By Mick Krever, CNN
The world risks losing a generation of Syrian children if it ignores their plight, Malala Yousafzai – the Pakistani girl who made a miraculous recovery after being shot in the head by the Taliban – told CNN on Tuesday.
“It’s a risk to all of us if we ignore them,” Malala, as she is known to her legions of followers, said.
“People should focus on their bright future, because their bright future means our bright future, and the future of the whole world.”
Malala visited on Tuesday travelled to the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan to meet with the young victims of Syria’s grinding war. She spoke from there with CNN’s Hala Gorani, filling in for Christiane Amanpour.
“So many children, they can’t go to school, they cannot get education,” Malala said, overlooking the refugee camp.
CNN's Christiane Amanpour talks to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague about the conflict in Syria and recent protests in Bosnia.
By Dominique van Heerden, CNN
As heads of state met in London for a major anti-poaching conference, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague spoke to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour about everything from poaching, to conflict in the Central African Republic and Syria, and the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
The British government has just hosted the Illegal Wildlife Trading Conference in the hopes they, along with affected countries, can find a solution to protect the world’s most iconic species from extinction, because “we are in the eleventh hour”.
“Rhino populations have been devastated with one killed every ten or eleven hours at the moment. The illegal trade in ivory has doubled in the last six years,” Hague tells Amanpour.
Incidents of poaching are on the rise fueled by a growing demand for ivory and rhino horn in Asia.
There are also concerns that poaching is helping to fund violent groups in the region.
When asked what he expected to be different after this conference, Hague says this is a “turning point,” citing an important combination of measures that African countries are going to take, including destroying stockpiles of ivory.
And it’s not just African countries who have pledged to take action; he says the countries through whom these products are transported have committed to do more to intercept illegal ivory and “treat the trade as serious organized crime”.
“This is a moral issue that these great animals have as much right to inhabit this world as we do…”
Crisis in the Central African Republic
Another major problem stalking the African continent is the ongoing crisis in the Central African Republic, where the United Nations is warning of “ethnic cleansing” as fighting between Muslims and Christians spirals out of control.
Although there are already French troops in the country, and thousands of African forces are being deployed, Hague says they need more help, and “more help is coming from Europe”.
Britain will not be sending troops to the Central African Republic though, instead they will help with humanitarian aid and logistical support, “but other European countries are going to do more,” Hague tells Amanpour, and he says it is “absolutely crucial” to have the involvement and support of other African states.
Assad “not intending to budge”
Christiane Amanpour also spoke to the UK’s Foreign Secretary about Syria, and the lack of progress in trying to find a solution to the country’s civil war. As the latest round of Geneva talks failed to bring about any notable progress, William Hague says President Bashar al-Assad is “clearly not intending to budge”.
“This has gone backwards and forwards over three years now. And so I think it would be a mistake for this regime to think it’s now so strong it doesn’t need to do anything.”
Britain is still providing help to the opposition, “practical support that isn’t lethal,” Hague says.
“We’ve never taken the position in any of these conflicts that we send lethal supplies. And it’s very hard for us to guarantee what happens to those lethal supplies. And that, of course, is a major difficulty for us.”
He adds that he is “not holding out any prospect” of changing position on lethal supplies in the near future, but says that Britain does want to be able to send “more practical support of other kinds that saves lives”.
The conflict in Syria is creeping closer to home for Britain where there are reports of British nationals traveling to Syria to fight in the war. Hague calls these reports “credible”.
“Hundreds of people from Britain and many other Western countries involved in going to fight in Syria and that is a huge concern for us,” he says.
Asked how he plans to tackle the problem, Hague tells Amanpour there are some actions they can take, like depriving people of their passports and canceling visas for those who are resident in the UK, who they “believe are a threat”.
But ultimately, he says, “the solution lies in resolving the conflict in Syria… That is the only long-term answer to this”.
A final thought on Sochi
There was a lot of uproar in the weeks leading up to the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi over concerns about security and human rights in Russia.
But despite the “differences” between Britain and Russia, William Hague says he wants it all to go well.
“We want any Olympics anywhere in the world to be successful and to be safe,” he says, “and yes we have some differences with Russia over some issues such as LGBT rights, but we want them to succeed in hosting a successful Olympics”.
Click on videos above to watch Amanpour's extensive interview with William Hague.
By Mick Krever, CNN
A World Food Programme aid director on the ground in Syria described to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday the desperate situation of civilians in war-ravaged Homs – something he said he had “never seen” before in his career.
“Nobody is able to actually feed themselves, feed their children, feed their families, with anything but the weed, the grass that they can pick on the side of the curb and what little that they can eke out from what they’ve saved over time,” Matthew Hollingworth, Syria director for the World Food Programme, said on the phone from Homs.
“They’re living in tunnels, they’re living in basements of apartment buildings which are otherwise destroyed, basements of shopping centers.”
“They are barely, and they have been barely, existing,” he said. “I’ve never seen levels of deprivation such as this.”
Today marks yet another key deadline that Syria has missed to get rid of its chemical stockpiles.
The chemical weapons deal, brokered by the United States and Russia in September last year seemingly has little to show for itself. Even after recent peace talks in Geneva the Syrian regime continues to rain its military might on cities and civilians across the country.
CNN’s Christiane Amanpour spoke to Syria’s former government spokesman in his first television interview since announcing his resignation in February 2013.
Jihad Makdissi served as spokesman through the first year of the civil war, but is no longer a supporter of the Assad government or the opposition. He left his position defending the government after realising Syria was not “heading towards a political solution” even though he had hopes that President Bashar al-Assad would take “reformist actions”.
When asked if President Assad thinks he can win on the ground, Makdissi told Amanpour his view is the Syrian government “still believes in a security solution" for the conflict, and that “any political concession is not in their dictionary yet”.
But he says the international community needs to acknowledge this conflict is “no longer about Assad”. “What most Syrians want the international community to concentrate on”, he says, is, “on Syria achieving change”.
Click above to watch the full interview.
With fears that Syria’s chemical weapons deal brokered by the US and Russia has only “strengthened” Bashar al-Assad’s government, one eyewitness inside Syria tells CNN the regime has stepped up its firepower in his Damascus suburb.
“We have been hit by barrel bombs for more than a month now. Just today twelve barrels were sent to Daraya,” Mohammed Abuyamen tells Christiane Amanpour.
Barrel bombs are metal cylinders filled with shrapnel and fuel, dropped from the sky. The bombs have killed dozens of civilians in the past few days, hitting targets including a mosque and makeshift school.
US Secretary of State John Kerry is the latest to speak out against these air raids: “Each and every day that the barrel-bombing of Aleppo continues the Assad regime reminds the world of its true colors”.
For his part, Abuyamen tells Amanpour he believes there’s a definite motivation behind the use of these bombs, saying “the regime is trying to show off its power while it is negotiating in Geneva, it is trying to get the strongest stand there. This is why he’s destroying the cities inside Syria, just to tell the world ‘I don’t care, I can kill everybody if you don’t accept my terms’”.
Click above to watch the full interview.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says alleged Syria torture, killing photos represent "a crime against humanity"
The transcript of Christiane Amanpour's full interview with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu can be found here.
By Mick Krever, CNN
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should take peace talks seriously and transition out of power, or face the International Criminal Court, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.
Responding to photos that allegedly prove systematic torture and killing by the Syrian regime, Davutoglu, said “those photos are clear evidences … this is a crime against humanity.”
Davutoglu spoke with Amanpour from Montreux, Switzerland, where world powers are trying to broker an improbable peace in Syria.
Amanpour was the first to report, with the Guardian on Monday, on an investigation alleging that the Syrian regime is murdering prisoners on a mass scale. The investigation was authored by a team of international legal and forensic experts and based on thousands of photographs provided by a Syrian defector.
“All of those who committed this crime must be accountable,” Davutoglu said. “We should not be doing the same mistake like what happened in Srebrenica.”
“In Srebrenica some people tried to turn their eye and some tried to ignore Srebrenica for some time. But Srebrenica has happened and it was a shame for international community.”
Part one of Christiane Amanpour's exclusive interview with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Part two of Christiane Amanpour's exclusive interview with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Part three of Christiane Amanpour's exclusive interview with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
The transcript of Christiane Amanpour's full interview with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev can be found here.
By Mick Krever, CNN
The killings portrayed in photos allegedly proving torture of prisoners by the Assad regime are “crimes,” but it is not clear who is responsible and the claims must be proven in court, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview that aired Wednesday.
“These are crimes, of course,” Medvedev told Amanpour at his office outside Moscow, but the case “should have firm proof legally.”
“I know there are a lot of victims, and that's very sad, but that does not mean that the existence of victims or victims in a particular place is the proof that those are the victims of the regime and not the bandits who were doing something or any other force.”
The investigation alleging that the Syrian regime is murdering prisoners on a mass scale, first reported by Amanpour on Monday, was authored by a team of international legal and forensic experts and based on thousands of photographs provided by a Syrian defector.
The defector claimed to have worked as a photographer at a military hospital that received dead bodies from detention centers.
Amanpour showed Medvedev gruesome pictures of emaciated corpses and torsos covered from neck to groin in bludgeon wounds.
“You know, in my university where I was studying law, I was taught that until the fact of guilt is proved in court, a person cannot be claimed guilty,” he said.
“We cannot say that Assad is a criminal without investigation,” he told Amanpour. “So probably this other trial should be held on the territory of Syria after the conflict subsides. It's the right of the Syrian people.”
Syria's Justice Ministry on Wednesday categorically denied allegations published in a new investigation, and first reported two days ago by CNN's Amanpour, accusing the regime of torturing and killing thousands of detainees in government custody.
The government called the report "politicized and lacking in objectivity and professionalism," according to a statement on the sate news agency SANA.
The report was authored by a team of renowned international legal and forensic experts, based on thousands of photographs provided by a Syrian defector who claimed to have worked as a photographer at a military hospital that received dead bodies from detention centers.
The U.S. says that gruesome photos that may prove torture by Syria's Assad regime are "extremely disturbing."
CNN reported exclusively on the story Monday; a team of internationally renowned war crimes prosecutors and forensic experts say they have found "direct evidence" of "systematic torture and killing" by the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
"These latest reports that you referenced, and the photos that support them, suggest widespread and apparently systematic violations by the regime in an effort not only to deny freedom and dignity to the Syrian people but also to inflict significant and physical pain in the process," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf told CNN on Tuesday.
"As we have said before, the Syrian regime is responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity. These most recent images I think presented by your network first, are extremely disturbing."
"They are horrible to look at and they illustrate apparent actions that would be serious international crimes and we have long said that those responsible for these kind of serious violations in Syria must be held to account."