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Hello. Welcome to Witness at the British library in London. This
month we have another five people who have witnessed extraordinary
moments in history first-hand. We will hear from a woman who led a
protest against the contraceptive and in Ireland. A student who took
past in the legendary protests of May, 1968, in front. And a Cuban who
protested. And for many years, two giant Buddha is carved into cliffs
in central Afghanistan dominated the surrounding landscape. -- Buddhas.
That changed in 2001 when the Taliban ordered the destruction. A
local farmer was forced to help destroy the ancient Buddhas.
And he still lives in the valley there. In May, 1971, a group of
Irish feminists staged a protest calling for legalisation of
contraception. This woman spoke to us about what became known as the
contraception fight. I was one of the 12 founders of the Irish Women's
Liberation Movement. We wanted to legalise contraception in Ireland.
It was forbidden at that time. If we were caught in possession we faced a
fine or a jail sentence and social and disgrace. We were all Catholic.
Church and state where hand in hand. A Catholic state for a
Catholic people. It was a license for sex, they said. If you had sex
you had babies. 1971, the average family size was 12. Not unusual to
have 13 or 15 children. Northern Ireland was under British rule. We
thought, right, we will get the train to Belfast, break the law, get
the contraceptives, and come back to Dublin. The contraceptive train.
Some people call it the condom train. I say no. It was never that.
We were never going to give control of our sexuality to main. If you
call it the condom train you are drawing attention to the penis and
sex. There were 40 of us. We went to the shops. I go up to the counter. I
am the leader of the pack. I said, I would like, please, a contraceptive
packet. And he said, where is your prescription? And I said, what
prescription? I don't have one. He said you can't have any. But I said,
well then, give me one. And then I had the idea, customs officers, they
had never seen it. We ordered 1000 aspirin and we stripped them out of
their packets. We got back on the train. We get to Dublin and the
customs men are standing there at tables. I have that and I am not
giving it to you. You are not getting it. Open up your bag. The
rest of us lined up and they did not raise a hand. We hear shouting. Let
them through! Let them through! People agreed with us. And that was
massive. We were against the church. We were no longer afraid.
You were touching a popular nerve. It resonated with women who thought,
I do not need to get pregnant. But that day, the shouting was let them
go! Let them go! And there was joy! I am not sure I have ever had an
experience as joyful as that in my life. Nell McCafferty. A lifelong
women's rights campaigner. In 9091, at the end of Ethiopian's long civil
war, they did a deal to bring some Jews to Israel. -- 1991. It was
called Operation Solomon. Daniel, 11 years old, was one of those
airlifted according to the operation.
The airlift of the Ethiopian Jews continued around the clock. The plan
to reunite them with their families in Israel. Israel was eager to get
all of them out of Ethiopian as quickly as possible.
At least 15,000 were flown to Israel in the operation, which lasted less
than 24 hours. The seats were taken out of civilian airliners so that
the refugees could be crammed on board. One jumbo jet carried more
than 1000 passengers. It is a great, historical moment for us. It
is one of the greatest humanitarian relief operations of all time. One
of the greatest, one of the swiftest, and one of the most
successful. Daniel Nadawo, who still lives in
Israel. Remember, you can watch Witness every month on the BBC News
Channel or you can catch up on over 1000 radio programmes in our online
archive. Just go to BBC .co .uk /witness. In 1968, disaffected
students and workers in France came together to protest badly run
universities, the war in Vietnam, and low wages. Our next witness
helped to produce posters to illustrate the frustration of the
country's youth. Paris, the worst street fighting in the French
capital since the liberation in 1944. Students and police clashed
following extremist action following the war in Vietnam.
Paris was full of young people in 1968. The protest came because too
many people were at the same moment unhappy. The strike, the university
were on strike, everybody decided to go down in the street at 6pm, it was
the 13th of May, that is when the workers and students were together.
During the early hours of this morning, the student leaders were
meeting in Sorbonne to plan their next moves. The most solid evidence
of course of the political tie-up between the students and unions was
when a crowd marched through Paris. They were fighting for their rights.
They were fighting to get a better life. I met my friend, and we
decided to go back and try to get involved with doing posters to
illustrate the movement. The first thing we did was to organise
meetings and give paint and brushes and paper to all the people coming
to the Beaux-Arts. The Beaux-Arts became very famous, and everybody
wanted to get posters to stick on the wall. My job was to work at the
Beaux-Arts, get the paper and the posters out. Get the posters on the
wall, get contact with the factories, and we had a meeting, a
special meeting so we could decide which one was good, was not good,
and everybody has to say something about it. We did the posters at
night, the next morning it was on the wall. We worked like workers. We
can make late 2000 posters, make one big poster, with UUU. That was the
beginning of the saying that the workers on the street are going to
work together. What the government was trying to separate the people.
They thought it was the end of society, instead of that, the young
people, the young students and workers, think they can do a new
republic, we can work together. Philippe Vermes is a renowned
photographer still based in Paris. And for our final film witness has
travelled to Cuba. For almost 20 years the Nobel prize-winning author
Ernest Hemingway had a house on the Caribbean island. Alberto Ramos
worked there at as a cook. Now in his 80s, he shares his memories of
the novelist. Alberto Ramos, remembering one of
the great American authors. And that's all from us this month. I
hope you will join me next month, a care at the British library. We will
have five more extraordinary account of history through the eyes of the
people who were there -- back here at the British library. But for
now, from me and the rest of the team at Witness, goodbye.