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18
MAY

Me, the refugee

What is it like to be taken away from your childhood home, to be brought to a strange new country where you are locked away? That is what happened to reporter Sahar Zand when she became a refugee from her home country of Iran at the age of 12. She had to leave with her mother and sister after her father got into political trouble with the regime. Sahar explores the complex and often painful role reversals, deceptions and sacrifices that the three of them experienced during those often desperate days.
16
MAY

Bolivia’s Mennonites, Justice and Renewal

In 2009, Mennonite women in a far-flung Bolivian colony reported mass rape. Now leaders of this insular, Christian community with its roots in Europe are campaigning to free the convicted men. More than 100 women and children were attacked in the colony of Manitoba, and their courage in telling their stories secured penalties of 25 years for the rapists. But within Mennonite circles, doubts continue to be aired about the imprisonment of the men. They too protest their innocence, claiming their initial confessions in Manitoba were forced under threat of torture. The culture of abuse in the old colonies – physical and sexual – has often been commented on. And it’s partly this that gave the impetus for the foundation of one of Bolivia’s newest Mennonite communities. Hacienda Verde has been hacked out of virgin forest, and is home to 45 families. These are people who were ex-communicated in their old colony homes, often because they would not live by the harsh rules of conservative Mennonites – rules that govern every facet of life, from the clothes and hairstyles that are allowed, to the rejection of any kind of technology.

Presenter / producer: Linda Pressly

(Photo: Bolivia Mennonite colony, Belice, Girl at school. Photo Credit: @jordibusque)
14
MAY

Slavery's untold story

In Oklahoma, Tayo Popoola discovers the story of the slaves owned by the Cherokee Indian tribe. Since the emancipation of the slaves in the 19th Century, there has been an often uneasy relationship between the so called “Freedmen” and their former masters, both racial minorities with long histories of persecution in the US. In 2017 the Freedmen won a long battle to be admitted as full members of the Cherokee tribe.
11
MAY

Left behind

This is the flipside of migration. Migrants make headlines all the time, but what about those they leave behind? The so-called ‘motherless villages’ of Indonesia; rural Senegal where not enough men are left to work the fields and the Guatemalan parents who risk their children’s lives, sending them on the perilous journey to the US. Stories of deserted families and communities, revealing the bigger picture of the country that has been abandoned.
08
MAY

Guyana - bracing for the oil boom

South America’s second poorest nation is about to get very rich - but will the prosperity be shared? A series of oil discoveries in Guyanese waters has revealed almost unimaginable riches beneath the seabed; enough oil to catapult Guyana to the top of the continent’s rich list. Next year, the oil - and cash - is due to start flowing. The major new industry could help solve two of Guyana’s big problems: high youth unemployment and the emigration of most of its graduates. But as young Guyanese prepare for a future in oil and dream of lives transformed, some fear the so-called oil curse will see a corrupt elite squander and steal the country’s newfound wealth. Presenter/producer: Simon Maybin (Photo: Kiwana Baker, right, hopes that a career in oil will give her opportunities that her mother, Marslyn Pollard, left, never had. Credit: BBC)
08
MAY

The populist curtain: Austria and Italy

Political scientist Yascha Mounk travels through countries which were on the West of the former Iron Curtain. Graz in Austria is the birthplace of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Here, populists have been brought into the fold – with the coalition between the centre-right Austrian People's Party and the far-right Freedom Party of Austria running the country. His journey ends in Italy where a peculiar coalition between the Five Star and Lega parties is accused of attacking minorities and immigrants.
02
MAY

The Crossing

It’s over two years since the authorities in France closed down the Jungle, the large migrant camp in Calais on the French coast. At its height more than 9,000 people from around the world lived in the camp while attempting to make it across to the UK, often hiding in the back of lorries or packed into small boats. It was hoped the camp's closure would stem the number of people risking their lives to try to get to Britain. But has it worked? In December, Britain’s Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, declared the number of migrants attempting to cross the English Channel in boats a 'major incident' and since then more than 100 people have been picked up in 2019. For Assignment, Paul Kenyon investigates the British gangs making big money and risking migrants' lives smuggling them across the Channel and reports on the attempts to break up their networks.
Reporter: Paul Kenyon
Producer: Ben Robinson
(Image: An aerial photo shows a boat carrying stranded migrants. Credit: MARCOS MORENO/AFP/Getty Images)
01
MAY

The Populist Curtain: Poland and Hungary

Political scientist Yascha Mounk travels from Szczecin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, the route of the former "Iron Curtain" and finds out what is changing under the new populist governments that been elected. He begins in the north in the Polish city of Szczecin (Stettin) – where Solidarity was originally created. Today the PIS party governs the country, with its appeal to traditional religious values and social conservatism. Critics say it is attacking independent institutions, especially the judiciary. He then heads on to Sopron, Hungary. Here Victor Orban’s Fidesz party is accused of attacking civil society and the freedom of the press in his pursuit of an “illiberal democracy” – but there are forces fighting back locally.
30
APR

Dark fibres and the frozen north

If data is the new oil, are data centres the new oil rigs? Far into the north of Norway are some of the biggest data centres in the world. As a more internet enabled future, with AI and the internet of things, becomes reality – data more than ever needs a physical home. Inside a former mineral mine lies a huge data mine, next to a deep fjord, and the data is pinged back and forth across the globe. But the Sami, the traditional people of the region, have found traditional lands in some parts spoiled by huge hydroelectric dams.
25
APR

Bangladesh versus Yaba

Thousands of Bangladeshi addicts are hooked on Yaba - a mix of methamphetamine and caffeine. It's a powerful drug that gives big bangs for small bucks. The Yaba epidemic has ripped through the population of Bangladesh, urban and rural, poor, middle-class and rich. This is a drug that's manufactured in industrial quantities in the jungles of neighbouring Myanmar. As the economy of Bangladesh has boomed, drug lords have worked to create new markets for their product. And the Rohingya crisis - when nearly a million fled Myanmar for Bangladesh - has created further opportunities for the traffickers, as desperate refugees have been employed as drug mules. The Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, declared a 'war on drugs' last May. Thousands have been arrested. But critics see a disturbing trend - hundreds of suspected Yaba dealers have been killed by law enforcement.

Presenter / producer: Linda Pressly with Morshed Ali Khan

(Image: Yaba pills being held by a drug-user. Credit: Ye Aung THU / AFP)
18
APR

Restoring Brazil's National Treasure

Brazilians wept when their 200-year-old National Museum went up in flames last September. Twenty million items, many of them irreplaceable, were thought to have been reduced to ash when it was gutted by a massive fire. Staff said the loss to science and history was incalculable - and the tragedy, possibly caused by faulty wiring in the long-underfunded institution, led to much national heart-searching about the country's commitment to its heritage. The museum, housed in Brazil's former Imperial Palace in Rio de Janeiro, held unique collections of fossils, animal specimens, indigenous artefacts, as well as Egyptian and Greek treasures - and the oldest human skull found in the Americas. Some scientists, who saw their entire life's work go up in flames, were in despair - but others vowed to work to rebuild and restock the museum. Now, months on, painstaking archaeological work in the debris has uncovered items that can be restored, while other specialists are setting out on expeditions to acquire new specimens. Tim Whewell reports from Rio on the agonies - and occasional small triumphs - of the slow, exhausting effort to bring a great national institution back to life.

(Image: A Brazilian firefighter attempts to extinguish flames during a fire at the National Museum of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Sept 2018. Credit: Getty Images)
16
APR

Snooker: Young, cool and Chinese

Once a game associated with the backrooms of British pubs, snooker is now a global sport, with most of its growth coming from China. Seven-time world snooker champion Stephen Hendry presents this exploration into how snooker became so popular in China, and why its future is looking young, cool and Chinese.

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