen: you said she was the second american to be killed in recent months. who was the first? >> an elderly palestinian-american who was stopped at an israeli checkpoint and put face down on the route in the bill of the night and he died, presumably of a heart attack because of maltreatment by the easterly forces. i don't recall the name. >> i think is there was omar aside. >> i think that was three months ago. it might have been february he was arrested, detained, taken to an empty building in the middle of the night. it was a cold night. he was on his way home after a family visit. with other detainees, put facedown in the dirt and was found lifeless very soon thereafter. he was an elderly man with a heart condition.
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amy: rashid khalidi, your family is there. your well-known family in the west bank. if you could talk about the effect this had -- i understand at the funeral today, they're projecting shireen's image where a funeral is being held for her. and again, talk specifically about the jenin camp, the israel i raids, they call them counterterrorism raids. >> well, people are shocked all over -- follow the arab world, actually. shireen abu akleh was a household name. her face was familiar to everybody in the arab world who follows this from palestine on al jazeera, which is the preeminent channel, arab satellite channel covering palestine in particular. the shock yesterday was universal. people woke up to the news in
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the united states. they heard it much earlier in palestine and the arab world. so there have been ceremonies and memorials for her all over the occupied territories, oliver palestine. -- all over palestine. jenin has become a symbol of resistance. i want to say something which is we are now praising and lauding ukrainians who resist russian occupation. palestinians who resist israeli occupation, which has been going for 55 years since june 9 67 -- june 1967 are branded terrorists by the israelis and media that parents that sort of thing. they would never describe ukrainians as terrorists fighting the occupation. jenin is a symbol of resistance because as i mention of the battle that took lace in 2002
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during the second intifada when the israelis moved into the camp and they were confronted by militants over several days, as i've said, about 50 palestinians were killed, many of them militants and many civilians, and about 24 israeli soldiers were killed. ever since then, israel has adopted a policy, as it does always come up collective punishment, punishing a region, district, in this case a refugee camp, perpetually putting checkpoints close around the camp, entering in the middle of the night, destroying property, beating people up, arresting people, and so forth. and because several of the people whom the israelis leave perpetrated attacks inside israel in which many israelis, think as many as 19, have been killed over the past many weeks, because several of the supposed
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perpetrators, alged perpetrators cam from jenin and the jenin area, this collective punishment and this bloody vengeance where people are being shot down sometimes in clashes but quite frequently simply in demonstrations or because the israelis are just shooting as they often do, is being carried out particularly systematically in the jenin area and refugee camp. the incident that shireen abu akleh and her colleagues were covering yesterday was yet another israeli raid on this camp, part of what has been a repeated series of raids. these are not israeli soldiers just going after militants, they are attacking people's homes, throwing things in the streets, beating people up, arresting people whether they are innocent or involved in militant activity. nermeen: prossor, what kind of
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hope you have for some kind of accountability, further investigation and accountabity for her murder? >> well, the palestinian journalist syndicate, together with the international federation of journalists, are bringing a case about the murder of a number of palestinian journalist. there's been something like 46 palestinian journalist killed by israeli forces since 2000. many of them during the second intifada and several just this past year, in fact. palestinian journalist have been syematically targeted. it is important to israel that nobody see what is going on in the occupied territories. if people knew the day-to-day reality, which you can only find out from ray journalists like shireen who gave her life to cover this story, nobody would know. these israelis are good at bullying media and trying to prevent the story from getting out but at the base where the rubber hits the road, were
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journalists are on the run, they should palestinian journalists all the time. 46 have been killed since 2000 according to the palestinian journalist syndicate. the syndicate and international center for justice for palestinian and the international federation of journalists are bringing a case before the international court of justice about several murders. israel has targeted media offices repeatedly. they bombed several media offices last may in gaza, destroying several bureaus entirely. they have done this repeatedly in ramallah and other places. the attacks on joualists to squelch the story at the root are part of the colonial information control of the british -- the british empire did this everywhere and the israelis have been doing it systematically very effectively, shooting at journalists, intimidati journalists. then bullying editors and producers here in new york and
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the united states and around the world to impose their line, which is -- they make stuff up. also to prevent the truth, which is that this is a brutal occupation that is only sustained by brute force against the will of an entire people. that fact and the fact it is supported by us, the united states, using american wpons being used, american supporting this, something that is essential for the israelis to occlude, to hide. amy: the israeli prime minister bennett went to meet with putin -- there was some talk of either turkey's leader or bennett negotiating between russia and ukraine come at the same time wasn't bennett almost toppled recently as prime minister? >> yes, he lost one member in his coalition who left for reasons having to do wh
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passover violations, rules. there was a threat by other members of his coalition to leave, which understand just today has been withdrawn. so his coalition is -- i think that lost their majority. they hold on barely half the knesset seats right now. amy: does that have any possibility -- have affect on any kind of solution between israel and palestine? >> bennett is a settler himself. he is a committed supporter of the maternal permanent occupation of what is left of palestine. he is unwilling under any circumstances to negotiate with the palestinians. he made t that very clear. so get the coalition which included somparties interested in the negotiated settlement but his party and several of the other parties in the coalition are as committed to continuing the permanent occupation of palestine and the colonization,
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what is left, continues the israelis settlements, expropriation of palestinian land. bennt is not going to lead a movement toward any kind of resolution under any circumstances. in that respect, he differs in no way from netanyahu in the opposition. amy: rashid khalidi, thank you for being with us edward said , professor of modern arab studies at columbia university. among his books "the , hundred-years war on palestine." next up, we speak to the writer andrey kurkov. stay with us. ♪♪ [music break]
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amy: "sparrow" by marcel khalife & oumaima khalil. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. as russia's invasion of ukraine grinds into its 78th, day we are joined by the renowned ukrainian author andrey kurkov.
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he is the president of pen ukraine and is usually based in kyiv, but is currently in the united states. he is set to deliver the arthur miller freedom to write lecture friday at the pen world voices festival in new york. his novel "death and the penguin" was international bestseller, and his 2018 novel "grey bees" was just released in april here in the united states. it is set in the donbas region of eastern ukraine, where in 2014 rebels loyal to russia declared independence for the cities of donetsk and luhansk. under a --andrey kurkov, welcome to democracy now! you're here in the united states. your country is under siege. can you talk about what is happening, not only the or we are seeing today, but specifically the attack on culture of ukraine? >> hello.
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the war started with the destruction of museum -- a small town near kyiv. while it was burning, and habitants ran into the museum to bring the paintings out. now many are in private houses and people are waiting for the museum to be restored after the war to return the post of also and beginning of the war, one of the best translators from agent greek was killed by russians in front of his house in bucha. other ancient greek writers thanks to him but now he is gone
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and his last translation remains unfinished. we have several writers that are dead. we have over 20 generalists killed -- journalistss killed during the 78 days of work, including one american reporter. i think he was from fox news and was killed near kyiv. heavily wounded. his ukrainian culture and historanddentity because to accept or the beginning of the work, russian military destroyed the archives of kgb -- against ukrainian people of culture and politicians and nationalists which were so-called because they were thinking about independent ukraine in soviet time. the last blow to ukrainian
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culture was actually the destruction of the museum of my favorite writer and philosopher from the 18th-century. this was a single muscle coming from afar who destroyed museum which was situated near kharkiv in the village with no military installations and no army base step there is no doubt museum was the target. nermeen: war you are normally based in key. can you talk abt what you're hearing first of all, with the situation was like when your last there and what you're hearing from family and friends about what the situation is now on the ground? >> many people are coming back to kyiv although he remains a very dangerous city. the mayor of kyiv, the second attack of russian army, second attempt to occupy ukraine in the capital of ukraine kyiv, is
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probably coming because putin is not going to give up. [indiscernible] diplomats are more than 20 countries, including american diplomats. the situation in daily life is almost normalized apart from the fact there is no petrol and people are using bicycles. there are problems with petrol everywhere in ukraine because 25 regional depots of petrol were destroyed by russian missiles. there are lots of problems like this. people are trying to restore the destroyed suburbs of kyiv. life is coming back, but the city is very fragile. it is clear the war is far from being over. the russians are advancing
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slowly on the eastern front in the donbas area, near kherson. many of my friends did not leave kyiv -- we left kyiv on the second day of war with my wife had to go first to the village next to kyiv because our children, our three children were there on holiday. our daughter lives -- we managed to go back two days later. but many friends state on an even one of my publisher state on and was working on the manuscript of a young writer. it was one of a novel about violence. he was doing this doing there is no publishing anymore, no chance he will bring this book in the near future.
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nermeen: could you talk about what we know of the russian response to the war? that is to say, russians in russia? you said 80% support putin but in the early weeks of the invasion, at least, there were lots of protests with many thousands arrested. what do you get -- what sense do you have of what the perception of the war is now in russia and support for putin? >> i know many people who disagree with puti are leaving russia. it is quite difficult to leave now because there's no connection to europe so they're going via turkey,via united arab emirates,via finland. the percentage of people who support putin increases. this was the official information from russian news agencies that 80% of russian citizens support russian policy
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in ukraine. i don't know how true this is. but it is also the fact -- within 500 russian, including [indiscernible] signed the open letter to putin to support him in the military aggression in ukraine. this letter was published in the main literary weekly of the russian federation. the next day, another letter was published, by the professors and students at the university. the soviet campaign against -- russia today reminds me of the soviet union of the 1970's, maybe even 1960's. amy: can you talk about the russian language and the use of it in ukraine?
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and your own writings, writers choosing to switch now to ukrainian who may have been writing in russian? also heard a member ofpussy riot just left russia dressed as a food delivery person, she escaped. in terms of resistance in the cultural world. but if you can talk about that issue of the russian language and culture in ukraine and your book "gray bees" just released in the united states that takes place in donbas? > i do right in russia. was born in russia and grew up in kyiv. i spent 60 years of my 61 in ukraine. i am political ukrainian. ukraine is a multicultural society. russia was always using russian leg which s&h of the text and
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now -- language as an instrument. i don't feel comfortable writing and russian post star write fiction and russian. i write nonfiction in ukrainian. i know many writers who change from russia to ukrainian and it will be more of them. we've had writers and a crimea -- and gary and language. multicultural society which was always tolerant toward russian language in ukraine -- i should mention ukrainian writer who brought lots of ukrainian words into russian language. [indiscernible] russians were educated and ukrainians had lots of problems
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because in the 19th century, bending ukrainian language. it was stopped from being developed was kept alive by dozen of ukrainian intellectuals who are still writing books in ukrainian, although -- my book about life in the gray zone of donbas. it does not exist anymore. 300 miles long strip of land because inside the front lines, positions -- separatist on one side and ukrainian army on the other side. there were dozens of villages that lots of people remain there without electricity, gas, running water. without access toood, access medical help.
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when i was writing this book in 2017it was a fourth year of the war. 200 books written but all of them were about the war, soldiers. not a single one was about the population that suffered. i wanted to give voice to people who remained in their houses as the war came to them and introduction -- interrupted their traditional lives. the main character is a beekeeper who fights in the gray zone. he is dreaming of the time he can take the bees out of the words out and organize holidays for the bees so they could collect pollen on fields not ruined and covered by gunpowder, which makes honey bitter and bees collect pollen on the battlefield.
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nermeen: how do you see this war coming to an end? >> it is difficult to imagine while putin is still alive. in the case of his death, there will definitely be very series struggle in the kremlin between severa groups, army generals, and oligarchs will take power. i think my personal view, only if russian oligarchs, because theyre sovereign, so to say, more than the generals, only if they take over control of russian federation the war will be stopped. it will be easier to talk to russia after the war. if it is army generals or secret serve generals who come to the control of the russian federation, i think there will be more problems for ukraine not only for ukraine, but also moldova, let the when you, latvia -- lil wayne yeah,
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latvia, other neighboring countries. amy: your here in the united states was the final word to the people of the united states >> i wanted ask americans to take more interest in ukrainian history, culture, life move because everybody knows a lot about russian history and russian culture but the slogan "be brave like ukraine" wonderful books to read, nonficon books by timothy snyder and a canadian professor and writer "the gates of europe." when you read the book you understand the better the history of the relationship between russia and ukraine and you'll also understand ukraine was not under russian rule until
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1654. amy: andrey kurkov, thank you for being with us, one of ukraine's most well-known authors. the president of pen ukraine. usually in kyiv, but will be in new york friday night for the pen world voices festival and is delivering the 2022 arthur miller freedom to write lecture on friday as 6:30. it will also be online. we will link to the details. i will also be moderating a forum on saturday at noon as part of the pen america world is bowl, called "dispatches from the margins" a judge in church. coming up, we will speak with tenzan in novelist abdulrazak gurnah who won the 2020 one nobel prize for literature, the first black writer to win the award in 30 years, since toni
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morrison, and the first black african writer to win the prize since 1986. we will be back with him in a moment. ♪♪ [music break]
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amy: a song from tanzania performed by alsarah at the opening night of the pen america world voices festival in new york city. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. we spend the rest of the hour with abdulrazak gurnah, who won the 2021 nobel prize in literature. the author of many novels including "paradise," "gravel heart," and "by the sea." his most recent book is titled "afterlives." the nobel committee recognized him for his "uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf
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between cultures and continents." he is the first black writer to -- african to receive the award since 1986. he is the first like writer to win the award since toni morrison one on the 30 years ago in 1993. abdulrazak gurnah was born in 1948 in zanzibar, an island off the coast of east africa which was then a british protectorate but now part of tanzania. he fled the country in the late 1960's following the zanzibar revolution, arriving in britain as a refugee where he has lived ever since. he is here in new york for the pen america world voices festival where he gave the opening night conversation wednesday night, emeritus professor english and postcolonial literature at the university of kent.
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we welcome you to democracy now! congratulations on your nobel prize for literature. if you can talk about what this has made to you, the literature that it is recognizing -- particularly, your focus on the refugee experience. >> thank you very much for having me on your program. as we all know, i think the nobel prize is a global recognition. so any writer would be absolutely thrilled and delighted to be given the award. but only -- not on because of the recognition, but because a pretty strong team of the other previous laureates, people we have read and admired, now you
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are amongst them. important for a writer is the of this recognition of your writing. , deserves to be recognized in this way. the other is people want to know about your work, want to know about you as well not just your work. that is terrific in a certain way, but it is an expression of just how important i think the nobel prize is. [indiscernible] overjoyed.
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also significant about subjects that have been writing about, about displacement, migration mentioned in your introduction the kinds of experiences of people who are dislocated in this way. refugees, asylum-seekers. not only that, but also write about just being human and relationships and historical moments that make societies function. nermeen: your work explores these themes and underlying it is the experience of colonialism, the effects of which the nobel committee did recognize you for the wayour work explores the effect of colonialism. if you could talk about that? you have also written extensive on colonialism and post-colonialism in your
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scholarly work. and in particular, the questio of language. your mother tongue was wife ely but you, let many writers and it postcolonial world, wrote in the colonial tongue, english. if you could talk about that and the significance of language? >> colonialism, european colonialism, transformed the world throughout the 19th and early 20th century. part of the transformation is the countries it created out of their need for convenience. one of the consequences, the violence and the war we have all over the place, certainly in africa, where nations were created for convenience are not really true nations and constant
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bickering over resources. i see colonialism has left us with profound consequences in our modern world. it's consequences are still with us. one of those is language. but there's another way of thinking about it. when it comes to language. of course you would imagine it will be kind of honorable to write or use your own language in literature -- your previous guest talked about kinda of making a decision between russian and ukrainian because it suggests something about where your affiliation is and where your loyalties are. well, yes, i see that but there is with writing, these are
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issues that seems to me to be confused by the question of loyalty. i write in english because i find writing in english very comfortable. it is like a kind of gift to be able to have -- it is a choice, but not really a choice. i think a metaphor like an athlete, casually say i'm going to be a high jumper unless your body capable of doing that. or i'm going to be a sprinter. you have to be whatever it is that makes one. the point of writing, there is an intimate relationship that only you as a writer can know, which is the language yocan move around it's kind of sinuous
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way writing has to do. anyway, here we are. like i say, this is what happens. we were colonized by the english -- alert english. perhaps if i have been colonized by the french, he might not have happened. who knows? talking about the literary tradition. most peruvian people don't have any choice is -- caribbean people don't have any choice as far as language is concerned. he said they can no more take it away that i can give it back. in a way, this is what happened.
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we can't argue -- sometimes we can be thankful there is a benefit of which language i write in, i have a choice. nermeen: you have spoken about having grown up in an extended family with your mother but also aunts and other extended family members. and hearing stories that were being exchanged and told by the women, could you talk about the effect of those stories on your writing and in general the traumatization from an oral tradition to a written one? >> quite often the stories that we heard as youngsters, told by the women, was quite surprising just how much was transmitted orally. but it wasn't just small stories
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that animals or something like that that would be expected with children to be told. i remember in particular one instance where there's is a very famous swahili which was composed i should say somewhere around the 17th century. it was a class assignment -- the language changes so much. 17th century swahili is not easily readable. as you might imagine -- [indiscernible] modern forms of the way of
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understanding was in there. i remember doing this homework . my mother never went to school so she was illiterate. i was struggling with a couple of lines. she said, read them to me. so i read them. she recited the next two lines. so she had not read it but she knew it. amy: i can't bear to say this, but we have 20 seconds. >> writing doesn't necessarily mean speaking. she learned things that had also been written down. amy: we're not going to end this conversation. we are going to ask you to stay with us and do part democracynow.org two and post it online at democracynow.org. abdulrazak gurh is attends a land novelist, -- tanzanian novelist, one the nobel prize for literature.
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the first african writer to win the prize since 1986. he is here in new york for the pen america world voices festival. that doesn't it for our broadcast. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]
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(wind whistling) - we've en doing th for milnnia.

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