30 episodes

Al Jazeera’s weekly investigative documentary programme that looks at the use and abuse of power.

People & Power Al Jazeera English

    • News
    • 5.0 • 12 Ratings

Al Jazeera’s weekly investigative documentary programme that looks at the use and abuse of power.

    • video
    South Africa: My Father Died For This | People and Power

    South Africa: My Father Died For This | People and Power

    As South Africa's apartheid government fought to cling onto power in the latter half of the 20th century, it routinely imprisoned, tortured and murdered its opponents in the liberation movement.

    Controversially, in the years that followed the end of white minority rule, many of those crimes went unpunished.

    In 1995, President Nelson Mandela's new African National Congress (ANC) administration established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to help heal the country by revealing the facts about the era's gross human rights violations.

    However the commission's emphasis was on gathering evidence, publicly acknowledging abuses and hearing testimony from victims, rather than on prosecuting the perpetrators - many of whom were granted amnesty in return for participating in the process.

    The reconciliation hearings helped unify the new South Africa but they also disillusioned and frustrated many survivors and victims' families who wanted more than mere acknowledgment of their suffering - and who have never given up hopes of justice.

    Lukhanyo Calata is one of them. His father was part of a group of anti-apartheid activists - famously known as the Cradock Four - who were assassinated by security forces in 1985. No one has ever been prosecuted for orchestrating or committing the murders, but as this episode of People and Power reveals, Lukhanyo remains utterly determined to hold his father's killers to account.

    (Material from The National Archives and Records Service of South Africa has been used in this programme)

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    • 26 min
    • video
    The Bay of Piglets | People and Power

    The Bay of Piglets | People and Power

    Latin America has seen a remarkable number of revolutions and coups d'etat over the last century. However, whether military endeavours, covertly backed by foreign governments, or the result of purely domestic political pressure, they have not always been successful or achieved their aims.

    Yet few can have failed quite so miserably as a woeful attempt in May 2020 to overthrow the Venezuelan government.

    The plot of this often bizarre tale has many elements that will be familiar to students of the region's history - not least a cast of political exiles, military renegades, US mercenaries and at least one very controversial president. But it also throws up many intriguing questions about who was behind it and what exactly they hoped to gain.

    People & Power investigates an affair that many - with a sardonic nod to more infamous events elsewhere - have dubbed The Bay of Piglets.

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    • 26 min
    • video
    Poland's Church and State Alliance | People and Power

    Poland's Church and State Alliance | People and Power

    Poland is widely regarded as Europe's most socially conservative country, so it is not especially surprising that its current right-wing government and its Catholic Church enjoy a mutually supportive relationship based around shared values.

    But critics say this concord has become increasingly toxic in recent years; that in the interests of advancing its moral agenda, the Church has stood by while the government eroded democratic norms, and that both have drawn strength and popularity from the demonisation of others -  foreigners and migrants, the LGBTQ community and, most recently, campaigners for women's rights.

    In October 2020, things came to a head when Poland's constitutional tribunal, the highest judicial authority in the land, announced it would implement an almost total ban on abortion - a long-cherished ambition of both the country’s de facto leader, Jaroslav Kaczynski of the nationalist Law and Justice Party, and his allies in the church.

    The decision brought many thousands of people onto the streets in protests that continued even after the ban came into effect in late January - reflecting growing public disquiet about the nature and consequences of Poland's church and state alliance.

    We sent filmmaker Glenn Ellis to find out why.

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    • 25 min
    • video
    The Cost of Cobalt | People and Power

    The Cost of Cobalt | People and Power

    In the Katanga region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), increasing numbers of babies are being born with horrific birth defects. Some of this, scientists say, is due to a huge surge in the global demand for cobalt - a metallic element that is playing a key role in the battle to reduce carbon emissions and slow climate change.

    Cobalt is vital for the manufacture of lithium batteries used in electric cars and the DRC has at least 60 percent of the world's reserves - mostly in and around Katanga.

    But according to research published in The Lancet medical journal and elsewhere, cobalt extraction, smelting and other related industrial practices in the region are polluting the environment and contaminating people working in the mines or living close to them. The health consequences are dire - especially for pregnant women and the children they bear.

    Filmmakers Robert Flummerfelt and Fiona Lloyd-Davies - with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting-  have been to investigate.

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    • 25 min
    • video
    Lebanon: A State in Collapse? | People and Power

    Lebanon: A State in Collapse? | People and Power

    On August 4, 2020, Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, was devastated by a huge blast.

    Some 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, stored - somewhat inexplicably - in a harbourside warehouse with a cache of fireworks, caught fire and then exploded with the force of a magnitude 3.5 earthquake.

    More than 200 people were killed, 6,500 were injured and homes, offices and public buildings were shattered across the city. The cost in damaged infrastructure alone was subsequently estimated at billions of dollars. And of course, the blast took place amidst a coronavirus pandemic that was already stretching the country's hard-pressed medical services to breaking point.

    A disaster on such a scale would knock any nation to its knees, but it could hardly have come at a worse time for Lebanon, which in recent years has been trapped in spiralling political and economic problems.

    Understandably, many of its citizens believe those problems and the August 4 blast stem from the same underlying cause: the woefully ineffectual government and financial management provided by a ruling elite that is entrenched in power along sectarian lines, but which habitually spends more time squabbling about how to divide the spoils than it does on running the country.

    So what are the consequences of this seemingly interminable crisis for the people of Lebanon and will the country be able to recover? We sent filmmaker Nada Issa to find out.

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    • 26 min
    • video
    Singapore's Infected Dorms | People and Power

    Singapore's Infected Dorms | People and Power

    As the coronavirus spread around the world in early 2020 and governments grappled with the speed and scale of the unprecedented threat, the consequences for millions of migrant workers in Asia and the Middle East - who often live far from home and in less-than-ideal conditions - attracted little attention.

    For several months we followed one such group in Singapore, where the authorities - who were lauded for their response to the pandemic in the general population - struggled at first to contain a dramatic outbreak of infection in transient workers' housing.

    Overcrowded and sometimes unsanitary dormitories proved to be a breeding ground for COVID-19 and the government's initial response - to isolate the residents from the outside world - inevitably led to increased transmission within the accommodation itself.

    Eventually, things improved markedly as Singapore managed to divert resources and create new bespoke facilities for those testing positive. Subsequently, the city state has introduced new housing standards to make dormitory living more resilient to public health risks.

    But the experience left its scars on those who lived through it. This is their story.

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    • 26 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
12 Ratings

12 Ratings

Le Mint ,

Astute Reportage

As with other Al Jazeera English programmes, People and Power is excellent in its coverage. I have personal experience with one of the recent topics ("Panama: Village of the Damned"), and I have to say that what I saw during my time in that region of Panama was well captured by the Al Jazeera crew.

I especially recommend People and Power, and other Al Jazeera English programmes, to my fellow U.S. citizens, so that they might get more than the usual mainstream "media-tainment" that passes for news in our country these days.

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