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from me. At 10pm a full round-up of
the day's news but first here is
another chance to see the most
memorable stories from witness over
the last 12 months.
Welcome to the special edition of
witness from the British library.
Hello and welcome to
a special edition of Witness
with me Tanya Beckett,
here at the British
Library in London.
We'll be looking at five of the most
memorable stories from the witness
team from the past 12 months.
We'll meet an archaeologist who's
worked on the Terracotta Army site
for decades in China.
A friend of anti-apartheid
icon Steve Biko.
And the mother of one of Argentina's
But first, after independence
in 1947 India was split
into two states.
One of the majority Muslim,
the other majority Hindu.
The repercussions of that split
are still being felt.
Mohammad Amir Mohammea Khan,
the Raja of Mahmudabad,
tells Witness how partition
affected his family and his home.
I am Mohammad Amir Mohammad Khan,
known as Sulaiman to family
and friends, the Raja of Mahmudabad.
I am from a Muslim family which once
ruled a very large feudal estate,
including a beautiful palace
in Mahmudabad in
which we still live.
But the Indian government is laying
claim to my property,
saying that it is enemy property.
No-one is paying for it, so these
days, everything is crumbling.
This dispute goes back to 1947.
The partition of India into two
states, a Muslim-majority
state called Pakistan,
and a Hindu-majority state of India.
It was estimated that
a million people died,
ten million people were displaced.
Some Muslims went to
the state of Pakistan.
Many Hindus came to India.
It was not just the country
that was divided.
Families were divided, too.
In the late '50s, my father took
and that is when my family's
problems began, because when India
and Pakistan went to war in 1965,
the government laid claim
to our properties.
There was an act of parliament
called the Enemy Property Act,
which empowered the government
to take over, temporarily,
the properties of Pakistanis.
It was not just our family
which was affected.
Thousands of families were affected.
The properties are worth
billions of dollars.
But our issue is that only my father
took Pakistani nationality.
I have always been an Indian.
My mother was always an Indian.
We had to fight our case
from the lowest to the highest
court, and in every court, we won.
And the supreme court judge said
that by no stretch of imagination
could I be considered an enemy,
and considered me the heir
to my father's properties.
But then, the government went
and changed the laws,
and the battle has begun again.
I suppose, like so many people
in India and Pakistan,
we are still caught up
in the repercussions of partition,
and the acrimonious relations
between India and Pakistan.
In a way, I've been forced
to live in the past.
And, with apologies to Yeats,
I feel as if I'm drowning
in a beauty that has long
since faded from this earth.
Mohammad Amir Mohammad Khan
there, speaking to us
from his beautiful palace in India.
Now to one of the greatest
archaeological finds of the 20th
In the spring of 1974,
local farmers in China accidentally
uncovered the site of the vast
Our next witness is an archaeologist
who has dedicated her career
to the remarkable
life sized figures.
It is a vast pottery army slowly
being unearthed from the tomb
where it has lain for more
than 2000 years.
At one time...
I've worked at the site
for many years.
She still works at the site
of the Terracotta Army in Xian.
In 1977, anti-apartheid
activist Steve Biko,
leader of the Black Consciousness
Movement in South Africa,
died in police custody.
Weeks earlier, he had been arrested.
Witness has spoken to
Biko's friend Peter Jones
who was arrested with him.
I miss my friend Steve Biko and I am
forever in his debt.
Steve Biko is one of the people that
originated the new generation of
young political minded black people.
The Black Consciousness Movement.
We believe in our country there
will be no minority, no majority,
there will just be people.
And those people will have the same
status before the law
and they will have the same rights
before the law.
The apartheid government ensured
there was no resistance
against its doctrines
and against its policies.
There was a roadblock
and they then searched the car.
They found an identity document
which was mine, they then said,
"Who is Peter Jones?"
And I said, "That's me".
He said, "Oh, and who
are you, big man?"
That's now Steve.
And Steve said, "I'm
Steve Bantu Biko."
And we were then locked up
together in one cell.
The next morning we started
getting an uneasy feeling
because there were now more police
and in a convoy of three cars
we sped towards Port Elizabeth.
In Port Elizabeth was
the headquarters of the security
police for that region.
The building has been converted
into a block of flats.
Steve Biko was being walked to his
death along this very corridor,
a man poised to fill the void left
behind after Mandela was jailed.
We got taken up to the fifth floor
and we were manacled each
to a separate window.
One of the senior police,
a major, came in and said,
"Now I can confirm that
you are officially being
detained under section six
of the terrorism act."
That is the act in which you
They separated us, I only had
a chance to shout Steve's name
and that was the last time I saw
Three weeks and three days later,
I just heard a lot of commotion,
many, many people singing protest
songs, the cell next to mine
was being filled with many people.
Then this young man told me
that they have just returned
from the funeral of Steve Biko
and that was the first
time that I heard about
the death of Steve Biko.
I went to my mat that was my bed
and I then just sat there...
To me, it was like a huge hole
in my soul, just inconsolability
which even today would make me weep
at unexpected moments.
The police said the leader
of the Black Consciousness Movement
had lost his life by accident
when his head struck a wall
while he was being restrained.
Steve Biko's family believe
he was thrown at the wall quite
deliberately by the police officers.
Steve Biko's death and the brutality
of it highlighted like no other
event at the time the extent
to which the apartheid regime
would go to protect itself.
Peter James remembering
his friend, Steve Biko.
Remember, you can find all of our
programmes online. In the late 1970s
thousands of young men and women
were detained in Argentina for their
opposition to military rule, amongst
those who went missing was Anna
Maria, her mother spoke to Witness.
They are called the mothers, in the
centre of the capital, where they
hold the same sad demonstration
every way, they have all had at
least one relative who has
In the offices of the muscles of the
disappeared. In 1953 American
husband and wife Julius and Ethel
Rosenberg were executed by electric
chair after being convicted of
spying for the Soviet Union. Our
final witness is the Rosenberg's son
One of the greatest
peacetime spy dramas in the history
of the nation reaches its climax as
Julius Rosenberg and Ethel Rosenberg
convicted of transmitting secrets to
Russia into the federal building in
New York to hear their doom.
last time I saw my parents was in a
prison just a couple of days before
they were executed in June 19 53. I
have this very strong visceral sense
of a warm and loving family and my
father played word games with my
brother. I sat on my mother's lap,
they were pretending like nothing
was wrong, that we would see them
like we would see them in another
few weeks. My brother, he knew that
was wrong, and he wanted them to
acknowledge the terrible situation
that we were all in. And so he
started wailing, one more day to
live. Both my parents were children
of the depression, they grew up in
poverty on the lower East side of
Manhattan, and my father Julius was
an electrical engineer, a member of
the American Communist Party, and my
mother Ethel was a housewife will
my father was arrested in July,
1950, in New York City. My mother
was arrested, both were charged with
conspiracy to commit espionage and
the government said Julius Rosenberg
was a master spy who led an atomic
spy ring that stole the secret of
the atomic bomb and gave it to the
Soviet Union in 1945. Julius was
guilty of espionage but it didn't
have anything to do with the secret
of the atomic bomb, he had no
knowledge of this, and it is hard
for me to believe that my mother
didn't know about what he was doing
but there is no credible evidence
that my mother participated in it in
any way. This was the great red
scare, the McCarthy period, the
government was saying there was this
international Communist conspiracy
that was out to destroy our way of
life. Fear makes powerful people do
very dangerous things. The trial at
which they were convicted was a
travesty, we now know that the judge
said Goody communicated with the
prosecution that evidence was
fabricated and the chief prosecution
witnesses perjured themselves. The
government of the United States used
the death penalty not as punishment
but as extortion, the purpose as one
of the FBI agent said, we didn't
want them to die, we wanted them to
talk. There was a worldwide movement
and a mass movement even within the
United States at the height of the
McCarthy period to save the lives of
my parents. They were executed on
June 19, a month after my sixth
birthday. My brother hung his head.
I came in and I knew something was
wrong, but I didn't want to hear
about it. Even a month after the
execution I'd say, when are we going
to see mum and dad, and he would
have to remind me that they were
dead. My parents should not have
been executed and we took on a
campaign to exonerate Ethel. Have we
given up? No, we haven't thought of
my brother and I are marathon people
and we will keep going.
remembering his parents. That is all
from this special edition of Witness
at the British Library, but we will
be back soon to bring you more
extraordinary moments of history.
And the remarkable people who
witnessed them. But for now, from
the anti-rest of the team, goodbye.
-- from me and the rest of the team,