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Witness History podcast

Witness History

History as told by the people who were there.

History as told by the people who were there.

 

#300

People Power in the Philippines

In 1986, four days of huge public protests brought down President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines. Kate McGowan, in Manila, talks to the leading Filipino novelist, Jose Dalisay, about the demonstrations. This edition of Witness History was first broadcast in 2011. PHOTO: Filipino troops celebrating the fall of President Marcos (Getty Images) ... Read more

15 hrs Ago

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15 hrs Ago


#299

The war in Transnistria

With speculation mounting that President Putin might mount an attack on Moldova, we're going back to the early 1990s and a war between the Moldovans and Russian-backed separatists in the disputed region of Transnistria. Several hundred people died in a conflict which ended in a stalemate in 1992. Matt Pintus speaks to former journalist and Moldovan defence minister, Viorel Cibotaru. PHOTO: Russian-speaking Transnistrian fighters during the war (Getty Images) ... Read more

13 May 2022

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13 May 2022


#298

Eyjafjallajökull: The volcano that stopped Europe

In 2010, a previously little-known Icelandic volcano erupted twice, sending a huge plume of volcanic ash all over Europe. The ash cloud grounded flights for days, causing inconvenience for millions of passengers. Reena Stanton-Sharma talks to Icelandic geophysicist and Eyjafjallajökull-watcher, Sigrun Hreinsdottir. (Photo: The awesome power of Eyjafjallajökull. Credit: Getty Images) ... Read more

11 May 2022

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11 May 2022


#297

China opens up to capitalism

In May 1980 China allowed capitalist activity for the first time since the Communist Revolution, in four designated cities known as the Special Economic Zones. The most successful was Shenzhen, which grew from a mainly rural area specialising in pigs and lychees to one of China's biggest cities. In 2017 Lucy Burns spoke to Yong Ya, a musician who has lived in Shenzhen since the 1980s, and to ethnographer Mary Ann O'Donnell. PHOTO: A giant poster of Chinese patriarch Deng Xiaoping in Shenzhen, the first of China's special economic zones (Getty Images) ... Read more

10 May 2022

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10 May 2022


#296

Soviet nuclear missile alert

In 1983, during a tense period of the Cold War, Soviet nuclear officials received a computer warning suggesting that the United States had fired five nuclear missiles towards Moscow. Fortunately, the officer on duty, Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov, realised the warning was a false alarm and advised his commanders against a retaliatory strike against America. Alex Last hears his story, as told in 2008 to the BBC's Jonathan Charles. Stanislav Petrov died in 2017. PHOTO: Stanislav Petrov pictured in 2004 (Getty Images) ... Read more

09 May 2022

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09 May 2022


#295

Fighting for Uyghur rights in China

In the 1980s, the minority Uyghur community in China staged some of the first protests against the all-powerful Communist Party. The Uyghurs were demanding that the Chinese government keep its promises to protect their culture and grant them political autonomy in Xinjiang region. In 1989, many Uyghur students enthusiastically supported the pro-democracy demonstrations centred on Beijing's Tiananmen Square. One of them was Aziz Isa Elkun, who talks to Josephine McDermott. PHOTO: A Uyghur yurt on the Xinjiang steppe (Getty Images) ... Read more

06 May 2022

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06 May 2022


#294

The chemistry of cannabis

The Israel scientist Raphael Mechoulam has been researching what’s thought to be the world’s most popular drug since the 1960s. In 1964, he isolated Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC – the compound that gets cannabis-users high. Later, Professor Mechoulam discovered another compound called CBD, or Cannabidiol, which has medical benefits without any kind of psychoactive effect. Recently, CBD has had a revolutionary impact on treating health conditions such as epilepsy. Prof Mechoulam talks to Claire Bowes. PHOTO: A marihuana plant in India (Getty Images) ... Read more

05 May 2022

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05 May 2022


#293

Roe v Wade

In 1973 the landmark decision was made in the US Supreme Court which made abortion legal. The late Sarah Weddington brought the case even though she was fresh out of law school at the time. She spoke to Chloe Hadjimatheou in 2012. Sarah Weddington died in December 2021. (Photo: Sarah Weddington pictured in 1979. Credit: Getty Images) ... Read more

04 May 2022

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04 May 2022


#292

Surviving the Falkands War

In 1982 British soldier Simon Weston was severely burned when Argentine planes bombed his ship, the Sir Galahad, as it unloaded troops in the Falkland Islands. Scott Wright hears how Weston was not initially expected to survive, and how he later met and forgave one of the Argentine pilots who caused his life-changing injuries. The interview was produced by Alan Hamilton and the programme is a Moon Road Production. PHOTO: Simon Weston (Getty Images) ... Read more

03 May 2022

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03 May 2022


#291

The sinking of the Belgrano

The Argentine ship, General Belgrano, was sunk by a British submarine during the Falklands War on 2nd of May 1982. 323 people died in the attack. Dario Volonte, now an opera singer, was one of the survivors and in 2014 he spoke to Louise Hidalgo about the attack. Photo: The General Belgrano. (Credit: Getty Images) ... Read more

02 May 2022

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02 May 2022


#290

Algeria's rebel footballers

During Algeria's War of Independence, a group of Algerian players secretly left their clubs in France to form their own national team. Some had already been selected to play for France in the upcoming World Cup Finals in 1958. In 2014, Saint Etienne striker, Rashid Mekhloufi, spoke to Mike Lanchin about the day that changed his footballing life. Photo: The 1958 Algerian revolutionary team, reunited 30 years later. Rashid Mekhloufi is second from the right, front row ... Read more

29 Apr 2022

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29 Apr 2022


#289

The Algerians who fought for France

More than 200,000 Algerians fought for France during the war of independence, becoming known as Harkis. After Algeria's independence in 1962, the Harkis were treated badly by both the Algerians and the French. The FLN regarded the Harkis as traitors; while the French washed their hands of them after losing the war. Brahim Sadouni was one of the Harkis. He spoke to Louise Hidalgo in 2010 about how he was rejected by his own father. PHOTO: Harki forces in 1959 (Jean-Louis SWINERS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images) ... Read more

28 Apr 2022

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28 Apr 2022


#288

Algeria: The Massacre in Paris

During their country's War of Independence, Algerian fighters from the FLN also targeted the French mainland, killing police officers in Paris and other cities. In October 1961, French police turned against Algerian demonstrators in the capital who'd been called out onto the streets by the FLN. Dozens were shot, others drowned in the River Seine. For decades, the killings were not officially acknowledged. In 2011, Jannat Jalil heard from one man whose sister died that day. Photo: Algerian demonstrators under arrest after a rally in Paris in October1961 (AFP/Getty Images) ... Read more

27 Apr 2022

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27 Apr 2022


#287

The War in Algeria: A French soldier's experience

In the late 1950s a young Frenchman, who now goes by the name Ted Morgan, was conscripted to fight for France against Algeria's independence fighters. He served as an intelligence officer during the Battle of Algiers, and over sixty years later he is still haunted by what he saw, and did. This included involvement in the systematic torture by the French of members of Algeria's National Liberation Front or FLN. Ted Morgan spoke to Roger Hardy in 2010. (Photo: French soldiers in the Casbah of Algiers in 1960. Credit: Getty Images) ... Read more

26 Apr 2022

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26 Apr 2022


#286

Algeria’s Milk Bar Bomber

Zohra Drif was 21 years old when she planted a bomb that exploded at a busy ice-cream parlour in Algiers. The Algerian student targeted the venue in 1956 during her country’s war of independence with France, because she knew it would be frequented by European settlers. Dozens of civilians were maimed by the blast, which marked the start of a new phase of urban conflict known as the Battle of Algiers. Nick Holland hears from Zohra Drif about what happened that day, and from Danielle Chich, who was enjoying a cold treat at the café when the bomb went off. PHOTO: Zohra Drif after her arrest in 1957 (AFP/Getty Images) ... Read more

25 Apr 2022

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25 Apr 2022


#285

The battle for Kinder Scout

It's 90 years since hundreds of walkers organised a mass trespass on a mountain in the English Peak District called Kinder Scout. It was a major step in the fight by workers in the northern industrial city of Manchester for access to the surrounding countryside, much of which was in private hands. In 2012, Simon Watts brought together the memories of survivors of the Trespass as recorded in the BBC archives. PHOTO: The countryside around Kinder Scout (Getty Images) ... Read more

22 Apr 2022

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22 Apr 2022


#284

Iranian revolution: The Kurdish uprising

The story of a boy caught up in the forgotten war for Kurdish autonomy in Iran in 1979. During the Iranian revolution, Kurdish groups had joined the struggle to end the rule of the Shah. They wanted greater autonomy for Iran's Kurdish minority. But after the revolution, the new Islamic regime rejected that demand. A conflict erupted between government forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, which lasted for years and left thousands dead. Kameel Ahmady is an anthropologist and researcher. At the time he was a boy living in the ethnically-mixed town of Naqadeh in northwest Iran. He tells Alex Last how, as demands for autonomy grew, his town became the scene of bitter ethnic fighting. Photo: Armed Kurdish villagers after the revolution in Iran, March 1979. (François LOCHON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images) ... Read more

21 Apr 2022

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21 Apr 2022


#283

Britain's Soviet spy scandal

In 1971 during the Cold War, the UK expelled 90 Soviet diplomats suspected of spying. They'd been allowed into Britain in an attempt to improve relations, but it was later discovered that they'd been carrying out espionage instead. George Walden was a young diplomat working on the Soviet Desk in the Foreign Office at the time. He spoke to Dina Newman in 2018. PHOTO: British Foreign Secretary Alec Douglas-Home (left) shakes hands with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko (right) at Heathrow Airport, 26th October 1970. (credit: Ian Showell/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images) ... Read more

20 Apr 2022

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20 Apr 2022


#282

Women's rights in Basra

In 2006 after the US-led invasion of Iraq, women in the southern city of Basra were persecuted by militant Islamists forcing them to cover up, stay at home, and adopt an ultra-conservative Islamic code of behaviour, banning them from driving or going out alone. Some women were even killed. Mike Lanchin has spoken to one of the Basra women affected. The producer in Baghdad was Mona Mahmoud. The programme is a CTVC production. PHOTO: Women queuing to vote in Basra in 2005 (Getty Images) ... Read more

19 Apr 2022

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19 Apr 2022


#281

Erasmus: Europe's student exchange scheme

Since 1987, million of students have been able to live and study in other countries in Europe thanks to the Erasmus student exchange programme. The scheme was the result of 18 years of campaigning by Italian academic, Sofia Corradi, who saw the benefits of studying abroad herself back in the 1950s. Sofia Corradi, now known as "Mamma Erasmus", talks to Rachel Naylor, along with Lucio Picci, one of the first students to go on the programme. PHOTO: Erasmus students based in Italy at a celebration in Rome in 2017 (Getty Images) ... Read more

18 Apr 2022

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18 Apr 2022