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CONNECT THE WORLD
Hezbollah-back Syrian Regime Retakes Qusayr; Tear Gas Once Again Used Against Turkish Protesters; Flood Waters Continue to Soak Central Europe
Aired June 5, 2013 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Live from Istanbul, I'm Becky Anderson.
Thousands of peaceful demonstrators are packed into Taksim Square behind me. Elsewhere, anger simmers on the streets as this image of a lady in red becomes a symbol of the protests.
Also ahead, Syrian government forces retake a key town, dealing a major blow to the rebels.
And, in sports, details of what could be the worst drug scandal in the history of baseball.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the...
ANDERSON: First up tonight, Syrian rebels are vowing to fight on and liberate the entire country despite losing control of a crucial town. But there's no denying that their defeat in Qusayr is a crushing blow.
Government tanks rolled through the town for the first time in months after soldiers backed by Hezbollah fighters recaptured it.
Now here's why it matters, Qusayr is an important route for weapons and supplies coming from Lebanon. It's also just off the road that links Damascus to key government strongholds on the coast.
Now notice that the road passes through Homs, a city largely -- still largely controlled by rebels. Many believe Homs is the regime's next target.
Now, Hezbollah supported the army, helped turn the tide in Qusayr. Rebels say Hezbollah fighters are now positioning themselves around Aleppo and Damascus.
Well, there is not much left of Qusayr after weeks of fierce fighting. As Arwa Damon now reports, it's a virtual ghost town.
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's what we don't see that is perhaps most chilling. These are images of Qusayr broadcast by Hezbollah's al-Manar TV. Rebel fighters and activists tell us there were thousands of residents who were unable to flee as government forces backed by Hezbollah's fighters took over the key town.
It is a battle that Bashar al-Assad's forces arguably could not have won alone.
The loss of Qusayr is a devastating military blow to the rebels. The fight for Syria is an existential battle, not just for the Assad regime, but for Hezbollah as well, one it won't let anyone forget with banners of those killed in Syria hanging over the streets of Baalbek in Lebanon and hanging in the minds of Syrian refugees who thought they would be safe across the border.
This used to be a sprawling makeshift refugee camp on the highway to Baalbek.
(on camera): We tracked down some of the families that used to live here. None of them wanted to appear on camera or have their new location be filmed. They still don't feel entirely safe. But they told us that there were a few incidences that happened in May. There were cases where people, armed men, came into the camp. They don't know who or whom they were affiliated with, but they beat them and stole from them. And there was also at least one case of a drive-by shooting.
(voice-over): It's a troubling sign of rising tensions in a Lebanese town whose population has gone up 50 percent with the influx of refugees who squat wherever they can.
Our camera light offers temporary relief from the darkness to this family living in a partially constructed home. They fled the outskirts of Qusayr with nothing but each other. The smallest barely made the grueling hours long hike through the mountains.
Almoun al-Nasr (ph), the children's mother, tell us her son implored her to go back, saying he wanted to throw himself off the mountain, that he was going to die.
Those who do make it to Baalbed are relying mostly on the kindness of strangers despite the growing pressures. And the bloodshed is far from over. Hezbollah's fighters are positioned outside the Syrian capital where fighting has already driven people out.
Omabdul (ph) is still so consumed by fear, she begs us not to reveal her identity. She was holding her 3-year-old grandson when their home was hit.
(on camera): She's saying that now this is actually an improved state, that she doesn't scream as much as she used to, but that it used to feel like an electric shock was being driven through her body whenever anyone would touch the wounds. And, you know, this strike that caused these wounds happened around two months ago, but she hasn't had proper medical care. And even now it's her daughter and the neighbors that are changing her bandages for her.
(voice-over): Covering her face and her tears, she rocks back and forth. Her emotions so intense, she can't formulate the words to describe them.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Baalbek, Lebanon.
ANDERSON: Well, as the fighting escalates, hopes for a negotiated resolution look as dim as ever. Today, international diplomats failed to set a day for what is a widely anticipated peace conference on Syria. It was supposed to happen this month. Well, now it's being pushed back to July at the earliest. The west divided on the best way to end the war. Many countries hesitant to arm the rebels because of jihadists in their ranks.
But our next guest tonight says there is a plan of action for the west that will achieve its goals. Michael Weiss is a columnist for NOW Lebanon. He was in Aleppo last year and has covered Syria extensively.
Michael, the perception by many in the west is that there is no good option in Syria. You say there is. And in fact the west must take action. Why?
MICHAEL WEISS, COLUMNIST, NOW LEBANON: Well, the option that's now most on the table, particularly being pushed by Britain and France is to arm the Free Syrian Army, that is the vetted, moderate forces on the ground headed by a man called Salim Idris who is the general of something called the Supreme Military Command.
General Idris has written numerous open letters to President Obama saying, look, Russia and Iran have no compunction whatsoever in continuing to back the Assad regime militarily, and yet we are bleeding and dying, and yes indeed our forces are being outnumbered now, or outmaneuvered by radical jihadists, the kind of element that you want to avoid seeing take over Syria.
The question now lies well, if we're going to give them arms, what kind of arms do they need most? And the answer is anti-aircraft arms. But of course we don't want to do that, because that's what we did in Afghanistan and that's how you had people like Osama bin Laden carrying around Stinger missiles.
But the key goal for the opposition is to neutralize Syrian air force, this is not only because it's MiG fighter jets and attack helicopters that are bombarding civilian areas and bombarding rebel strongholds, but most crucially Iran and Russia is transporting its material into Syria via the sky.
So another option would be instead of arming the rebels with anti- aircraft missiles...
ANDERSON: Let me put this to you, Michael -- so let me put this to you -- let me put this to you, Michael. How do you prevent weapons falling into the wrong hands? That is the crucial question, isn't it?
WEISS: Yes, of course it is. And I'm sorry to say the answer is you can't. It is absolutely impossible to prevent that from happening. But then that raises another interesting question, if you don't want to give the rebels themselves the material to neutralize Syria's air force, then what else can you do?
And one of the options that's been suggested, particularly by one think tank in D.C. called the Institute for the Study of War, is if you take out the runways inside Syria, not just in commercial airports, but also in the air bases themselves, if you destroy the infrastructure of the regime's air force, than Iranian and Russian planes have nowhere to land in the country. And Assad's military resupplies will dry up quite quickly.
It's important to note, most of this stuff is not coming into Syria by the sea or by land, it's by coming in through the skies.
Michael, I'm going to stop you there again, because we've seen Hezbollah's involvement in Syria. Is this a gamechanger? We've seen what they did in Qusayr?
The important thing to recognize, Becky, is that for the Assad regime, this is no longer about a conventional military counterinsurgency strategy. It's not the Syrian army that's leading the fight anymore. In addition to Hezbollah, which is an Iranian backed Shia sectarian militia, there are numerous -- there is a number of different sectarian militias on the ground now also being trained by Iran, including Iraqi Shia fighters that have come across the border. Some of these guys are actually flown to Tehran and given intense guerrilla warfare seminars and then flown back to Syria.
So Assad is now counting on, in effect creating a sort of army of proxy groups, to carry on this campaign.
Now the real danger here is -- and we've been talking for months, if not years, about sectarian warfare, there's a very sensitive Shia shrine in Damascus called the Sayyidah Zaynab Shrine, if this attacked, if this is blown up by any kind of Sunni element, a jihadist force, al Qaeda in Syria, you are going to see all hell break loose in this country. This will be -- this will make Iraq in 2005 look like a walk in the park.
And I mean, unfortunately the western strategy is let's have a conference with Russia and Iran. It's not going to work.
LU STOUT: All right, Michael. Always a pleasure to have you on your show -- our show. And your analysis always enlightening. Thank you.
You're watching Connect the World live from Istanbul this evening. Still to come, more tear gas after Turkey's big apology.
Plus, I'll show you the place that sparked Turkey's nationwide protest. The real meaning of Gezi Park.
And in other news, tens of thousands are evacuated from parts of Central Europe as authorities prepare for rising flood waters. All that and much more when this special edition of Connect the World live from Istanbul in Turkey continues.
LU STOUT: You're back with Connect the World live from Istanbul. And you see pictures of what is a very festive mood this evening here in Taksim Square. One day after an official apology, though, Turkish police use tear gas to disperse demonstrators in Ankara.
CNN was in the Turkish capital when riot police brought out tear gas to break up protests. It comes a day after this man, Turkey's deputy prime minister apologized for what he calls police aggression against demonstrators here in Istanbul's Taksim Square. At least two deaths have been reported in protest related violence since demonstrations kicked off on Friday.
Well, earlier on Wednesday, a group representing the demonstrators, the main demonstrators here in Taksim, met with the deputy prime minister and demanded the government fire the police chiefs of Ankara and Istanbul over the excessive use of tear gas. They also want the immediate release of any detained protesters, no restrictions on freedom of speech.
So far the government hasn't responded to the demands.
Well, one of Turkey's biggest labor unions is showing solidarity with anti-government protesters. DISK, which claims nearly half a million members, has joined the KESK labor group and several others in a nationwide walkout.
During all of this, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan remained out of the country traveling in North Africa.
Well, meanwhile, the once charged atmosphere in Istanbul's Taksim Square, as I said, is changing. Let's bring in my colleague Ivan Watson who is in the middle of the square as lanterns are set off into the night sky this evening.
What's the mood, Ivan?
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's pretty joyous as less pressure -- the less pressure there's been from the government and from the police here, the less political and angry this has been and the more festive the scene has been. Becky, the scene has been like this, really, throughout the day, singing and dancing and drum circles yesterday, a philharmonic came and played a concert here. We saw pictures of a mass yoga exercise in the park yesterday and far less of that chanting against the Turkish prime minister calling for him to resign.
We also have not seen those tactics that we saw last night of police helicopters circling overhead and shining their spotlights into the crowd which -- which arguably was very much an intimidation tactic.
Now, we met some people here who are camping out here for their second night. I'm going to introduce you to Attar Birk Akshit.
How are you doing?
You're 18-years-old. You spent the night last night here in this tent and you're going to spend the night here again. Why?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, because I want the dictatorship of Tayyip Erdogan to end. I mean, he just, you know, keeps pushing us and he keeps taking away our rights such as freedom of speech, free media. And he tells us what to do whenever he wants. He tries to dictate his own ideas to us. He tells us when to drink. He tells when to eat. He even tells us how many children we should have. And he just ignores the people who doesn't vote for him. And he dictates us.
I mean, he doesn't want to admit it, but he truly is a dictator.
WATSON: He's not exactly a dictator. He was democratically elected by a lot of people in this country. But he has referred to demonstrators like you as (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) riffraff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, he was elected, I mean, which is sort of democracy. But democracy is not just about voting. I mean, you can't just, you know, be democratic at the elections and then just, you know, ignore the people who don't vote for you. That's not democracy, that's dictatorship, that's fascism.
WATSON: When will you go home?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When this ends, when he admits that he has wronged us. I mean, if possible, I want him to resign, but I'm not sure if all the people want that here, probably most do. I mean, but this is not about, you know -- we don't want -- well I want him to resign, but this is not about resigning him and then putting someone else with a different ideology in the prime minister's seat. This is about the dictatorship he has, you know, he's doing and....
WATSON: Thank you. Thank you very much.
So there we hear lessons on democracy from an 18-year-old demonstrator who, Becky, has spent last night here in the rain and sheltered some other people and plans to spend another night in this tent here in Taksim Square. Back to you.
ANDERSON: All right. Thank you for that.
A very different picture than away from here.
I want to get you to the southern city of Antakia. We've heard reports that the local municipality there has refused to give water to riot police vehicles. Large protests have been taking place, a different picture.
Ben Wedeman joins me now live from Antakia. Ben, what's the latest from there?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, here in Antakia, we're seeing these very large demonstrations, thousands and thousands of people who have been out here for about two hours. The evening started with people on the balconies of the buildings around me banging pots and pans. People then gathered in this square behind me -- oh, there's a few people behind me right there -- and they've been chanting for hours that they want Tayyip (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE), which means in Turkish Tayyip (inaudible).
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, they want (inaudible)...
WEDEMAN: So obviously, people very angry here. It was in Antakia on late Monday evening, Becky, that one of the two people killed in this wave of protests in Turkey happened. This is our report.
WEDEMAN: Friends and relatives had come to pay their condolences to the Chomert (ph) family. 22-year-old Abdullah Chomert (ph) was killed Monday in Antakia in southern Turkey when police clashed with demonstrators who had come out in Solidarity with the protesters in Istanbul. He was hit in the back of the head with what his family says was a tear gas canister. This picture, provided by a relative, shows a massive wound to the skull.
His mother, Hadija (ph), recalls begging Abdullah (ph) not to go back to the demonstrations but he insisted he had to go because it was his destiny to help bring about change, a destiny his grieving mother finds hard to comprehend.
"The killer of my son was Tayyip Erdogan and senior security officials," his father tells me, referring to the prime minister. "They're responsible for his death."
On the spot where he died, friends have set up a makeshift memorial. People here have no doubt who killed Abdullah at close range.
WEDEMAN: Turkey's deputy prime minister expressed sadness over the death. And an official autopsy is underway. But these witnesses and his family say no one in authority has approached them to investigate the circumstances of Abdullah's (ph) death.
WEDEMAN: And Becky, despite the anger and the passion here at this demonstration, the organizers, the people giving speeches, were urging people not to get into clashes with the police. And what's significant is that yesterday, last night, the army became involved because the army is much more highly regarded by Turks than the police. The police, they feel, are on the side of the government of Tayyip Erdogan.
Back to you, Becky.
ANDERSON: Yeah, Ben, thank you for that. Ben Wedeman reporting for you. Live from Istanbul for you this evening.
We want to hear from you over the next 40 minutes here on Connect the World. Join the conversation. Do tweet me @BeckyCNN wherever you are in the world. What's your reaction to the protests here in Turkey. What do you think of the government's response and the so-called silent majority, the AKP members who we haven't heard from. We'll hear more on that at 30 past the hour.
So your thoughts, please get them into me @BeckyCNN. Or head to Facebook to join the conversation -- Facebook.com/CNNConnect.
You're watching Connect the World. We've got a lot more coming up from Turkey, including the story behind this iconic image.
As flood waters recede in some parts of Europe, other areas are preparing for the deluge to come. We're going to have a live weather report for you upcoming. Stay with us.
ANDERSON: Welcome back. I'm Becky Anderson live from Istanbul where we are keeping an eye on the sixth day of government -- anti-government protests. We'll have more from Turkey later on.
First, though, a look at tonight's other top stories for you. And tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes in Germany and the Czech Republic as surging flood waters threaten more cities in central Europe. While waters recede in the Czech capital Prague, eastern Germany is now bracing for the worst.
40,000 firefighters and 5,000 soldiers have been mobilized as emergency services attempt to boost defenses along the swollen Elbe and Danube rivers.
The flooding has killed at least 13 people since the weekend.
Well, one town already swamped by the floods is Meissen sitting on the river Elbe. Officials are expecting the waters to get even higher.
CNN's senior international correspondent Matthew Chance is there and filed this report.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is an absolutely staggering scene. We've come to the streets, believe it or not, of the historic German city of Meissen. It's been a town for 1,000 years. And these are some of the worst flooding that has ever been seen here.
Well, as we weave through these narrow allies, you can see the extent of the destruction that this flood water has caused. These designer shops, there are hotels, there are cafes, there are small business in what is this very touristic town in Germany that have essentially been laid to waste by the flood waters.
Well, it's hard to describe the impact that this has had on the local community. Rescue workers who we're with right now on this boat taking us through the streets of Meissen, say that at least 4,500 people have been evacuated from Meissen over the course of the past 24 hours or so. And what's worse, the flood waters at the moment are not at their predicted highest peak, their not at their crest. That's expected to take place by Thursday night where these waters are expected to rise even higher than they are right now.
All right, well, there's a couple of local residents here that are paddling around the streets of their hometown in this canoe. I'll give you a hand over here.
Hey, how are you doing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello.
CHANCE; Do you speak English at all?
How do you feel when you see all of this?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Terrible. Terrible. Because it's the same as the 2002.
CHANCE: 2002, yeah.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it was amazing. And for me, this is my first flood, because I was 2002 not here.
CHANCE: This is the first -- this is the worst you've seen it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah.
CHANCE: Well, these are more offices and businesses that have been destroyed.
Over here, look is the theater of Meissen. It was actually destroyed by flood waters back in 2002 and it was rebuilt and reopened relatively recently, but you can see yet again the river waters of the Elbe River have taken it once more.
ANDERSON: Well, CNN's Matthew Chance reporting from the town of Meissen in Germany.
Let's get the latest forecast then for the region. Jenny Harrison joins me live from the international weather center. And we spoke at this point last night. And you said the forecast is actually not that bad, it's about these rising waters and the damage that they do. And tonight, those -- that report by Matthew really just ramming home how bad things are. This is June, Jen, this is unbelievable, isn't it?
JENNY DELGADO, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Well, and the things is, you know, (inaudible) watching now, Becky. Of course, this is -- the massive time for tourists, isn't it? So this is going to have a massive impact when it comes to the business angle, too, across so many of these towns, these cities across central Europe. It is that busy, busy time of the year.
There's more than one river, of course. We saw, then, what it was doing in Meissen in Germany, Dresden as well. Very, very close by. We got the Danube. We've got the River Elbe. We've got the Rhine River. And in particular, I want to show you some more aerial pictures, because this is Hungary.
Now this is -- I want to show you this, because it just gives you an idea of the extent of this flooding across Europe. We've got Hungary. We've got Slovakia. We've got Germany that we saw there. We've got Austria. We've got so many countries that are actually right now under water all because of the rain that came through, remember, Saturday through Monday.
It really hasn't rained heavily since then.
Come back to me and let me just show you what's going to happen over the next couple of days. It's about where these rivers are going to crest. It has pretty much done that in Vienna, very close to that. But again, above the levels which actually happen back in 2002.
And then we head up into the Elbe River and all around this area, Dresden and Meissen as we were just hearing and seeing there from Matthew. This is expected to crest late Wednesday into Thursday. So again, probably hasn't happened just then.
And then it has still got to continue downriver. So, we could see more flooding all the way through central and northern Germany, and that really is the concern. That will continue into Friday.
There is some more rain in the forecast. It's generally to the east of this area. Scattered showers, still some thunderstorms and, in fact, still some warnings in place across Eastern Europe because we could have some heavy rain at times. We might even have some more flooding across these other areas.
But as I say, really as you say, Becky, it's about these rivers, it's about the cresting, and when that will happen. This really isn't going to be out of the way until the beginning of the weekend. We'll get a much clearer picture as to when these rivers are crested --
ANDERSON: All right.
HARRISON: -- hopefully they will have done so by then.
ANDERSON: Yes, stick with CNN for more on that. Jenny, thank you. The latest world news headlines ahead, including what Pakistan's new prime minister has to say on drones. And an update on the health of Michael Jackson's daughter.
Plus, they say an image can tell a thousand words, and this one certainly does. The latest from Istanbul after the break.
ANDERSON: You're watching a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD live from Istanbul. The top stories for you this hour on CNN.
Syria's army says it will retake every inch of land from rebels after winning control of Qusayr. The town had been in rebel hands for about a year, but soldiers backed by Hezbollah fighters recaptured it after weeks of fierce fighting.
A crowd demonstrated against the government in Turkey's capital. Our correspondent on the scene in Ankara says riot police have fired teargas at protesters to disperse them. Earlier Wednesday, a group representing the demonstrators demanded an end to the use of teargas, along with greater freedom of speech and the release of all detained protesters.
Twenty thousand people in Germany and twenty thousand in the Czech Republic have been evacuated as surging floodwaters threaten more cities in central Europe. The deluge has killed at least 13 people since the weekend.
Pakistan's prime minister Nawaz Sharif has been sworn into office for an unprecedented third term. He held office twice before in the 90s before being overthrown in a military coup. He has promised to revive Pakistan's ailing economy and he's also calling for an end to the US drone strikes in Pakistani territory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAWAZ SHARIF, PRIME MINISTER OF PAKISTAN (through translator): This daily business of drones has to stop immediately. Other countries must respect our sovereignty and address our concerns as we respect their sovereignty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Paris Jackson, the 15-year-old daughter of the late singer Michael Jackson, was rushed to a hospital earlier this morning as a source close to the Jackson family told CNN Paris Jackson has cut her wrist. The source characterized it as, quote, "a cry for help" but said Paris would be OK.
Those are your headlines this hour.
Let's move on. And the government has already been criticized for its crackdown on what began as peaceful protests on Friday here in Istanbul. And now we're getting protest -- reports of Twitter users being arrested. Over two dozen people were detained this morning in the town of Izmir. Their crime? Well, allegedly inciting violence and spreading false information via social media sites.
Tonight, there are more than 600 tweets a minute being sent with hash tags related to the Turkish protests, and they are coming almost exclusively from within the country.
Well, as Turkish media have shied away from covering the protests, the use of social media has flourished as an alternative way for protesters to share information. This is OccupyGeziMap.com. It was set up so protesters can pinpoint areas where teargas has been used, protester-friendly hotels, and where to get medical help.
There's also this blog, What is Happening in Istanbul, operated by activists on the ground determined to get out stories they say Turkish media won't cover. Well, on Facebook, the Occupy Gezi page has more than 35,000 likes.
One of the most iconic images coming out of the unrest here in Turkey has been of a young woman in red. Take a look.
ANDERSON (voice-over): A young woman in red, unaware that she's about to become an inspiration. One of thousands of people protesting the razing of Gezi Park last Friday, she was pepper sprayed by Turkish police.
ANDERSON (on camera): Within 24 hours of the image being shot, it was blown up on posters, one of which was plastered onto this wall near Taksim Square. It's since been taken down -- who knows by whom? -- but there is no doubt that that vision of one young woman has become a symbol of the resistance here in Turkey.
ANDERSON (voice-over): The picture has swept social media and been used by newspapers and cartoonists. Anasiris (ph), who we met while filming this piece, showed me almost everyone in Taksim Square has something to say about her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does she look like a terrorist to you, or does she look like a vandal? She was just a normal girl, as me, as you, a normal woman, who came here to protect her rights, and she got pepper sprayed in the face.
ANDERSON: Can I ask this lady whether she believes that that symbol has become iconic for the resistance.
(WOMEN SPEAKING IN TURKISH)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She said it was a really violent image and the police are attacking a woman, especially a woman doing nothing.
(WOMAN SPEKAING IN TURKISH)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She said they are all images, also this lady in red, we have been here since day one. We are all images.
ANDERSON (voice-over): Indeed, the lady in red, recently identified as Ceyda Sungur, has described this as a people's revolt, and she tells CNN she doesn't want to be the sole poster girl for the protests.
ANDERSON: Well, it's important to point out that there are also gatherings in support of the government. The democratically-elected prime minister here, Mr. Erdogan, was elected with a big majority as my colleague Ivan Watson knows all about.
Ivan, what's the support like out there for the prime minister. I'm not suggesting necessarily where you are on Taksim Square tonight, which I know is an anti-government protest, but I know you've been speaking to many, many people who are in support of this prime minister and his government.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Well, while the crowd here and the demonstrators that have come out in the streets of so many Turkish cities over the past four days have really focused a lot of their anger against the Turkish prime minister, you have to keep in mind that he was elected with 50 percent of the vote in 2011.
And we visited his -- the neighborhood he grew up in in Istanbul, which is only about two kilometers from where I'm standing right now in Taksim Square, and there we saw a very different picture. The support for the Turkish prime minister is unwavering.
So, in that neighborhood, people there were saying that the Turkish prime minister was like a one-of-a-kind, a -- you'd only get one leader like him in a century. They hailed the development programs that he had done for Turkey and for their neighborhood, even. We saw a new archery range that he just inaugurated last week.
And what was even more ominous is some of the people in that neighborhood were saying listen, if these demonstrators go out and attack the police, we can go out and defend our prime minister. With one word, he would get a million people out on the streets, and we would fight for him.
And that's very ominous. Turkey saw some really deadly fighting between the right and the left in the late 70s, and that eventually led to a military coup in 1980 that would some would argue the country is still recovering from to this day.
And the Turkish prime minister himself, some people interpreted one of his statements in an interview on Monday as a potential threat. When he said he was having a hard time keeping the 50 percent who voted for him in their homes, some people interpreted that as a threat.
So, it will be important to see in the days ahead, how will his supporters react? His party has an incredibly well-organized party machine. Will they try to demonstrate their own people power in response to the unprecedented anti-government protests we've seen over the past four to five days. Becky?
ANDERSON: Yes, I think you make a very good point. And let's just make our viewers aware that the prime minister is due back from his North African trip tomorrow, Thursday, and there has been a narrative out there across social media today and lots of talk on the street that his supporters could mobilize, may mobilize in support of him on his return.
So, we'll have to wait and see. At this point tomorrow, certainly he will be back. We're expecting him, as far as I can tell, around about 11:00 local time in the morning. So by this point, we'll get a sense of whether his supporters indeed are out on the streets. Ivan for you down in Taksim Square.
Live from Istanbul, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Our documentary on human trafficking affected many viewers, and that included the vice president of the Philippines. We'll move away from Turkey just for the moment, because we're going to find out what his response was, up next.
ANDERSON: Well, if you are a regular viewer of CNN, you may have watched our recent Freedom Documentary, "The Fighters." It featured human rights activist Cecilia Flores-Oebanda's fight against modern-day slavery in the Philippines.
Well, shortly after the original airing, the Philippines vice president organized a viewing for politicians and business leaders in Manilla. He demanded they join the fight. Oebanda was there, and so was CNN. Kristie Lu Stout has the story.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Who doesn't like to see a dream come true? Cecilia Oebanda runs the Visayan Forum. For two years, the CNN Freedom Project followed her as she attempted to convince Philippine icon Manny Pacquiao to become the leading voice in the fight against trafficking. At an event at the vice president's palace, she watched her wish unfold.
MANNY PACQUIADO, BOXER/CONGRESSMAN: Every time I have contributed to the dignity and honor of the lowly, the joy and happiness is much sweeter than any championship belt.
STOUT: More than 150 journalists, politicians, and business leaders listened to Pacquiao, Oebanda, and the vice president as he spoke of the urgent issues brought up by the CNN film, "The Fighters."
CECILIA FLORES-OEBANDA, VISAYAN FORUM FOUNDATION: We know that the trafficker and our enemy will do everything to stop our operation. As the CNN picture, the Visayan Forum and our partners, it shows the world that fighting traffickers is not an easy job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oebanda dreams of what it would mean if he became human trafficking's most fearsome opponent.
OEBANDA: I hope that Manny realizes that this may be the hardest or the toughest fight that he will wage.
STOUT: The film chronicles several cases of children who've been victimized by traffickers and forced into prostitution. Their stories shocked many in the audience.
SYLVIA LICHAUCO-DE LEON, PRESIDENT, LOLA GRANDE FOUNDATION: Human trafficking is such a disgraceful, shameful crime, and we definitely all have to band together. Schools, private organizations, the government, every single one of us to be involved in the fight against human trafficking.
STOUT: Earlier in the day, dozens of Philippine police officers also raised their fists in solidarity and signed a commitment to take on human traffickers. The next day, this happened: Philippine port police and the Visayan Forum rescued 14 women and girls. Philippine vice president Jejomar Binay says "The Fighters" has galvanized the entire country to respond to what it's seen on screen.
JEJOMAR BINAY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES: Many have experienced, many have had misadventures, but they were excited about this now because of the CNN show. Well, yes, it should have been condemned even before several years.
STOUT: And if you've seen the film, you'll be happy too know, this time, Manny Pacquiao was there, even before the event started, and he told Oebanda he'll be there anytime she and the girls need him.
Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.
ANDERSON: CNN's Freedom Project for you. Well, coming up after this short break, protests in Turkey initially erupted over the planned redevelopment of Gezi Park. Find out why locals see the park as so important.
And in sport, could this be the biggest scandal in baseball's history? We discuss reports of drug taking among top players and ask what the consequences could be for the game.
ANDERSON: I want to get you some sports news making headlines tonight. Major League Baseball may be facing the biggest drug scandal in its history. The sports network ESPN says that about 20 players are set to be suspended by the baseball league for using performance-enhancing drugs. CNN's Pamela Brown has more.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): ESPN is reporting that Major League Baseball is preparing for an unprecedented wave of player suspensions that include Yankee star Alex Rodriguez and the Brewers' Ryan Braun.
Rodriguez, Braun, and some 18 other players are allegedly linked to a Miami-area clinic at the center of an ongoing performance enhancing drug scandal. On Tuesday night, Ryan Braun refused to talk about it after his game.
RYAN BRAUN, MILWAUKEE BREWERS: I'm not answering any further questions regarding the whole situation. I've dealt with it for a long time over the last year and a half, and aside from that, I don't really have anything further to say.
BROWN: Yankees' manager Joe Girardi was peppered with questions at a post-game news conference.
JOE GIRARDI, MANAGER, NEW YORK YANKEES: I think we all had hoped that we kind of got through it. But obviously, we're not through it yet.
BROWN: Major League Baseball issued this statement following the ESPN story. "We can't comment on an ongoing investigation." ESPN reports that Tony Bosch, the founder of this now-closed clinic near Miami, has reached an agreement to cooperate with the league's investigation.
The "Miami New Times" first reported in January that Bosch's Biogenisis clinic was a pipeline to performance-enhancing drugs for several players.
TIM ELFRINK, "MIAMI NEW TIMES": Well, it's clear that Biogenisis, like a lot of anti-aging clinics, was selling an awful lot of HCH, a number of other drugs that are widely banned in sports.
BROWN: Representatives for Alex Rodriguez issued a denial after the January report. "The news reports about the purported relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Anthony Bosch are not true. Alex Rodriguez was not Mr. Bosch's patient. He was never treated by him and was never advised by him."
According to ESPN, players could be suspended for 100 games, a penalty usually given to second offenses. If upheld, the suspensions may be the largest in American sports history. A-Rod fans disappointed.
TREVOR KAUFMAN, YANKEE FAN: I looked up to him when I played baseball because he was a really good player before and I really liked him. And it just saddens you, kind of.
BROWN: Not only is the legacy of these baseball giants at stake, but more importantly, that of America's pastime.
GIRARDI: I worry about baseball being affected as a game, the whole thing, and what it's been through in the last 15 years, and that's my concern.
ANDERSON: Well, Pamela Brown reporting there. The league has declined to comment to CNN, but they have confirmed an investigation is in the works. CNN's Rachel Nichols joins me live from Miami. Rachel, how much damage could this scandal do to the huge sport of baseball?
RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's interesting. On the one hand, this is definitely shaking the foundation of the game. This is possibly the largest doping scandal in American sports history, not just baseball.
On the other hand, I think a lot of Americans will be very happy to see how aggressively the league pursued this. There was a time 10, 15 years ago a lot of players will cheating with performance-enhancing drugs, and the perception was that the league office was basically looking the other way. There was a lot of uproar over that.
Baseball has instead in this case spent reportedly more than a million dollars in this investigation, had teams of investigators down here in Miami where the Biogenisis lab is located, and they've definitely gone out of their way to say even the top players in the game, they are not untouchable.
So, even though of course people don't want to see cheating at this level, I think there is a perception at least that they are trying to clean up the game.
We'll have to see how things pan out, though. You heard in that story that the founder of the clinic is now willing to name names. That still turns into a little bit of a he-said, he-said between him and the professional athletes.
This will all hinge on how much physical evidence he is able to bring to Major League Baseball: phone records, text messages, receipts, plane tickets, where he can show actual links to these players. If he can do that, we could see serious suspensions, and really a change in the way baseball is played.
ANDERSON: Unbelievable stuff. Rachel, thank you for that.
All right, let's reset on one of our top stories --
ANDERSON: -- tonight for you before we close out this show. We've seen more demonstrations across Turkey today --
ANDERSON: -- police use teargas earlier in the --
ANDERSON: -- capital Ankara one day after the government apologized for the use of force against protesters.
Well, early on Wednesday, the demonstrators here in Taksim Square in Istanbul demanded an end to the use of teargas, along with greater freedom of speech and the release of all detained protesters.
At the heart of the protests, redevelopment for Gezi Park. Imagine if someone tried to make over Hyde Park in London or Central Park in New York. You get the idea. I want to give you an idea of Gezi and the wider city of Istanbul. Have a look at this.
ANDERSON: We're just a block or so away from Taksim Square, and this burnt-out bus a good example of the destruction that's been wrought over the past couple of days as these protests have gathered pace, not just here in Istanbul, of course, but across Turkey.
I just want you to walk a little way with me, because they say in Istanbul, all roads lead to Taksim Square. Well, let me tell you that all roads are barricaded to Taksim Square at present. This right outside what is a very smart hotel.
Now, we were here at this hotel last night very, very late, and the interesting thing is that it opened its doors as a refuge to protesters. There were youngsters, many of them young women, in goggles and in sort of gas masks and covering their mouths, taking refuge from what have been very violent demonstrations, of course, in this city.
Let me walk you a little way up here, and we're going to get up to the park, which has been the flashpoint for so much of what's been going on since last Friday.
ANDERSON: Now we're inside the park, and this is the heaters union who are out on strike today, protesting the government. If you just turn around outside of here, I'll get you down into the park.
ANDERSON: It is a really good atmosphere in here, certainly no sense of violence by any stretch of the imagination.
(DRUMS PLAYING, PEOPLE SINGING)
ANDERSON: This lady is insisting that we have some additional Turkish food, and a great example, again, of what people are doing here. This establishment is giving out food for free to those people who are coming down to support this resistance to the government. Thank you.
ANDERSON: All right, lots of you getting in touch on Twitter, @BeckyCNN. Just a couple. Usa CenkTurkay says "One should investigate the PM's pressure on Turkish media. Why haven't any major TV channels broadcast the protests for three days?" And apology if I haven't got your name exactly correct there.
While this tweet adds, "Turkish people have always been free and we won't give up our freedom without a fight. The government doesn't consult but dictates."
I'm Becky Anderson, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Live from Istanbul from the team here and in London, it is a very good evening.