tv Witness BBC News July 30, 2017 12:30am-1:01am BST
has been put in place at all airports. north korea claims its latest intercontinental ballistic missile test proves any target in the us is now within striking distance. western experts who have examined the data agree most major us cities could now be in range. venezuelans are electing an assembly to rewrite the constitution on sunday. the government says it's the only way to bring peace to the country, but the opposition calls it a power grab. thousands of people have been evacuated from the tomorrowland dance music festival in barcelona, after a fire engulfed part of the main stage. no injuries have been reported so far, and the cause of the fire is unclear. now on bbc news, it's time for witness. hello, i'm lucy hockings.
welcome to witness, here at the british library in london. this month, we have anotherfive people have witnessed extraordinary moments of history first hand. we'll be talking about the legalisation of homosexuality in britain 50 years ago. a breakthrough for women in the men's world of racing, and, in a moment, the russian ballet star rudolf nureyev defected to the west. but first, we go back to a turning point for china. china was wracked with a civil war between communists and the nationalists. translation: i never even thought about joining the communists. i followed the nationalist party all the way. i'm 99 years old, and i still haven't changed my mind about that. for most people, life was wretched.
someone had to rescue china from these miserable conditions. there were two men willing to try. one was chiang kai—shek, who was leader of the nationalist troops. the other was mao zedong, who wanted to turn china into a communist state. the two men were to become bitter rivals. translation: chiang kai—shek was a patriot. we worshipped him back then. we were probably influenced by germany's worshipping of hitler. we worshipped our leader too. i was a head of a battalion in nationalist army and fought against the chinese communists in the civil war. chinese people fighting each other, it was a complex situation. it was all about which path china should take for the future.
we thought they were the chinese traitors. in the civil war, chiang kai—shek made many mistakes. mao zedong also made mistakes, but chiang kai—shek made more than mao did. i was involved in one of the last big battles. we suffered 200,000 artillery shells, but i survived all of that. the nationalists had the military advantage, but our soldiers were too spread out. so mao zedong won, and chiang kai—shek lost. but mao didn't win completely, and chiang didn't lose completely. by the autumn of 1949, the communists had driven the nationalists out of all the major cities. they fled to the island of taiwan. translation: you could say leaving
mainland china was the lowest moment in his life, but he never accepted defeat. i worked with chiang kai—shek very closely for five years. i really respected him. he was very strict, but he was always very good to me. chiang kai—shek‘s life was very orderly. he'd get up at six in the morning every day. he didn't smoke or drink. he was very disciplined. he issued a lot of orders — to be honest, so many that it was hard to keep track of them. some people say chiang kai—shek was a dictator. but this is unfair, and it's slander. but because we were still against the communists in mainland china, he did impose martial law.
0bviously, that is antidemocratic, but it was to protect taiwan. his goal wasn'tjust to make taiwan independent. he wanted to achieve freedom and democracy for the whole of china. he never gave up. he told us, "don't ever think we've lost the mainland." "marxism will eventually fail." history proved him right. chiang kai—shek died in taiwan ini975. general hau pei—tsun went on to become the head of taiwan's army and eventually became the country's premier. next, injulyi961, rudolf nureyev, one of the world's greatest ballet dancers, defected to the west while on tour in europe. i remember him as a great dancer — as a great personality in many ways. he had enormous technical prowess and enormous charisma. this kind of stylistic dancing, with unique movements and fantastic
stage presence, is something we have not seen before and very rarely since. it shows you, typically, the choreography and the genius of rudi. i travelled to russia a lot in those days. when i went to leningrad, when i went to the performances at the kirov theatre, he was there, of course. he was recognised in russia,
the ussr, as one of the great dancers, no question about that. when i went to london and i started to negotiate with the russians, and they agreed to send this company to england for a season. this is an original poster for the first appearance of the kirov ballet, or the mariinsky ballet. among the stars you can see nureyev. no, he never turned up for this one. they went to paris and, of course, from paris, they were coming through to london, and we didn't expect anything, we just went to the airport. on 16th june 1961, rudolf nureyev set off for the airport to fly to london with the rest of the company on the next leg of their tour. he didn't know that soviet authorities had decided he was a security risk
and were planning to send him back to russia instead. at the last minute, rather than board the plane to russia, nureyev broke away from his minders and asked the airport authorities for asylum in france. he jumped over the barrier and decided to defect. nureyev‘s defection caused a worldwide sensation. he became known as the man who had pierced the iron curtain. i think a simple question of being by nature, by temperament, wild, and being provoked into going back to moscow when he was looking forward to going to london. he was totally disinterested in politics. he was interested in art and his own glory. but the idea of communism is... it was not a factor for him. at the tender age of 23, nureyev found himself of the centre of a media spotlight, which would not dim for years to come. what sort of parts do you want to dance most of all? actually, i am a romantic dancer, but i would like to try modern things — to try every different way.
he was able to mesmerise the world of ballet. he transformed the whole aspect, the whole scene of ballet. it's impossible to overestimate the influence — it was unique, certainly, to this very day. rudolf nureyev died of complications from aids in 1993. victor hochhauser is still working as a ballet promoter. now, in july 1990, indigenous canadians spent months
in a stand—off with the country's security forces over plans to build a golf course complex on top of a burial ground. mohawk activist ellen katsi'tsa kwas gabriel was there. to see the tanks coming in... we even had the fighter jets fly over us. the mood was very tense. this is all for a golf course. this was all for some group of rich people, the elite, and their playground. like many other indigenous peoples, we call the earth our mother. the place where our ancestors rest is extremely important. they wanted to extend their nine—hole golf course into an 18—hole course. but at the same time, they also wanted to dig up our burialground to extend their parking lot.
we set up a blockade on a secondary dirt road. at that time, the majority of people at the barricades were women. we are matrilineal, our lineage comes from our mothers, and we are the ones who are supposed to protect the land. it is the duty of the men to protect the people. we said we would go to the front, and the men said they would watch us and protect us if anything happened. 0n the morning ofjuly11th, we were interrupted at 5:15 in the morning by a swat team, and so we went towards the front of the barricade — towards the highway — with our hands in the air to make sure that they saw we had no weapons. but they still matters with a lot of aggression and a lot of force. what i said to them was that this is our land and we have every right to be here. they were not too happy with that — that is why they wanted to talk to a man, because i guess the women were being very unreasonable to them. 0riginally, people said they would be no weapons,
but there were individuals who carried their weapons. we couldn't do anything about it. we said it was a peaceful barricade. around 8:30, the police started firing tear gas and concussion grenades at us. concussion grenades — for those who do not know — sound like gunshots. they're quite a loud noise. i had to tell some of the people i was with to run, you know, "let's run for cover." it was scary because we didn't know if anyone was killed — on both sides. the police force continued to block the roads of people coming in or out. they prevented food, medicine. they were quite aggressive and always provoking. it was a siege, a 78—days siege. well, we did decide to end it. we just had enough and we said, "we're going back to our homes." september 26th is when it was supposedly finished. a big melee happened. some of the soldiers
had their bayonets on, because they were totally afraid of the people who were coming out. there were a lot of arrests on that day. this ain't a surrender either! we're still not surrendering, because the land dispute is still in full force, it's not been settled. i mean, the golf course sparked a discussion about the real issues that indigenous people have been fighting for for centuries, which is land dispossession, protection of our languages and culture, our way of life. so it woke up people. i would say it woke up people. and she is still campaigning for indigenous rights. remember, you can watch witness every month on the bbc news channel, or catch up on over 1,000 radio programmes on our online archive. next, we're going back tojuly 1967, when the british parliament passed
a bill to decriminalise homosexuality. before then, being gay in this country was notjust illegal — it was widely seen as a disease. witness has been to liverpool to meet the radio presenter pete price, who was sent for aversion therapy to try to cure him of his homosexuality. it was very difficult growing up in the ‘60s as a gay man, because to touch another man, to hold, to feel, to have emotions, you could go to prison. archive: for many of us, this is revolting — men dancing with men. homosexuals in this country today break the law. it was very dangerous at that time as well, because queer bashers were out and people were getting blackmailed and people committed suicide. it was a very sad time. i was 18, going on 19, when my mother found out that i was a homosexual, and she took it badly,
then went to the doctors. and the doctors told us, "there is a cure." i've now since found out it was called aversion therapy. didn't know anything about it, so mum said, "will you do it?" i said, "yeah, for you, i'll do it." they put me in a mental institute. in those days, it was called a loony bin. they weren't psychiatric wards, this had bars on the window. i was very, very frightened. so i went in to see the psychiatrist, and he had an old—fashioned tape recorder, reel to reel, and he described all the sexual acts that gay people did, using graphic language, graphic language, to make you feel disgusting. then they put me in a room. i still didn't know what was going to happen to me, i really didn't know, except they asked me what i drank, and in those days i
drank stout, guinness. i had a male nurse in there, there was no windows, and they had a stack of what they called "dirty books". they were men in bathing costumes. there was nothing erotic about it in any shape orform. so i'm supposed to look at the books, listen to the tape, which the nurse was operating, with his vile conversation that i had with the psychiatrist, and he was giving me guinness. halfway through the hour he injected me, which made me violently ill. so i asked, "could i use the bathroom?" he said, "no, just use the bed." i was violently sick and defecated in the bed, and i'm lying in own faeces, my own vomit, feeling incredibly ill. i was a frightened young man, i was 18 going on for 19. i was very, very scared. i wasn't thinking of a cure, ijust thought i was going to die cos this was torture.
at the end of 72 hours, i had nothing left. i just wanted out, and i decided i'd had enough. "i volunteered to come in, i'm volunteering to leave." i rang a pal of mine to get me out, and i stank, i stank of filth. i got a bath, and i must have got eight hours of trying to scrub the filth off me. after the treatment, i decided enough was enough, and i woke up one day and said, "i am what i am, i've got to be who i am and accept who i am." i channelled the way i was through my entertainment. all the big stars i've worked with. and i learnt to be who i was, and i became outrageous, and that was the way i got acceptance. isn't she lovely? got a brother?
i think i've been happy with myself as a homosexual, but i actually don't believe that i belong anywhere. i can never forgive what they did to me, ever. pete price still presents a popular evening radio show in liverpool. finally this month, in 1977, racing car driverjanet guthrie became the first woman to compete in the prestigious indianapolis 500 motor race. she spoke to witness about competing as a driver in a male—dominated sport. archive: race drivers are a special breed of american folk hero. they have always been men — until janet guthrie. i had no house, no husband, no jewellery, no insurance. i had one used—up race car. i was playing in a millionaire's sport from the very beginning, and not having been born with a trust fund, i learned how to build my own engines and do my own bodywork. i thought there was a reasonably good chance that i would be
successful at it, because i wanted it a lot, i loved the sport. it was the passion of my life, really. part of the fun is to accept the risk and deal with it gracefully and well. you have to have an interest in what it's like out there at the limits of human capability. i was saying to myself, you know, "you really must come to your senses and make some provision for your old age." and that was the point at which the phone rang and a voice completely unknown to me said, "how would you like to take a shot at the indianapolis 500?" it was sometimes said that the indianapolis 500 wasn't the most important race — it was the only race. that's how most of the
united states feels about it. over 400,000 people showed up. you can't imagine how many people that is until you see them in person. when i got my big chance at the top levels of the sport, it made a huge commotion. they simply hadn't had the experience of running against a woman, and they were sure i was going to kill them all. all i had to do at the beginning was open up a newspaper, and there was some other driver saying that his blood was going to be on the official‘s hands. seriously, when i say commotion, it was big. oh, i was so happy. i was happy that i had put a car in the field for the indianapolis 500. i think a lot of drivers would tell you the first time you make the field at indianapolis is a moment you will never forget. of course, then you figure out that what you really want to do
is win the thing. you're thinking who's behind you, what are their driving habits, who's ahead of you, what mistakes are they likely to make? 0n the first lap, you just really want to keep yourself out of any trouble. in that race, i had a mechanicalfailure. when we finally decided the car was not going to be fixable, i left the pits and headed back to the garage. there was a lot of enthusiasm in the stands at that point. janet is not a newcomer to car racing. my best finish at indianapolis was ninth in 1978, with a team iformed and managed myself. my best finish in indycar racing was fifth at milwaukee. i wasn't racing to prove anything about women, because the fact that i was a woman, in my opinion, had nothing
to do with it. a racing driver was what i was, right through to my bone marrow. in 2006, janet guthrie was inducted into the international motor sports hall of fame. that's all from us this month. i hope you'lljoin me next month, back here at the british library. we'll have five extraordinary accounts of history through the eyes of the people who were there. for now, from witness, goodbye. for a while we had sunshine yesterday in lincolnshire but the rain did arrive and it was wet for much of the day in eastbourne in east sussex some strong wind here as well continuing at the moment. the sickest of the cloud here is been spelling in across much of england and wales to provide outbreaks of rain but by the morning the wettest conditions are heading eastwards and out into the north sea. things are
beginning to dry off but only briefly as we head towards the north—west we still have showers continuing into the morning across northern ireland, western fringes of scotland. to the rest of scotland, a dry start but will not stay that way. it should be dry across much of northern england, lincolnshire and east anglia, rain from overnight should be gone by nine a.m.. most of england and wales that bright and shiny but the showers at rutherglen from south—west approaches. through the day as we head into the afternoon, possibly into the evening session for the cricket at the oval there is a chance of passing shower, it should be a much better day than i was on saturday. there will be lots of showers around on sunday. particularly towards the west. would be strong gusty winds will for showers eastwards and anywhere will catch a shower. heavy downpours with potentially hale and thunder. gusty wind as well. the south—east corner, possibly london, essex, kent, sussex
missing most of the showers and seen the best of temperature in the sunshine. still a few showers into the evening on sunday before they fade away from eastern areas and the breeze drops. the showers continue out to the west, particularly across northern ireland and western scotland. temperatures 12, 13 degrees where they have been the last few nights. this map looks familiar as well. low pressure to the north—west of the uk for a good few days, still there for the start of the new week. near about low pressure there will be showers and with the windle in scotland and northern ireland the showers could be heavy and slow moving. stronger wind for england and wales surpassing showers again for many southern and eastern areas, it may well be dry. that trend continues with fuel and light showers, a bit more sunshine on tuesday. it should feel warmer. again, southern and eastern areas may well be dry. as we lose the showers from one area of low pressure we get another one coming in from the atlantic, keeping
the unsettled weather going with wind and rain on the way in the middle of the week. this is bbc news. i'm gavin grey. our top stories: the australian prime minister says counter—terrorism police have foiled an attempt to blow up a plane. four people have been arrested the threat of terrorism is very real. the disruption operation, the efforts overnight, have been very effective. but there is more work to do. tensions in venezuela ahead of a vote that could lead to a new constitution. a power grab says the opposition. thousands of people are evacuated from a music festival in barcelona after a fire engulfed part of the main stage. pakistan's ousted prime minister nawaz sharif denies corruption allegations and names his brother shabaz as his ultimate successor. also in the programme,