News & Election Videos

Libyan Civil War; France Backs Opposition in Libya; Risk of Military

Kristie Lu Stout, Ben Wedeman, Jim Bittermann, Phil Black, Eunice

xfdci NEWS-STREAM-01


Date: March 10, 2011>

Time: 08:00:00>

Tran: 031001cb.k31>

Type: SHOW>

Head: Libyan Civil War; France Backs Opposition in Libya; Risk of Military

Intervention - Part 1>

Sect: News; International>

Byline: Kristie Lu Stout, Ben Wedeman, Jim Bittermann, Phil Black, Eunice

Yoon, Nima Elbagir, Sara Sidner, Mark Saunders, Alex Thomas, Max Foster>

Guest: Justin Dillon>

High: An update on the latest battles going on in eastern Libya. France

backs the opposition in Libya. NATO defense ministers are gathering in

Brussels, and they're all too aware of the risks involved in military

intervention in Libya. The Dalai Lama has announced that he will retire as

the head of the Tibetan exile movement. Cairo's Tahrir Square sees new and

violent clashes.>

Spec: Libya; Ras Lanuf; France; NATO; Military; Dalai Lama; Tibet; China;

Egypt; Cairo; Violence; Religion; Protests>

Time: 08:00:00>

End: 08:59:00>

KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: Welcome to NEWS STREAM, where news and technology meet.I'm Kristie Lu Stout, in Hong Kong.

NATO considers possible military options as Libya's civil war claims more victims.

Changing roles for a spiritual leader. The Dalai Lama says he is retiring as political head of the Tibetan exile movement.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): If we refuse to work, they would poor hot water on us. In such awful ways they'd try to hurt us. They treated me and my whole family as slaves.


STOUT: And freed from the shackles of forced labor. We'll meet the women who are now free to live their own lives.

As Libya's civil war escalates, there are signs it is sinking into ever darker territory. Women and children being killed by pro-Gadhafi forces. That's according to one Western journalist. Another international journalist, captured and beaten.

Opposition fighters ill-equipped to withstand government attacks as the international community debates what to do next.

Now, the eastern city of Ras Lanuf remains a key flash point. Our own reporter on the ground tells us that he saw planes flying overhead, followed by a series of loud booms near the city on Thursday.

And this was the scene there on Wednesday after an oil storage tank caught fire. Rebels continue to defend themselves from aerial attacks, but they are heavily outgunned.

Now, CNN's Ben Wedeman is in eastern Libya and has the latest on battles going on right now. He joins me on the line.

And Ben, describe the latest fighting, especially around Ras Lanuf.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're a couple kilometers to the east of Ras Lanuf. We've been hearing fairly steady bombardment coming from that area. It's the second sort of mass bombardment of the town this morning. There was another one about an hour and a half ago.

We saw as rounds, at least mortar rounds, were landing inside the town itself. One of those rounds hit a hospital. Another hit a mosque where people were praying inside.

The hospital staff has fled. And basically, all the civilians are now out of this town. It appears that government forces are moving on to the city.

I spoke to one witness who said he saw Libyan government tanks heading towards Ras Lanuf. There seems to be an intense gun battle going on there at the moment.

Many of the opposition forces have pulled out to a checkpoint to the east of the city. But what is clear, Kristie, is their control of Ras Lanuf is tenuous at best -- Kristie.

STOUT: So, Ben, is this a turning point for the rebel movement? They earlier lost Bin Jawad. They could be losing Ras Lanuf. Are they losing serious momentum?

WEDEMAN: Well, certainly they are. If anything, they're being gradually pushed back by the superior firepower of the Libyan army. And, of course, the Libyan air force. Just about a half an hour ago, an air force jet flew over our head.

There's lots of anti-aircraft in this area, and they were booming away, trying to shoot it down. But so far, they've had relatively little luck, although one of their planes crashed the other day. We went to the site of the crash, but there's no idea if it was shut down or it crashed as a result of mechanical failure. But yes, what is clear is that the momentum of their offenses in which they were able to gain control of Ras Lanuf has come to a halt -- Kristie.

STOUT: The rebel leader has been pleading for a no-fly zone. We heard that in an interview between him and our Arwa Damon. But just how effective would that be?

WEDEMAN: Well, it certainly would allow the opposition to operate a little more freely. What you have to realize is this is open desert territory. There's nowhere to hide. There's only one main road going from Benghazi to Tripoli, and anybody on that road is an easy target for Libyan helicopters and fighter bombers, which we've seen in action quite a lot over the last few days.

So everybody you speak to certainly out here at the front is insistent that they desperately need some sort of no-fly zone to provide minimum protection -- Kristie.

STOUT: All right, Ben. Thank you very much indeed for that.

Ben Wedeman, joining us live near Ras Lanuf.

Now, there has been much international debate about how to handle this situation in Libya. One possible tactic mentioned repeatedly, the establishment of a no-fly zone.

Now, the opposition leader, as we just discussed, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, has said it is time for the talking to stop and urgent action to be taken. Now, the man who was once Colonel Gadhafi's justice minister talked exclusively to Arwa Damon.


MUSTAFA ABDUL-JALIL, FMR. LIBYA JUSTICE MINISTER (through translator): It has to be immediate action. The longer the situation carries on, the more blood is shed. That's the message that we want to send to the international community. They have to live up to their responsibility with regard to this.


STOUT: It's little wonder that Abdul-Jalil wants immediate action. Footage, apparently taken at a pro-Gadhafi rally, was accompanied by an on- screen banner claiming that a reward of more than $400,000 is being offered for his capture.

Abdul-Jalil may be heartened by the French position on Libya. On Thursday, President Nicolas Sarkozy gave the opposition movement official recognition.


ALI ESSAOUI, LIBYAN NATIONAL TRANSITIONAL COUNCIL ENVOY (through translator): France has expressed its satisfaction at the creation of Libya's Transitional National Council. And after this meeting with President Sarkozy, I can tell you that France has recognized the Transitional National Council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people.


STOUT: Now, recognition is one thing, but protection is another.

Jim Bittermann joins me live to discuss the significance of today's development -- Jim.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kristie. In fact, that's what we'll all be watching for over the next few days, exactly how significant this is.

Basically, what happened after that meeting at the Elysee Palace a short while ago is that the French have agreed to an exchange of ambassadors. There's going to be a French ambassador in Benghazi, a seat at the Transitional National Council. And there's going to be someone from the Transitional National Council who's going to become the ambassador here in France.

So, from a diplomatic standpoint, the French are the first to recognize this Transitional National Council that's fighting against Gadhafi, Moammar Gadhafi, and has been for the last few weeks. From a real practical standpoint, however, there's a little bit of a discussion going on in French circles, because when you ask the French -- there's a public opinion poll that's just out today that indicates that 63 percent of the French do not want to see any kind of armed intervention that would involve French troops or United Nations troops in Libya.

So, from a real boots on the ground standpoint, the French are definitely against it. But from a diplomatic standpoint, there seems to be a lot of action.

Alain Juppe, the foreign minister here, said just a bit ago that European countries should take concerted efforts -- make a concerted effort to recognize the Transitional National Council and further destabilize Gadhafi if it's possible. And, in fact, there is an informal meeting with the European foreign ministers going on right now to see what kind of joint action they can take -- Kristie.

STOUT: All right.

Jim Bittermann, joining us live from Paris.

Thank you very much indeed for that.

Now, a no-fly zone will be just one of the options on the table as Western powers meet to discuss a course of action for Libya. NATO defense ministers are gathering in Brussels, and they're all too aware of the risks involved in military intervention.

Now, Phil Black joins me live from the Belgian capital.

And Phil, what is the latest word from the NATO meeting.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, NATO defense ministers have just started their meeting in the building behind me, and they're here today to talk about their military options. But despite those strong calls from Libya's rebel leaders for some sort of military intervention from the West, you can almost be pretty certain today that NATO is not going to endorse that sort of action, certainly not at this meeting.

We've already heard from the NATO secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who has said that NATO does not intend to intervene. And it will certainly not conduct any sort of operation without a United Nations mandate.

So, the answer for the moment is no, not yet. They are not going to act on their own. You're not going to see the sort of NATO-led military effort that we saw in Serbia in the late '90s without any sort of U.N. backing there.

But it is not a no, never, ever. Anders Fogh Rasmussen has left the window open just enough. He has said that in the event that the Gadhafi regime continues to kill its own people, he cannot believe that the international community, the United Nations would stand idly by.

In addition to that, NATO has stepped up its surveillance of Libyan air space and the Libyan coast. It's now watching that 24 hours a day. But as I say, today, do not expect a definite answer on any sort of NATO military response to this crisis -- Kristie.

STOUT: Now, right now on our screens we're looking at live pictures of this NATO meeting under way in the Belgian capital. But what can we expect from tomorrow's meeting of EU heads of state and their recent European responses to Libya?

BLACK: There's a lot of diplomatic agitation taking place in Brussels about Libya over the next 48 hours. And yes, European heads of state travel here tomorrow. And it is the European leaders that have been particularly vocal and, in fact, agitated most on this, because for them, this is a first-rate issue.

This is taking place in their neighborhood, their back yard, really. The events in Libya stand to affect European security and prosperity most intimately.

And so we know that it has been the British and French governments who have been lobbying for some sort of U.N. resolution advocating a no-fly zone. As you were discussing with Jim, the French government has now formally endorsed and recognized the Libyan opposition movement as the only legitimate representation of the Libyan people.

We've also seen a vote in European parliament yesterday advocating a no-fly zone. So lots of momentum, lots of movement, certainly a lot of talk. But at the moment, we still realistically stand a long way from any sort of firm decision on military action, on military intervention in Libya itself -- Kristie.

STOUT: All right.

Phil Black, joining us live in Brussels.

Thank you, Phil.

Now, Colonel Gadhafi has made his views on foreign influence clear. He doesn't want any international interference in Libyan affairs. And three BBC journalists found this out at great personal cost.

Now, the group says that they were seized on Monday near Zawiya. Each of them was bound and blindfolded, and one was beaten.

Now, here they tell how they feared for their lives.


FERAS KILLANI, BBC ARABIC CORRESPONDENT: I thought at this moment that if they decide to do this, they would do it. I can't do anything. I just closed my eyes and asked my God to help me.

GOKTAY KORALTAN, BBC ARABIC CAMERAMAN: And they started shouting, Boru (ph)! Boru (ph)! Go! Go!' And I thought they were going to shoot us from behind. It didn't happen, but I was thinking, this is the end.


STOUT: Now, the men were released after 21 hours. They say that a man apologized and said it was all a mistake by the military. He also warned that the journalists should not have ventured out without permission.

Now, as we continue to unravel the hidden layers of modern-day slavery, today we look at how the things you might buy come with a high human price. Later this hour, we'll bring you the final part of Sara Sidner's series on bonded labor in India. It's a look at one village's fight to break free.


SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We fought amongst ourselves, she says. We organized and formed a group. We started saving.

And now former debt slave Fulwati Devi (ph), who was once relegated to the lowest rung in Indian society, is her local village representative.


STOUT: And we'll bring you the rest of that story later this hour, right here on NEWS STREAM.

Also coming up, we will go back to the streets of Cairo, where new clashes in Tahrir Square have left scores injured.

An announcement on the Web site of the exiled Tibetan spiritual makes a political statement. We will tell you just what the Dalai Lama has announced.


STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, the Dalai Lama has announced that he will retire as political head of the Tibetan exile movement. On his Web site, he says, Tibetans need a leader elected freely by the Tibetan people. Still, he says he will continue to lead Tibetans in other ways.

From Beijing, Eunice Yoon reports.


EUNICE YOON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: China has long reviled the Dalai Lama. The authorities here believe that he's a separatist, and his decision to step down and dissolve his political responsibilities was only met with disdain.

At a regular press briefing, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had this to say about the exiled Tibetan leader --

JIANG YU, CHINESE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (through translator): The Dalai Lama is a political exile who has long targeted the splitting up of China. For a long time he has been the leader and mastermind behind political activism. He has said many times in the past few years that he plans to retire. I think this is one of his tricks to deceive the international community.

YOON: The Dalai Lama made his announcement on the 52nd anniversary of the uprising of Tibet against China. He says that he's going to maintain his role as a spiritual leader, but he will make way for a young, freely- elected leader to take on his political responsibilities.

This is largely seen as a symbolic gesture. The government in exile has made little progress in Tibet's struggle against Chinese rule.

Eunice Yoon, CNN, Beijing.


STOUT: Now, funerals are being held in Egypt today for victims of religious fighting. Thirteen people were killed in clashes between Coptic Christians and Muslims on Tuesday. The fighting came after a Coptic church was set on fire last week.

On top of this, Cairo's Tahrir Square has seen new and violent clashes. Now, you're looking at the scene Wednesday, after gangs armed with machetes and knives attacked pro-democracy activists. Now, the protesters say the gangs are supported by remnants of the Mubarak regime's security apparatus.

Now, meanwhile, Mohamed ElBaradei now says he will run for president in the country's upcoming elections. He served as director general of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency from 1997 to 2009. And he and the agency won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

Now, joining me now with more on today's funerals and other developments is our Nima Elbaghir. She's in Cairo.

Nima, could today's funerals be a flash point for more religious violence?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's been a growing concern here, Kristie, that there's a security vacuum, that things are starting to feel a little bit out of control. You know, in addition to the sectarian clashes that led to that death toll you were talking about, we've had almost nightly protests in front of the state TV building by Coptic Christians.

You know, we had the Tahrir Square clashes yesterday. The army eventually moved in and had completely cleared Tahrir Square. The army is now pushing through a draft proposal to try and outlaw what they call thuggery and any incitement through violence by gangs, as they're referring to them, and saying that they will seek the highest possible means to punish them to the fullest extent of the law. But there is a growing sense here that people are scared.

You know, the neighborhood watch committee that we last saw during the power vacuum in the last days of President Mubarak's rules, they're returning. You know, this evening, in Zamalek, one of the more upscale neighborhoods here in Cairo, there's a huge meeting at the local country club, because people are so scared that the police, the security apparatus, even the army are not effectively able to take control of the situation here -- Kristie.


Nima Elbagir, joining us live from Cairo.

Thank you for that.

Now, as we reported earlier, NATO officials are right now meeting in Brussels. In fact, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the NATO secretary-general, is speaking live. Let's listen in.


ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: We stand ready to help. Time is of the essence. But today we should also look at the longer-term prospects for North Africa and the Middle East.

We welcome the start of the democratic transition in Tunisia and Egypt, two of our valued partners in the region. We need to consider what more we can do to assist them and other members of our Mediterranean dialogue if they so require.

It is my strong conviction that time is on the side of democracy. In the long run, no society can ignore the will of the people, because the desire for freedom resides in every human being, regardless of whether they live in Central and Eastern Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East.

We are currently seeing the start of a new era of freedom which can generate peace, prosperity and progress. It can burst boundaries, barriers and borders.

Remember, just over 20 years ago, many countries in Central and Eastern Europe faced similar turmoil and similar challenges. They are now stable democracies, strong allies sitting at this very table.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a great amount of pressing work today, and we need to get on with it. So may I kindly ask members of the press now to leave the room?

Thank you.

STOUT: All right. Comments there live from Brussels.

You heard the secretary-general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, making statements there before launching meetings today. Of course, high on the agenda, Libya and the decision whether or not to consider imposing a no-fly zone.

Now, just now you heard from the NATO secretary-general. He said, We stand ready to help, and time is of the essence. But he offered no details as to what.

We will continue to stay on that story.

You're watching NEWS STREAM. We'll be back right after this.


STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you're back watching NEWS STREAM.

Now, for NASA's workhorse, it is the end of an era. The space shuttle Discovery has completed its 39th and final mission.

Now, the ship has logged 238 million kilometers in orbit. Crowds on the ground cheered as the space shuttle Discovery touched down for the last time on Wednesday.

And this is how NASA called it Discovery landed just before noon at Kennedy Space Center.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And nose gear touchdown and the end of a historic journey.

And to the ship that has led the way time and time again, we say farewell, Discovery.


STOUT: Farewell. Now, Discovery's next mission is expected to be to a museum.


STOUT: Coming up next, we'll be looking at how what we buy might come with a high human price. We'll be calculating our slavery footprint.

And in just a few minutes, we'll bring you the final part of Sara Sidner's series on bonded labor in India, and we'll also hear what the country's labor minister has to say about her report.

That is next.


STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching NEWS STREAM. And these are your world headlines.

Now France has recognized Libya's opposition as the legitimate government. President Nicolas Sarkozy met envoys from the Libyan National Council earlier. Now at the same NATO is discussing right now whether to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. Now CNN correspondent Ben Wedeman is meanwhile reporting explosions that sound like new air raids this Thursday on the town of Ra's Lanuf.

Now Yemen's president is promising to hold a vote on a new constitution after weeks of anti-government protests. Amnesty International says at least 30 people have died in demonstrations in the past few weeks. Now President Saleh has refused to step down, but says he will not run again for the presidency in the next election.

The Dali Lama like the look of retirement. Apparently he's stepping down as the political head of the exile Tibetan movement, but his spokesman says he will go on pushing the Tibetan cause as its spiritual leader.

At least 16 people have been killed in an earthquake in southwest China. A 5.4 magnitude quake hit near the Myanmar border. More than 160 people were injured and houses have been destroyed. Aftershocks are still jolting the area.

Now this week we are launching a yearlong initiative on the horrors of modern day slavery. We're calling it the CNN Freedom Project. And today we take you to India where entire villages are bound in forced labor. And some families work for generations to pay off minor debts.

Now in the first two parts of our series on bonded labor in India, Sara Sidner took us inside a labor camp. We then followed a rescue mission to save children trapped in forced labor. And today we bring you a story of hope. Now Sara Sidner has this report on one village that broke free from its bonds.


SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jan Debhi (ph) works every day bent over a gas burner. She and her neighbors spend hours hand making intricate glass beads in a village with no electricity. And she says they are perfectly happy. Dehbi (ph) and her friends are working for themselves instead of landlords who treated them as property.

What made you feel like a slave? How were you treated?

They would take us like this and drag us away. And they would say work. Work here. They wouldn't allow us to leave. They would say, you owe me money so you can't leave, she says. If we refused to work, they would pour hot water on us. In such awful ways they tried to hurt us. They treated me and my whole family as slave.

Now she and the rest of the villagers here are free to make their own lives.

SUPRIYA AWASTHI, FREE THE SLAVES: Free the Slaves' goal is to eradicate slavery from the world.

SIDNER: Supriya Awasthi works for the international organization Free the Slaves. She says this village is typical. It took about three years to free all the inhabitants from India's equivalent of indentured servitude.

How do you free a village?

AWASTHI: We start the task with opening a school in a highly prone village which is under the bond.

SIDNER: So somewhere for their kids to go first.


SIDNER: That informal education center is often irresistible to parents whose children otherwise would never have a chance to be literate. Jan Debhi (ph) is proud her daughter attends the school. It's a seed planted in the mind of the parents that grows into a full understanding of their right.

And then they, too, learn skills that enable them to be independent. In this village, the ladies have learned to make beautiful jewelry.

Freedom in these villages means being self-sufficient. And these ladies have certainly learned the art of selling. They recognize somehow who loves jewelry and will pay for it.

In another village, education has meant another kind of transformation.

We fought amongst ourselves, she says. We organized and formed a group. We started saving.

And now, former debt slave Fuwati Debhi (ph) who was once relegated to the lowest rung of Indian society is her local village representative. She won an election over those who had run things here for generations. Now, she helps give other workers in the village the courage to speak up and demand their rights. No small feat in the war against modern day slavery.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Putar Fetesh (ph), India.


STOUT: Now those are voices from a freed village, but earlier Sara Sidner reported on villages that are still enslaved. Now Sara spoke with a man who is second command in India on labor issues and he said that the problem is more complicated than simply prosecuting the land owners involved. And he told her this, quote, if we really want to eliminate this problem of bonded labor we have to eradicate poverty from that country.

India's labor secretary watched Sara Sidner's first piece on bonded labor in India. Sara joins me now live from New Delhi. Sara tell us his reaction to those stories.

SIDNER: He said that they are aware the bonded labor exists in this country, that the Labor Ministry knows about it, that they have laws that have been enacted years ago as we mentioned in the piece more than 30 years ago, that absolutely outlaw this practice. The problem is, he says, that even if they prosecute people who do this, or save people from this horrible situation, they often return because of poverty. So that's why you heard him in that quote saying that basically that poverty has to be eradicated first.

When we asked him, though, if he thought what the NGO's say is modern slavery, if that's what actually happening is bonded labor is modern day slavery. He said absolutely not. He did not see a connection. And we pressed him on it. He said this is bonded labor. It's a legal term. And that's what he's sticking with. He is very adamant that he does not believe it's slavery. However, Free the Slaves and other non-governmental organizations are very adamant just the same way he is that this is modern day slavery because people simply cannot get out of it. They are kept in difficult conditions, some of them say they are beaten and that to them constitutes slavery -- Kristie.

STOUT: So the government is watching your reports on bonded labor in India. They are aware of the issue. They are reacting to your reports. But what about the people of India? And will they be discussing the issue more and demanding more from their government to do something about it?

SIDNER: Well, it's an interesting point, because some of what happens here is that people have become quite used to seeing this. There are those in this country, and you know it's an enormous country of more than 1.2 billion people, so there are people who completely deny that this exists and there are others who are actually used to seeing it. Because as we have talked about throughout this series, this is very easy to see in certain states where poverty is a real issue. It's very easy to drive down the road, say in the winter time, and in some villages see people working in bonded slavery. They will admit it to you. It is not exactly a hidden.

The Associated Press