ANNOUNCER: Tonight on FRONTLINE/World, three Stories From a Small
Iran, reporter Paul Kenyon trails U.N. inspectors as they
investigate Iran's nuclear program.
RADEMAKER, U.S. Asst. Sec'y of State for Americans Control: The position of the U.S. is that we want complete cessation
and dismantlement of the enrichment program in Iran.
NASERI, Iran's Senior Nuclear Negotiator:
Who are the Americans to say what we should have and what
we should want? All they have done is that they have done
every effort to deny us technology.
ANNOUNCER: Are these secret atomic facilities
for nuclear power or nuclear weapons?
in Kyrgyzstan, an old custom, once banned, now returns.
FATIMA: My mom wanted me kidnapped by a Kyrgyz boy because
she didn't want me to study at the university.
ANNOUNCER: And in Mexico, rediscovering ancient
Indian pottery saves a village.
So it is a fairy tale, and it doesn't hurt a fairy tale to
be true, does it.
Iran: Going Nuclear
Reported by Paul Kenyon
[voice-over] Drive through central Teheran and
evidence is all around of Iran's past conflicts. It's February,
2005, and I've arrived in a country fast moving toward what
may be its most serious conflict yet.
all started three years ago, when an Iranian exile group leaked
word that Iran had secretly been developing a nuclear program.
The question is whether it's for energy, as the Iranians claim,
or for nuclear weapons.
in the lobby of this hotel, sits a team of nuclear inspectors
from the United Nations. They've come to try to uncover the
truth about Iran's nuclear program. Chris Charlier, a senior
U.N. inspector, has been coming here since the start of the
CHARLIER, Senior U.N. Inspector: There was a lot of problems with Iran to come clean and put
everything on the table and tell us, you know, what they were
doing. And it was clear that- you know, to the agency, that
they try to hide something.
None of the U.N.'s team in Iran has ever before spoken publicly,
but Chris Charlier tells me about the difficulties of inspecting
Whatever we say, whatever we do, they're always behind us
with a videocamera, with a microphone, trying to record things
that we're saying. And it's a little bit disturbing because
some people doesn't like it. You know, usually, when we work,
we don't like to have always somebody behind us and always
on- behind our shoulders and looking what we're doing or recording
what we're saying. But you know, it's part of the game.
Charlier and his colleagues have been traveling the country,
checking out nuclear sites that until recently the world didn't
know existed. The inspectors take samples and test particles
and report back their findings to their headquarters in Vienna.
The key to their work is access, and this is sometimes hard-fought.
a site called Lavizan on the outskirts of Teheran, the U.N.
suspected a nuclear facility, but the Iranians wouldn't let
When we asked them to get access there, they started- you
know, say, "Well, there's nothing there." You know, "We just
dismantled a building, and there was nothing related to agency
activities." And finally, after months of discussion, we went
When they finally got access, Lavizan had changed from this
to this. It had been dismantled, bulldozed over, leaving nothing
recently, Iran's most closely guarded secret was a uranium
enrichment facility six hours south of Teheran called Natanz.
We decide to head there ourselves, across a desolate plain
protected by mountains. Natanz has never been filmed before.
uranium enrichment facility is the size of six football fields,
and it's almost entirely underground. As you get closer, you
see anti-aircraft positions. The Iranians have covered Natanz
with thick layers of concrete and steel to keep it safe from
the bunker-busting bombs that Iran fears the United States
or Israel will use against it.
pattern of behavior around Natanz and the other sites is deeply
concerning to the U.N. inspectors.
They tried, really, I believe, to conceal their program and
their activities. And yeah, well, maybe there is things- still
others things that they are doing and we couldn't find, and
that's why we're getting suspicious.
We catch up with the inspection team at a hotel near Natanz.
They've just come from the nuclear facility there. Part of
the inspectors' job is to install surveillance cameras to
make sure the Iranians aren't doing anything undeclared. I
want to know the latest data from the camera at Natanz, but
inspector Daniel Baudinet is wary about talking. He says the
security services have just been called about us, and he isn't
comfortable being filmed.
BAUDINET, U.N. Inspector: He's the guy from the facility.
Oh, is he?
Yeah. Did he look angry? Is he going to stay? Is he coming
No, no, no, no, no. But he was phoning. As soon as he saw
you, he phoned.
[voice-over] We know we're being followed as we
head south toward the ancient city of Isfahan. On the banks
of the Zayande River, Isfahan is a popular holiday destination
for Iranians. The inspectors have come here to monitor another
major nuclear facility.
been filming sensitive sites in Iran for several days now,
and we're growing more worried about the secret police. We
decide to start copying some of our tapes in the hotel at
night, in case the originals are confiscated. The next morning,
we head out with the inspectors towards the nuclear facility
positions tell us we're close. Here, uranium arrives as yellowcake
and leaves in tanker trucks, ready for enrichment 100 miles
away at Natanz. The Iranians say this is all for their nuclear
energy program, but the problem is, once they have the complete
nuclear fuel cycle, they're not far from the material to make
been told we could film the inspectors outside the Isfahan
nuclear complex, but at the last minute, the Iranians changed
at the hotel, the inspectors will review their cases of evidence.
They're sending back notes to their headquarters in Vienna,
but they won't tell us what they've found.
go one evening with inspector George Healey to the main bazaar
in Isfahan. He's a collector of glass lamps unique to this
region. They're made with uranium.
HEALEY, U.N. Inspector: Uranium compounds can be used to give glass various colors. And when you
put it in front of a black light, it will fluoresce a very
beautiful bright green.
Iran has significant uranium deposits, but not enough for
its nuclear ambitions. They've purchased 500 tons of uranium
yellowcake from a third country. Iran's invested heavily in
its nuclear program, and it wants to be able to use it.
next morning, the U.N. team sets off for another inspection.
The security services tell us we'll be arrested if we follow
them. Then we're told to leave the area.
send us the long way back to Teheran, to keep us from taking
more pictures of nuclear sites. But once back in the capital,
we go looking for another. The Iranians have hidden it among
the warehouses of East Teheran. It's called the Kalaye Electric
Company. It used to be a clock factory, but now the U.N. believes
it's where Iran's been conducting nuclear experiments.
Read an interview with the reporter]
approach the main gate. Things start off friendly, but then
phone calls are made, our license plate written down, and
the security services arrive. We're told to leave.
inspector Chris Charlier told us his team didn't fare much
better when they tried to get access to Kalaye two years earlier.
And of course, you know, we ask them to get there, they refuse
it. So I had to back down, and you know, ask again next time.
And finally, they agree to take us there.
The inspectors wanted to test for nuclear particles, but the
Iranians seemed to have attempted a cover-up.
You know, the building was a little bit suspicious. Everything
was just brand-new. We were even still smelling the painting,
you know, because it was just freshly painted. So you know,
I think the activities which was going there, they had something
to hide and they renovated the building before we arrived.
We want to talk to the Iranians about the nuclear sites we've
seen. At a Teheran university, we find this man, Ali Akbar
al Salehi. He's a professor now, but until recently, he was
Iran's top nuclear negotiator. When the U.N. first learned
about Iran's secret nuclear program, Salehi defended it to
the world. He's still defending it now.
AKBAR AL SALEHI, Former Senior Nuclear Negotiator: We are really not after nuclear weapons.
We are not ashamed of saying it. I mean, we are not timid
to say. I mean, we are not a country to be timid of saying
things that we wish to say or we wish to have. And we would
have said it loudly if we wanted to go after nuclear bombs
and nuclear weapons.
Salehi insists Iran's nuclear program is peaceful. I asked
why, then, was a site like the Kalaye Electric Company scrubbed
and renovated before the U.N. inspectors arrived.
AKBAR AL SALEHI:
Well, this is again a technical issue. I mean, people who
are in this area- I mean, you cannot wash a room that you
have done experiments, nuclear experiments within. It's very
easy to trace even the least amount of material in a room.
Salehi's arguments are often technical and legal, but I press
him on why they hid key parts of their energy program for
nearly 20 years. Why the deception?
AKBAR AL SALEHI:
You keep on saying deceiving. I keep on saying that we were-
I mean, had we deceived the world, we wouldn't have been in
Let me put it a different way, to be fair.
AKBAR AL SALEHI:
Why were you less than honest, or less than forthright?
AKBAR AL SALEHI:
Because of the sanctions, international sanctions.
[voice-over] When Salehi says sanctions, he's referring
to the U.S.-led trade embargo imposed after the hostage stand-off
at the U.S. embassy here in 1979. Iran says those trade restrictions
meant they couldn't buy a nuclear energy program openly, so
they turned to the black market.
is rich in oil, but they say they still need nuclear power
to meet the energy demands of a population now grown to almost
70 million. On the streets of Teheran, I try to talk to average
Iranians about the present nuclear crisis.
Do you talk about it? Do you talk amongst yourselves about
whether you have nuclear weapons in this country?
MAN IN STREET:
We talk about this.
[subtitles] Yes. Yes, we do. Yes.
Do you talk about America's threatening language against Iran?
MAN IN STREET:
[subtitles] We laugh about the joke.
MAN IN STREET:
[subtitles] Just as Israel and other countries
have that capability, Iran should be entitled to it, too.
MAN IN STREET:
I think we need it not for making bombs or anything else,
but for peaceful usage we need it.
[voice-over] This woman tells us we're wasting
[subtitles] You can't talk here. They'll kill
Away from the cameras, people ask us when the Americans are
going to attack.
Iran's annual Revolution Day. This year marks the 25th anniversary
of the overthrow of the American-backed Shah. It's below freezing,
but there's an expectation that workers in Teheran show up
at the rally.
CROWD: [subtitles] Death to America! Death to America! Death to America!
A rumor swirls that Iran's president, Mohammed Khatami, will
join the crowd himself. And then he appears, just feet away
from me. This year, the focus is on the international pressure
that Iran's under to abandon its nuclear enrichment program.
This is one of the most important issues in Iran at the moment.
Only last night, the president was on television saying they
wouldn't give up their uranium enrichment, and that's what
his speech will be about today.
[voice-over] Iran's nuclear program has become
a matter of national pride. It's a significant unifying force
against a common enemy, the United States.
KHATAMI, President of Iran:
[subtitles] Our nation, our young people and our scientists didn't
get permission or help from outsiders!
President Khatami was once seen as a potential U.S. ally,
but on the nuclear issue, he takes the same view as the hard-liners.
[subtitles] This nuclear technology completes the scientific cycle
of our country. We didn't build it to have it destroyed by
the illegitimate demands of outsiders!
We've run out of time in Iran. We head for the airport, but
we're intercepted by the security services, interrogated for
five hours and then detained for two days. The bulk of our
film of the inspectors and Iran's nuclear sites is confiscated.
What we've shown here is all we could get out.
is Vienna, the Austrian capital and home of the nuclear wing
of the U.N. It's called the IAEA, or International Atomic
inspector Chris Charlier is now back from Iran and reviewing
his files. I ask him whether he thinks Iran's energy program
has crossed the line into weapons.
Of course, today, we're not to that point because, you know,
we don't have any smoking gun about that. But it's always-
you know, if you play kind of hide and seek, you know, and
then you go around, you try to get this information, and then
they say, "Well," you know, "this one we don't have information-
if all information that we had requested to them would have
been provided to the agency, we would have been in a much
better position regarding where do we stand today.
Charlier's findings land on the desk of Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei,
the director-general of the IAEA. It's his job to write up
the evidence. His words will be pored over by diplomats on
all sides. He knows few will be happy.
EL BARADEI, Director-General, IAEA: I think I've been criticized by just about everybody in the
process of one inspection or another. I've been, you know,
criticized by the North Koreans, by the Iraqis before the
war, by the Iranians, by some of the U.S. media.
The press are gathering to hear the inspectors' findings on
ElBARADEI: Good morning to you. We are about to start our important
board meeting, where we are discussing Iran and-
Dr. ElBaradei treads carefully.
EL BARADEI: We are saying that we are making good progress, that
it was difficult at the beginning because of the pattern of
concealment by Iran, but since December of last year, we have
seen appreciable improvement in cooperation, access to sites.
Dr. ElBaradei puts a positive spin on things, but there's
tension behind the scenes. Iran says it has a right to nuclear
power under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty. Their argument
is with the diplomats who've are maneuvering to shut their
program down. The Europeans have persuaded Iran to suspend
its nuclear activities, but now Iran's threatening to restart
enrichment at Isfahan and at Natanz. If they do, the Americans
say they'll push to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council,
just like Iraq before the war.
RADEMAKER, U.S. Asst. Sec'y of State for Americans Control: We- we think there's no question but
that Iran has embarked on project to acquire nuclear weapons.
Where's your evidence?
The best evidence would be the 18 years of concealment. I
mean, clearly, there's a large-scale, multi-billion-dollar
nuclear program under way in Iran, and for 18 years, it was
carried on in a clandestine manner.
They will say they carried on in a clandestine manner because
there were sanctions against them. They had to do things on
the black market because they couldn't do things openly.
That makes absolutely no sense. They had treaty obligations
to reveal to the IAEA under a safeguards agreement this kind
[voice-over] The Iranian delegation, led by Sirus
Naseri, is here to make its own case to the world.
NASERI, Iran's Senior Nuclear Negotiator: We have a right, an inalienable right, to produce nuclear
energy, not just to use but to produce nuclear energy. That
means- and production of course, does bear- does contain within
it production of fuel, right? We have that right. It is inalienable,
and nobody can take it away from us on legal grounds.
The United States is exerting heavy pressure on Naseri and
his delegation. They've just issued a statement to all diplomats
here, reminding them how Iran hid key parts of its nuclear
program. And it's dominating the agenda.
And then are you going to make a statement about what the
Americans said today?
Do they count, the Americans?
It's- the statement that they were going out and- [crosstalk]
Untrue. When we are in the center stage, we like to be in
the center stage. We don't want others to take up our road,
OK? So we call the shots, not the Americans. [laughs]
[voice-over] The American delegation is working
the room, trying to win support for their position. It's too
sensitive an issue for any but the most senior State Department
official to discuss with us.
The position of the United States is that we would like complete
cessation and dismantlement of the enrichment program in Iran.
They would say they would not do that. That is a non-negotiable
That is what they say, but the EU-3 had the same position
on this as we do, so it is not the United States alone that
is making this demand of the Iranians. We have joined with
the EU-3 in making this demand of the Iranians.
[voice-over] I put it to Sirus Naseri whether Iran
would consider a complete shutdown of its nuclear activities.
Absolutely not. Who are the Americans to say what we want
to have- what we should have and what we should not? All they
have done is that they have done every effort in every manner
that they could to deny us technology.
But if they don't get that, they say, they'll take the whole
thing to the U.N. Security Council.
Well, you know, the next stage would be sanctions, perhaps.
What sanctions- I mean, what sanctions have not been applied
by the Americans already? You see, the Americans do not have
a game plan. I think the whole thing is becoming extremely
rhetorical within the U.S. administration. They go to the
Security Council, they think they're in driver's seat. But
where do they want to go? Where do they want to go? What can
they do? What is their point of leverage?
Well, they want you to stop your nuclear program totally because
they don't trust you.
Well, we don't trust them, either, so they should probably
also stop their fuel production, so we will trust them afterwards.
They just have to learn to be more realistic about this whole
[voice-over] In the middle of the IAEA meeting,
new information about Iran is becoming public. The inspectors
have found a secret tunnel under the uranium conversion facility
at Isfahan. Naseri is dismissing it as a storage facility.
NASERI: Second, the question has been raised about a storage
facility in Isfahan. I think there we- what it boils down
to, we have bits of miscommunication between us and the agency.
This storage facility has nothing to do with the conversion
process, it is simply a storage facility.
It's unclear what the tunnel is being used for, but the Iranians
are having a harder time explaining something else the inspectors
uncovered at the Kalaye nuclear research facility. This is
where Iran had tried a clean-up, but inspector Chris Charlier
told me he obtained samples here anyway.
We didn't know what we were swiping, we would just take from
different locations. And then, you know, when we did the analysis,
we find out that the spectrum and distribution of the particles.
And it was, yes, quite surprising to have this concentration
of particles around 36 and 54 per cent.
The particles he's talking about are more highly enriched
than Iran would need just for energy. The question is whether
Iran enriched the particles itself or whether, as Iran claims,
they were contamination that came with the centrifuges they
bought on the black market.
inspectors are trying to check out Iran's defense. In doing
so, they need to investigate a secret nuclear proliferation
network based in Pakistan. It sold Iran plans and centrifuges
for its nuclear program. Now the inspectors have obtained
some of those plans from Libya. Worryingly, they're on compact
disk. It's the first time they've spoken of this.
HEINDNEN, Chief IAEA Inspector: What we've got here is actually- are a complete set of drawings
of P1 centrifuge. It includes the drawings of every component
and how you put the thing together. It includes instruction
manuals, how you manufacture each of those pieces, how you
test that you've got a good quality, and how you test the
subsystem of the system. So this is a very valuable document,
and it's all in electronic form.
More on the nuclear black market]
The IAEA is worried about who else in the world might have
these plans. But for Chris Charlier, the focus remains on
one of the more pressing issues for the agency: total transparency
from the Iranians.
The agency should be confident that there is no other non-declared
activities and nuclear material in Iran.
Are you confident?
At this point? No. And that's why, you know, we didn't give
them a green bill yet. You know, we still have a lot of work
in front of us.
The U.N. inspectors hope to make more trips to Iran in the
coming months, but politics might prevent it. The Americans
are pushing for total cessation of Iran's nuclear enrichment
program, and Iran is not backing down.
AKBAR AL SALEHI, Former Senior Nuclear Negotiator: If confrontation is inevitable- if,
I'm saying a lot of "ifs," you see- if confrontation is inevitable,
it has never in the history of Iran been that Iran has been
as strong as it is today. Never in history of Iran, Iran has
been as strong as it is today, OK, on its own scale. And never
America has been in its- at its weakest point on its own scale,
as it is today.
if there is to be confrontation, then probably this is the
time to have the confrontation, and therefore, Iran has no
fear for that. But these are ifs and we- this is not our first
choice. Our choice is to resolve this diplomatically and peacefully.
But now, as Iran's nuclear crisis moves towards the U.N. Security
Council, diplomatic options may be getting harder to find.
ANNOUNCER: Later tonight, in Mexico, the ballad
of Juan Quezada, the poor farm boy who saved his village.
first, in Central Asia, young women struggle with an old tradition.
Kyrgyzstan: The Kidnapped Bride
Reported by: Petr Lom
[voice-over] For centuries, Kyrgyzstan was a remote
outpost along the great silk road to China. Under Soviet rule,
few Westerners came here, but now it's slowly opening up to
the world. My friend, Fatima, was born here. She grew up near
the capital, but now she's taking me deep into the country,
to a small village just outside the ancient city of Osh. A
wedding is about to get under way here. The groom is nervous
GROOM: [subtitles] I went to several girls but had no
luck. One seemed to agree, the other refused. Nobody wanted
me. This one will stay.
The guests wait hours for the bride to arrive.
NORKUZ: [subtitles] Leave me alone!
Finally, at around 10:00 at night, she is hustled into the
NORKUZ: [voice-over] Get away from me!
The bride's name is Norkuz.
NORKUZ: [subtitles] I won't stay!
She's been kidnapped from her home about a mile away. Fatima
had warned me the practice was shocking, but I still couldn't
believe what I was seeing.
WOMAN: [subtitles] We were all kidnapped.
The groom and a handful of his friends spent the day looking
for a bride before they settled on Norkuz. Now it's the women
of the groom's family who try to get the wedding scarves on
her. When the kidnappers came to Norkuz's house, they negotiated
with her brother. But now Norkuz's sister, a lawyer from Osh,
is upset about it.
SISTER: [subtitles] Don't force her!
She says that Norkuz was dating another man and was expecting
him to propose any day. She tells Fatima she's angry that
her sister is being forced to marry a stranger.
SISTER: [subtitles] She did not know of him. I don't know
if Norkuz likes him or not.
Ideally, a bride's family commands a bride price, but at 25,
Norkuz is considered old not to be married.
about an hour, Norkuz's resistance begins to wear down. Tradition
says that once the bride accepts the wedding scarves, it's
settled and the wedding can go forward.
FATIMA: Norkuz was already 25. She was happy
getting married. She was resisting, but they were saying,
like, "Come on. We all came this way." In those women's eyes,
I saw the kind of attitude here, "Come on. I know everybody
resists. It's a custom."
Fatima wasn't that surprised that Norkuz stayed, but I was.
We returned to Norkuz's new house a few days later to see
how she was doing.
NORKUZ: [subtitles] I couldn't marry my true love. Only
one in a hundred Kyrgyz girls marries her true love. Our life
is about kidnapping, accepting and living on. Don't film me!
After the kidnapping, you've no choice. You start loving,
even if you don't want to.
GROOM: [subtitles] We're happy. Keep visiting and we'll
The origins of bride kidnapping are murky. Some say Kyrgyz
men used to snatch their brides on horseback. Now they use
cars. And if a villager doesn't have a car, he hires a taxi
for the day.
More on bride kidnapping]
asks these taxi drivers if they've heard of any kidnappings.
One says he helped snatch a girl a few hours ago. They all
agree that kidnappings usually happen on the weekend.
Soviet times, bride kidnapping was banned. But in the 10 years
or so since Kyrgyzstan became independent, the practice has
come back, especially outside the cities.
is 19 years old, and his parents are pressuring him to marry.
He's got a girl in mind.
JAMANKUL: [subtitles] I'll kidnap her today, by evening.
There will be three of us. We live in the mountains, so I
need to marry.
FATIMA: [subtitles] Do you like her? Why?
JAMANKUL: [subtitles] She'll milk cows.
VOICE: [subtitles] You'll get wet!
On the afternoon of the kidnapping, Jamankul's parents start
FATHER: [subtitles] We can't afford the bride's hand.
FATIMA: [subtitles] So you're kidnapping her?
FATHER: [subtitles] They wanted too much money.
MOTHER: [subtitles] I need a bride to tend sheep.
Jamankul's father is excited about the kidnapping, but it's
his mother who's really going to benefit from the extra help.
MOTHER: [subtitles] We'll kidnap. We're ready for her.
We have money and a car.
[subtitles] We're going to Osh city. Jamankul
likes a girl there.
In the city, Jamankul goes looking for the girl he likes.
He's heard she works in the Osh bazaar. Meanwhile, his friends
try to get information about her at a vodka stand.
ULAN: [subtitles] Tell me her address.
AINAGUL: [subtitles] Whose address?
Suspecting a kidnapping, the girl doesn't want to give up
her friend's address.
AINAGUL: [subtitles] Find it yourself. I don't know where she lives.
Jamankul can't find the girl he came for. He and his friends
don't want to return home empty-handed, so just before we
leave them that night, they consider a new plan, kidnapping
the girl at the vodka stand.
JAMANKUL: [subtitles] I liked her, her looks. I couldn't
get close. She'd be suspicious.
FATIMA: [subtitles] Do you know her name?
The next morning, Fatima and I return to the vodka stand.
FATIMA: [subtitles] Where's the girl who was here yesterday?
GIRL: [subtitles] She was kidnapped. That's the rumor.
FATIMA: [subtitles] Is she ever late?
GIRL: [subtitles] Never.
WOMAN: [subtitles] You'll stay. We'll bring your parents.
Her name is Ainagul. She's been at Jamankul's house for more
than 10 hours by the time we get there.
ULAN: [subtitles] We followed her last night and kidnapped
Jamankul's older brother says Ainagul's parents have already
agreed to the kidnapping, but Ainagul is putting up a strong
WOMAN: [subtitles] Cry all you want. You'll wear it.
Ainagul is 17. She left her village a month ago to make a
life in the city and perhaps to get a degree. She doesn't
want to live in the mountains with Jamankul.
AINAGUL: [subtitles] I won't live with him.
WOMAN: [subtitles] You will. You'll never go. They're all watching you.
To finally get the wedding scarves on Ainagul's head, the
women step up the pressure. As Ainagul continues to resist,
we're told to stop filming.
few minutes later, to our surprise, Ainagul is free to go.
Later, the women curse Ainagul, saying her child will be a
drunk and her mother-in-law will be cruel.
WOMAN: [subtitles] She'll go hungry. She didn't obey. She'll never be happy.
We found Ainagul a few weeks later, living with relatives
in Osh, still shaken from the experience.
AINAGUL: [subtitles] Because of what people say, you think
you should stay. But no one lives your life. You build your
own future. Follow others and you'll be unhappy. I'd have
lived in the mountains and tended sheep. I'd be a sheep, too.
I'd be wasting my life.
The town of Balakchi is at the other end of the country from
Osh. This is where Fatima grew up. Her mother is still a school
teacher here. One afternoon, Fatima asked her about bride
[subtitles] It's a bad phenomenon. But we still
follow Kyrgyz customs. Though we want to stop violence against
women and support gender rights, we still practice bride kidnapping.
My parents blindly followed the custom during Soviet times,
Fatima's mother was kidnapped herself. It was an unhappy marriage,
but until very recently, she said, she planned to have Fatima
kidnapped, as well.
FATIMA: I had an American boyfriend, and still
my mom wanted me to be kidnapped by a Kyrgyz boy because from
the very beginning, she didn't want me to study at the university,
so she just wanted me to go back to the village and marry
a Kyrgyz boy and have babies and make bread.
[subtitles] If my daughter was kidnapped by a
man I didn't want or she hadn't dated, of course I'd suffer,
but I wouldn't go against it because it's in our blood, Kyrgyz
women's blood. It's a custom, a mentality, that bride kidnapping
is normal for us.
Fatima was not kidnapped. Last summer, she married the man
of her choice, an instructor at the American university.
FATIMA: I realized how lucky I am, that these
girls, they don't have any opportunity. The only way for them
to be treated as an equal member of the society is just to
Fatima escaped, but many Kyrgyz girls are not so lucky. Just
a week before we arrived, one girl in her mother's high school
class was involved in a kidnapping that went very wrong.
MOTHER: [subtitles] Kyal was kidnapped. They took her
in a car. They said they were classmates. We brought her body
home. They told us she killed herself. She'd never do that.
What happened is a mystery.
Kyal was snatched from outside her home. Four days later,
her father retrieved her body from a village a few hours away.
She'd hanged herself.
FATHER: [subtitles] I'll tell you what I think. I think
they kidnapped her and she refused to stay. Maybe she resisted
and was raped. So she hanged herself.
No one knows what happened, and the kidnapper's family says
they did nothing wrong. But Kyal's father is pushing for an
FATHER: [subtitles] She killed herself, but they had broken
the law. Instead of an investigation, they ruled it a suicide.
I only have her body.
Since 1994, bride kidnapping has been illegal in Kyrgyzstan,
but the law is almost never enforced. In one of the poorest
countries in Central Asia, bride kidnapping is not high on
the agenda for reform.
the end of our filming, Fatima and I witnessed a kidnapping
firsthand. It was hard, especially for Fatima. She talked
to the girl off and on for hours. And in the end, the girl
was let go. The groom, Ulan, kidnapped another girl the next
day and she stayed. They'd been married for four months when
we caught up with them at their new home in the city.
WIFE: [subtitles] I have a husband. Before I got married,
I was alone. Now I have someone to take care of and to dream
ULAN: [subtitles] She's two months pregnant.
Fatima told me she felt torn. She was against bride kidnapping
and she hoped the practice would change. And yet, as we left
Ulan and his wife, Fatima felt something else that was much
more complicated to explain. This couple seemed happy.
ANNOUNCER: Finally tonight, in Mexico, the miracle
of Mata Ortiz.
Mexico: The Ballad of Juan Quezada
Reporter: Macarena HERNíNDEZ
The Mexican state of Chihuahua and its rugged terrain is a
land of magic and myth. People here tell stories of outlaws
and heroes. They talk about hidden treasures in the mountains,
where Pancho Villa and his men once roamed. But the villages
here are now deserted. People left after the timber industry
died and the train stopped running. All that's left is this
further down the track, there's a town that not only survived
but prospered. They call it un milagro, "the miracle" of Mata Ortiz. The people here sing ballads, corridos, in honor of the man responsible for
their good fortune, Juan Quezada. His story started a long
time ago, high in the nearby mountains. Over 40 years ago,
he was a poor farm boy gathering firewood to sell in town.
[subtitles] This is good exercise.
[voice-over] Climbing up this slope, he stumbled
across a cave, and in it a treasure that would save his village.
[subtitles] I saw them here. They were buried
here. These are from a very fine material.
[subtitles] This is what you found?
[subtitles] No, I found entire pots.
[voice-over] What he'd found were beautifully painted
ceramic pots made by his ancestors, the Paquime Indians, a
lost culture from hundreds of years ago.
[subtitles] The first time I saw those pieces,
I said, "The ancient ones must have found all the materials
here. I'll just have to search and experiment. I'm going to
make one of those pots."
It took him years of trial and error, but finally, Juan Quezada
taught himself to make a good copy of the ancient Indian designs.
He made more and sold a few to passing visitors. Then some
of Juan's pots turned up in a second-hand store in New Mexico.
MacCALLUM, Anthropologist: Those pots seemed to have a life of their own. It's as if they stood up
on their hind legs and they shouted at me, "Look at us, we're
made by someone who knows who he is." And it's like a fairy
Anthropologist Spencer MacCallum searched all over northern
Mexico to find the unknown artist, and when he did, they formed
It was just the beginning of six years, full-time then, working
with Juan, developing a market in the United States that would
support the quality that he wanted to do, he aspired to.
Today Juan Quezada is famous, and his work is collected all
over the world.
[subtitles] These sell for $3,500.
But that's not the only reason the people of Mata Ortiz sing
corridos about him.
[subtitles] I remembered a proverb my mother used
to say: You don't give a fish to the needy, you teach them
how to fish. I gave everyone a bit of clay and told them,
"You will learn how to make pottery." "But Juan, it's impossible,"
they said. "How? We'll never be able to do it."
And that was Juan Quezada's miracle. Today there are hundreds
of potters in Mata Ortiz. It's a town of artisanos. No two artists' work is the same. The intricate designs painted
on these pots are still inspired by the Paquime artwork. It
takes patience and a steady hand. The artists use brushes
made with children's hair. The painting alone can take days.
More on the pottery of Mata Ortiz]
secrets of their art lie in the same streambeds and mountains
the Paquime Indians worked centuries ago.
[subtitles] In one of the mountains, we have the
clay. In the next mountain, we have the black paint. On the
other side of the river, we have different colored clays.
It's hard to find so much good material for pottery in one
Jorge Quintana is one of the town's most successful potters.
[subtitles] Thanks to the pottery, I've traveled
to many cities in the United States. It opened doors that
would've been closed. Now people think of me as an artist.
The pottery's reputation has brought prosperity to Mata Ortiz.
[subtitles] I'm proud of this work because the
buyers come here. I don't go to the U.S. for money. The dollars
come to me.
The dollars come with buyers like Jerry Boyd. He buys pots
for art galleries in the United States.
BOYD, Art Buyer:
People in the U.S. are saying, you know, this stuff is incredible.
It seems to win over whoever really gets into it. The diversity,
the colors- it has got a reputation now as being some of the
best in the world.
Many fairy tales start out with a desperately poor young woodcutter,
and that's just the way it was with Juan. Several years ago,
he was awarded the Premio Nacional de los Artes, which is
the highest honor Mexico can give a living artist. So it is
a fairy tale. And it doesn't hurt a fairy tale to be true,
[subtitles] We owe it to Juan. He's the teacher.
If Juan Quezada hadn't made pots, no one would be making them.
"All of Chihuahua wants to give you thanks, gracias," the song says, "to our great teacher,
our friend, Juan Quezada."
Directed and Reported by
co-production with the BBC
Produced and Filmed by
FOUNDATION OF KRYGYZSTAN
BALLAD OF JUAN QUEZADA
and Filmed by
PRODUCTION MUSIC, LLC
ANTONIO EXPRESS NEWS
NEWS RADIO, EDINBURG TEXAS,
DIVISION BMP RADIO
in association with the
Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism
and Educational Services
of New Media
IS A COPRODUCTION OF WGBH BOSTON AND KQED SAN FRANCISCO, WHICH
ARE SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR ITS CONTENT.
ANNOUNCER: There's more of the World to explore
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ANNOUNCER: Next time on FRONTLINE:
I decided to visit the land of my enemy.
ANNOUNCER: Filmmaker Marian Marzynski has spent
his life remembering.
MARZYNSKI: My family was wiped out by the Germans.
ANNOUNCER: But how does a new generation of Germans
live with the crimes of the past?
WOMAN: People my age don't meet any Jews. They have no problem
with the holocaust because it doesn't exist in their life.
ANNOUNCER: A Jew Among the Germans next time on FRONTLINE.
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