04/06/2016 Witness


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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.


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