From the producers of FRONTLINE, a series
from a new generation of video journalists.
Stories From a Small Planet
ANNOUNCER: Tonight on FRONTLINE/WORLD, three stories
from a small planet.
First, Iraq. In Kirkuk, tensions between Kurds and Arabs threaten
to tear the city apart.
SAM KILEY, Reporter: Do you understand why the Kurdish
people want their land back?
ARAB MAN: It is not their land, it is our land.
ANNOUNCER: Reporter Sam Kiley follows American soldiers
as they attempt to keep the peace.
U.S. SOLDIER: Tell her Im not a cop, Im
ANNOUNCER: Next, a Vietnamese-American takes a revealing
NGUYEN QUI DUC, Reporter: What do you know about
the war in Vietnam?
SCHOOLGIRL: The war? The war in Vietnam.
ANNOUNCER: And finally, in France. Of all the gin joints
in all the world, we walked into this one and found Maurice
Iraq: The road to Kirkuk
Reported by Sam Kiley
SAM KILEY, Reporter: [voice-over] I had come
to Iraq in February to cover the war everyone knew was coming.
We had decided to position ourselves on the northern front,
in the part of Iraq that had been controlled by the Kurds since
the first Gulf war. In the weeks I spent in Kurdistan, I would
discover a land and a people haunted by Saddam Hussein.
Fifteen years ago, his regime began a campaign of ethnic cleansing
and extermination against the Kurds. Saddam called it the "Anfal",
Arabic for "the spoils of war." The spoils he was
after were the oil fields near the Kurdish city of Kirkuk. In
1988, Saddam began to drive the Kurds out of the area. His war
planes attacked Halabja and 50 other villages with chemical
weapons, killing thousands. Now, 15 years later, I come across
one of the survivors, a blind woman named Khadija.
KHADIJA: [through interpreter] I was in my village,
Geza, when they used the chemical weapons. My eyes were burning,
and I was scratching them. Meanwhile, the men who were clever
threw themselves into the water, but I couldnt do it since
I was already blind. All this happened in an afternoon. And
that is what happened to my eyes. I have lost four members of
my family. Saddam used chemical weapons on us, and he left us
blind to the world.
SAM KILEY: Saddams Anfal campaign went well beyond
the use of gas. Between February and August, 1988, 120,000 Kurdish
men, women and children were rounded up. Those who were not
executed in public simply disappeared.
You could feel the lingering pain of Saddams brutal campaign
everywhere in Kurdistan. In a refugee camp close to the front
line, I run into another victim of Saddams ethnic cleansing.
Her name is Nabath. Fifteen years ago, her village near Kirkuk
was destroyed and she was arrested.
NABATH: [through interpreter] They beat us and
they raped us. They took the children from me. I had seven children
SAM KILEY: Nabath tells me her 3-year-old son, Diya,
was killed when he fell from her arms when an Iraqi soldier
hit her with a rifle butt.
[on camera] Im very sorry to bring back these
[voice-over] And then, she says, an Iraqi officer stole
her 6-year-old daughter.
NABATH: [through interpreter] My daughter was
gorgeous. Maybe they kept her for themselves.
SAM KILEY: [on camera] Did you know these men?
NABATH: [through interpreter] They mentioned
a man called Idan. He was a top commander and he was responsible
for the place. Idan was the one who took my child from me.
SAM KILEY: Are you going to try and find your missing
children? Do you have any hope that theyre still alive?
NABATH: [through interpreter] Almost every night
I dream of my daughter. She begs me, "Mom, please come
and take me home."
SAM KILEY: [voice-over] As the war draws near,
I move closer to the front and link up with a group of Kurdish
Peshmerga fighters. Theyre part of the PUK, the Patriotic
Union of Kurdistan.
[on camera] Good evening, gentlemen.
[voice-over] Over a dinner of boiled porcupine, I listen
to their story. Commander Rashid tells me all of the 50 or so
men under his command once lived in Kirkuk or in villages nearby.
[on camera] Cap Rashid, have you got a lot of new recruits?
COMMANDER RASHID: [through interpreter] Yes.
SAM KILEY: Why is that?
COMMANDER RASHID: [through interpreter] Because
we are a nation that has been massacred. Tonight we have counted
100 villages around here that have been destroyed. And for 15
years, we have been exiles from our own land.
[www.pbs.org: Trace the Kurds history]
SAM KILEY: And did you lose members of your family?
COMMANDER RASHID: [through interpreter] Yes.
Three brothers, six nephews, and two of my brothers wives
SAM KILEY: [voice-over] The Peshmerga are itching
for battle, dreaming of their return to Kirkuk, where Saddam
has resettled their city with Arabs from southern Iraq, who
have taken over their homes. The Peshmerga believe if they can
capture the city and its vital oil fields, they can fulfill
their ancient dream of an independent Kurdish nation.
PESHMERGA: [subtitles] Onward to Kirkuk!
SAM KILEY: In early April, three weeks into the war,
the assault on Kirkuk finally begins. The Peshmerga, guided
by U.S. special forces and supported by American air power,
lead the charge.
[on camera] Theres just been a breakthrough on
the Kirkuk front.
[voice-over] By now, U.S. forces had already taken Baghdad,
and Iraqi resistance here on the northern front is crumbling.
We spot a group of POWs being marched out of the trenches. In
the previous few nights, wed seen Iraqi soldiers being
shot at by their own side.
[on camera] When we were watching your positions before,
we saw Iraqis shooting at other Iraqis. What was happening?
IRAQI POW: [through interpreter] There was trouble
between the soldiers and the officers who were fighting. We
didnt have any trust in them, but they wouldnt let
SAM KILEY: So you were being bombed by the Americans
and shot in the back by the Iraqis?
IRAQI POW: [through interpreter] Yes.
SAM KILEY: [voice-over] The Peshmerga promised
me that they would look after the Iraqi prisoners. But after
I moved on towards Kirkuk, my translator, who was left behind,
saw six POWs give themselves up and put their hands in the air.
Kurdish fighters in an ambulance stopped, got out and shot four
of the six dead. Two men survived by hiding in a culvert.
[on camera] Weve just passed through Leylan. We
now have what we think is a cement factory in front of us, which
is a major target for the Peshmerga. Now theres a bloody,
[voice-over] Further up the highway, the advance has
met unexpected resistance. Two Kurdish fighters have just been
killed in an Iraqi ambush. Falling back, the special forces
call in B-52 bombers and F-18 jets to clear the way.
[on camera] There is an air strike. Its just coming
in onto into Leylan, where we were ambushed about an hour ago.
We think weve just been bombed by the Americans about
100 yards back. People are now scattering off. Omar? Wheres
NICK: Lets get out of here?
SAM KILEY: Yeah.
NICK: In three minutes. Just stick it in the back.
SAM KILEY: Jesus [expletive deleted] Christ!
Wed have got it if wed still been up there!
NICK: Lets go. Lets go.
SAM KILEY: [voice-over] Fortunately, no one was
injured by the misguided American bomb, and the air strikes
did their work. They broke the last of the Iraqi resistance.
[on camera] We are now racing towards Kirkuk-- a great,
long column, including the Kurdish Toilers Party, the
Socialist Party, the PUK and us.
[voice-over] Kirkuks Kurds, about 45 percent of
the population, are delighted to see the Americans and the Peshmerga.
But the citys Arabs and the Turkish-speaking Turcomen
are keeping a low profile.
GREEN BERET: George Bush. Very good!
SAM KILEY: During the first 24 hours of liberation,
Kirkuk is in chaos. The Kurds vent their outrage over the atrocities
committed against them by Saddams regime. Inside the former
headquarters of the secret police, I find dozens of former Kurdish
prisoners anxious to demonstrate how they were tortured.
BEARDED MAN: [subtitles] This was for electric
shocks. Its like a hook. They put it on my ears. I was
tortured here for six months. They gave me electric shocks on
my feet, my ears, my penis.
[www.pbs.org: More on this conflict]
SAM KILEY: Saddams secret police kept meticulous
records. Now they are scattered all over the floor and are being
gathered up by Kurdish fighters.
[on camera] So you discovered your own brothers
file. And this is his death certificate, is that right?
PESHMERGA: [subtitles] Yes, it says Chatow Saleh
SAM KILEY: Whats this?
TRANSLATOR: These are the furnitures which were took
by the Amin.
SAM KILEY: Oh, so they confiscated his house?
SAM KILEY: And then they executed him.
These people were meticulous to the point of obsession. Theyve
carefully done an inventory of the possessions of a man that
theyve brought here, tortured and executed.
Documents and life histories of people and the histories of
their deaths are now strewn all over the road, in this car park.
A hundred and eighty-two thousand missing Kurds. Some of the
answers as to what happened to them will be lying around the
[voice-over] There is gunfire all over the city as the
Kurds take revenge against the Baathist regime, setting
off a wave of chaos and looting that terrifies the Arabs and
the Turcomen. I follow up reports that Arabs are being forced
out of their homes in Divas, a middle-class neighborhood built
by Saddam for his military elite.
[on camera] A lot of houses have been taken by the PUK
and other Peshmerga that have been abandoned by their officer
owners and marked. Each house has been marked, daubed in paint
by one or another Kurdish group laying claim to them.
[voice-over] This house is tagged with Kurdish graffiti,
and its owner, an Arab civilian, is outraged. He says the PUK
has ordered him out of his home and he has no idea why.
ARAB: And he asked me to leave this house in 24 hours,
otherwise he will shoot me. So what should I do?
SAM KILEY: [on camera] Do you understand why
the Kurdish people want to have their land back?
ARAB: Its not their land, its our land.
I mean, their land and our land.
SAM KILEY: Well, you know that they were kicked--
Arab: We are living, sir, in brotherhood. And this house
is my-- my own this house. I paid for this house.
SAM KILEY: When did you move here?
ARAB: In 91.
SAM KILEY: Did you ever know about the Anfal campaign?
ARAB: Yes, I know about it.
SAM KILEY: How did you find out about that? Because
ARAB: I heard about it. I did not see it myself, but
I heard about it.
SAM KILEY: Im not saying this is an excuse, but
the Kurdish lost their homes, and now theyre coming back
and theyre saying, "Im going to have this house
because its owned by an Arab."
ARAB: Well, I did not take from him.
SAM KILEY: Right.
ARAB: I [unintelligible] from Saddam. I paid
for that. They do not have the right to kick the Arabs outside.
This is a [unintelligible] misunderstanding between them
and us. So it is not his home.
SAM KILEY: Im not saying-
ARAB: They are doing the same as Saddam did with them.
And I think it is bad.
SAM KILEY: [voice-over] Wed also been tipped
off that on the outskirts of Kirkuk, more Arabs are being forced
from their homes.
[on camera] Were just coming to a village which
was settled by people known as the Bidoon, stateless people
trapped in 1991 on the wrong side of the border in the war between
the allies and Iraq. Theyre desert-dwelling Bedouin. They
were given citizenship of Iraq and then pretty much dumped up
here. Unbeknownst to them, they were put into the front line
of an ethnic war between Saddam and the Kurds.
[voice-over] Saddam wanted to use this tribe, the al
Shumaar, as a buffer against the Kurds. He gave them free homes,
free land and newly irrigated fields. Marzouka is one of her
husbands three wives. There are 15 children in the family,
and now theyve all been forced out of their home.
MARZOUKA: [through interpreter] They kicked us
out. They didnt let us stay. They threatened us. Weve
SAM KILEY: [on camera] And what did these people
say when they came to your home?
MARZOUKA: [through interpreter] They said we
couldnt stay there. This village is theirs, and you have
to leave. Whoever refuses to leave will have their head chopped
off. We tried to take our furniture, but they pointed their
guns at us and kicked us out.
SAM KILEY: Were they in uniform?
MARZOUKA: [through interpreter] Yes, they were
wearing Kurdish uniforms.
SAM KILEY: [voice-over] The Peshmerga fighters
who liberated Kirkuk had promised that there would be no revenge
for the Anfal, only justice. But here, away from the city center,
women and children are now being caught up in what looks like
ethnic cleansing in reverse.
The leaders of the al Shumaar ask for our help in going to
the Americans for protection. The U.S. Army has been slow to
arrive in force and have not yet gained control of the city.
[on camera] Have you tried to go in yet?
BEDOUIN: [through interpreter] We tried to get
in, but we were told that there was a meeting and that we would
have to wait.
SAM KILEY: What are you actually going to ask for?
BEDOUIN: [through interpreter] Were going
to ask him about the displacing of Arabs from our village.
SAM KILEY: [voice-over] Eventually, the tribal
leaders get a piece of paper guaranteeing that they can stay
in their village. But thousands of Arabs are asking the Americans
for help. There are only about 50 Green Berets on the ground
in a city of half a million. Kurds are coming home and finding
Arabs in their houses. The Arabs look to the Americans for protection,
and its a thankless task.
WOMAN: [subtitles] Welcome.
SAM KILEY: On this day, the Green Berets walk right
into the middle of a classic ethnic dispute.
U.S. CAPTAIN: Who lived in this house before?
SAM KILEY: The Arab woman -- in black -- who occupies
the building is going toe to toe with a Kurdish woman who also
claims the house.
KURDISH WOMAN: [subtitles] If they give me
my brothers entitlement back, I will go.
SAM KILEY: [on camera] The lady in the purple
dress says she was ethnically cleansed from this home about
four months ago and became a refugee in nearby Chamchamal, a
Kurdish-held town. But the Arabic ladys saying shes
been here for years. The Arabic lady was told by the Kurdish
ladys husband that she would have to move out or shed
be killed. The U.S. special forces have found a lot of weaponry
here, so its obviously owned by a Peshmerga, or at least
now occupied by a Peshmerga.
U.S. SOLDIER: Hey, I got an RPG up here!
U.S. CAPTAIN: You got what?
U.S. SOLDIER: A box of grenades and RPG rounds.
U.S. CAPTAIN: How many?
U.S. SOLDIER: About a half a dozen RPG rounds with
a launcher and about six hand grenades.
KURDISH WOMAN: [subtitles] How many times
have you brought choppers and knives to this house? Look
what you did to my brother! Look what you did to my door!
ARAB WOMAN: [subtitles] He attacked my daughter!
U.S. CAPTAIN: Hey! Hey, hey, hey! They cannot push
people outside the houses.
KURDISH WOMAN: [subtitles] If you give me
my money back! Give me my money back!
U.S. CAPTAIN: Tell her I am not a cop, I am a soldier.
I enforce the rules that they tell me. She wants her money
back, she goes to the police. The police are downtown.
SAM KILEY: The mood outside the house is also turning
sour, as a crowd of Kurds gathers. The Green Berets try to calm
U.S. CAPTAIN: Now, I understand, whether these people
are good or bad, I dont make that decision, OK? Im
sure theyve done a lot of things that have not been
nice. Im sure a lot of Kurdish people have done stuff
that is not nice to the Arab people. So we have to find
a peaceful solution. Its going to take time, but we
have to keep the peace. Were going to have Arabs living
with Kurds and Turcomen. They will live together. Like in
America, you have blacks, whites and Spanish.
SAM KILEY: In the days after the liberation of Kirkuk,
ethnic tensions reach the breaking point. Of all the incidents
we witnessed in the city, there was one that seemed to symbolize
the treacherous future that Iraq is now facing. It involved
a violent outbreak between Kurdish fighters and ethnic Turks,
or Turcomen. The Turcomen make up a quarter of the population
of Kirkuk, and they fear Kurdish domination. They reacted to
freedom from Saddam by arming themselves, and they set up a
new Turcoman Party headquarters in a house they confiscated
from an Iraqi officer.
[on camera] This is the Iraqi Turcoman Party. Theyve
now got a heavy presence outside their offices in Kirkuk because
of an incident yesterday, a horrible incident in which an 8-year-old
child was murdered, a Turcoman child allegedly killed by Kurds.
Theyve now got American special forces, CIA types, heavily
armed Turcomen all trying to keep a lid on what is the ethnic
bomb of northern Iraq.
[voice-over] The headquarters, ironically, had been
the home of the Iraqi pilot who bombed Halabja 15 years ago.
The violence here had erupted over ownership of the building,
claimed by both the Turks and the Peshmerga.
TURCOMAN: [through interpreter] Yesterday, at
about 7:00 in the evening, there were a group of people here
-- old and young -- happy that the center was here and that
it was open, when a car came by and it sprayed the center with
gunfire indiscriminately. There was a taxi outside with a driver
and two children inside. The driver was injured, and one of
the children was killed. Today we buried him.
SAM KILEY: The Turks say the killers were Kurdish fighters.
Reveling in their righteous ethnic anger, they insist I cross
the road to see where the boy of 8 was killed. They show me
the bullet-riddled taxi with the blue Turcoman poster. They
want me to see the full gore, blood all over the car.
[on camera] So here we have a group of grown men proudly
showing off the brains of an 8-year-old child. He was murdered
by a Kurdish group because he belonged to a Turkish group, because
the Turkish group nicked a house off a Kurdish group, who nicked
it off the man who bombed Halabja. And pathetic scenes like
this are exactly the sort of thing that could ignite the bomb
that Kirkuk is, the ethnic bomb.
[voice-over] Before I leave Iraq, I have a final promise
to keep-- to help Nabath, the Kurdish woman whose daughter was
stolen by the Iraqis, return to her home. Her village, outside
Kirkuk, lay deep in fertile hills dusted with wildflowers. She
takes us to cousins who live on a remote farm. Theyre
delighted to see her, and one agrees to come along as guide
[on camera] Let me just have a look at your gun. Thats
called a safety catch. Keep it on at all times.
[voice-over] But there is pitifully little for Nabath
to come home to. Ninety families once lived here in a thriving
community rich in livestock, orchards and vineyards.
[on camera] Is that good to eat?
[voice-over] Under Saddam, it was literally wiped off
NABATH: [through interpreter] This is my house,
up to this tree. There is my husbands parents house,
which is now destroyed. They had seven sons. They have all been
SAM KILEY: [on camera] Do you think you can live
alongside Arab people now?
NABATH: [through interpreter] With Arab people?
SAM KILEY: Not all Arabs are responsible for doing this.
NABATH: [through interpreter] They might not
be responsible, but my heart would not allow it. It is better
to live with our own people.
SAM KILEY: So you dont want to live with Arabs
at all now?
NABATH: [through interpreter] I dont want
to because those who guarded us in the Dibis camp were all Arabs.
I am not saying they are all bad, but I prefer Kurdish people.
SAM KILEY: [voice-over] As it turned out, winning
the war in Iraq was the easy part. Liberating the country from
Saddams brutal legacy of ethnic hatred is something else.
Of course, Saddam always claimed his way was the only way to
hold Iraq together. That daunting task now belongs to the Bush
administration, which is betting, against history, that it can
find a way to heal this fractured land.
ANNOUNCER: Coming up later, Maurice El Medioni, an unlikely
star on the world music scene.
But first, a native son returns to Vietnam.
Vietnam: Looking for Home
Reported by Nguyen Qui Duc
NGUYEN QUI DUC, Reporter: [voice-over] Its
been a long while. Ive traveled half way around the world,
from San Francisco to this old city of Hue. Relatives have all
left, but still I come back, looking for home, for a bit of
myself, for a country that exists always in my memory.
The new owner of this house has made some changes. When my
grandfather built it, the gate was off to one side. The new
owner has kept an altar for my grandparents for many years.
We Vietnamese always stay connected to the past-- customs,
history, the dead. Just outside of town, Ive found my
grandparents graves. Im not exactly a traditional
man, but as you grow older, some things become important. I
light the incense and bow, hoping they know Im back, that
I carry memories.
Thirty-five years ago, communist troops attacked the city during
Tet, the lunar new year of 1968. South Vietnamese and American
troops fought for a month to regain the town, house by house,
street by street. Thousands of people were killed, scores of
families destroyed. Hundreds went missing, my father amongst
them. He had been a regional governor. The Viet Cong took him
to the north and kept him as a political prisoner. I was 10
when he left, 26 when he finally was able to join me in the
Its quiet in Hue now. Ive adopted the owner of
my grandparents house as an uncle. The old historian takes
me to visit a royal tomb. Im the tourist, he the guide.
We couldnt help talking about the war and where Vietnam
UNCLE: [subtitles] I think the war with America
was regrettable. We could have avoided war. We could have chosen
another path in order to shake hands with America sooner than
NGUYEN QUI DUC: I am amazed to hear these words from
a man who once went north to join the revolution and fought
as a Viet Cong soldier.
UNCLE: [subtitles] Today the books, the schools
all teach one-sided history. They only teach that Vietnam was
colonized by France and America and that the Vietnamese, led
by the Communist Party, rose up to evict both of these enemies
and build this independent nation. They never talk about the
civil war, so young people end up with a distorted version of
NGUYEN QUI DUC: This is where my mother went to school.
Some things havent changed. Her days, too, started with
the same drumbeat.
Sixty percent of the population in Vietnam is under 30. Thats
a whole lot of people who werent even born when the fighting
This school has always emphasized tradition, but the principal
is worried about the kids. The outside world is a few keystrokes
away on the Internet.
PRINCIPAL: [subtitles] We are very concerned
about that. When something new comes along, students may get
access to something that is unexpected. They are under control
at school, and outside there are law enforcement and state cultural
agencies. But we are still concerned.
NGUYEN QUI DUC: The principal later asks me to be cautious
with what gets aired. Our conversation reminds me of how I could
never bear the conservative attitude here. And now there are
always the watchful eyes of the local communist authorities.
Vietnam, one of the few communist dinosaurs left in the world,
has begun to change. The Communist Party gave up on the Soviet-style
economy more than a decade ago. A policy called "renovation"
opened the door to capitalism.
Hue, though, hangs on to its old ways. Out on the river, musicians
play ancient songs about the eternal beauty of Hue. Im
mesmerized by it, but Im awkward. The whole experience
makes me feel like a tourist.
[www.pbs.org: Read interview with the reporter]
Leaving the slow pace of Hue, I go where the action is. This
is real capitalism, life in the fast lane. Its Saigon--
or, if you insist, Ho Chi Minh City. From retail to computer
technology, youre in the right place, eight million people
jostling to carve out a living.
This town is always in a fever, and you will catch it, too.
Among those caught in that fever are Vietnamese who left as
refugees but now have returned after years of living abroad.
Phuc Than, an old friend from high school, came back from the
U.S. to run the Vietnam offices of software giant Intel.
PHUC THAN: I think I came back at the right time, and
I think this is just the beginning of a journey that will take
Vietnam into the next century. To me, I cant wait. The
faster the better.
NGUYEN QUI DUC: The faster, the better. But no fast
food, please. This stuff is delicious.
PHUC: The key thing going to make Vietnam successful
in the future is to open up itself more to the rest of the world.
NGUYEN QUI DUC: [on camera] Isnt that a
danger to the party? Why would they want to open up to that
PHUC THAN: I think if it wants to compete in a 21st
century economy, it has no choice. Look at China. Chinas
opened up more.
NGUYEN QUI DUC: [voice-over] In my unkind moments,
Ive thought of Saigon as an aging woman, a garish prostitute,
a drug addict. When the communists first took over, they gave
it a certain drab socialist atmosphere. But then it slowly got
a new coat of paint, the neon signs came back on, and it got
to be its old decadent self.
The old bars are back. A few months ago, this one had go-go
girls dancing naked. That got shut down pretty quick. The government
also cracked down on places where rich kids were passing out
from ecstasy. A few hours here, and you start to smoke and drink
like theres no tomorrow.
But the trick with Saigon is to leave it before the devil eats
you for a midnight snack. I escape the decadence to a small
town where the heat isnt so bad. But here, too, the fever
is spreading. Since September 11th, Vietnam has claimed to be
the safest place to travel in Asia. Tourists are everywhere,
over 2.5 million of them last year.
TAILOR: Business is very good. More and more customer,
more and more tourists come to Vietnam to visit.
NGUYEN QUI DUC: [on camera] What about the government?
Is the government helping you a lot?
TAILOR: In the past, not. But now they help very much.
They leave more freedom, you know, so we can open the business.
I can do what I like, but under the control of the government,
you know? But in the past, cannot. If you do something, you
should careful, should be carefully. Otherwise, you know, you
have some problem with that.
NGUYEN QUI DUC: And so you cant say things?
TAILOR: No. I hope in the future we will have more freedom,
you know, but now we already have, but a tiny bit, not much.
NGUYEN QUI DUC: [voice-over] Its astonishing
to see the hope in this country. This town will soon offer more
resorts and a convention center right by the beach. The future
is just around the corner, and youd better keep piling
it on. Brick by brick, this place is transforming itself.
For all the changes, a lot of Vietnam is still rice fields.
Out in the countryside, transformation is slow. How fast can
a buffalo go?
PEASANT: [subtitles] I hope that the harvest
will be bigger next year and that all the planting will bring
in bigger yields than last year. Each year I harvest two tons
NGUYEN QUI DUC: [subtitles] How much can you
sell the two tons for?"
PEASANT: [subtitles] About $130.
NGUYEN QUI DUC: [voice-over] A hundred and thirty
dollars a year. And she supports two sons with that.
Its northward from here, to Hanoi for Tet, for a new
year. Hanoi is irresistible. You simply fall in love with the
yellowed walls, the quiet dignity of the people. Theres
always the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum to quickly remind you this
is still a communist capital. But the Ho Chi Minh portraits
have all but disappeared from the walls. His busts stay wrapped
on the shelves.
Its cold. I think of my father inside a prison cell somewhere
here 35 years ago. What I wouldnt give to be able to walk
these streets with him now, to share a Tet in our homeland at
peace. Three years ago, he died in San Francisco, not having
Tet has always been a drag for me. Our family stopped celebrating
the new year after my father was captured. His absence loomed
over the holidays. But here in Hanoi, I cant help but
get caught up with the frenzy. Everyones desperate for
the last-minute gifts and a branch of peach blossom for the
For my friend, Tran Thuy Duong, Tet is a celebration, a time
TRAN THUY DUONG: Every family should have at least one
kumquat in the family. Have a look. Its like golden coins.
It will bring a lot of money and a lot of luck for you.
NGUYEN QUI DUC: Gold coins, a hope for prosperity in
a city with so much history, so much suffering in the last 100
years. American planes dropped tons of bombs here. You wonder
whether the survivors still have nightmares.
Today the past is taking a back seat. Its all about getting
ready for the new year. Time for renewal, for a new self.
Steady. Steady. Renewal for myself, for my father, for Tet.
I feel old next to these people. Theyre looking forward
to a bright future, where dreams arent shattered, like
those of my father and his generation. This is Hanois
elite high school, where my friend teaches English. There was
a time here when it was a crime to speak English.
[on camera] What do you know about what happened in
SCHOOLGIRL: In 1968? Another question, please.
NGUYEN QUI DUC: You dont know?
SCHOOLGIRL: Yes because Im not good at history.
NGUYEN QUI DUC: Youre not good at history? What
have you been taught about the war in Vietnam?
SCHOOLGIRL: The war? The war in Vietnam?
TEACHER: They are teenagers. They were born long after
the war ended. And thats why even the parents dont
want to tell them much about the war because now we live in
peace. We should forget about the past. We should know, we should
learn, but we should forget.
NGUYEN QUI DUC: [voice-over] Go back a generation
and youd find someone in his family who fought against
the Americans. No wonder some people here think the Americans
won the war. But instead of democracy, theyve only exported
pop culture and the ability to forget the past. But maybe its
just as well. Better they dance than fight.
This ancient art entertained villagers for thousands of years.
The water puppets tell the stories of farmers, scholars and
kings, history and memory, but only for foreigners now. Water.
Thats the word we Vietnamese use for "nation."
Three hours drive east of Hanoi, Ive reached Ha
Long Bay. Its easy to remember. Vietnam has a habit of
adopting and resisting changes. The culture, the people will
It is as though Ive always known this woman. She knows
me and my bad habits. My father never spoke with rancor. Life
had not been fair to him, but bitterness cant change anything.
That, too, is the history of this nation. Vietnam is a country
that insists on staying hopeful.
Its good to be home.
ANNOUNCER: Finally tonight, world music from Marseille.
France: Play it again, Maurice
Reported by Marco Werman
MARCO WERMAN, Public Radios The World: [voice-over]
These are the faces of Marseille, one of the most cosmopolitan
cities in the world. Immigrants have been coming here since
Greek sailors landed 3,000 years ago. Over the last few centuries,
this Mediterranean port has attracted Italians, Turks, Spanish,
Corsicans, and most recently, many North Africans. These cultures
brew in the streets of Marseilles, in the markets and in the
As a music reporter, Im especially drawn to the citys
mix of Arab, African and European styles. Last year, a DJ in
Marseille put out this track. It sampled the sounds of North
Africa and became an underground hit. The piano player and the
singer on this track is Algerian, and I wanted to meet him.
MAURICE EL MEDIONI: I am Maurice El Medioni, pianiste
orientale. My music is the heritage of my ancestors.
MARCO WERMAN: Maurice El Medionis ancestry is
not what youd expect from a resident of this densely Arab
city. Maurice El Medioni is 75 years old and Jewish. He was
raised in a Sephardic Jewish community in Algeria. Jews once
thrived in North Africa, and Medionis musical heritage
is a combination of his Jewish and Algerian roots.
MAURICE EL MEDIONI: I born in Oran in Algeria, in 1928.
MARCO WERMAN: Medioni came from a musical family. He
taught himself to play the piano at the age of 9. His father
and his uncle ran a nightclub in the Jewish quarter, like Bogarts
Ricks Cafe Americain in the movie Casablanca.
MAURICE EL MEDIONI: They buy one big cafe in the Jewish
quarter in Oran, Cafe Rife [sp?], Rue de la Revolution. And
that was the big cabaret of Oran.
MARCO WERMAN: During World War II, American troops landed
in Oran and liberated Algeria from German occupation. As a teenager,
Medioni hustled tips from the U.S. troops, getting them black-market
booze and showing off the local bars and clubs.
MAURICE EL MEDIONI: And the boss, he say me to play.
"Hey, you want to come tonight to play to the American
soldiers?" "Yeah. Why not?" I come the first
time, and I was playing there.
[singing] Oh, Yankee, Yankee Doodle Dandy--
Where they would drink beer, whisky, cognac. They were singing
like crazies, all together! It was a wonderful time.
MARCO WERMAN: American GIs taught him the boogie woogie
and the rumba. Years later, when Maurice went on to become a
nightclub star in Paris, he drew crowds with his unique mix
MAURICE EL MEDIONI: Rumba! This is simple. Then I make
it in Orientale. You know, this is Arabic.
MARCO WERMAN: [on camera] Right.
MAURICE EL MEDIONI: This is Arabic, and it is my-- it
is my, my, my passion to play.
MARCO WERMAN: [voice-over] And this is what really
distinguishes Maurice El Medionis music. It all started
when three young Arab musicians found him in a bar playing jazz.
MAURICE EL MEDIONI: They were singing with Rai-- boom,
boom, ta-taka, boom boom, ta-taka. Then I was playing, boom,
ka-taka, boom, ka-taka, rumba. Heard them singing in Rai, and
I was playing the rumba.
MARCO WERMAN: These days, Maurice El Medioni tours sporadically.
But once a week, he hosts a program on a Jewish radio station
in Marseille. He features North African music. Maurice El Medionis
show is upbeat, but it plays against a backdrop of tension between
Jews and Arabs in France. Recently, vandals sabotaged the radio
[on camera] Have you noticed a rise in anti-Semitism
in France since youve been here?
MAURICE EL MEDIONI: Yeah, yeah. Now, its big anti-Semitism
now since two years, since intifada. Since the intifada, its
very big anti-Semitism.
MARCO WERMAN: The most recent intifada that started
MAURICE EL MEDIONI: Yeah, yeah.
MARCO WERMAN: [voice-over] The Israeli-Palestinian
conflict has darkened the mood here between many Arabs and Jews.
There are six million Muslims living in France, 10 times the
Jewish population. Theres resentment. Poor North African
immigrants scrape by, in stark contrast to the middle-class
life that many of the Jewish minority have carved out for themselves.
Medioni says the hostility to Jews has made him feel closer
to his people, but hes still proud of his deep connection
to the Arab music of Algeria. He says the Arab musicians treated
him like a brother.
[on camera] Did you end up considering yourself part
of the group of Rai musicians in Oran? Were you one of them?
MAURICE EL MEDIONI: Yeah, sure. I was the only Jewish
of all the group. All Arabs, and I was the only Jewish. They
say Maurice El Medioni is not like the other Jewish.
MARCO WERMAN: And why was that? Because--
MAURICE EL MEDIONI: Maurice El Medioni is our brother.
Hes a good man. We like him because he have a good character,
and he liked us. He liked the Arabs.
Yeah, I was a big friend for them, but only me, not the other
MARCO WERMAN: Why?
MAURICE EL MEDIONI Because I liked the music. I loved
the music. I loved the music. I loved to play music. Its
my reason of life.
[www.pbs.org: Listen to Jewish-Arabic music]
MARCO WERMAN: [voice-over] Maurice El Medionis
piano orientale sounds like an Arabic Chebbi love song, the
perfect soundtrack for immigrant Marseille. As youre lost
in the delightful confusion of whether this music is Arab or
Jewish, you wonder why people with music and roots so similar
are still searching for a way to talk to each other.
THE ROAD TO KIRKUK
FILMED AND DIRECTED BY
LOOKING FOR HOME
Nguyen Qui Duc
PLAY IT AGAIN, MAURICE
"Creepy Feeling", performed by Jelly Roll Morton,
courtesy of Smithsonian Collection of Recordings
COORDINATING PRODUCER FOR KQED
ADDITIONAL WEB PRODUCTION
Erin Martin Kane
Brent Quan Hall
Ellen Schneider, Active Voice
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POST PRODUCTION ASSISTANT
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KQED VP, TV STATION MANAGER
EXECUTIVE IN CHARGE FOR KQED
Sue Ellen McCann
EXECUTIVE IN CHARGE FOR WGBH/FRONTLINE
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Next time on FRONTLINE/WORLD: In the Philippines--
REPORTER: The Philippine army is having to fight
classic guerrilla warfare. They come in, hit these villages
hard and then split.
ANNOUNCER: Why are U.S. troops involved in this civil
And on the West Bank, journalists in the line of fire.
PALESTINIAN JOURNALIST: The moment they took position,
they just start firing towards us.
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