For the second Christmas in a row, Nigerians were stunned by a coordinated series of church bombings by a shadowy Islamic group know as Boko Haram. The attacks left more than 50 worshipers dead. Pulitzer Center grantee Joe Bavier, who has made several visits to Nigeria to report on the deepening rift between Christians and Muslims in this oil-rich country, was not taken by surprise. Writing in Newsweek, Joe reported that young recruits have been flocking to join Boko Haram amid Nigeria’s “perfect storm of deprivation, corruption, and worsening marginalization.” The government has responded by sending troops into impoverished Muslim areas, but the army’s brutal crackdown “has become a powerful recruiting tool for the group.”
Some Turkish Kurds are already calling it the “Museum of Shame,” and if it ever actually opens its doors, it will be a remarkable step by the Turkish government toward reconciliation with the country’s Kurdish minority. The would-be museum is now a functioning prison in the center of Diyarbakir, a city of 1.5 million in southeastern Turkey that has long been a bastion of Kurdish resistance. The prison was designed to crush Kurdish nationalism; torture was one of its principal instruments. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently promised to close the facility, and Kurdish activists have been busy making plans to turn it into a museum that honors their struggle. Pulitzer Center grantee Jenna Krajeski has spent time in the Kurdish regions, examining a conflict that is far from finished. Writing in Foreign Policy, Jenna says, “The power struggle over the museum is only beginning; how it ends depends largely on what happens on the outside. If the conflict between the Kurds and the Turkish state has proved anything, it's that the victors get to design the museums, choose the exhibits, and set the admission fee.”
Stories from places like northern Nigeria and southeastern Turkey generally make headlines only when accompanied by a body count. As we begin the New Year here at the Pulitzer Center, we look forward to supporting the efforts of talented journalists like Joe and Jenna who consistently probe behind the headlines.
We also look forward to receiving proposals for the second Persephone Miel Fellowship. The fellowship, overseen by the Pulitzer Center in collaboration with Internews, is designed to help media professionals outside of the United States do the kind of reporting they've always wanted to do, and enable them to bring their work to a broader international audience. The deadline is February 15.
Until next week,