Foreign Correspondent

Keep Hawaii Hawaiian

Thursday 12 May 8:00 PM

“Hawaii is being sold to the global elite. It’s not give and take. It’s just take, take, take, take.” - Filmmaker Chris Kahunahana.

“They took it away in three generations. We’re going to get it back in one. Whatever it takes." - Waterman Pomai Hoapili.

It’s a slice of paradise for some but behind the postcard façade, native Hawaiians have a different story to tell.

Theirs is a struggle for land, language and culture, forcibly taken from them by the United States of America.

Housing prices in Hawaii were already sky high, but in the midst of the pandemic they exploded as mainland Americans bought up island boltholes. The housing crisis is hitting native Hawaiians hardest, forcing many out of their own homes. The state of Hawaii now has the third highest homeless rate in the USA.

This is one of many problems facing native locals who are fighting to ʻKeep Hawaii Hawaiian’.

Reporter Matt Davis visits the Hawaiian Islands to hear from the people fighting to keep their culture alive. In a visually stunning journey, Davis explores the lives of people on the frontline of this modern-day native Hawaiian rennaisance.

“Resistance is not only how we get our land back,” says school principal Kalehua Krug. “But it is also medicine – that resistance is how we heal.”

At his school on the island of Oahu, the curriculum focuses on rediscovering the modern story of Hawaii after the kingdom was overthrown in 1893. The students study the Hawaiian language, hula dancing and other cultural practices alongside the mainstream curriculum.

Davis takes a tour around the back streets of Waikiki with celebrated filmmaker Chris Kahunahana, the first native Hawaiian to direct a feature film.

“Hawaii was seen as Hollywood’s back drop. It served as a beautiful location for a Caucasian centred hero,” he tells Davis.

His movie Waikiki shows the darker side of these tropical islands – the reality for many native Hawaiians.

Davis visits the powerhouse community leader Twinkle Borge who has set up a permanent camp to provide shelter for Hawaiians who are sleeping rough. She reveals an extraordinary plan to reclaim land and build a village for her community.

And he goes out on the jet ski with waterman Pomai Hoapili in the middle of the world’s most famous surfing competition –the Pipeline Pro.

Between surfing on the North Shore and rescuing people caught in the giant waves, Pomai has enrolled in Hawaiian language classes. He practices speaking with his 10-year-old daughter, who’s also learning.

He says it’s urgent for native Hawaiians to practice their culture.

“Be Hawaiian, speak Hawaiian live Hawaiian…If we stop down the line, people stop talking about us, we disappear…we’ve got to keep practicing.”

In Hawaii to compete in the Pipeline surfing competition, the world’s most famous surfer Kelly Slater asks the world to pay respect.

“Everyone who comes Hawaiian should, should take care of this place and really respect the culture and the locals,” says Slater. “It’s their home and it’s your place to visit, but, you know, take care of it and look after it and ever one can enjoy it.”

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Thursday 19 May 8:00 PM

The lost children of Saudi, and the fathers who abandoned them - searching for answers.

Lost Children of Saudi

Thursday 19 May at 8pm

“My child-mind built it up. Daydreaming that maybe someday I’ll walk outside and there’ll be this long, black stretched car pulling up in front of my house… and then he would get out …and kneel-down and greet me. You know, kneel down and outstretch his arms to me.”

American Jared Morrison has dreamed of meeting his dad since he was a kid.
Like many young Saudi men, Jared’s father came to America to study in the 1970s. At university, he met Jared’s mum and they had a relationship but when she became pregnant, he disappeared back home.

Throughout his childhood and into adulthood, Jared was obsessed with finding his Saudi father.

“I had that overwhelming urge and drive…to find him, locate him, learn about him, learn about the culture. It was just an innate instinct.”

Jared connected once on the phone when he was in his early twenties but his father rejected him. Now that Saudi Arabia has begun to open up to the world, Jared wants to try again. Reporter Brietta Hague and Saudi producer Essam Al-Ghalib tell the exclusive story of Jared as he travels to the Kingdom to try and track down his father. It’s a dangerous, fraught and emotionally risky mission.

Jared’s family is powerful and well-connected in Saudi and Jared bumps up against the unwritten rules of a deeply conservative society, which values reputation and family honour above all.

Jared is not the only one.

Saudi men abroad continue to father and abandon children. In Guatemala, we meet a young boy and his single mother, his Saudi father long since departed. Sami Alrajhi Chang visits the mosque every week to learn Arabic in the hope he may one day meet his Saudi family.

Sami’s father Sulaiman came to study in the USA as part of a Saudi government scholarship programme. There he met student Mandre Chang. Despite promising her marriage and a life together, he abandoned Mandre days after Sami’s birth.

Mandre and Sami are part of a global network of people searching for answers. Stone-walled by the Saudi government and embassies, Mandre sought the help of a blog called ‘Saudi Children Left Behind’, a platform encouraging the children and ex- partners of Saudi men to publish their stories of abandonment in the hope they’ll make contact.

The Lost Children of Saudi is an untold story about the powerful human impulse to connect with family, against all odds, and a rare insight into the rigid rules governing this hidden Kingdom – rules about kinship, obligation and family honour.

Stolen Spirits

Thursday 26 May at 8pm

“A cemetery at a school is not the norm – that you could die and then you’re gonna be buried out the door?” - Judi gaiashkibos, Commission on Indian Affairs, Nebraska

On the frozen plains of Nebraska, a community is digging up its past.

The State Archaeologist is using ground penetrating radar to try and locate an old cemetery that is somewhere on the grounds of the former Genoa US Indian Industrial School.

The Genoa school was one of a network of institutions for Native American children set up in the 19th and 20th centuries across the USA. Their purpose was to assimilate indigenous children into the white man’s world.

By 1926, it’s estimated more than 80 per cent of Native American children were enrolled in these institutions.

“We’ve been severed from our language, from our culture, from our practices over a whole course of time, but the boarding school era that … did a number on our people where we almost did not recuperate from it.” -Redwing Thomas, Teacher, Santee Sioux Nation.

Last year, the discovery of more than a thousand graves of children at the sites of former boarding schools in Canada pushed the USA to examine its own history.

ABC journalist Stan Grant, whose family was impacted by Australia’s assimilationist policies of forcibly removing children from families, presents this powerful story.

He tells the story of a community in Nebraska trying to uncover the truth about one of the country’s largest and longest running boarding schools.

“We were taught in school about Native American boarding schools, assimilation,” says Genoa resident Nikki Drozd, “but we weren’t aware of the cemetery … I didn’t stop to think about the children that died here.”

This month, the US Department of the Interior has published the first major government investigation of the country’s boarding school history. It’s estimated that up to tens of thousands of children could have died while attending these state-sanctioned institutions.

“We’re still looking for those children that died,” says Judi gaiashkibos. “I can’t rest until I feel I’ve exhausted every possible avenue to find the children.”

Feature article related to this week’s episode

Upcoming special announced today.

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The ABC today appointed Four Corners supervising producer Morag Ramsay as the new executive producer of Foreign Correspondent. She replaces current EP Matthew Carney, who is moving to Four Corners as its executive producer.

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Becoming Putin

Thursday 2 June 8:00 PM

He started as a low-level spy. He ended up president for life. For two decades, former Moscow correspondent Eric Campbell has tracked Putin’s rise to power, speaking with his school teacher, friends, patrons and enemies.

When Russian President Boris Yeltsin appointed a little-known spy chief as his Prime Minister and successor in 1999, the rouble crashed. Nobody had heard of this former KGB agent and few believed he would make any mark.

Vladimir Putin would soon show Russians, and the world, what he was made of.

Within weeks of his appointment as Prime Minister, apartment blocks in Moscow and other cities began exploding, killing and wounding hundreds of civilians. The Kremlin blamed Chechen separatists and soon launched a brutal war against the tiny state.

The war resulted in huge civilian casualties but it raised Putin’s profile at home. Months later, he was elected president.

Correspondent Eric Campbell was in Russia when Putin began his rise to power and has followed his career ever since.

Campbell tracks Putin’s ascent to power, from his origins in an impoverished tenement in St Petersburg to his ruthless prosecution of the war against Chechnya to his relentless attacks on any political opposition at home.

Campbell has closely chronicled Putin for over two decades as the leader set about muzzling the media, rigging elections and targeting his political opponents, at home and abroad.

Now as the President-for-life invades neighbouring Ukraine and threatens the world with the nuclear option, Campbell asks, how far will he go?

This is an in-depth profile of a man who’s smashed the world order and dared the West to risk World War Three to stop him.

Promo

Watch Becoming Putin on Foreign Correspondent, Thursday 2 June on ABC TV and iview, or streaming live on Facebook and YouTube.

After this episode, the show will go into repeat mode from 9 June.

This Thursday (June 9) the show will revisit the Secrets and Lies episode (first aired in September 2019), presented by Lisa Millar.

30th Anniversary Special

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Thursday 28 July 8.00pm

Foreign Correspondent celebrates its 30ᵗʰ year on air with a one-hour special chronicling the extraordinary changes that have transformed our world over the past three decades.

From stories about revolution and war, terrorism and survival, desperation and inspiration, we’ll
be delving deep into our rich archive to bring you our most compelling stories about the people and the forces shaping our world.

We’ll talk to our correspondents, past and present, about being on the ground as they reported history in the making including Eric Campbell, Lisa Millar, Tony Jones, Jennifer Byrne, Mark Corcoran, Sally Neighbour, Matthew Carney and Deborah Snow as well as founding executive producer Jonathan Holmes.

Through this tumultuous 30 years, Foreign Correspondent has been Australia’s window on the world. Our stories have followed the disintegration of the Soviet empire and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, to China’s astonishing social and economic transformation and the emergence of climate change as a powerful force likely to shape the 21ˢᵗ century.

With Putin’s shocking invasion of Ukraine and the rising power of China in our region, Australian audiences are hungrier than ever for in-depth, on-the-ground reporting to help them understand what’s happening and why and most of all, to hear the human stories behind global events. Production credit: Executive Producer: Lisa McGregor. Producer: Deborah Richards.

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Season returns Thursday 4 August.

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Update:

A Wild Ride

Foreign Correspondent is celebrating its 30th year on ABC TV with A Wild Ride - a one-hour special which will chronicle the extraordinary changes that have shaped today’s world.

The program will feature some of our most powerful stories from the past three decades. On revolution and war, tragedy and survival, terror and hope.

We’ll talk to our correspondents, past and present, about being on the ground as they reported history in the making including Eric Campbell, Lisa Millar, Tony Jones, Jennifer Byrne, Mark Corcoran, Sally Neighbour, David Lipson and Deborah Snow, as well as founding executive producer Jonathan Holmes.

The ABC created the show in 1992, three years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

It was the start of 30 tumultuous years.

As the Soviet empire disintegrated, Foreign Correspondent was there to cover the ethnic and religious conflicts that erupted across eastern Europe, and political upheaval inside the former Soviet states.

Across Asia, we reported on the people power movements which challenged and toppled dictatorships.

As the new millennium dawned, the challenges rolled in.

Foreign Correspondent was there to report on the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and the ‘War on Terror’. And to analyse it for an Australian public desperate for answers.

From all around the globe we revealed the growing threat of climate change, a powerful force that is set to define the 21st century.

And we charted the rise of China, with its incredible social and economic transformation, building an archive of stories few broadcasters can match.

We tracked the rise of populist leader Donald Trump, his ‘Make America Great Again’ movement built on the deep divisions within the United States of America.

And we covered the increasing authoritarianism of Russian President Vladimir Putin, his brutal invasion of Ukraine, a sign of his Tsar-like ambitions to recreate the old Russian empire.

Australian audiences are hungrier than ever for in-depth, on-the-ground reporting to help them understand what’s happening and why and to hear the human stories behind global events.

That’s our mission.

Promo

Watch A Wild Ride on Foreign Correspondent, Thursday 28th of July at 8pm on ABC TV, iview, Facebook and YouTube.

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With the 30th Anniversary a few of the former Foreign Corespondents will come in and speak to Joe O’Brien on ABC News channel. Today Samantha Hawley was the first guest this morning.

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Taking Up Alms

Thursday 4 August 8:00 PM

Across Thailand a quiet revolution is underway.

Hundreds of women are defying generations of Thai tradition and ordaining as Theravada Buddhist monks.

“Woman can do it too, not only man. Men can say anything they want, but if woman decide to do it, just go for it. Nothing going to stop you.” - Achara Ratanakasin, novice monk candidate.

Under the current rules in Thailand, only men are officially able to be ordained as monks. For women, it’s forbidden.

The governing body for monks, the Supreme Sangha Council, maintains that women can’t be ordained because female monks never existed in Thailand.

“The monk’s law doesn’t endorse them. Therefore, they can’t be ordained. If they are ordained, it is considered an offense to Buddha.” - Phra Thamkittimetee, Buddhist Protection Society of Thailand.

At the forefront of this growing movement in Thailand is the Venerable Dhammananda. In 2003, the former academic became the country’s first Theravada Buddhist female monk but to be ordained, she had to travel to Sri Lanka.

“We are asking for ordination, you are not giving it to us, that’s fine. So we go somewhere else.” - Venerable Dhammananda Bhikkhuni.

As the Abbess of Thailand’s first all-female monastery, she’s now offering temporary ordination to other women.

In this moving episode of Foreign Correspondent, Southeast Asia correspondent Mazoe Ford follows two Thai women as they embark on a deeply spiritual quest to reclaim the saffron robe.

“A new chapter is about to begin … it’s probably the only thing that I believe that can make me a better person.” - Wanida ‘Anne’ Lertpanyawai, novice monk candidate.

“I keep telling them, you are part of this movement that is going to be written down in history… we are on the right side of history.” - Venerable Dhammananda Bhikkhuni.

Watch Taking Up Alms on Foreign Correspondent on Thursday the 4th of August at 8pm on ABC TV, iview, YouTube and Facebook.

Taking on Trump

Thursday 11 August 8:00 PM

Wyoming is the most pro-Trump state in the country. And respected Republican Liz Cheney is about to find out what that means.

“The people of Wyoming are going to tell Liz Cheney ‘You’re fired, get the hell out of here, get out of here’”, says the former president.

Ms Cheney, who represents Wyoming in Congress, is the embodiment of the Republican establishment. The daughter of the former US Vice President Dick Cheney, she rose to be the highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress and is famously conservative.

Despite consistently backing Trump in office, she’s now one of his staunchest critics, attacking him for refusing to concede defeat in the 2020 election, and for his actions on January 6.

“I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible. There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone but your dishonour will remain.”

As she seeks her party’s nomination for a 4th term in Congress, Donald Trump is going all out to stop her, endorsing and campaigning for another candidate, who’s also switched sides.

Harriet Hageman was a “Never Trumper” who tried to stop his run for the presidency in 2016. Now she enjoys his support and campaigns on his record. And the polls show its working.

Cheney’s stance on Trump has divided Republicans in Wyoming, angering many, leading to death threats.

“It’s a battle between the Trump Republican Party and the Republican Party of the past”, says Mary Kay Turner, a Cheney family friend. “It’s dividing the community terribly.”

Former Washington bureau chief Kathryn Diss travels through the vast and spectacular wilderness of the Cowboy State to talk with locals about the upcoming primary elections.

Many feel Cheney’s role in the January 6 hearings has distracted her from local issues.

“She’s been focused completely on the January 6 commission when people here are worried about the price of food at the grocery store, the price of gas at the gas pump”, says local state politician Cheri Steinmetz.

“Most of her time is being spent trying to convict Donald Trump.”

But loyalists support her principled stand.

“I would be so sorry to see someone like Liz Cheney lose because it’s more than Liz Cheney that loses. We lose a lot of Republicans like her…that care a great deal for our country,” says Mary Kay Turner.

Diss also heads to Washington to speak with leading Democrat congressman Jamie Raskin who’s sitting alongside Liz Cheney on the January 6 Committee.

He says the stakes for the US couldn’t be higher.

“I want to make sure that American democracy survives and that proposition is at odds with Donald Trump ever getting anywhere near the White House.”

Myanmar’s Forgotten War

Thursday 18 August 8:00 PM

In a remote corner of north western Myanmar, a civil war you’ve never heard of is underway.

The people of the Chin State are locked in a deadly conflict with Myanmar’s ruthless military machine – the Tatmadaw.

Crossing into Myanmar from northeast India, reporter Matt Davis has gained exclusive access to the Chin resistance.

As he travels across rivers and on mountain passes, he meets the people who’ve given up everything to fight Myanmar’s military junta.

Living in jungle camps and makeshift villages, students and farmers, doctors and engineers are organising into civilian defence units to defeat the Tatmadaw. The region has seen some of the heaviest fighting yet in the 18-month-long civil war.

Davis spends time with 28-year-old Cung, an agricultural worker who joined the Chin Defence Forces 18 months ago. He’s now the Commander in Chief of his battalion. Armed with little more than single-shot rifles and homemade explosives, he and his young fighters have transformed into a fearsome guerrilla force.

“This is our land, this is our place,” he says. “They can’t defeat us, the only thing they can do is burn our homes, our churches. We hunt them like wolves.”

Davis travels close to the centre of the current conflict, the strategic hillside town of Thantlang, recently taken by the Tatmadaw. Its 12000 residents have fled.

In a hilltop hospital, not far from Thantlang, a young Chin doctor, Dr Amos, and his wife Rebecca, a nurse, struggle to care for the wounded.

“The hardest bit has been getting medicines and operating equipment,” says Dr Amos.

Nearby, Davis meets 16-year-old Emily. Before Thantlang was taken, she was a high school student. Now she’s a refugee in her own country, her life on pause.

She hasn’t seen her school friends in months. “I miss them so much,” she says. “I am alone.”

The Chin people are begging for the international community to help them. They want sanctions imposed against the Tatmadaw and weapons supplies.

But with the war in Ukraine occupying the headlines, Myanmar’s bitter civil war has been overlooked.

Dr Sui Khar, a leader of the Chin National Front, says the Chin will not give up.

“Under this military dictatorship … the youth have already convinced themselves that their future is nothing,” he says. “That’s why this is the once and for all war, to eliminate this military dictatorship.”

This powerful film shines a light on a forgotten conflict.

Poacher’s Paradise

Thursday 25 August 8:00 PM

This episode was produced in association with European culture channel Arte.

The oceans off the coast of West Africa once teemed with fish. Millions relied on these plentiful stocks for their livelihoods.

Now this rich resource is being plundered by foreign vessels, fishing illegally.

These large trawlers can scoop up more fish in a week than the small, local boats do in a year.

Off the north coast of Senegal, locals like Yague once made a good living catching fish.

“They used to swim up to us. We were wealthy, but ever since these many industrial vessels came, the fish started to disappear”, he says.

Local fishermen, working out of small hand-crafted boats called pirogues, can’t compete.

‘It’s a race against these industrial vessels. If they notice us, they head right for us to take our catch from us. They destroy our nets”, says Yague. “They usually also ram our pirogues, so the only thing we collect at the end of the day are our destroyed pirogues.”

It’s a similar story up and down the coast – Liberia, the Ivory Coast, even as far south as Gabon.

“Hundreds of years ago, European countries came to the African continent to steal people from these shores”, says Captain Peter Hammarstedt from environmental group, Sea Shepherd.

“Now foreign fishing fleets have come to plunder fish.”

Among the biggest offenders are Chinese-owned vessels. Captain Hammarstedt says around 800 Chinese vessels operate regularly off the coast of West Africa.

Working with European broadcaster Arte, we visit the communities whose livelihoods are under threat from these foreign trawlers. And we meet the activists helping them fight back.

In Senegal, the locals are fed up with government inaction. Fisherman Mamadou Sarr, with the help of activist group Greenpeace, is organising night-time sea patrols so they can report illegal fishing to the authorities in the hope they’ll take action.

“We must be more active. If we don’t do anything, there won’t be any more fish in Senegal soon.”

In Liberia, the army is working with Sea Shepherd to patrol the seas and detain ships fishing illegally.

“Those vessels knew that the Liberian coast guard didn’t have the capability to go deep into the water, so they took advantage, and came to fish”, says General George, the deputy chief of staff of the Liberian Armed Forces.

“It was time to act, because our local fishermen were going to be completely out of business.”

Illegal fishing in Liberia has dropped dramatically but constant vigilance is required.

“We have to stay on top of the poaching problem. If the patrols stop, it’s very likely that the illegal fishing problem comes back.” Captain Hammarstedt