Podcast: Jock Palfreeman – an Australian imprisoned in Bulgaria

 12 January 2014

“The Hair of the Dog”

Producer: Thea Cowie & David Barbeler
Sound Engineer: Mark Don
Supervising Producer: Claudia Taranto

When Australian Jock Palfreeman was locked up in one of the world’s worst jails, Bulgaria’s Sofia Central Prison, he was 21 years old. He’ll be 41 when he finally leaves.

There´s a kitchen in Jock´s cell but prisoners are not allowed knives or hotplates which makes cooking very difficult.

There´s a kitchen in Jock´s cell but prisoners are not allowed knives or hotplates which makes cooking very difficult.

Jock’s got plenty to be angry about in the long intervening years: shocking living conditions, serious physical abuse and the events that sent him to jail. In 2007 Jock made the fateful split second decision to step in and defend two young gypsies, or Roma, who were being bashed up by 15 men in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia. The men turned on him and in the ensuing scuffle, one Bulgarian man was murdered and another was seriously injured. Jock was convicted of the crimes, despite serious questions being raised about the evidence against him.

On the bottom of the bookshelf you can just make out the photo of Jock and his brother taken inside the prison a few years ago.

On the bottom of the bookshelf you can just make out the photo of Jock and his brother taken inside the prison a few years ago.

Standing up for the weak and vulnerable was arguably what got Jock into trouble in the first place, but being behind bars hasn’t stopped him from campaigning for others’ rights. In fact, that’s what he spends most of his time in jail doing. He is attempting to establish a prisoners union and helps other inmates with their grievances against the system.

Jock is the only prisoner in his cell to have made his space homely. This is his corner. Note the crumbling roof.

Jock is the only prisoner in his cell to have made his space homely. This is his corner. Note the crumbling roof.

Podcast: Jock Palfreeman: an Australian imprisoned in Bulgaria – ABC 2014.01.12

Further Information
Web page created by Jock’s family and friends: Freejock 
Jock Palfreeman on Australian Story: Conviction Part One & Conviction Part Two
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Podcast: “A New World History” by The Swedish (State) Radio 2013

I just discovered the ongoing podcast series En ny världshistoria (“A New World History”) done by Radioteatern (Radio Theatre) at Sveriges Radio (Swedish State Radio). This is their own description (translated) from the web page:

Radio Theatre writing a new history of the world. Each day a story about someone who dared to speak up. We start from a calendar with 365 people, one for every day in 2013, which put their lives on the line for human rights, freedom and democracy. This year is a hundred years since Raoul Wallenberg was born. To commemorate this, the Forum for Living History and Swedish PEN Club put together a list with 365 names. There are 365 people, one for every day in 2013, who dared to speak up and thus put their lives at stake. It´s name as Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Gandhi and Sophie Scholl. Every day in 2013 sends a Radio Theatre play inspired by these people, what they did, how they lived. Radio theatre director Stina Oscarson hatched the idea last winter and, together with the editors designed a program format that will change everything you thought you know about radio drama.

After listening to one of the podcasts, the last sentence about changing everything you thought you know about radio drama is to me highly exaggerated, at least for me. The podcasts are very short, not even 5 minutes and only in Swedish. But never the less, the idea is worth acknowledging.

So far, I could find one Bulgarian on the list – Dimov Kazasov.
Podcast: En ny världshistoria: Dimov Kazasov 28 Juni – SR 2013

He died on the 28th of July 1980. He was a Bulgarian politician, who in 1940 wrote an open letter of protest against the pro-German government repression against the country’s Jews. This led to more daring protest. He also hid Jewish refugees in his home, until he was forced to go underground.

Others are:
Podcast: En ny världshistoria: Anna Politkovskaja – SR 30 Augusti 2013

On August 30 1958 journalist Anna Politkovskaya was born in New York. But she grows up in Moscow. During the late 1990s she wrote increasingly controversial articles about Russia’s war in Tjetjenia and renews the Russian journalism. She was subjected to several assassination attempts and is shot to death in 2006.

Podcast: En ny världshistoria: Palden Gyatso – SR 25 Augusti 2013

On the 25th of August 1992, Palden Gyatso, a Buddhist monk, is released from prison in Lhasa. He has been in jail for 33 years because of protest against the Chinese occupation of Tibet. While in prison, he was subjected to torture on a regular basis, but he refused to give up his opposition or Buddhist faith

Podcast: En ny världshistoria: Alexei Navalnyj – SR 17 Augusti 2013

On August 17, 2011 is the Russian lawyer and blogger Alexei Navalnyj sued for having written on his blog about the corruption scandals in Russian big corporations. Navalnyj has repeatedly been arrested during demonstrations against election fraud and sentenced to short prison terms.

Podcast: En ny världshistoria: Henry David Thoreau – SR 25 July 2013

On July 25, 1846 the American writer Henry David Thoreau spends in jail. He has refused to pay taxes because the money would go to finance the war against Mexico, part of which was about the right to own slaves. He explains later, its position in the essay Civil Disobedience.

Podcast: En ny världshistoria: Henry Morgenthau – SR 16 Juli 2013

On July 16, 1915 writes the American ambassador Henry Morgenthau in Constantinople, Ottoman Empire, a telegram in which he appeals to the U.S. to intervene in the ongoing genocide of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. Since the U.S. does not want to be involved he strikes alarm in the New York Times and forming a committee to help Armenians fleeing.

Podcast: En ny världshistoria: Bradley Manning – SR 26 Maj 2013

Bradley Manning a man who betrayed the U.S. Armed Forces. Or follow his conscience. Or their love. Or all three. On 26 May 2010 the American soldier Bradley Manning in Iraq, is arrested on charges that he have left out military secrets to WikiLeaks, including a film of a helicopter raid in Baghdad in 2007. The film shows how eleven civilians, in cold blood, is shot dead by American soldiers. Manning incarcerated and subjected to what Amnesty described as inhumane conditions.

Podcast: En ny världshistoria: Fyodor Dostoevsky – SR 9 Februari 2013

Fyodor Dostoevsky world famous Russian author who also was a compulsive gambler, dies on February 9, 1881 in St. Petersburg. For his free-thinking and relations in radical circles. He was arrested early in the career by the Tsar’s secret police and sentenced to death. He was subjected to a mock execution before being banished to prison camps in Siberia, where he remained for ten years.

There is a lot more women acknowledge, than what I mentions here. And more people are coming up during the rest of 2013

I also have seen pocket calendars with a similar approach. Beside being an ordinary calender, it also give information about one person and/ event connected to every day. The calendar was done by the Swedish stately museum Forum för levande historia (The Living History Forum) On their web page there are also surveys, educational and research material, in different language, about human rights, genocides, democracy and different phobias like homo-, bi- and trance- phobias.

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A little about me and the blog…


I'm studying archival science (include records management). My studies bring me to Bulgaria for six months.

I have been to Bulgaria on vacation but I don't know the language, Cyrillic alphabet or anybody. So I´ll be encountering many new situations and hopefully gain some insights from them. Some of it may end up on my blog. But even blogging is new to me sooo we´ll see...

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