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The Observers

A close-up look at Iran

This show is made up entirely of amateur images. We've seen time and time again how images captured by ordinary citizens then uploaded onto the Web can change history, or at least shift the balance of power. This week, we take a look back at some of those moments.


Story 1: Iran/Turkey

We have a special show today about Iran. Four years ago, our Observers there proved their worth when the government barred foreign journalists from covering the Green movement - the huge protests that erupted after the reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. While their friends were being beaten and killed in the streets, the Observers dared to send out information about what was going on. We remain deeply grateful to them for their courage, which has continued. Iranians go to the polls again this week, and we're putting up a special site - in Farsi - based on our Observers' coverage. We'll first hear from Sogand Alikhah. She was among the hundreds of thousands of Iranians who risked their lives four years ago. She recently moved to Turkey, and sent us this report from there.


Story 2: Iran

Now we hear from three other Observers, who are still inside Iran. We're hiding their identity because it's dangerous for them to be caught talking to foreign media.


Story 2: World

First a gruesome scene from Saudi Arabia: the bodies of five alleged criminals, decapitated, then put on display for the public. It happened on May 21 in the southwestern city of Jizan, near the border with Yemen. The suspects were Yemeni nationals, accused of criminal conspiracy. Our Observer believes the public display was meant as a warning for Yemenis thinking of coming to Saudi Arabia for work. Jizan is a transit point for illegal immigrants from Yemen and from Africa, and the authorities have been cracking down, ordering them to leave the kingdom.

Now to Guinea, in West Africa. High school and university students study hard - in parking lots, and petrol stations. That's because power rationing often leaves their homes without electricity. Our Observer says it's too hard to read by candlelight, so he walks more than a mile, through a dangerous neighborhood, to a gas station. You have to get there early, he says, to get a prime spot, near one of the lights.

But then, why bother to study at all? Look at these pictures from neighboring Senegal. An enterprising business student tried to cheat in an exam by writing notes on the backs of the chairs in front of him. Two questions: might it have taken less time to do the actual studying? And did he really think no one would notice? Thanks to Layebamba for the pictures.

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