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Iran Protests: Tales from the frontline

Why did people take to the streets, risking arrest and a barrage of bullets?
After protests turned violent and hundreds of people were killed, four Iranians tell the story of why they risked their lives. What has been happening in Iran to drive them out onto the streets to face bullets?
‘Agrin’ tells Phoebe Keane she’s tired of being objectified as a woman, and having no faith that the authorities will take sexual assault seriously when the police themselves are accused of raping prisoners.
Mahsoud tells how he was shot during a protest but feared going to the hospital in case the authorities put him in jail. When plain clothed police loitered outside his family home, he decided to leave Iran. Still bleeding and with a metal pellet lodged in his ear impairing his hearing, he finally made it across the border to Iraq.
‘Nazy’ tells of being arrested by the morality police while walking to work and being shoved in a van as the heels on her shoes were too high. She started to protest every day and now walks through the streets with her hair blowing in the wind, an act of defiance.
‘Farah’ remembers a time in Iran when women could dance and sing in public and protests because she wants her daughter to live a life without fear.

Presenter: Phoebe Keane
Producers: Ed Butler, Ali Hamedani, Khosro Isfahani and Taraneh Stone
Series editor: Penny Murphy

Sierra Leone's children of war

In 2002 photojournalist Caroline Irby and former BBC reporter Tom McKinley arrived in Sierra Leone to cover the fallout from the country’s brutal conflict. They travelled with children caught up in the fighting; as they were reunited with their families. Now, just over two decades on, Caroline returns to West Africa to track them down.

The Black Book

As the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union swept over vast areas of Ukraine and Belorussia from the summer of 1941, over three million Jews were deliberately targeted for annihilation. Shot, hung, butchered, a million and a half Jewish souls were buried in vast pits in Babi Yar, Rumbula, Mariupol, Minsk, Kyiv and Riga. Many accounts began to flood into the Soviet Union where journalist and writer Ilya Ehrenburg began gathering testimonies of the mass murder. This became The Black Book, a chronicle of the Nazi extermination of Soviet Jews. Historian Catherine Merridale travels to Riga, Latvia and Yad Vashem, where the Black Book was smuggled, to uncover this complex story of loss, silence and rediscovery.

Yiddish glory: Jewish refugees in Central Asia

During World War Two, approximately 1.6 million Soviet, Polish and Romanian Jews survived by escaping to Soviet Central Asia and Siberia, avoiding imminent death in ghettos, firing squads and killing centres. Many of them wrote music about these horrors as the Holocaust unfolded. Singer Alice Zawadzski, whose own family found themselves on a similar journey to Central Asia, and historian Anna Shternshis of the University of Toronto, who led the project to bring these songs back to life, travel to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to retrace the journeys of those Jewish refugees who became music composers.

Afghan women

Since the Taliban returned to power some 18 months ago, women in Afghanistan have been removed from nearly all areas of public life. They are barred from secondary schools, universities and most workplaces and cannot even socialise in public parks. As Afghanistan faces a growing humanitarian crisis, we bring together three students in the country to share their experiences of life under Taliban rule. We catch up with three young women who used to compete in Afghanistan. Footballer, Najma, tells us that in the country many girls wish they had been born boys. We speak to two politicians who had fled the country when the Taliban returned to power.

Roe v Wade and abortion in America

Fifty years ago, Jane Roe become the centre of a ruling that would fuel US politics for the following decades. The Roe v Wade case gave women the constitutional right to abortion, until 2022 when it was overturned by the US Supreme Court. Claire Graham speaks with Katty Kay about the 1973 legal case, the legacy of that ruling and how abortion became such a central issue in contemporary American politics.

A return to Paradise

In 2018 the town of Paradise in hills of northern California was wiped out by one of the worst wildfires in California's history. The disaster made headlines around the world - regarded as a symbol of the dangers posed by climate change. So what does the future hold for communities like Paradise in a region increasingly threatened by wildfire? Four years on, Alex Last traveled to Paradise to meet the survivors who are rebuilding their town.

Photo: A home burns as the Camp fire tears through Paradise, California on November 8, 2018. (Josh Edelson /AFP via Getty Images)

Reporter and producer: Alex Last
Sound mix: Rod Farquar
Series Editor: Penny Murphy
Production coordinator: Iona Hammond

What do you think you are? Part two

There’s growing scientific evidence that many animals are not only conscious but they possess a more profound sense of self. They can learn by experience and make decisions that depend on a sense of the future - in other words they are “sentient” beings with the capacity to feel pain, pleasure and emotions. In the second part of this two-part series, Sue Armstrong reports on the latest scientific research into the minds and consciousness of animals and the ethical implications this has on animal welfare and our relationship with animals.

The price of citizenship

What does it mean to be a citizen? Is it about belonging, or about convenience? Katy Long examines two trends which offer stark alternatives: countries which remove citizenship (or want to), and those which sell it. Sharing stories from Belarus, the Dominican Republic, Malta and Kuwait reveals how very differently different countries think about these questions, about identity, and about the powerful forces shaping our world and our lives, forces over which few of us have any power.

Covid in China

When it came to tackling Covid, China has been among the strictest on the planet. There have been almost three years of travel restrictions, testing and lockdowns. Host James Reynolds also chats with Yanni, Lex and David, who discuss what it has been like to live under China’s ‘zero Covid’ policy and how they have all recently had the disease, following a nationwide surge in cases. We also get a perspective on what’s been happening in China from two foreigners living in the county: Jonathan, a Canadian, and Lee, a South African, who tells us that she has felt unable to leave Beijing for the past three years.

Understanding how Syria's peaceful uprising became a civil war

Inspired by the Arab Spring, peaceful protests began in Syria in early 2011. However, a complex civil war followed which has lasted over a decade and involved many other countries. Lina Sinjab, a BBC Middle East correspondent, explains how the conflict in her native country began. From the arrest and torture of protesting teenagers in Daraa to the rise of the Islamic State (IS), the last 12 years have devastated the country and inflicted immense suffering on the Syrian people. Is there an end to war in sight?

What do you think you are?: Part one

There is growing scientific evidence that many animals are not only conscious, but possess a more profound sense of self. They can learn by experience and make decisions that depend on a sense of the future - in other words, they are “sentient” beings with the capacity to feel pain, pleasure and emotions. Sue Armstrong reports on the latest scientific research into the minds and consciousness of animals of all sorts, from chimpanzees to birds, bees and cuttlefish.

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