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tv   Britains New Hongkongers  BBC News  September 3, 2022 2:30am-3:01am BST

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this is bbc news. the headlines: china has warned of counter measures unless the us revokes a $1.1 billion arms deal with taiwan as chinese military drills take place around the island, which some see as a precursor to an invasion. the white house says the us is providing taiwan with what it needs to maintain its self—defence capabilities. the russian energy giant gazprom says it has scrapped plans to reopen a key gas pipeline to europe. the company claims it can't restart nord stream 1 because of an oil leak in a turbine, which will have implications for europe's energy supply this winter. there are fears of food shortages in pakistan after devastating floods washed away nearly half of the country's crops. so far around 1,200 people are known to have been killed and unicef says many more children could die from a rapid
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spread of diseases like cholera and malaria. now on bbc news, fleeing afghanistan. i've concluded that it's time to end america's longest war. it's time for american troops to come home. as us, uk and nato forces leave afghanistan, the taliban tightens its grip and a humanitarian crisis unfolds. everybody was desperately trying to find any way to get out of afghanistan because it was the only chance to stay alive. so, fighting, stressful. there was lots of broken cars all over the airport and there was nothing — just a gate — to go into the plane.
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gunshot. people were running towards the aircraft, the airport. - there were soldiers| keeping people out. gunfire. the taliban, who were beating up people with sticks, - with wires, whatever they had, and they were shooting - on the ground and on the air. like the end of the world in the hollywood movies! i can't describe what the scene was like. i i have been beaten many times for the way i am. the taliban's interpretation of sharia law means homosexuality is punishable by death. they kill me by stone or maybe killed by fire, maybe hanging. they executed a trans person in kabul. - were you afraid of being killed? yes, many times. what will happen to me? what will have the future for me?
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many people who don't make it out are forced into hiding. they wait and hope for survival. a secret operation to get some of the most vulnerable to safety begins. we started getting e—mails out of the blue from desperate lgbtq+ afghan people looking anywhere all around the world for someone who could help them. kind of like getting a message in a bottle. it was very clear as we were looking at events unfold during august in kabul that we would have to support those who might be at risk and those who are in need. when the taliban came, | they said, "we are going to look for these lgbt people". they had names and they had addresses. | they are searching our body and passports and visas. "are you like a spy- for the former government? "have you worked with nato?" for what reason you want to leave?
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i was hiding in a small room, desperately looking for some way to get out. they had to leave their families. people who are in hiding and had been hiding for many weeks now. people who are running out of food. those moments when they were travelling were always nervous ones. wethe re people going to be able to make it to fly or to cross the border? i choose the risk because if i will stay at my home country, i am faced with my death. just the most desperate thing. completely, almost physical, sense of the risk. gunfire. i was taking calls and messages through the night. how am i going to get - inside the airport because of the security, because| of the battery brigade of the taliban that was - actually guarding the airport? you have to go in simple . clothing — afghan clothing. try to act as a common guy as much as possible. - and say whatever you need to say. i everyone was so stressed.
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and it was something like gaydar that everyone was noticing who was gay in this plane. weeks later, in the dead of night, a flight lands in the uk. the police officer said, "welcome in uk!" went fast, fast, fast, fast. in the uk, get it. i felt... sighs. it's been a journey — a beautifuljourney to see. when we would knock and introduce ourselves, people were really just excited and sometimes overwhelmed. i said ahmed - and that i was gay. it was kind of liberating. we were hugging each other and i was a little bit crying. they asked, "what's your name?" she seems so nervous but brave. she said... my name is bella. she repeated it a few times.
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"my name is bella — you can call me bella." it was my first time to announce my name completely by my tongue and lips. i told myself that you're going to be safe now. almost a year after the afghan government collapsed, 3000 miles away, a group of refugees are beginning a new life. i've spent the last couple of months getting to know a few of them. today, i am in brighton, known as one of the country's most welcoming lgbt cities. hi, bella! it's lauren. i'm off to meet bella, who is transgender, and for the very first time is free to be her true self. bella! hello! hi! bella is one of around 30 people who identifies lgbt that made it out of the capital kabul last autumn after the taliban took control on flights organised by the uk government and charities. thank you very much.
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how are you settling in? it's amazing. i love brighton. while the majority who arrived last year are living in hotels scattered across the country, bella has moved into a flat which she has decorated with her own paintings. while i am painting, i create new worlds. the reason i can survive. being lgbt is criminalised in afghanistan and when the taliban returned, those who had been living a double life underground faced being tracked down, and bella had to make a choice. in afghanistan, i had to hide myself in another body and another name. this is my bedroom. she was forced to leave everything she knew. while she's looking for work here, she receives £80 a week to live off and accommodation. in afghanistan, i had more space and the house was bigger and it was in a huge garden. today, she is dressed
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in the clothes she wants and is wearing make—up. who is the most beautiful woman on the earth? but being out in public like this is still very new. do you come down here by yourself? sometimes. i feel like a baby! like you've been reborn? yeah. the taliban believe that god created with this body. you have no right to change. it's completely illegal. when you want to be a female but your body male, so it's completely clear. they will kill you. when did you know that you were trans? i born as — with these emotions. sometimes, the people are laughing at me when i was a kid. i learned i should hide myself.
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i can be like my sisters and mother, girls. but they said, "you are a bad boy, and waiting for men to do bad something with you". bella told me there were times she considered taking her own life and she still suffers with depression. since 14, i started medication. because it was very terrible to hide myself and it made me sad, day by day. i started to be grey and i started to feel darker, more dark and more dark. reggae plays. while bella is discovering new independence in brighton, i've come to birmingham to catch up with others in the group. nice to see you. great to see you! ahmed is gay. he has been living in
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a hotel room for months. i would ask for a tour, but this is the room, how are you settling in? what have you got going on here? he is educating himself about the many different aspects of life in britain. cheese rolling? yeah, cheese rolling. i'v e i've never been to this. but i saw this on tv, people rolling after cheese. hours before i arrived, ahmed decides he doesn't want to appear in front of the camera because he is afraid what would happen to his friends back home if he is recognised. he agrees to still talk to me but we hide his face and change his name. the more older i get and the more i discovered about my identity, it was like i lost myself, ending up like a sickness, like a dizziness inside, like personality issues with the people and people getting lost forever. i have seen a lot of people get hurt. they have covered themselves because... because they were lgbt? yeah. and they had nowhere to go and report it. forgive me — did anything
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like that happen to you? yeah, actually. yeah, yeah. it's not a good feeling. it's not a good thing to tell about. it's a bad thing. but you were hurt because of being gay? yeah. there are other things that ahmed doesn't want to talk about — things he was put through in afghanistan and saw done to others because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. it's obvious how traumatised he is and much happier talking about the present. your space is quite compact. i mean, do you do some exercise with stuff down here as well? yeah. ahmed goes to college a few days a week and his accommodation is paid for by the government. he's signed up at the job centre, where he is trying to find employment so he can move into a flat. in afghanistan, he was a youth worker and loved to cook.
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now, his whole life takes place inside these four walls. i wake up like 6:30am. then, ijust prepare for college and i go to college. we still live in a hotel, so it's not like a feeling of home. at the moment, i still feeling safe and feeling like we will be safe in the future here. what has struck me is that life here in this place is freedom for so many after everything they've been through back home in afghanistan, but that freedom is being lived out in a very small hotel room. there's no fridge, there's no washing machine, there's no kitchen. and although they are free and not in fear of being killed for who they are, it's very hard for them to build a life and there's still a long way to go to really getting that full freedom that we have. everyone who speaks to me is taking a huge risk. a few miles away,
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i meet up with ali. he asks us to hide his face, change his name and his words are re—voiced by an actor. his parents threw him out when they discovered he was bisexual and he lived alone and worked in kabul. when the taliban returned last august, everything changed overnight. the anxiety was off the roof. like, i couldn't sleep - for four days and nights. i was awake. i was, like, thinking i "they are coming now, "they are coming now." the problem started when they started catching other lgbts. l so, one person was enough l for them to get other people. ali learned about a charity called rainbow railroad, which was working with stonewall in the uk to get lgbt people to safety. after several weeks of secret communication, they got him a plane ticket and a student visa. he headed for one of the final few flights still in operation, in constant fear of being caught. they had tracking devices. like, they could hack your phone, they could hack i
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your whatsapp. they could do a lot of stuff, the taliban, even a song — i a simple song — l was enough to get you in trouble. ali grew a beard and dressed in traditional afghan clothing. he learned a cover story and left home with just a backpack and the equivalent of £15 in his pocket. like ahmed, he's still living in a hotel but has a job interview this week. even now, he is afraid to trust. life in the uk, lam safe. but i do have concerns - for my friends and family back home because the taliban are trying to get to our families. i what they will do is arrest. them, torture them and send those videos to me. like, "you need to come back or your brother, - "father, son or sister- will suffer because of you". with that in mind, why did you feel it was important to talk to us and tell us? because nobody is - speaking on our behalf. afghan lgbts - have always existed.
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i thought maybe we need to speak up, even if it- is dan-erous, because if i don't do it, who is going to do it? ..everything was so different from my country. what did you enjoy the most when you were doing that? 0ne organisation vital to the rescue and helping the group with a new life is micro rainbow. the charity runs safe houses for lgbt asylum seekers. sebastian and maud teach them about living in the uk, how to find a job and a place to live. they also arrange regular counselling sessions. we have lgbtq organisations who can support you. bella, ahmed and ali may be out of afghanistan, but now they face new difficulties. leaving their culture, families and friends behind, and often their children and partners, was a huge thing.
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also not knowing what would have happened to their loved ones once they left the country. for so many you were the first person they saw when they got to the uk. what was it like on the first day when you met everyone? it was overwhelming. and i can imagine for them as well. literally the first thing i would say to them is, you know, "welcome, and you are safe now, "and you're free." maud is from zimbabwe, which has fewer protections for lg bt people. as a lesbian she claimed asylum. how has your week been? she spends her time helping the group with a new culture and lifestyle. you have been looking at grindr? oh god! bella is thinking about dating. i had bad experiences... talking about sexual health, we have to talk about safety, you are safe here, no one will arrest or kill
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you because of who you are, but you still have to be careful when you meet people. they say "we want to visit you home!" ithink, please, take coffee or a drink. no, we just want to hook up. people have no patience. just try to start a different social life so you are notjust on your own at home. that's when you are going on grindr to talk to people. last august, the taliban seized control of afghanistan's capital in just ten days, taking governments around the world by surprise. there are no lgbtq+ organisations in afghanistan. we had to tell these people that they were going to have to keep hiding in this incredibly dangerous situation. politicians described
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the withdrawal as a disaster, but failed to prioritise some of the most vulnerable until it too late. despite that, the uk was the first country to offer a special relocation programme specifically for lgbt people. but as help on the ground dried up it was a race against time. this is about human beings. this is about lives that have been shattered, this is about people being separated from their loved ones. we are having to take decisions about who can travel and who can't. around 20,000 people have been resettled in the uk. more than 80 are lgbt, along with some of their families. it's thought many thousands more could still be in afghanistan or trying to escape, but flights and safe routes are either very limited or non—existent. they were telling us that everything was going - to be fine. they didn't tell us they would literally abandon us - to the taliban. the previous government. was not a good government, but it was better. off than the taliban
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because it — wasn't actively hunting us. if we get caught, it'sj just death, that is it. there is no chance of them being allowed to live. - we were already living i in an underground world, and now we have to goj even deeper than that. ali's sentiments are echoed by the others. ahmed struggles with his mental health and spends a lot of time going out, drinking and trying to meet new people to forget the things he has seen and who he has left behind. i'm trying to understand that it was not my choice to be different and to be born in a different culture and society, that thinks different than me. do you still feel depressed some days? yes, yes, still. i am taking some anxiety and depression medicinejust now and trying to just cope with it and to face it. sometimes i feel that people really misunderstand who is a refugee. they often think people are coming to get benefits, to get housing. but people who are refugees
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compared to other immigrants are a very small number. they are highly skilled people. they can contribute to the country. and if we welcome them we can help to integrate and build a community together. bella, hi! it's notjust integrating through work. in brighton, bella and i are off on a night out. is there any underground nightlife scenes for lgbt people in afghanistan? no. in afghanistan, it was different to the uk. they have to hide themselves. going out like this is a big dealfor bella. she finds it difficult making friends, but tonight she's going to meet others in the community for the first time. let's go and check out one of brighton's most famous drag nights.
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to new friends and new futures! drinking alcohol and dancing are worlds away from what bella is used to, but she wants to try new things. darcy, billy and alex all live here and are drag performers. how did you find each other? we found each other�*s music on instagram. we found each other like that. back home you are used to hiding it a lot more. is it a bit overwhelming a little bit, being here, and us being loud and proud? life in afghanistan was very terrible, hard and tough. often i walk down the street in a face of drag to go to a gig. hello, hello! i've literally gone on a night out wearing nipple tassles and it's all right. i wouldn't do it anywhere else other than brighton. brighton is my home. welcome home. i've met some new friends, my gorgeous bella, darling. welcome to brighton!
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i'm out as trans - forjust over a year. you would be like, "what's going on with my body?" l your hormones and emotions will change a lot. _ the group's different experiences give them a strong bond they extend to bella. we have got it down to a tee that we do have chosen family and sometimes they are better than our actual families. meeting new people isn'tjust a challenge for bella. being lgbt and out in public can be overwhelming. the first time you went out and did meet someone in a public place... yeah. how did that feel after being underground and frightened for such a long time? honestly i was kind of terrified. i still have those insecurities, even now. but when i met him it was a very pleasant experience. i felt safe. you look at this city here. do you feel free now?
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i believe if i am walking down the street, no one will hurt me for who i am. i don't think the trauma will ever go, it will stay there. what i believe i can do isjust make something of my life here. i am still grateful to the british government, to the home office, to everybody who got me out. but there is another million people left behind. do you worry for your family who are still there as well? i feel like i will have a better life and they will suffer. even though they have not helped me anyway. they have made life hell for me, but there is still some guilt that i will live a very comfortable life here and those people are going to starve. our biggest concern is there are no safe routes, no prospect really of those people in any numbers being able to exit afghanistan. it's desperately important that internationally, governments come together to create safe routes out. and while he is grateful for the new life he has, ali knows that some people will criticise the support
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they've received and living in a government paid for hotel. for us it is notjust a housing issue. i for us it is a life| and death issue. we might be staying in a hotel room and we might take some housing, but all the people who stayed back would - have been killed. not just a few hundreds or a few dozens or a - few thousands. all of these people will be killed. - for ali, today is a day of celebration. he has been offered a job. i don't know how to describe it, i but i feel like a small- child in a new environment. if i am a student in - a new school, i want to get the grades so i can. get a good job, build relationships and friendships and look on the bright side of all of that. - and ahmed has similar aspirations. nowadays i am focused on finding job opportunities to help young people, in different ways, like drug use and bad experience, and good ways for the future. where is home for you now?
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home is somewhere that you feel safe and you feel free of any tension. i can call the uk as home because i feel safe. back in brighton, it's the morning after the night before, and bella is feeling more confident. bella wants to be successful in her life. find a partner, jobs, make friends and be happy. freeing afghanistan was the biggest challenge of bella's life, but her struggles aren't over now she is in the uk. i've spent the last couple of months getting to know her and can see how isolated she is. are there some days when you don't speak to another person? many, many days, yeah. because there is no person to speak with. not anyone to have a conversation. you feel lonely?
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yeah, so lonely. but for bella and the others, life is just beginning. my life, we will see. like the sea, with many waves. brighton is my future. the uk is my home. i hope to stay here all my life. if you have been affected by any of the issues in this film, you can get
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advice and support at hello there. september can often be a contrasting month as the battle between summer and autumn really takes shape. in fact, on friday, we saw a high of 27 celsius — 80 fahrenheit — in suffolk. it was pretty humid as well. but out to the west was a different story and as we head through the weekend, we will see heavy, thundery rain with the wettest of the weather continuing out to the west and the winds, well, strengthening to gusts in excess of 40mph at times. so this low pressure not really going very far, very fast, and it will flick these frontal systems in an anti—clockwise direction around that low — that's where the heaviest of the rain is likely to be. take a look at the accumulation totals as we go through the weekend.
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take a look at northern ireland and parts of south west scotland — the darker blues, the brighter greens suggest that we could potentially see as much as 50—100mm of rain before the weekend is through. so that's where this relentless wet weather is likely to be, but elsewhere, we will see some sunshine. and if you dodge any showers and keep that sunshine, once again, you could get some warmth. some of the showers merging together in sort of organised bands up through parts of east anglia towards north east england but with the sunshine, we could see highs of 2a degrees. through saturday night, into the early hours of sunday morning, as the low shifts position a little, we might see a squeeze in the isobars with this next pulse of wetter weather — that suggests that we could see those winds gusting in excess of a0 mph. and some of that rain, again, quite heavy — the brighter greens suggesting that, across north west england, south west scotland and, at times, parts of northern ireland.
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there will be showers elsewhere, but not everyone will see the showers. it'll be a slightly windier day generally, but the wind direction still coming from the south, we could see some more persistent showers arriving across the channel coast by the end of the day. but again, those temperatures may well peak at 2a or 25 degrees — that's still into the high 70s. early into next week, that low pressure really stays with us, so we will continue to see frontal systems moving in across the country. it's not going to be consistent in terms of where the showers are likely to be, but some of us will see showers on and off throughout the week, and some of them could be heavy.
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this is bbc news. i'm rich preston with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. china warns of counter measures after the united states approves a $1 billion arms package to taiwan, saying it's to maintain its self—defence capabilities. fears of food shortages in pakistan: the government says up to half of the country's crops have been destroyed by floods. the scale of these floods is difficult to imagine. 80% of dadu district is already submerged. thousands rally in argentina to support vice president cristina fernandez de kirchner after she narrowly avoids assassination. the 84—year—old hollywood actress jane fonda has been diagnosed with cancer, but says she won't be letting
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it interfere with her climate activism.


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