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Repeat of Interviews with Hesham Kandil and Kiran Bedi

Aired February 8, 2013 - 15:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, I'm Christiane Amanpour, and welcome to our special weekend edition of our program, where we bring you two of the big stories that we covered this week.

In a moment, days of rage in India as five men go on trial for the brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old student who later died from that vicious attack. I'll have spirited reaction from the first woman to rise to the top of India's police force in a country where misogyny has become institutionalized.

But first to Egypt, at a crucial moment for that young democracy. The country's army chief last week sparked fear at home and abroad when he warned the ongoing conflict between political forces could lead to a collapse of the state.

For months now, Egypt has been wracked by what looks like anarchy spilling violently into the streets. And this week the Arab Spring seemed to teeter even in the country where it began, the country which was hailed as its chief success: Tunisia.

Protesters filled the streets there, too, demanding that the Islamist government become one of national unity after an opposition leader was killed.

In both countries it was like two years ago all over again, when protests have crossed the Arab world brought down old regimes. In Egypt, the question is: could the revolution that brought democracy end up killing it as well? I spoke with Prime Minister Hesham Kandil, and asked him how the new Egypt will survive.


AMANPOUR: Prime Minister, welcome back to this program.


AMANPOUR: You have experience in seeing this anger first-hand. You were heckled when you went to Tahrir Square this weekend and you've given a speech saying that there is a perception of losing control. Certainly everybody looking in is very concerned about whether the government has a grip on the current situation. How do you answer that?

KANDIL: What's happening in Egypt, that we're paying the price of the era, Mubarak's era, the young democracy in Egypt is still paying the price for the 30 years of oppression and the 30 years of no democracy.

So you know, our democracy is going through a test, how the majority can accommodate the needs and the concerns of the minority and how the minority can listen to the majority and respect, you know, the -- basically respect the majority of opinion.

AMANPOUR: So what did you mean, then, when, over the weekend, you said, "Let us admit that the government, all the political forces, all the parties have failed in containing the youth. This is something that we all have to walk on -- work on."

KANDIL: Yes, well, I mean, this is -- you know, this is the government. This is -- this is the government that tells the truth, that the youth, they -- really, they have not found themselves yet in the actions, where yet we have taken. You know, the fact that you see people in the street, youngsters in the streets, that do not belong to any party.

So when you listen to them, they say, well, nobody represents us. Nobody represents us. We represent ourselves. That condemn everybody that -- those parties that are -- do exist in Egypt have not yet able -- have not been able yet to attract the youngsters to join them. The government also is not -- as yet is also, you know, should do more about that.

And we are doing something about it. And I'm talking to the youth and I'm talking to do constructive acts. I want to convince the youth that maybe, whether you're angry, whether you're -- whether you're dissatisfied with the government, let us build our country. Let us not throw stones. Let's not throw Molotov cocktails. Let us -- let us build our country.

This is my humble, you know, initiative or advice to the youth. And we'll work on it.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you this, because everybody has been extremely alarmed by what the head of the Egyptian armed forces said last week, basically saying that the current political crisis, quote, "could lead to the collapse of the state."

First of all, does that worry you? Do you think the state is in danger of collapse?

KANDIL: No, no, absolutely not. You know, really the challenge is, as I mentioned, is about the majority and the minority is a way yet to inherit and apply fully the democratic values. This is something that -- it takes time. It takes time to build and to work and to inherit and to be part of our daily life.

AMANPOUR: Well, what do you think, then, as people look in -- and they've heard this statement from the general, is that just loose talk? Is he being disloyal? Or is it a sign that the army might either intervene to take over or force all sides into some kind of national dialogue? How do you assess what he said?

KANDIL: Well, I mean, in the army, the Egyptian army has played a pivotal role in protecting the Egyptian revolution. Everybody acknowledged that. Everybody know that. And I was an eyewitness when they gave up power to the first president elected in the history, first civilian elected president in the history of Egypt.

This is a professional army that know its role is to protect the state. When they were asked to intervene in three of the canal cities to protect the people and to protect, you know, the navigation of the Suez Canal, they did that.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about this video that went viral over the last several days, the police beating up a protester. I mean, this is like the bad old days. How do you respond to that?

KANDIL: Well, the answer is very -- is very -- I mean, this is -- this is very sad, I tell you. This is very sad. But I can tell you also that there is -- I mean, when it comes to human dignity, when it comes to human rights, when it comes to peaceful demonstration, there is no return. You know, this is -- this is in the constitution.

This is, you know, the whole -- the whole revolution is all about this. It's about human dignity. And there is no return for that. And the people, you know, said it loud and clear. I mean, it is not -- it's not just -- it's not even up to the government. It's the people of Egypt have said that and put it in the constitution.

But what we have seen -- and it's very regrettable and it's very sad, as I told you. And we reacted on it immediately. I called -- when I saw that, I called the minister of the interior. He went out and he apologized publicly for this act. This is number one.

Number two, we immediately -- he immediately issued an investigation, internal investigation and the general prosecutors are also -- make -- carry out the necessary investigation. So we're taking this matter very seriously. But as I mentioned in my speech afterwards, let us not take an individual action and make it a general attitude of the police.

But the whole thing is there's no return to -- whether this is a democracy, the freedom of speech. There's no return about respecting human dignity.

And the call is from the people -- even for the government. This is the call of the people. And everybody has to listen to them.

AMANPOUR: Isn't the real issue that, even though there was a democratic election, it just seems that the Muslim Brotherhood, the Freedom and Justice Party are perceived to and seem to be engaged in what looks like an old-fashioned grab for autocratic power. That's what it looks like.

KANDIL: Well, I'm not sure you can make such a, you know, a very strong judgment after six or seven months of being in power in an unprecedented, you know, period, with -- coming after the revolution, you know. The challenges are enormous. And everybody's new in this democracy thing.

And as I told you, you know -- and I keep repeating this to my people as well. It is not only about having, you know, democratic institutions in place. It's not only about having an election. It is more about inheriting the democratic values.

And this will take time.

AMANPOUR: And then, finally, this is where, I think, you wanted to work the hardest, just about, on the issue of the economy. The people are not at all satisfied with where the economy has gone in the last two years since the revolution.

It appears that the foreign currency reserves have been cut by more than half since the revolution. The pound has lost 4 percent. You've postponed the $5 billion or so deal that the IMF was going to give to you. You postponed that.

KANDIL: My friend, I'm working hard in different places and in different aspects 24/7. But the most important is results and to see some improvements on the economy. I cannot be held accountable for the two years because I was not in charge. But I tell you that this is -- this is issue number one.

But you need to have the enabling environment for the economy to move forward. And I was just talking to the Egyptian people via the, you know, the Egyptian TV an hour ago.

And I think it is -- it is -- it is two things and it is political stability as well as hard work that can bring to us the fruits of the revolution. If you want to have -- if -- and we want to, of course, if you want to have decent life; if you want the economy to grow, those two basic things have to be in place.

AMANPOUR: Finally, President Mubarak told me before he stepped down that he would step down, but it needed some more time because otherwise there would be chaos.

He was right, wasn't he?

KANDIL: I mean, I don't like to say that, but it is -- I mean, his regime is to be blamed for many, many - the challenge that we're facing, whether this is the political part or the economic part or the social problems or all these challenges, you know, did not just appear out of nowhere. This were accumulation of things that he have not fixed over his 30 years of ruling Egypt.

AMANPOUR: Prime Minister Kandil, thank you very much for joining me.

KANDIL: Thank you, Christiane, always a pleasure. Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And while democracy is in its troubled infancy in Egypt and across the Arab world, the world's largest democracy, India, is suffering its own identity crisis in the wake of a vicious rape that's shaken the nation. The courts, politicians and the police have been called to account.

One of their chief critics is the highest ranking woman ever to wear a police badge in India. Her unique, unsparing insights when we come back.



AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. Five men went on trial in India this week for the brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old girl, a physiotherapy student who died two weeks later from her horrendous injuries. A juvenile who was also involved in this incident will be tried and dealt with separately.

The girl's male friend was also brutally beaten, but he survived and he is telling the story of that terrible night December 16th in a court. He is the prosecution's star witness.

In a country that's infamous for what many have called institutional misogyny, crimes against women from acid burnings to sex slavery, rape and murder are commonplace. And yet something about this case has mobilized a nation. Outrage poured into the streets.

And after a clumsy start, the government quickly approved tough new laws against sexual assault of women, including the death penalty when the woman dies.

Kiran Bedi was the highest ranking female officer ever in the Indian police force. She even became the subject of a documentary, "Yes, Madam Sir."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She joined the police force in the '70s. And she's made waves and enemies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When she qualified in the police service, all hell broke loose. Young men noticed. There was a braver girl.


KIRAN BEDI, FORMER INDIAN POLICE CHIEF TURNED CORRUPTION ACTIVIST: When I changed the face of the prisons, they were just. When I exposed corruption in the police, I am banished. These are powerful people and there's a high price for going against them.


AMANPOUR: Just how high a price? Kiran Bedi joined me from New Delhi as the trial of the alleged rapists began.


AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program. Thanks for joining me.

When we look at this situation, we see something like 26,000 rapes reported in India -- at least that was the last figure for 2011. That amounts to about one every 20 minutes.

And yet there is almost no conviction.

What is the prosecution rate, the investigation rate, the conviction rate?

BEDI: Well, it's very low. It's abysmally low. And we have a serious problem of delayed trials. Some trials take sometimes 12 years, 15 years, 10 years. And it's not shook the -- this case, which we are now referring to as we discuss, has actually shaken up the entire system and exposed the la garde (ph) judiciary.

It's been hugely delayed judicially.

We've got very delayed trials, trial problems. The proportion of the judges to the number of cases they acquire is very, very low compared to many opened-up liberal democracies. I think that's been the serious problem, of delayed trials.

AMANPOUR: When you were a police officer, when you climbed to the highest rank that a woman had ever held in the police force, what did you find when these kinds of crimes crossed your desk?

BEDI: I was exceedingly effective in my -- in my beat patrol system, exceedingly effective. And I did a lot of partnership in coalition with community. I did a lot of community policing. If I was short of manpower -- which everybody at every stage is -- so was I during my time. And all - - and so were my colleagues.

What we used to do was remarkable partnership with community policing, involving the neighborhood watch groups, involving citizen volunteer forces. We used to involve students. I involved even students in bike traffic management during the Asian games in 1982.

We could never do without community policing. I think over a period, as I said, it's shifted to anti-terror, VIP security and law and order. So all reactionary policing and protective policing, leaving the common man to fend for himself.

AMANPOUR: Right. And it certainly doesn't seem to be the woman's police force.

Police tend to not believe women; they put them through terrible interrogations. Certainly also we've heard of these two-finger tests, medical tests that are meant to determine whether a woman has had sex even before she complains of having been raped. I mean, really, the most appalling, degrading treatment of women who've been violated.

Do you see any hope of that changing?

BEDI: Well, I think the December 16th gang rape will change -- will change; they can't get -- they can't be as they were. It could be -- it can't be business as usual anymore in policing.

I think crimes against women -- and one of the amended ordinance provisions is where, if a police officer, if a public official does not record crime, crimes against women, he could be held responsible and prosecuted for it.

See, this is a new change which is coming; where, earlier, they could get away with non-registration of crime. Now with this amended ordinance, and on the recommendation of the Justice Verma Committee, they can't.

Now what we need is massive awareness and education amongst women of their -- of this legal -- massive legal awareness and massive awareness of their rights. And, of course, retraining and updating (ph) of police awareness and police knowledge and skills.

And, of course, expeditious trial and sensitive judiciary so that punishment is a certainty. I think what is important in this country is urgent punishment as a certainty. I think the certainty of punishment will reduce the impunity.

AMANPOUR: And how surprised do you think the government was, the system, the police, when the people of India really rose up and demonstrated and continue to demonstrate after this gang rape that left this poor woman dead December 16th?

How surprised was the establishment?

BEDI: I think they were shaken out of their slumber. As long as they were -- they were as -- see, it took them out of their security and brought them out of their comfort zones. I think they were feeling -- they were -- they were in this, very comfortable in this, around their own security guards and the gated communities and the law and order of being politically directed sometimes to be dispersed.

So I think they got shaken up. And they almost felt threatened that the nation was, the people were up in arms as a civil society, up in arms and their -- they walked back (ph). I think they got shaken up. They were absolutely shaken out of their comfortable seat.

No wonder, you see in -- within 10 days' time, the government of India responded by an ordinance. This is unbelievable.

First of all, Justice Verma Committee did an unbelievable job of such a wonderful, comprehensive report in just 29 days. It's unbelievable in Indian governance.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you, how high a price did you pay for trying to fight this kind of crime?

BEDI: Well, I wasn't made the final -- despite my seniority and merit, the bureaucracy and the political fiefdom did not let me be the police commissioner of Delhi. Therefore, I took volunteer retirement, because I didn't want to waste my time doing nothing, nothing much of the high value.

So therefore, I moved out. The price I paid was that I never was made the Delhi police commissioner where I had the rank and the seniority and the merit. Someone two years junior to me got that position. That's the price I paid.

AMANPOUR: Probably the price you paid for being a woman as well, would you say?

BEDI: Well, I was different. I wasn't one of the old boys' club. I wasn't a part of their boys' club. I was different.

AMANPOUR: In 1981, there is this famous story of how you gave a parking ticket to the then prime minister, Indira Gandhi, and had her car towed. Apart from the interesting imagery of that, were you trying to send a message about impunity?

BEDI: Absolutely. That's my -- I'm very sensitive about the rule of law and I have absolutely no insecurities about dealing with the VIPs. In fact, I believe that the rule of law must be tougher on those people who are into powerful positions and knowledgeable positions than those who are under the -- in the -- under the -- under ones who are probably not aware of the law.

Therefore, I always applied rule of law absolutely fearlessly and firmly. And in that category, Ms. Gandhi's car also was towed away and was given a parking ticket, because during -- there was only one principle, and I've always followed one principle, is the rule of law. However high, mighty you may be, the rule is -- the law is above you.

AMANPOUR: And you hope now that, as you say, the government has been shocked out of its slumber by this gang rape, you think that the rule of law will get another chance to be properly implemented?

BEDI: They've got a lot of homework to do. They've got a lot of resources to pump in. They've got a lot of retraining to do. And they have to address the judiciary. They have to address judicial delays. That's the challenge.

The question is who tells the judges, who tells the parliamentarians, who tells the elected representatives while everybody's there to tell the police? I think what you really need is all of them to set their house in order, whether it's the police, whether the judges, whether it's the parliamentarians. I think the -- also the community to take -- become more sensitive to each other.

I think it's a package that's needed now. It's a wholesomeness, which exactly what Justice Verma Committee has recommended.

AMANPOUR: Well, we'll be watching.

Kiran Bedi, thank you so much for joining me.

BEDI: Thank you. Thank you, Christiane.


AMANPOUR: An important trial, a watershed moment for India. We'll be right back.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, you've seen this sort of mayhem on the movie screen, the way Hollywood portrays African men. Now imagine a world where those stereotypes are shattered. An organization called Mama Hope has humanitarian programs throughout Africa and has made a little hit movie of its own on the Internet. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am an African man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am an African man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am an African man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am an African man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But do you know who we are?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you've only seen us in Hollywood movies, this is what you may think of us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We shoot our machine guns from trucks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We shoot our machine guns from boats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we run out of bullets, we shoot rocket launchers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are obsessed with violence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We hate smiling. Smiling is stupid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are fantastic role models.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you don't really think of us that way. Do you?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are likable and friendly guys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we are even on Facebook.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are more than a stereotype.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's change the perception.



AMANPOUR: That is the changing face of Africa, and that is our program. Thank you for watching and goodbye from New York.