Episode 9: Forensic science and human rights in Afghanistan, with Zabi Mazoori

zabimazooriheadshotFor this episode, Kate interviewed Zabi Mazoori, who coordinates the Afghanistan project for Physicians for Human Rights’ International Forensic Program.

In 2001, he fled persecution by the Taliban and sought asylum in Australia. He returned to Afghanistan to pursue human rights work in 2008.

Zabi Mazoori spent two years working at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, specialising in transitional justice. He also consulted for Physicians for Human Rights, where he facilitated the Paraprofessional Mass Grave Site Team and Basic Human Osteology Training conducted in 2010 at the Afghan National Police Academy. He is also one of the founders of the Afghanistan ForensiceScience Organization and a founding member of the Transitional Justice Coordination Group.

In this episode, Kate and Zabi discussed the development of forensic training in Afghanistan for documenting and preserving evidence in mass grave and massacre exhumations. They discuss how this helps to prosecute perpetrators of violence, some of whom are still in power, and to ensure dignity to victims by enabling proper burials of loved ones.

They also discuss how hymen-examination for virginity-testing emerged as a forensic issue, and how this is a scientifically invalid process. The Afghanistan Forensic Science Organization gained support from the ulama to call for a total ban of such tests.

At the end, Zabi describes major changes that have occurred in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban and highlights gaps in development, particularly in higher education, which Zabi describes as integral to the country’s future development.

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Episode 7: Social media and the Australian Army, with Mick Cook

mick cook picFor this episode, Andrew interviewed Major Mick Cook from the Australian Army.

In recent years the Army has withdrawn from deployments in Afghanistan, Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands (but been sent back to Iraq). Its soldiers are having to learn lessons from past conflicts and prepare for whatever future conflicts they may end up in.

But unlike earlier generations, today’s soldiers live and learn in an increasingly digital environment, where social media plays a large role in people’s lives.

Major Mick Cook, who currently serves as the Australian Army’s social media and online engagement manager, has lots to say on this. We discussed:

  • Outreach efforts, such as the official Facebook pages and Twitter accounts run by various Army units, and actions to inform the public about training exercises like the recent Exercise Hamel.
  • Soldiers’ personal use of social media, and initiatives to use various types of online media for intellectual discussion and professional development.
  • How the tactical responsibilities of junior commanders have changed since the World Wars.
  • How some officers are using online outlets such as podcasts, web-based journals and social media to to discuss military theory and practical lessons with other officers and military thinkers, both across Australia and overseas.
  • The need for innovation and entrepreneurship within the Australian Army, and some of the dilemmas involved.
  • Mick’s own military careers, his online projects, and reading interests.

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