Skip to main content

tv   Witness  BBC News  February 25, 2018 4:30pm-5:01pm GMT

4:30 pm
for the film industry. she was such a role model for all women across the country. i'm sure it will impact on everything. there are a lot of famous leading ladies now in bollywood. back then in the 805 and early 905 there were not many but she was one of the first. i think that is why she matters so much. she will be remembered for the way she lit up the screen was she left the world of bollywood way too soon but her legacy is enduring. bollywood superstar sridevi kapoor who's died at the age of 5a. now for the weather. it is getting very cold. the cold snap is upon us. the snow may not reach you to later in the week. this evening and tomorrow snow showers will fall in the east. some settling is expected. tomorrow morning some of us will
4:31 pm
wa ke tomorrow morning some of us will wake up to snow on the ground and the ground is frozen solid. no rob for the snow to settle pretty much anywhere. for the course of the day, the wintry showers will be blown further inland. anywhere tomorrow could catch a few flakes of snow. on monday night into tuesday, that is when the snow showers start to develop across the north sea. they will start to be blown further inland and there is already an amber warning in force from the met office for eastern and central areas first thing on tuesday morning. fightback this is bbc news — our latest headlines: a shift of policy on europe by labour — shadow brexit secretary sir kier starmer confirms the party would keep britain in a customs union.
4:32 pm
the winter olympic games come to a conclusion with the closing ceremony in pyeongchang. team gb go home with a record tally of five medals. china's president xijinping could serve indefinitely — under changes that the communist party is proposing to the country's constitution. and one of bollywood's most famous actresses, sridevi kapoor, dies aged 5a — she starred in more than 150 films. now on bbc news, witness looks back at five important moments from history. welcome to witness, with me, tanya beckett. i am here at the british library to guide you through another five extraordinary moments from recent history. we will meet a south african judge who took part in the truth and reconciliation commission after the fall of apartheid. we will spend time with one of chairman mao's barefoot doctors. and we will hear from a british scientist about the smog that used to engulf london. but we start with the 50th anniversary of one of the turning points in the vietnam war.
4:33 pm
during the holiday of tet in 1968, communist north vietnam launched a huge surprise offensive across south vietnam with the support of local guerillas, the vietcong. one of the biggest battles was in the city of hue. nguyen dac xuan is one of the former members of the vietcong which fought american and south vietnamese forces in the city. archive footage: the communists overran most of hue. now they have been forced back to part of the northern side of the river dividing the city. the americans and their allies can't drive them out without knocking a fine old city to bits. translation: the american bombardment was very heavy. we hid underground. when we came out, it was like standing on the moon. there was complete destruction. that is how fierce it was. of course, facing death, we were scared. when we were about to shoot, some were so afraid they even wet themselves.
4:34 pm
but once the bullets were fired, everyone disregarded death. nobody cared any more. we just tried to find ways to make our death glorified and beautiful, instead of dying in fear or disgrace. the politbureau in north vietnam had decided to launch a general offensive and general uprising everywhere in south vietnam, on the 31st of january, 1968. it was the lunar holiday of tet, normally a time of truce. in hue, we — the vietcong — entered the city with ease and encountered no major resistance. hue's local residents were also caught by surprise. they woke up to see us roaming freely in the city. it was because our plan was carried out in absolute secrecy. the counter—attack by the americans and their allies was so fierce,
4:35 pm
it was probably the toughest one in the vietnam war. in all other places, including saigon, our vietcong attacks failed quickly, within a few days. but the offensive in hue lasted for more than 20 days, thanks to the local residents' support. during the tet offensive, i felt the kiss of death five times. once, a mortar was fired towards our position one time, and it burned my hair as it went past me, the piece of shrapnel. any closer, i would have been dead. we were exposed by being in the city. we were not able to resist the american firepower. when we drew back into the jungle, we had suffered great losses.
4:36 pm
archive footage: the cost in civilian suffering has been terrible. it was made clear the paradox of the present forumal for winning the war to win back control in hue. the americans and south vietnamese were destroying what they had claimed to protect. at the tet offensive, the americans realised they could not win the vietnam war with military force, so they had to find a way out. the 1968 hue battle played a decisive role leading to our final victory. during the battle, forces from both sides had committed a number of mistakes. so many innocent victims were killed, not only from one side. 50 years have passed. it is now the time for the current leaders of this regime to come
4:37 pm
clean on this issue, to give justice for the victims. nguyen dac xuan, who still lives in the city of hue. now, in these times of brexit, it is hard to imagine, but in 1963 britain was actually desperate tojoin europe! british leaders of the day wanted to become members of what was then known as the european economic community. unfortunately, there was a problem — the french president charles de gaulle was strongly opposed. our next witness, juliet campbell, was a british diplomat at the time. archive footage: a staggering blow is dealt to western unity in this council hall in brussels, when france blackballs britain from the common market. # charles de gaulle may be ten feet tall # and think he's napoleon.
4:38 pm
# but the french wash every three days, on bidets. # so thank god for english men and not common market # not common market scum.# the british people, who had only slowly came around to the idea that perhaps we were going into the eec, were really very shocked. with communication between countries half a world apart nowadays only a few hours, it compels new thinking along the economic front. so in 1961, the british government applied to join the european communities. and edward heath was appointed. i have just come from making a full statement to the members of the european economic community. in that statement, i explained that the united kingdom government wished
4:39 pm
to take its full part in working for a better european unity. the negotiations then moved to brussels. this was the point at which i got added to the british negotiating delegation. the idealism that one found in brussels back then amongst the six was contagious, actually. and i think all of us who were there were convinced that for britain it was very important for those negotiations to succeed. even back at the start, people realised that charles de gaulle, who had become the president of france, had grave doubts about british entry. britain's trading patterns were very different from those of the six. the six on the whole were trading among themselves. whereas the pattern of britain was much more outward looking.
4:40 pm
in particular, we traded a lot with the commonwealth countries, and of course they had become extremely dependent on this. there was a lot of worry about where de gaulle's position had now reached, whether he was going to veto british membership. and attention focused on a press conference that he was due to give in the middle ofjanuary. la question est de savoir si la grande bretagne actuellement... he was saying, we must ask ourselves, is britain really ready. i think we knew in our heart of hearts that he was really saying he was not going to let us in. the reason stated by france is over differences in agricultural policy. that final negotiation,
4:41 pm
the long room with the british delegation at the far end, the french chatting among themselves and giggling and notjoining the others, it was very symbolic. all of the french on one side, and the fact tht the five who supported british entry very much on the other. former british diplomat, juliet campbell. and now we go to china, where in 1967 chairman mao officially launched a scheme to provide healthcare to rural areas by giving thousands of people basic medical training and sending them out to work in villages. they were known as barefoot doctors. gordon liu was one of them. i became a barefoot doctor after i graduated from high school simply because i was one of the most educated young people. i did not have any training, any experience, knowledge,
4:42 pm
in medicine whatsoever. archive footage: chairman mao says the sick must be healed. he has caused a real shakeup in health services in china. every commune, they say, now has hospitals and clinics, providing medical attention where there was none before. perhaps the most striking development has been the training of a vast core of barefoot doctors. they have their farm work to do as well, and their training is limited, but even if you can teach people simple hygiene it saves countless lives. we provided very basic services to villagers, mostly in common cold conditions, infections, diarrhoea, things like that. a doctor described, sometimes we had to take shoes off to work in the farmland. we were not always barefoot. i do have shoes!
4:43 pm
i started as a barefoot doctor to not only treat people, but animals. we had horses, pigs, so actually in the beginning, i practised the injecting by giving shots to pigs and horses, not as difficult as humans. of course all the people in the village believed my care would be good enough for them to take care of their health. because if i was not there for their healthcare, who would be there otherwise? no one. one of my relatives, she had a problem with her teeth. so then she said, "my little brother, can you do something for me?" and i said, "yeah, let me give it a try." after three or four days, her problem was gone. that news spread to the whole village.
4:44 pm
the big epidemics have been largely checked. one doctor said, rather smugly i thought, that the only venereal diseases we get in china now are from over the border in hong kong. certainly, cholera and smallpox took fewer victims than in the old days. most people in china and many people in other countries like outside of china perceived the barefoot doctor system very highly. my view is somewhat different from that. back in the 60s and 70s, as a result of the cultural revolution, the chinese higher education system was shut down. but if i could choose between going to the countryside for years or going to college, mostly i would choose college. since that was the only choice available to me, yes, there were some positives. and he is now a professor of health economics at peking university.
4:45 pm
remember, you can watch witness every month on the bbc news channel. and gordon liu is now a professor of health economics at peking university. remember, you can watch witness every month on the bbc news channel. or you can catch up on all other films along with our radio programmes in our radio archive. just go to next, we are off to south africa which in the 1990s faced the daunting challenge of facing the legacy of apartheid rule. we spoke tojustice sisi khampepe who served on the country's truth and reconciliation commission. we are charged to unearth the truth about our past. to lay the ghosts of that past, so they will not return to haunt us.
4:46 pm
i was a member of the truth commission and also a member of the amnesty community. archive footage: south africans face a collective test today. the reaction to these hearings will show whether they are able to expose the sins of apartheid yet free themselves from the desire for revenge against those who propped up the system. the truth and reconciliation commission allowed amnesty only if the perpetrator confessed that they committed the crime. i did terrible things. i did terrible things to members of the anc. i grew up in soweto. it was rampant with security police. it felt like hell. being in the city required a special permit if you were a black person. absolutely no freedom of movement.
4:47 pm
i had also suffered as an activist by being shot in the leg by the police while attending a funeral for my fellow students. it was at a graveyard where the police again started shooting. i survived. others were killed on the spot. it is a scar that is a constant reminder of where i come from. i knew the harshness of the system first—hand. yet as a member of the amnesty committee, i had to decide that these people had to be granted amnesty. not because they were apologetic, but merely because they disclosed the truth. that was really difficult. did you then shoot that man?
4:48 pm
yes, that is correct. people would cry. just by listening to the explanation that was given, of how people were tortured. people were killed. what kind of man uses a method like this on other human beings? there were occasions when people who applied for amnesty did say sorry. those were few and far between. but it was extraordinarily difficult for me when people did not even care to apologise. there was no other way other than to eliminate these people. these hearings provide a forum for those who have been treated, in the past, as if they were rubbish.
4:49 pm
archbishop desmond tutu was the star of the truth and reconciliation commission. without his leadership, the commission would not have been able to attain its objectives. i think the amnesty process assured that people were not vengeful. that there was proper public acknowledgement and recognition of those who had suffered. we are asking from you to please forgive us. we are still going through a process of coming out from our grief. but here we have the lovely people who are generous. their generosity is always amazing. i wake up every morning and i am grateful that, after all, i am a south african.
4:50 pm
justice sisi khampepe, talking to witness in south africa. finally, it is hard to imagine now but london used often to be shrouded in thick smog for days at a time. in 1952, conditions were so bad that thousands of people died and the government eventually had to act. scientist brian commons was called in to study the killer smog. ordinary fog does little harm. but smog, a mixture of smoke and fog, has become one of the greatest mass murderers of modern times. every year railways... the smoke began on a friday and it was black. it was described as a pea souper because it was a little yellowish. you could smell it. it tasted a little acidic. and it caused absolute havoc. the levels of pollution were horrendous. you couldn't see your feet.
4:51 pm
i remember on one particular occasion i wanted to cross a very wide road and i shuffled across, and after about ten minutes i did not know where i was and, finally, i ended up on the same side of the road as i started. it was extremely cold for several days and of course londoners wanted to keep warm. it was so cold. and so they burnt coal on their open fires. the pollution did not rise up — it tended to drift down and pervade the streets and everything else. the smog got in everywhere. you couldn't avoid it. special filtering bunny masks
4:52 pm
are the latest weapon devised... quite a number of people had bronchitis because of industrial pollution exposure, and because they smoked. and, of course, when they breathed polluted air, this became very hard for them. heaven help the doctor on a night like this... what can you do when records and experience tell you the city's death rate is about to jump. as many as 100,000 people in london were made ill by the pollution at the time, particularly people with asthma, cardiovascular problems. also the very young and the elderly, they also suffered. if you looked at his x—ray you would see plenty. we don't know exactly... and to see somebody fighting for air is a harrowing experience. he gasps.
4:53 pm
trying to get air into their lungs. and of course it was dirty air. even in the wards. there were estimates that there were some 4,000 excess deaths, and there was a shortage of coffins because there were so many people who died. the government recognised that we needed to study this pollution, and that is why we set up an air pollution research unit in barts hospital in central london. and i was a founder member of that unit in 1955 — there were three of us. in 1956, the government decided to pass something called the clean air act to try and discourage and minimise the amount of smoky fuels being used. new flats without chimneys are part of the campaign...
4:54 pm
we still had smog but as time went on we had the availability of smokeless fuels like natural gas and oil. without that, we would have been in a bad way. dr brian commons there. well, that is all from witness this month here at the british library. we will be back next month with more first—hand accounts of extraordinary moments in history. but for now, from me and the rest of the team, goodbye. that advice in our forecast hasn't
4:55 pm
changed. expect disruptive winter weather, and i think different parts of the uk will get snow at different times during the week. some sunshine around as well. cold air out of russia has established itself right across the continent, moving across the uk and out to the atlantic, so—called enough for snow everywhere across the british isles, which does not often happen. to this evening and overnight, snow showers settling across some eastern counties, so some of us first thing in the morning will be waking up to fresh covering of snow. very cold, with the ground frozen. the main message for monday, most of the snow showers will be light and fleeting, lake here on the picture, and there will be plenty of clear sunny crisp weather as well. i think on monday
4:56 pm
most of the snow showers in the east. some making their way inland as well, parts of the midlands and the south, the south west as well. northern ireland too. pretty much anywhere, anywhere from edinburgh down to norwich. and it will feel cold, temperatures as low as —5 in some areas because of that strong easterly wind. monday into tuesday, watching snow clouds developing across the north sea, and this is what could bring problems during tuesday. throat tuesday, an amber warning in force from the met office for parts of yorkshire, lincolnshire, into the midlands as well, all the way up to birmingham, could be a real build—up of snow during the course of the day and some of that will be following in other parts of the country as well. you can see the snow showers here in the north sea driven by that strong east north easterly wind, continuing into wednesday, and they will become relentless, some of them. eastern
4:57 pm
areas at least initially at the first half of this week getting the most snow. these are the daytime temperatures, generally below freezing across the uk rnc pm. wednesday, a large variation in snowfall, snow cover across the uk —— —— across the uk around 3pm. then it becomes problematic towards the end of the week. potentially a full—blown blizzard heading to the south. this is bbc news. i'm carrie gracie. the headlines at 5pm. a shift of policy on europe by labour, the shadow brexit secretary says the party would keep britain in a customs union. obviously is the only way to realistically get our free access and it's important for our tariff free base and nobody can answer the
4:58 pm
question how you keep the commitment are no hard border in northern ireland without a customs union. china's president xijinping could serve indefinitely, under changes to the constitution put forward by the ruling communist party. syrian jets continue their bombardment of eastern ghouta despite a un—agreed ceasefire, france and germany appeal to russia to put pressure on damascus. also this hour, bollywood superstar sridevi kapoor has died.
4:59 pm
5:00 pm


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on