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Interview with Washing Post Writer Who was Detained in Iran Jason Rezaian; Interview with Daughter of Morad Tahbaz, American Detained in Iran, Tara Tahbaz; Interview with Brother of Siamak Namazi, American Citizen Detained in Iran, Babak Namazi, Interview with San Francisco Ballet Artistic Director Tamara Rojo; Interview with Trevelyan Family Fund for Grenada Laura Trevelyan. Aired 1:00-2p ET

Aired April 20, 2023 - 13:00:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.


BABAK NAMAZI, BROTHER OF SIAMAK NAMAZI, AMERICAN CITIZEN DETAINED IN IRAN: We don't even remember what life is like without this trauma and this is



AMANPOUR: A desperate plea from heartbroken families. I speak to the loved ones of Americans still behind bars in Iran and former prisoner Jason

Rezaian about the troubling rise in U.S. citizens locked up abroad.

Then, putting women's center stage. World renowned ballerina Tamara Rojo on her trailblazing career and being the first female to lead America's oldest

ballet company.

Plus, wrestling with a dark past, British journalist Laura Trevelyan tells Michel Martin how she's making amends for her slave holding ancestors.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

It's an image that no American, no family member wants to see, a fellow citizen, a loved one, sealed in a glass cage inside the lion's den. The

world got a glimpse of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich this week when he went to court in Moscow to request that his pretrial detention

be under house arrest rather than jail. No surprise, he was denied.

Gershkovich was arrested by Russian authorities two weeks ago on charges of espionage, which he denies. The United States says that he is wrongfully

detained. Gershkovich is the latest American to be picked up and thrown behind bars by a foreign government, a trend on the rise, according to the

James Foley Foundation, and it is breaking families apart.

Three Americans wrongfully detained in Iran a desperate to be freed. So much so that one of them, Siamak Namazi, made the bold decision to call

into this program from Evin Prison to plead with President Biden to help free them all. But weeks have passed and there they remain, hostage still

to the political winds.

Siamak's brother, Babak, has been working tirelessly for years to free him. And so, has Tara Tahbaz on behalf of her father, Morad Tahbaz, who is also

detained there. The two of them joined me alongside Jason Rezaian, who himself was imprisoned in Iran before being released in 2016 prisoner swap.

Welcome to all of you. Jason, can I start with you since you of all of us three guests here have actually been in jail? And you saw this week the

development in the case of Evan Gershkovich of the "Wall Street Journal." What must he be going through? He tried to get, you know, bail while they

go through his hearing, but that was denied. From your memories, how do you think he must be feeling?

JASON REZAIAN, WASHING POST WRITER WHO WAS DETAINED IN IRAN: A little bit desperate, confused. I saw images of him in the Russia -- in the courthouse

that were published after his appearance in his first trial session on Tuesday. And, you know, I think he's looking very strong and stoic, and I

think that's very heartening. But at the same time, having gone through a process similar to this one, you want to believe that there is some

justice, some fairness to the whole proceedings.

As I experienced, as Tara's dad experience, as Babak's brother experience, there's no justice in these systems in Iran, in Russia, in China. These

show trials that people get put on. And, you know, I think he must be steeling himself for a long ordeal because, unfortunately, that's likely

what he's going to face.

AMANPOUR: So, I want to play for all of you this soundbite by Evan's parents. You know, they had fled the Soviet Union in 1979. They spoke to

the "Wall Street Journal" in the aftermath of their son's arrest and imprisonment. This is what they said.


ELLA GERSHKOVICH, EVAN GERSHKOVICH'S MOTHER: What's one of the American qualities that we absorbed? Be optimistic, believe in happy ending. That's

where we stand right now. But I am not stupid. I understand what's involved. But that's what I choose to believe.



AMANPOUR: Jason you know, you know, we saw Brittney Griner. She was released 10 months after being detained in Russia. Paul Whelan, an

American, is still locked up. Do you think the parents' optimism is justified? There have been swaps. And even now, the deputy foreign minister

in Russia is saying there could be a prisoner swap, but only after the trial. And of course, the Russians are saying he was caught red handed,

which obviously he and everybody else denies.

REZAIAN: Yes. You know, I don't put any stock in what the Russian foreign ministry says. But ultimately, these kinds of gambits are an effort to

extract some kind of concession from the U.S. government. We've seen it time and again in the cases that you mentioned, also with Trevor Reed, who

was released in the swap. So, I think that there is reason for that optimism

Evan will come home, just like I know that the hostages in Iran and other countries will come home, but it's a matter of the U.S. government kind of

coming up with the political will and making a decision. It's a hard decision. I understand that. But ultimately, these are fellow citizens who

have been really thrown under the bus in foreign countries.

And, you know, while it's not the U.S. government's responsibility or fault that these people, and myself included, in the long history of this hostage

taking pattern, but unfortunately, it's on our government to bring us home. Same with the U.S., same with other European countries that are functioning

democracies. If our governments don't intervene and do what's necessary to bring people back, it's not going to happen.

AMANPOUR: I just want to turn to Tara Tahbaz because she's sitting right here with me in the studio. Your father, Morad, is in Evin, along with

Siamak Namazi and Emad Shargi.


AMANPOUR: And he's been in for several years. Siamak is the longest held, more than seven years. But your father has American citizenship and British


TAHBAZ: Correct.

AMANPOUR: He was not brought back when Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was brought back by the British government. He was not brought back in any of

the latest swaps that the U.S. have been involved. Do you have hope that he will come back?

TAHBAZ: I mean, the government -- President Biden's administration, since the first day he was in office, they kept emphasizing how wrongfully

detained Americans are top priority. But, you know, we're now two and half, I keep being told that it is a top priority. But you can only be told so

many times and then not see any action behind it until you completely lose that hope.

And I believe that they want to bring them home and that they are a top priority, but I think that they don't feel the urgency of how quickly we

need to do it. And --

AMANPOUR: And why do you think that, given that there was clearly a lot of urgency to bring Brittney Griner back from Russia, and she had been accused

of carrying illegal substances, and, yes, she was in jail for 10 months, and they got her back for a prisoner swap?

TAHBAZ: I think that, you know, they say that the Americans are priority. And my father and my mother, Emad, Siamak, they're all Americans. They're

there because they hold a blue passport and they are Americans. But I think it is hard not to believe that they are not deprioritize given that they

are dual nationals or that they don't have an institution behind them, whether it's Columbia University, Princeton University, Wilson Institute,

Wall Street Journal.

You know, I think everything that the government has done and how quickly they have moved for those is exactly what they should be doing, and it's

the right thing to be doing and we're just hoping that they will do the same for our loved ones, even though they are not a celebrity, and they're

not high profile.

AMANPOUR: In the meantime, as I said, your father is languishing in jail. And, of course, Babak, your brother, Siamak, has been languishing in jail

the longest, seven and a half. And as we -- as many people know, he did take a very, very courageous step in using a certain phone privilege to

call me, to call this network, and it was a great risk, and he did it for a reason.

And I just want to play, again, this little exert from that conversation we had in early March.


SIAMAK NAMAZI, PRISONER, EVIN PRISON: Honestly, the other hostages and I desperately need President Biden to finally hear us out, to finally hear

our cry for help and bring us home. And I suppose desperate times call for desperate measures. So, this is a desperate measure. I'm clearly nervous.

Just like it's odd for you, it's very intimidating for me to do this. I feel I need to be heard. I don't know how long I have to wait until the

White House understands that we need action, and not just told to be told that bringing us out is a priority.



AMANPOUR: I can imagine it's really hard for you to hear that again. I think it's hard for all of us around this conversation to listen to that,

just on a basic human level. And I know there was a lot of hope from Siamak and his fellow Iranian Americans in prison after that interview was

broadcast and got a lot of attention. But, Babak, there's an update, right? How is how is your brother feeling? What is he said to you since?

BABAK NAMAZI, BROTHER OF SIAMAK NAMAZI, AMERICAN CITIZEN DETAINED IN IRAN: I mean, it's heartbreaking for me to listen to this again. I mean, it just

underscores the level of desperation that Siamak feels to take this risk, as you've mentioned. And it's even more heartbreaking when he takes such a

risk, and he doesn't get any response.

I have an update from Siamak. I mean, he is feeling even more desperate that before and more despair than before having spoken to you because

before he would have anticipated that no one has heard from him, and maybe we're not getting the message through. And now, that he gets the message

through, that there will be at least some kind of response.

So, he has a message that he gave me and I want to share that with you, if I may right now?

AMANPOUR: Yes. Please do.

NAMAZI: Yes. This is -- I'm quoting verbatim Siamak. The silence I have received from President Biden in response to my despairing plea to him last

month on CNN from an Evin Prison cell hardly gives the impression that rescuing the U.S. hostages in Iran is a Biden administration priority.

Meanwhile, the plodding pace of negotiations for release is seriously dispiriting and unnerving to us. Tehran and Washington both know from

experience that they continue to drag out hostage talks, some unexpected events or the other will eventually scuttle them. Enough already.

AMANPOUR: Enough already, that is clearly, you know, a turn of phrase that everybody understands. Babak, realistically what do you expect? Your

father, I believe, has written a letter also. You know, he, obviously, we know was imprisoned, then released, then barred from leaving Iran. Finally,

he's out. He's an elderly gentleman. What is he saying about all of this? He's also an Iranian American.

NAMAZI: I mean, I'm a father and a lot of your listeners and people administration, people all around the world are fathers, how does it feel

to have your son so in such desperate need of help and then -- and you can't help him? And especially in case of my father, who was being held

within the feet of Siamak, you know, a few meters from Siamak, and could not help him.

Yes. My father also has reached out to President Biden. He's desperately sought his help and to meet him. And if it's OK, I can also read a message

from that, you know, the excerpt from that letter.

AMANPOUR: Yes, do.

NAMAZI: The message that -- I hope you are also able to grasp the constant torture I feel as helplessly watch my child suffer from afar. It broke me

to leave Iran without Siamak by my side. And though I would do everything in my power to bring home, I recognize that his fate is now primarily

dependent on your discretion. Therefore, I respectfully ask that you grant this suffering 86-year-old man the opportunity to meet with you in person,

so that I may ask to you not just as a U.S. citizen in dire need of assistance from his country's leadership, but also as one father to


AMANPOUR: Look, it's incredibly emotional. Have you received any response?

NAMAZI: Christiane, it's been seven years we've been waiting for responses and 27 months from this administration. Not -- you know, I thought I was

yelling pretty loudly and doing all I can and Siamak, obviously, with what he has been doing as the hostage himself has been so vocal and so desperate

and it's sad. And as I mentioned just beyond comprehension, at least for my family, of how is it that we have not received any response.

Again, we're not so interested in getting just a letter, a response in a sense of saying, well, yes, we hear you. But obviously, as Tara said, you

know, we need action as other hostages do. But, you know, when you have not even the most basic effort, from my family's perspective, which is to

respond to a letter, even that's not coming, it makes it more difficult to really trust that everything is being done and really believe that our

family, along with the others, are a priority when even this is not being even spent time on.


AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, Jason, and I'm going to ask Tara as well, this idea of a meeting. Why is it so important? Jason, let me ask you, did your

family -- were they granted high level meetings with Obama administration when you were held for, what, nearly two years?

REZAIAN: Yes. They had the opportunity to meet with various members of President Obama's administration at one point, Iran's foreign minister and

Secretary of State John Kerry made an arrangement that I can have a telephone call with my mother several months into my imprisonment. And I

know that Secretary Kerry called my mom after she and I had finished speaking, my brother met President Obama at the White House Correspondents

Dinner. So, yes, they had the opportunity to engage with members of the Obama administration.

And, you know, I've watched over the last couple of years, during this administration, as families have tried to secure meetings with President

Biden. You know, he's known for his empathy, and I think that there's a lot of reason to believe in that and to believe in his dedication to the safety

and security of Americans. And as we've seen with some of the hostages whose families have been able to secure meetings, some of them ended up

coming home and some haven't.

But, you know, I think getting it up to that level, not only the news and the suffering of these fellow citizens on the president's desk, but for the

loved ones to be able to look them in the eye and share their anguish I think it's very important.

AMANPOUR: So, Tara, let me let me ask you, you know, Siamak's lawyer has released a press statement, and amongst other things, he's drawing

attention to the number of wrongfully detained Americans that President Biden has met with. Brittney Griner's wife, of course, the U.S. is it war

with Russia, who was hold it -- well, a war for Ukraine against Russia with the power that was holding Brittney Griner. Paul Whelan's sister, who is

still being held there, Trevor Reed's parents, and he's spoken by phone with Evan Gershkovich's parents, the law -- the journalist of the Wall

Street Journal.

All of this is great because they -- you know, they want, as Jason said and as you all say, that feeling that it matters. You haven't had that. But you

have tried to get a letter to him. Emad Shargi's sister told me about it.

TAHBAZ: Correct.

AMANPOUR: You were there.

TAHBAZ: I was there.

AMANPOUR: So, explain.

TAHBAZ: I think that we -- it was a fortuitous moment where we were in the wrong place at the wrong time. And Neda (ph) had this letter and --

AMANPOUR: The right place.

TAHBAZ: The right place at the wrong time. And she had this letter and we, you know, had to capitalize on that opportunity that we never -- we didn't

know we would ever get that chance again.

AMANPOUR: And this is the reception for the Iranian New Year at the White House?

TAHBAZ: Correct.

AMANPOUR: That the president and first lady gave?

TAHBAZ: Correct. Yes. And we had only a couple of minutes. She wrote this letter asking, again, to please meet with our three families and how much

it means to us. And I think it's really important to be able to tell him all of our fear, our pain and our anguish firsthand. And in those few

moments of seeing him, you know, you could see that he did have the empathy and the compassion, and I think it was so important to feel that from him,

and I think it's really the people around him that are trying to block our families from getting to him.

But ultimately, President Biden will make the decision to get our loved ones home and to be able to tell him firsthand everything that we're going

through. You know, my father is 67. He has a history of cancer. He's been hospitalist from recurring complications, several times he's gotten COVID.

Emad was very close to the fires that happened in Evin in October.

Siamak's been the longest hostage there and he's been left behind by two administrations. He risked his life having the interview with you to plead

to meet with us. And I think for the hostages, hope is all that carries them through these days, and they are living day to day. It's not like next

month, next week. For them, it's just trying to get to tomorrow.

And I think the comfort of just hearing that President Biden took five minutes to meet with their families would mean so much to them, their moral

and make them feel like their names are known and their country is coming to get them. But right now, you know, we're trying to do everything

possible, and there's still no response.


AMANPOUR: And, Babak, just briefly then, what are your fears the longer this goes on? I mean, your father is an elderly gentleman. He -- does he

worry he might not see Siamak again?

NAMAZI: Christiane, I mean, how could he not? You know, I was in your program previously, and my fear was I'm not going to see my dad. And

although I'm grateful and I'm so grateful it's just amazing to see my dad and for him to see his grandchildren, we don't even remember what life is

like without this trauma and this horror, you know, just engulfing us completely.

So, obviously, being held over seven years, being left behind, you know, three or four times, how can you keep on hope, but we try. We try. My

father literally is, you know, grasping to life as long as possible to see the day that Siamak comes out as a free person.

And as Tara and as Jason and others are saying, it's not so much that we need to meet with officials. You know, we were ordinary people and this

bomb went off in our lives. We need to meet with the decision maker. Everyone we speak to just tell us that the president makes a decision, and

that's all we ask. We say, give us a few minutes. Meet with us feel. Feel us. And we were confident that this will enable a difficult yet brave and

necessary decision to be reached by the president.

AMANPOUR: So, let me finish them with you, Jason, because you've been through the tunnel, out of the tunnel, and you know what it takes. The

president of the United States authorized you're release and a prisoner exchange and actually, financial exchange. It was Iran's money. Let's not -

- you know, let's not quibble about that. But nonetheless, you know, the politics are always complicated around Iran.

What must you feeling about -- be feeling about Siamak and the ability of the political moment to have some kind of a breakthrough for him? Because

he was left behind in your prisoner swap.

REZAIAN: Yes. Look, I want to say one thing very clearly, we've seen the number of these hostage cases in Iran, China, Russia, Venezuela, a handful

of other countries on the rise over recent years. More and more members of Congress are having to deal with constituents that have been taken hostage.

This is not a partisan issue. It's never been a partisan issue, but it's never been more clear that this is an American issue. All of these people

are being held by virtue of the fact that they're American citizens.

The other thing I want to say is that doing what you need to release these people is not controversial. The real question, and we get this all the

time, you know, isn't this going to inspire more hostage taking if we do deals to release people? No. The reality is none of the research bears that


What we do know is, this is going to keep happening until countries like Russia, China, Iran feels as though there's something deterring them from

doing it. There's nothing standing in their way right now. So, until we come up with effective mechanisms to stop this scourge, we're going to have

to do deals to bring people home. Because if we don't, they're going to die in prison, and that's the reality of the situation.

So, I think that that that that Siamak, Morad, Emad, they deserve to be with their families. And unfortunately, this has dragged on so long, their

health is precarious, their circumstances are precarious and you can see and hear the heartbreak in their families. My family knows that very well.

And we just like to see these people reunited with their loved ones as quickly and safely as possible. And I hope that happens very soon.

AMANPOUR: Jason Rezaian, Babak Namazi and Tara Tahbaz, thank you so much, indeed, for being here.

TAHBAZ: Thank you.

NAMAZI: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: So, after that, next, we let the light shine in with a fearless and visionary artist. Dancer Tamara Rojo has spent her life center stage

where the leading performances for the Royal Ballet here in London are putting women's work in the spotlight as the artistic director of the

English National Ballet.

Now, she's leaping across the Atlantic to become the first woman to lead America's oldest ballet company in San Francisco. And she spoke to me from

the city's War Memorial Opera House about her upcoming debut season.

Tamara Rojo, welcome to our program.


AMANPOUR: I guess I want to start by asking you, how does it feel? You have become the artistic director of one of the oldest, certainly in

America, the most prestigious, what does it mean to you to take on this position at this time in your career?


ROJO: It's an amazing honor. This is a company of incredible reputation, that has fabulous history and dancers. So, it is also, of course, a great

responsibility. But I'm very excited and I'm very energized by San Francisco and the company.

AMANPOUR: You know, you are, it's worth saying, the first new artistic director in nearly four decades. Your predecessor has been at the helm for

37 years. You're a very European dancer at this prestigious American theater. Are you bringing -- are you going to bring a bit of Europe? Are

you -- how are you going to change things up, if at all?

ROJO: Well, I plan to build on Helgi Tomasson's legacy. He left already a legacy of excellence. And so, I plan to add my voice and bringing new

collaborators. And in fact, my first season is very much inspired by San Francisco and the stories of San Francisco and the diversity of San


So, I've spent some time trying to get to know the city and trying to get to know its history so that the world we bring and we're bringing works

about Frida Kahlo, and we're bringing works with electronic music and bringing works with Latino voices.

So, I'm here more to bring new voices into this art form and to make it relevant to the audiences of San Francisco and to ensure that the works we

do represent the city we're from.

AMANPOUR: And of course, everybody knows Frida Kahlo as the wonderful Mexican artist, wife of Diego Rivera, who has really exploded into her own,

having been overshadowed by him for so much of their life and history. So, it's really amazing that you're doing that.

I want to ask you also about one of the classics, this one was a British ballet, "Marguerite and Armand," which you performed here in the U.K., or

with the with the Royal Ballet. Apparently, one of the great performances was in San Francisco by the great Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev.

ROJO: Indeed, indeed. And I know you've already talked about Rudolf in the past. And, you know, Rudolph is a very inspiring figure to me, and I think

he was a revolutionary man to our art form. And "Marguerite and Armand" is a piece that was created for them and has rarely been performed. This will

be the second time in history that it's performed by an American company.

And of course, Margo and Rudy famously spend the summer of love here in San Francisco, and they left a legacy of fun and headlines. And I thought that

we should definitely honor that. But also bring the amazing work for the dances of the company, because it's a piece that, as I said, very few

artists, I had the privilege of performing it, and it is career transforming. So, I wanted to give the opportunity to the dancers of San

Francisco Ballet.

AMANPOUR: Just explain for those who don't know about the headlines that you mentioned, all those years ago in the summer of love, these two amazing

ballet stars. What happened?

ROJO: I think they had a lot of fun. And in one of those nights, there was a raid and I think they were, you know, perhaps in the closed vicinity of

some illegal substances. And so, they decided to jump over the roofs of San Francisco and some very fortunate photographer caught them as they were

jumping from roof to roof, and they did end up in a police station looking Margo very proper and Rudy very mischievous, as always. But it is just a

fun story that, I think, brings the peace.

And actually, they perform "Marguerite and Armand" when they were here. So, it just felt very much appropriate.

AMANPOUR: Yes. And it is a great story. I can -- I mean, it must be only ballet dancers who can leap across the roofs of San Francisco and not do

any harm to themselves. But let me ask you because you have spoken, and it's quite extraordinary, the amount of physical pressure that dancers

undergo. Tell me about the time when you arrived in Australia with a completely swollen toe. What was all that about?

ROJO: I had an untreated infection. I wasn't aware that, you know, it was just a small -- a swelled injury and I thought it was going to be OK. But

of course, the flight and all of that made it become a lot more serious, and I ended up in surgery. And you know, it's a -- I think it's a story

that I hesitate to tell because I don't think the way to handle it is particularly the way I will like the dancers I work with today to handle

things. I will hope that they take better care of themselves that I used to take care of me.


And thankfully, you know, things have moved on since then. And certainly, we are already investing a lot on having the appropriate support and the

professionals and the medical team around the dancers so that things don't get to that point.

AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, let's face it. This was your foot. I mean, what is a ballet dancer without a fully functioning foot? It was really important.

And it seems, from what I read, that you and your father came up with some development for dancers, such as yourself, who are on point and their

shoes. So, maybe it has a beneficial impact for the future. Well, what did you come up with?

ROJO: As you said, it did change the shape of my foot. And I couldn't use my point shoes. And point shoes are very specific. They are tailor made for

each ballerina. And having to go through the process of having them redone was really not something I wanted to do because, the shoes were perfect,

except from one area, which is the bunion area.

And I found out that lots of ballerinas were struggling. And my father did create a device to expand the shoes without changing the actual shape other

than in that area, and it has helped many ballerinas. It's, you know --

AMANPOUR: It's incredible.

ROJO: We've been able to share that.

AMANPOUR: And you once also kept dancing even though you had an attack of appendicitis. I mean, you really are extraordinarily disciplined and

extraordinarily able to push through the pain. But I do want to ask you, since you are the first female artistic director, and you've talked about

the inordinate pressure on dancers, especially women.

I want to put this to you, one of the principal dancers, Mathilde Froustey, said, our art is so, so hard on the body. In my generation, we didn't have

a lot of help. But in this generation, it's better, and principal dancers must talk about it.

You know, so has that pressure, particularly on appearance and weight and thinness, are we in a different time regarding that?

ROJO: I think a lot has changed over the last decade. Certainly, there's work to do, always, in making sure that the way we work is healthy and the

dancers are athletes. So, they need to be treated as such, as professional athletes that have endurance and a healthy functioning body.

And so, certainly for me, it's not about what it looks like, but what it can do, what that body can do. And that body needs to be strong and

resilient and jump and turn and be at the best of its capacity. And for that, you need the support system around it, you need nutritionists, you

need psychologists and you need a special training to ensure that also the dancers have the longest possible career.

So, certainly, I think in the case of my leadership, my motivation is to have healthy happy dancers on the stage.

AMANPOUR: Let's talk a little bit about some of the performances and pieces that you will roll out as part of your debut season. I believe "Swan Lake"

is one of them. And that is, of course, Tchaikovsky. And you know that there's controversy right now about Russian music, given Russia's savage

and illegal war on Ukraine.

Tell me what you think about that and how you chose to do this, and what is the dance who are thinking about that?

ROJO: So, I will say that there is a complete support from San Francisco Ballet, from myself, for the Ukrainian people and the terrible war they're

in at the moment, and all the families that are suffering all over the world because of it.

I think there's a different context for a composer like Tchaikovsky who died so many years ago and who unquestionably would not have fitted in the

current Russian regime. And I think there is a way that we can still honor the legacy of creators and composers or choreographers, of the past of the

Russian history, while also opposing the current Russia regime.

AMANPOUR: And again, I want to talk about women, because you've talked about much more diversity in your time as artistic director, much more

focused on women as well, not just on stage, of course, but choreographers and the like. And also, I want to talk about age, because you are in your

late 40s, Margot Fonteyn, your hero, danced until she was 60. Is it -- is ballet friendly to the older woman?


And I ask you because I was just in Spain, your home country. I watched some Flamenco, incredible, and these women who were older women, amazingly

energetic and in command, and it just goes to show that, you know, you don't have to end your career at 25 or 30.

ROJO: I agree. I certainly -- you know, I danced until last year. I'm 48. So, I definitely don't think that you need to stop in your 20s or 30s. I

also feel -- and it has been my experience that women become better dancers and better artists after they become mothers, all the principal ballerinas

of English National Ballet and they're my tenure were mothers.

So, I think there is certainly space for the progression, the artistic progression and the maturity of all the dancers. At the same time,

classical ballet itself has a physical demand that there is a point where, perhaps, your body cannot continue to that level of excellence. But that

doesn't mean you cannot continue to dance. There's you know, such a wide variety of work that can be done. There's, you know, narrative work and

dramatic work and work created specifically for dancers of a different generation.

So, I think it's more a question of choosing what you dance rather than stopping, because you can no longer do "Swan Lake," perhaps.

AMANPOUR: So, presumably, those, you know, audience members in San Francisco will see you dance on the stage as well?

ROJO: No. I am very happy in my dancing retirement and I have no intention of getting back on the bar. I don't miss it at all. I had an amazing

career. But now, I'm focused on enabling other people to achieve their aspirations.

AMANPOUR: Well, everybody is waiting for your debut season. Tamara Rojo, thank you so much indeed.

ROJO: Thank you very much.

Next, we turn to history and its aftermath. Nearly two centuries after its abolition, reparations are long overdue for the descendants of the slave

trade. In a historic move, former BBC journalist, Laura Trevelyan, and her family have recently publicly apologized for their ancestral ownership of

over 1,000 slaves on the Caribbean Island of Grenada.

Trevelyan says that she will make a 100,000 pound donation and is now a full-time advocate for reparative justice. And, most recently, she's

requested apologies from the new king of England, Charles, and the British government for their past ties to slavery. Here she is with Michel Martin.


MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Laura Trevelyan, thank you so much for talking with us.

LAURA TREVELYAN, TREVELYAN FAMILY FUND FOR GRENADA: It's a pleasure, Michel. Thank you so much for the opportunity.

MARTIN: Your story is actually more common than I think a lot of people would like to admit. The difference here, of course, is that you are facing

this story squarely and directly and talking about it publicly. So, let's start at the beginning of how you learned that your family had enslaved,

what, like 1,000 people in Grenada, something that someplace you've never actually been. So, how did you learn this?

TREVELYAN: Actually, far more than 1,000 over the years, Michel. But, yes. So, what happened is in 2013 in Britain, University College of London

published a database which showed the compensation which was paid to all of the people who owned slaves when slavery was abolished in Britain in 1833,

which might seem like a head scratcher. Why did the owners of the enslaved get compensation and not the enslaved? But the answer is that was the only

way that Britain could get abolition through parliament, where there were many lawmakers who were themselves are plantation owners in the West


So, this database of the 46,000 individuals who were paid compensation in 1834, the year of the revolution, was published online in 2013, and

immediately the database crashed. You know, people logged into it, it couldn't stand the volume, as you can imagine. And then, in about 2016,

somebody in my family who had idly typed Trevelyan into this database e- mailed me because I was supposed to be the family historian. I had written a book in 2006 about family history, which, by the way, had nothing of this

in it because I didn't know.

And this cousin e-mailed and then he said, oh, my gosh, Laurie, you won't believe it. Do you know that it says in the database that the Trevelyan's

compensation for six different plantations in Grenada and that we owned more than 1,000 slaves at the time of abolition? Do you know that? And I

said, no, I had no idea. And this cousin said, I'm shocked. I have called (ph). This has changed my whole vision of our family. It's terrible. What

do you think?

MARTIN: Tell me what went through your mind and frankly, I would not be surprised, no, what I judge you if at the moment it was nothing -- not very

much at all. I mean, it just isn't the kind of thing you pick up the phone and expect to hear.



MARTIN: So, do you remember what went through your mind in the moment and then --


MARTIN: -- subsequently?

TREVELYAN: No, I do. And I'm embarrassed to admit that it wasn't anything noble at all. It was, first of all, oh, my gosh, you know, how

embarrassing. I've written this book in 2006, and it has nothing of it in it. I'll have to update the book in the paper, should there be another

paperback, was my initial reaction, which isn't noble or anything.

And then, my -- and then I thought, you know, this is shocking, and it's appalling. And then, I thought, huh, you know, that's the real story there

for some point. Nora Ephron, the American screenwriter, said that all life is copy. And so, I thought this is a story that someday I have to look at

it. I have to think about it.

But and then, came 2020, and, you know, that summer and living here in New York City, covering Black Lives Matter, the reaction to the death of George

Floyd, so many protests right here in Brooklyn, where I live. And then I really was forced to think that if a legacy of slavery in America is police

violence towards black men, then what does this mean that my family, my ancestors were slave owners in Grenada? Not that far from where I am now.

MARTIN: Do you remember how that thought occurred to you? And I'm wondering if you think it was like, sort of, you know, like the pilot light

in the furnace, something that was on but that you don't think about until you have to?

TREVELYAN: Well, I think that's a good analogy, the pilot light. So, I think, you know, the match litter flame in 2016, and then it burned slowly.

And then, I think that in that summer of 2020, the flame began to burn a lot more brightly. And you know, how it was that summer, you'll remember,

you know, as journalists being confronted with this reckoning in America finally, and it's not like I had covered police brutality towards black men

in the years since I've lived in the states, but it was the intensity of that summer and the way in which all aspects of American life and racism

were being were being confronted.

And then, I thought, well, you know, here's the skeleton in the closet that, really, I need to think about. So, I've began the process of asking

BBC commissioning editors, because I've been at BBC for 30 years, you know, could you commission a documentary? Would you send me to Grenada? Could

this be part of the wider story? You know, Britain's forgotten slave owning past.

Because in Britain, we are really taught that the British abolished slavery in 1833. That was what I learned in school. Not that we were major

participants in the slave trade. That bit is really downplayed. And instead, a reckoning was happening in Britain, just as it was here in the

U.S. and across the world. And so, you know, it took a while to persuade everybody and then, this was something that was worth doing.

And my commission editor at the BBC, Hugh Levinson said, you know, Laura, if you go, if we're going to send you, you have to ask the question, should

I pay reparations? You know, you can't go unless you dare ask that question of everyone you meet Grenada.

And so, then, I got to go with a fantastic young Haitian American producer, Koralie Barrau, herself a descendant of the enslaved in Haiti. And so, we

went on this journey together to Grenada last year.

MARTIN: What was it like when you landed? What went through your mind? What was it like?

TREVELYAN: Really extraordinary. The first thing that we did was land and go to Bosaju (ph), which is one of the largest sugarcane -- former

sugarcane plantations on the island. A beautiful location with a huge plantation house. It's not the original house, but it -- you know, it looks

like something from the movies, what you would think a sugarcane plantation would look like, with a huge house on the hill, these sloping hills,

ancient buildings where the sugarcane factories were.

And I looked at this place, which was once so beautiful and so terrible and I felt a shiver going down my spine, and I -- you could just imagine the

picture with the slave master in the big house with the enslaved at the bottom of these slopes, and it was so hot, Michel, so hot and just thinking

of people toiling away and the machetes.

And I met there DC Campbell, who's a Grenadian historian, lives in the U.S. now, and I met DC there and he said, you know, Laura, think of it. Here we

are in Bosaju (ph), me a descendant of the enslaved and you a descendant of slave owners. Think of that. And -- but the weight of the moment just

really hit both of us under that blue Caribbean sky and that -- the hot sun and it was like we were back up 200 years.

MARTIN: But you weren't though. And I guess I'm wondering what that was when you say that, we were back 200 years, I mean, did it make you feel,

what, complicit? Did it make you feel guilty?


TREVELYAN: Not guilty because it wasn't me, but just the sense that this is part of Britain's past and part of Britain's wealth that was accumulated

here, there, in these sugarcane plantations of the Caribbean. And that it's unacknowledged really. I think that was what hit me, is so few British

people are taught the extent of the slave trade and the legacy of it as well.

The fact that this was a system of wealth extraction. That was what we talked about that afternoon, was how the enslaved got absolutely nothing

when slavery ended, apart from they had to work for free, a system of apprenticeship, that was also part of the -- you know, the deal in

Britain's parliament, that not only did the slave owners get compensation, but their workforce were referred to as apprentices and had to work for

them for free for another few years.

So, then the Caribbean is left with this legacy of illiteracy, of poverty and emancipation. So, there was just so much that I learned when I was

there about how the past does inform the present.

MARTIN: Well, the question was put to you not just, OK, now, that you know about this, the other question is, what are you going to do about it? And

you are, in fact, doing something about it, you and your family, mainly you, are, in fact, paying reparations. Tell me about that.

TREVELYAN: Yes. Well, so Hilary Beckles is the chair of the CARICOM Reparations Commission, and the preeminent intellectual at the Caribbean,

author of "Britain's Black Debt," which is a really excellent book about the debt that Britain owns that Caribbean. So, he's really one of the

authors of CARICOM's Ten Point Reparations Plan, and that plan begins with -- and this is a request, by the way, to the formal -- former colonial

powers. It's not a request to individual families like my own. But nonetheless, we used it as a guide.

Point number one is an apology. You know, the importance of an apology. And then CARICOM's Reparations Plan calls for debt relief and investment in

health and education. Because these -- you know, with the wealth extraction, there was no chance to invest in health or education. The

Caribbean nations have been playing catch up forever.

So, we use this as bit of a model and a guide for ourselves, and we worked with Grenada's National Reparations Committee, Nicole Philip-Dowe, who was

the vicechair of that committee. I worked closely with her and with Sir Hilary to try to figure out what was the best thing to do and, you know,

talked to many family members and we tried to hurdle -- you can imagine what that's like -- 104 and four family members signed our letter of

apology that we delivered in Nader (ph).

But, you know, not all 104 family members really have very much money or in a position to give. So, people are giving what they can. I myself giving

are 100,000 pounds. And we settled on education and the University of the West Indies has a bursary funding Grenada for mature students. So, that's

something we're giving money to, and also to a rural charity for schoolchildren in Grenada, which helps with the cost of getting to school,

school busses and school supplies, because these seemed like very practical things. And if, you know, one of the legacies have been slavery was

illiteracy and the education gap, then this, you know, seemed like something that it was important to fund.

MARTIN: I can imagine that there are people on both sides, there are some who would say, Laura, you're crazy. You know, that's your pension. You

earned that. What are you doing? And I'm imagining that there are other people who would say, that's never enough and it's purely performative and

therefore, you know, meaningless. And I'm -- I don't know if you engage with either of those perspectives, but if you do, what do you think about


TREVELYAN: I mean, yes, for sure. And when we went to Grenada, that question was asked a lot. You know, this isn't very much money, is it,

100,000 pounds when your ancestors got 3 million pounds when slavery was abolished, plus earned who knows how much from the sale of sugarcane over

maybe 8,200 years. And the answer is that, you know, no amount of money can possibly be enough for the horror -- to compensate for the horror of what


And you know, enslavement in the Caribbean resulted in the population dropping the number of Africans who were shipped from West Africa to the

Caribbean. There was no natural population growth. There was a population decline because of the brutality and the hideous conditions. So, money

can't make up for that.

But what I hope -- and yes, you're right, the sort of attack comes to the left and the right. From the right is where will this end, you know, going

to apologize for everything forever. And, you know, this was the past sort of thing. And then the left, well, this is just, you know, meaningless

white savior making privilege, P.R., et cetera.


But I think Sir Hilary Beckles persuaded us that if we became the first British family whose ancestors were slave owners to publicly apologize, he

said, you will set an example, you will encourage others to follow and you will help a little bit to fill that void that we have in the Caribbean

where we don't know our history. All we know is that our ancestors were kidnapped from Africa and we were dumped in the Caribbean. But you're

actually part of our history and there's been a deafening silence from descendants of slave owners, for obviously reasons, people are scared of

the reaction. But it will be part of the healing process, even though it will be painful and it will be turbulent, it's important to do it.

And I've been contacted by a number of families since our apology who -- British families whose ancestors were slave owners in Jamaica, Guyana,

Barbados, who have said, how did you do this? How can we do this? We want to acknowledge our -- this painful past but we don't know how. So, can you

can you help? And so, I have said what we did.

And in a way, in the Caribbean, is quite straight forward, Michel, because there are all these reparations committees on all the islands and CARICOM.

There are people that you can talk to who want to talk to you about them.

MARTIN: What other observations do you have about the difference between the conversation in the U.K. and in the conversation in the United States

as a person who's been a reporter in both the U.K. and the United States for some time, what do you notice about the differences in the way these

things are discussed? And what do you make of it?

TREVELYAN: I think one of the things that nobody really says but -- which is true and the British Nigerian historian, David Olusoga, has just said,

is that American slavery was British slavery. It was, you know, until America was independent, then slavery brought here by the British, you

know, America was a British colony. This was -- there was no distinction between American slavery and British slavery. So, that's one thing.

So, you know, I was taught in school that the British abolished slavery way before those terrible Americans. But, of course, those terrible Americans

were actually us until they were independent. So, there's that. And you know, we've just seen now, "The Guardian" newspaper, uncovering the fact

that shares of the royal family -- of the Royal African Company, when they were sold, the royal family profited from them, which you would expect.

I mean, the duke of York ran the Royal African Company and he later became king of England. So, there's this long and deep link between the royal

family and enslavement. And Prince Harry, in his book, "Spare," makes a passing reference to the fact that the wealth of the royal family is partly

built off the backs of the enslaved.

But only now we're seeing the royal family acknowledged this with the death of the queen, with a new generation. We're seeing now King Charles, who was

head of the commonwealth, which has many formerly enslaved nations in it, King Charles has confirmed that the royal family is supporting research,

academic research into the links between the royals and slavery, which, although it's long overdue, but it is important and significant, and it's

part of this long overdue process that we're talking about of acknowledgement, which is only the beginning, of course.

MARTIN: Drawing upon your long experience in the United States, what do you make of this argument that this makes white people feel bad and that

this cannot -- this these kinds of conversations cannot be had because they make white people feel bad, especially white children, this is something

that one we've been hearing in these very kind of raucous school board meetings where people are, you know, demanding the removal of certain books

and ideas and courses, you know, from the curricula that it introduces guilt, and therefore it's bad? What do you say to people who say that?

TREVELYAN: Well, I think it's just really important to acknowledge the pain of the past and to be honest about it. And it is painful. But, of

course, you know, you don't want to make white children feel guilty for what their ancestors did and nor should that be the aim of anything and nor

do I think it is the aim of any of these programs.

But it's -- you know, it's hard to talk about difficult issues, honestly, but it's really important to do it. And I think it's just a question of the

tone that you use really.

MARTIN: Laura Trevelyan, thank you so much for speaking with us today.

TREVELYAN: Thanks so much, Michel.


AMANPOUR: That's some extraordinary story.

And that is it for now. If you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. Remember, you can always

catch us online, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.