Foreign Correspondent

Bahrain: The Middle East’s party capital

13 April 8:00 PM

Every weekend in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, thousands of young Saudis flock to the city to party.

Here they can do things that would be utterly forbidden just over the “Johnny Walker” bridge.

This week, Foreign Correspondent takes you to a place in the Middle East that few people know exists.

Bahrain wants to be a liberal oasis in a conservative region and it’s selling that image to the world to attract tourists and real estate investors to the smallest country in the Persian Gulf.

Bahrain is reinventing itself now because its rich oil reserves are beginning to run out and it needs ways to diversify the economy.

From the nightclubs to the luxury car garages of the super rich, this story shows the “modern” Bahrain and contrasts it with those who are trying to preserve a more traditional way of life.

Watch ‘The Middle East’s Party Capital’ on Foreign Correspondent Thursday 13th of April at 8pm on ABC TV, ABC iview and YouTube.

The War on Woke

20 April 8:00 PM

The US state of Florida has become the epicentre of a nation-wide culture war and a model for the country’s right-wing conservative movement.

Led by Governor Ron DeSantis, the only serious Republican rival to Donald Trumps’s presidential bid, the state has become the place where “woke goes to die”.

This week on Foreign Correspondent the ABC’s Washington bureau chief Jade Macmillan travels to the sunshine state to see how this war is playing out.

The battlegrounds are schools and universities where new laws on the teaching of issues like race and gender are bitterly dividing communities.

While other US states are watching closely, and some even following suit, all eyes are now on Ron DeSantis who is expected to announce a run for the Republican presidential nomination.

The question is will the Governor’s “anti-woke” blueprint take him all the way to the White House?

Watch ‘The War on Woke’ on Foreign Correspondent, Thursday 20 April at 8pm on ABC TV, ABC iview and YouTube.

The Defectors - North Korea

Thursday 27 April 8:00 PM

They’re the refugees from North Korea’s hermit kingdom who overcome huge odds to escape to a new life in South Korea.

Most of them are women and the journey they undertake is a perilous one.

Many are influenced to leave after viewing smuggled South Korean TV dramas which showcase a life of freedom and opportunity.

But the reality is often very different. Instead of finding happiness they are overcome with loneliness and isolation.

On arrival, often after harrowing experiences at the hands of human traffickers, they are placed in a training school and taught how to live in the modern world, South Korean style.

Once on the outside, their accent, clothing and behaviour often make them stand out, and they struggle to assimilate, some often barely surviving.

Those who do escape are known as defectors and they rarely speak out publicly.

This week on Foreign Correspondent reporter Naomi Selvaratnam meets some of the North Korean women who are trying to make new lives for themselves in South Korea and asks them: Has their escape been worth it?

The Fentanyl Kings (midseason final)

Thursday 4 May 8:00 PM

On the outskirts of Culiacan in northern Mexico, backstreet drug labs are brewing up huge vats of fentanyl.

This highly dangerous drug is currently the main cause of overdoses in the United States. The labs are run by the infamous Sinaloa cartel – one of the most powerful drug cartels in the world. Long famous for fueling the cocaine trade, today they are making a fortune out of fentanyl.

This week on Foreign Correspondent British filmmaker Ben Zand gains rare access to one of the cartel’s senior members.

He proudly shows Ben the trappings of his wealth and takes him to the locations where fentanyl is produced and packaged ready to cross the border into the US.

He also invites Ben to see his caged “pet” tigers. Despite the cartel leader’s assurance his tigers only eat chicken, US authorities claim to have evidence the Sinaloa cartel feeds its victims to tigers.

Ben also meets the cartel’s young teen recruits who see the drug trade as an attractive alternative to a life of poverty.

Foreign Correspondent Returns

Thursday 27 July 8.00pm

Featuring the ABC’s foreign correspondents and reporters, the program showcases the very best in international reporting.

With teams crisscrossing the globe, Foreign Correspondent returns to explore the world with stories from Bollywood to Baghdad to Barbados.

This season the program follows an epic global hunt for looted Cambodian treasure, investigates the far-right sovereign citizens of Germany trying to bring down their government and heads to the Caribbean where they are asking who should pay for the price for past slavery.

Featuring the ABC’s foreign correspondents and reporters, the program showcases the very best in international reporting.

Production credit: An ABC NEWS production. Executive Producer – Morag Ramsay. Supervising Producer – Sharon O’Neill.

Surviving ISIS

Thursday 27 July 8.00pm

It’s almost a decade since ISIS militants swept through Iraq and Syria but the legacy of their brutal caliphate remains. While many Iraqis are reclaiming their lives in a period of relative calm, the targets of ISIS’ genocide, the Yazidis, are not at peace.

The world was transfixed when this religious minority fled to the mountains of Sinjar. Rescue efforts managed to airlift some to safety and others who escaped on foot and were eventually settled in countries like Australia. But many were trapped and killed, and huge numbers of women and girls were taken as slaves.

This week Foreign Correspondent goes in search of what happened to them. Reporter Stephanie March travels to northern Iraq and uncovers incredible stories of survival and hears brave accounts from those who have rescued hundreds of Yazidi women. She also meets the women trafficked by ISIS who allege they were held captive by an Australian.

Treasure Hunters: Searching for Cambodia’s stolen antiquities

Foreign Correspondent returns Thursday 3rd August at 8pm on ABC TV and ABC iview.

It’s been called the biggest art theft in history – thousands of statues stolen from temples across Cambodia and sold to private collectors and international museums, including here in Australia. Now a team of art sleuths, on behalf of the Cambodian Government, are on a mission to bring home the country’s cultural heritage.

In this episode of Foreign Correspondent, the inside story of how Cambodia’s stolen antiquities are being tracked and returned in a global treasure hunt. South-East Asia correspondent Mazoe Ford travels with the restitution team as they journey across the country and over borders to identify, trace and reclaim Cambodia’s missing treasures.


This week on #ForeignCorrespondent ... the global treasure hunt to return Cambodia's stolen antiquities. Thursday at 8 on @ABCTV.

— ForeignCorrespondent (@ForeignOfficial) July 31, 2023
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Bollywood: The Politics Behind The Scenes

Thursday 9 August 8.00pm

In India the Modi government is being accused of waging a war on Bollywood, the country’s most powerful cultural force, effectively turning it into a propaganda tool. Filmmakers who dare to criticise the government or resist pressure to produce pro-Hindu content face a backlash.

This week on Foreign Correspondent, the ABC’s South Asia Correspondent Avani Dias goes behind the scenes in Bollywood to meet industry insiders who’ve risked their careers to speak candidly on camera. In the words of one well-known actor: “If you want to thrive in Bollywood you have to suck up or shut up”.

It’s left some asking whether free speech is at risk in the largest democracy in the world under Modi’s reign.

Inside Iran: the fight continues

Thursday 17 August 8:00 PM

Almost a year since widespread protests erupted on the streets of Iran, young dissidents who continue to defy the country’s repressive regime, have participated in secretly recorded interviews with Foreign Correspondent.

The protest movement was sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini who died in custody after being arrested by the morality police for wearing her hijab too loosely.

Inspired and led by women, who took off their hijabs in solidarity with Mahsa, the protests gripped the nation for months. The regime’s response was swift and brutal: protestors were beaten, imprisoned and executed. The crowds dissipated but the mood for change did not.

For months Foreign Correspondent has been communicating via encrypted messaging apps with young Iranians who are still involved with Iran’s protest movement. Despite the risks they agreed to be interviewed to tell their personal stories, share their acts of defiance and reflect on the huge price they have paid in their fight for freedom. Each one of them wants the world to know what is happening inside Iran. In the words of one young protestor:

“This is my direct message to friends within Iran and outside of Iran who think these protests have ended. Friends, it has just started…”

Canada On Fire

Thursday 24 August 8:00 PM

Canada is in the grip of the worst forest fires in recorded history.

In recent days, tens of thousands of people in British Columbia were evacuated, as the Canadian government deployed its armed forces to deal with the crisis.

Most residents of Yellowknife, the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories, have also fled their homes.

An area of almost 14 million hectares has been scorched by more than 6,000 separate wildfires burning all over the country since late April.

Almost 5,000 international firefighters have already been flown in, including several hundred Australians.

This week Foreign Correspondent travels to British Columbia and Alberta where a desperate battle is underway to save lives and homes.

Reporter David Lipson goes inside the fireground to see firsthand how a nation better known for snow and ice is coping with the fire catastrophe.

He meets the Canadian smoke jumpers who parachute into difficult terrain to fight fire fronts in remote locations.

He also spends time in the makeshift camps that have become home to fire crews from around the world including the Australians – many of whom are veterans of Australia’s Black Summer.

The camaraderie within the camps helps with the challenges of the difficult work they face and when the Australians leave to face their own summer fire season, they know the Canadians will be ready and willing to return the favour.

Watch Canada On Fire this Thursday on Foreign Correspondent, 8pm on ABC TV and iview, and streaming on YouTube.

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Citizens of the Reich

Thursday 31 August 8:00 PM

In December last year an attempted coup in Germany took that nation and the rest of the world by surprise.

But the movement behind the coup, the Reichsbürger group, has been fomenting discontent for decades.

This week Foreign Correspondent travels to Germany to take a close look at this far-right “sovereign citizens” movement, many of whom believe they are not bound by German laws.

Some are now on trial for shooting police and engaging in acts of terrorism.

Reporter Eric Campbell visits the state of Thuringia, where a self-styled prince allegedly plotted the coup in his royal hunting lodge.

He meets intelligence officials who claim the Reichsbürger are now in a dangerous alliance with a far-right political party, the AfD.

Its radical policies to end migration and stop action on climate change have made it the second most popular party in Germany.

But State Intelligence chief Stephan Kramer, who is Jewish, describes the AfD as “Nazis in suits” and says he’ll take his family out of Germany if they come to power.

This is an intriguing and disturbing look at how the far right is surging in support in the one country that has shunned far right extremists since the end of World War Two.

Watch ‘Citizens of the Reich’ on Foreign Correspondent, Thursday the 31st of August on ABC TV and iview.

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After Uvalde: Guns, grief and Texas politics

Thursday 7 September 8:00 PM

A year after the Uvalde school shooting where 19 primary school students and two teachers were killed by an 18-year-old man, a traumatised community is still trying to recover.

In this report from PBS Frontline, reporter Maria Hinojosa spends time with the families whose children never came home from school that day and meets one young student who lost her best friend and who has now become one of the most visible faces of the movement for changing the gun laws in the state of Texas.

The report also investigates the police response on the day of the shooting.

With access to many hours of police body camera and security footage as well as interviews with attending officers, questions are answered about why it took more than 75 minutes for hundreds of police to finally contain the gunman.

Barbados: Who should pay?

Thursday 14 September 08:00 PM

The name Barbados conjures up imagery of white sandy beaches and crystal blue waters but away from the perfect postcards this island is grappling with the legacy of a brutal and bloody history.

Barbados was the first British slave society in the Caribbean.

It’s where the legal and economic model of ‘chattel’ slavery was ruthlessly perfected over hundreds of years.

Two years ago, the tiny nation cast off four centuries of British rule and became the world’s newest republic.

But for many Barbadians, taking control of their future now means reckoning with the injustices of the past.

This week on Foreign Correspondent reporter Isabella Higgins travels to Barbados where the demands for reparations are getting louder.

This small island is calling on powerful institutions like the British royal family, as well as the living relatives of past slave owners to make amends for the sins of their ancestors.

As Barbados forges its own way in the world and seeks justice for the historical atrocity of slavery, the question now is – who should pay?

Watch Barbados: Who Should Pay at 8pm on Thursday 14 September on ABC TV and ABC iview.

LeBron’s hometown hope

Thursday 21 September 08:00 PM

NBA superstar LeBron James is often called The Greatest of All Time.

At 38 years of age he holds the all-time NBA scoring record and an astonishing four championship titles with three different teams.

Away from the basketball court he’s also making headlines.

He’s put his name and his money behind an extraordinary social experiment in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.

It’s called “I Promise” and the aim is to turn around the lives of children living in poverty and social disadvantage.

He knows how these children feel — that was his childhood, until basketball gave him a ticket out.

This week on Foreign Correspondent, the ABC’s senior sports reporter Paul Kennedy – a self-confessed basketball tragic — travels to America’s mid-west to meet the army of true believers who are working with LeBron to tackle some of America’s most intractable problems.

In Akron, Paul meets LeBron’s mum Gloria who tells him that her experience as a young single mother is the driving force behind many of the support programs.

He also meets LeBron’s close friend Willie McGee, one of the original Fab Five basketball players, who says the “LeBron James effect” is changing people’s lives.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” he tells Paul.

Observers say the entire nation is watching this social experiment in Akron.

This story explores how LeBron’s team is bringing their plans to life, asks if it’s working and if there are lessons for us all.

Watch ‘LeBron’s Hometown Hope’ on Thursday the 21st of September at 8pm AEST on ABC TV and ABC iview.


Addicted to Captagon - Syria

Thursday 28 September 8:00 PM

A billion-dollar illegal drug trade is funding the Syrian regime under President Bashar al-Assad. This week on Foreign Correspondent insiders detail the vast extent of the drug trade and how members of the president’s family and the Syrian Armed Forces are facilitating it.

Captagon – described as the “poor man’s cocaine” – is a highly addictive drug popular amongst young people in the Middle East. Despite massive efforts by the Jordanian and Lebanese armies to stop Captagon being smuggled across their borders, the drug is being found in Europe, Africa and Asia. This investigation shows how Syrian soldiers are becoming drug dealers to supplement poor wages and are being protected by the country’s elite army unit, the Fourth Division. This unit is led by Maher al-Assad, the younger brother of the President Assad.

Syria has effectively become a narco state. According to a former US special envoy to Syria the scale of the revenues from illegal drug trafficking dwarfs the Syrian state budget. “If Captagon revenues were stopped or seriously disrupted, I don’t think the Assad regime could survive that,” he said.

2023 final is Thursday 12 October

Saving Argentina

Thursday 5 October 8:00 PM

Argentina was once one of the world’s richest nations but today it’s a country on its knees with annual inflation rates over 100 per cent and 40 per cent of the population living in poverty.

This week on Foreign Correspondent, reporter Carrington Clarke travels to the South American nation where the price of a steak is up by 70 per cent this year alone and soup kitchens are struggling to meet demand.

To make matters worse, the country has been gripped by the worst drought in decades.

With the nation on the verge of bankruptcy, Argentines will shortly elect their next president.

The frontrunner is a radical libertarian who believes climate change is a hoax and who wants to ban abortion and relax gun laws.

He’s also promising to get rid of the central bank, dramatically reduce public spending and replace the peso with the US dollar.

Carrington also visits the lithium triangle in Argentina’s north-west where vast quantities of the world’s lithium is located.

The area is a modern-day white gold rush and there’s hope mining this rare metal – a vital component of batteries – will help solve Argentina’s economic crisis.

Watch Saving Argentina on Foreign Correspondent, Thursday the 5th of October at 8pm on ABC TV and ABC iview.