Return to Transcripts main page
ISIS Found Responsible for Genocide; Iraqi MP is ISIS' Most Wanted Woman; Inspiration through Education; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired March 17, 2016 - 15:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: ISIS is committing genocide in Syria and Iraq. The U.S. has now made that official. I speak
to the Yazidi member of parliament who first called attention to the horror.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VIAN DAKHIL, YAZIDI MP: It was not enough the USA recognized this case as a genocide. But we need all the world, all the international
communities recognize as the genocide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Also ahead, from a refugee camp to global honors. Meet the Palestinian who was just voted the world's best teacher.
PLEITGEN: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Fred Pleitgen, in tonight for Christiane Amanpour.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced today what's been clear all along: ISIS is genocidal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: My purpose in appearing before you today is to assert that, in my judgment, daish is responsible for genocide
against groups in areas under its control, including Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): The official designation will add pressure to step up military action against the group. But it doesn't mean the United
States is legally required to do so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: The sad truth is that for so many of ISIS' victims, their lives already marked by suffering and fear, may not be changed. The
harrowing scenes of Yazidis fleeing to safety last year show the shocking gravity of the atrocities they face.
Our own Ivan Watson saw it up close when he boarded a helicopter sent to Mount Sinjar to rescue desperate Yazidis escaping the brutal and
bloodthirsty fighters of ISIS in 2014.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There are a couple people very relieved to be off the mountain and clearly very, very
WATSON (voice-over): Then the helicopter lands one last time to pick up more passengers.
WATSON: Here they come.
WATSON (voice-over): More desperate people throw themselves at the aircraft, heaving their children on board. It's first come, first served.
There were some who couldn't make it.
Aboard the aircraft, shock, exhaustion, fear that eventually gives way to relief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: The plight of the Yazidis was first highlighted for many when an emotional address by a Yazidi member of parliament in Iraq gained
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAKHIL: (Speaking foreign language).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).
DAKHIL: (Speaking foreign language).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) --
DAKHIL: (Speaking foreign language).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: That member of parliament, Vian Dakhil, spoke to me tonight from Irbil in Iraqi Kurdistan.
DAKHIL: This is a very important step from USA. But it was not enough the USA recognized this case as a genocide. But we need all the
world, all the international communities recognize as the genocide.
PLEITGEN: At the time that ISIS overran the Yazidi areas in 2014, you made a very passionate and a very emotional call for immediate action
How angry, how emotional are you today about the situation that so many Yazidis are in?
DAKHIL: Nothing is changed until now. Nothing is changed because still now we have many peoples --
DAKHIL: -- as refugees. They are living in the camps with a very bad situation. They need everything. And since now we have about 3,000, 3,600
girls and women are kidnapped under ISIS control and since we have 1,000 kids as kidnapped by ISIS, we -- the situation, it is -- now it is more bad
than 2014 because the people, our people lost the trust to other, lost the hope to return back to our home, lost the land, those -- the families lost
everything. This is my feeling or my emotion about what -- about the situation of the Yazidi.
PLEITGEN: What would you like America to do and what would you like the Iraqi government to do?
Do you think that they should put more effort into bombing ISIS?
Do you think that they should put ground troops on the ground there and try to do more to free the Yazidis?
DAKHIL: This is one step, to bombing the ISIS because it's a very important thing from international countries or from Iraqi government,
because if you are liberate this land from ISIS, maybe we can save or escape our girls from those terrorists.
We need a home for their escaped girls. We have about 2,000 girls are escaped from ISIS. We need psychological helping for those girls. We need
a psychological help for our kids. We need many things.
But the first step or the first point, it's a very important point, how to bring this case as a genocide to the criminal -- to the high
PLEITGEN: Vian Dakhil, thanks for joining us.
DAKHIL: Thank you.
PLEITGEN: And joining me now live is Philippe Sands, international lawyer and author of "On the Origins of Genocide."
Philippe, welcome to the program.
What do you make of this, what does this mean?
PHILIPPE SANDS, AUTHOR AND LAWYER: Well, I've been following the subject of genocide for several years. I've been writing a book, "East
West Street," and I've practiced as a litigator before various courts. So I've looked at it in a historic perspective. It's sort of a game-changer
We have crimes against humanity, we have war crimes and we have genocide. Genocide is the destruction of groups. It's seen as the crime
of crimes in many people's eyes. It changes the political dynamic. And it has legal consequences.
PLEITGEN: What are the legal consequences?
Because I'm sure many people will now have heard this announcement, they'll say, well, we kind of knew ISIS was genocidal.
But it does -- does it have clear legal implications and a cause for action?
SANDS: Well, it does have legal consequences. If nothing else, all the parties to the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of
Genocide now have an obligation, assuming they share the United States' position that a genocide is happening, to punish perpetrators. So that is
a legal obligation.
And that's a direct consequence of the characterization of this as a genocide rather than some other crime. But beyond the legal consequences,
perhaps even more important, is the political consequence, which is putting real scrutiny on what is going on.
And finally is the significance for the victims, of knowing now that the international community is rallying behind them.
PLEITGEN: But if you say there is now real scrutiny on all of this, why would ISIS care?
Because first of all, they don't care about legal (INAUDIBLE) anyway and second of all, they're a non-state actor.
SANDS: You know, ISIS doesn't care. I've seen plenty of interviews. But it's like back in 1941, when occupied countries in Europe began for the
first time to talk about Nazi crimes across Europe. The Nazi government of Germany then didn't care about it. But it led eventually to a very
significant change and to the creation of --
PLEITGEN: Do you think -- this is something that I asked the Yazidi member of parliament as well, do you think that it's feasible to assume
that, at some point, there will be former members of ISIS, members of ISIS on trial in places like The Hague for what is happening to the Yazidi,
what's happened to other minorities in Iraq and it's possible in Syria as well?
SANDS: This is the first step, a political decision at the highest levels from a very important country to characterize what's happening as a
genocide. The next step is beginning to prepare the evidence for investigations and prosecution.
PLEITGEN: Something that could happen --
SANDS: -- that is now happening. And many governments are now beginning to gather the facts.
And the facts are truly shocking. I've been working on this for the - -
SANDS: -- last few months. It is plain that what is going on is not random violence, not random enslavement, not random rape. It is a
systematic program intended to exterminate a group in its entirety in that area. And that is what is so shocking.
The evidence is coming to be gathered. It needs to be prepared meticulously. And I'm sure the day will come when someone will fall into
captivity and some sort of investigation will then turn into a prosecution.
PLEITGEN: But do you think that that's a priority right now?
Because there's many people who ask, well, what is the U.S. going to do differently at this point in time?
It was interesting because one of the things that John Kerry said in his speech, is he said, yes, we say this is genocide; however, we are
already doing a lot to prevent all this.
And, of course, prevention is something that's very important. So the U.S. is saying they've already prevented genocide in certain areas, because
they did do a lot to save a lot of Yazidis as well.
SANDS: And that is surely true. But you're absolutely right, the first thing to do is to prevent further atrocities. There are, I think,
about 3,800 Yazidi women, who are still in captivity in various places around Mosul and Raqqah. They need to be gotten out.
With regard to those who have been gotten out, there is now a program for their treatment and for their care. Various governments are helping;
the German government, in particular, is playing a very significant role. That's the second step.
So you're absolutely right, the longer game is the legal game. The first thing is to stop this from happening and to look after those who are
being treated in this way.
PLEITGEN: International law is something that always very heavily relies on powers to make sure that it has muscle. And the same is the case
here. The last time something like this happened in the U.S. was in 2004 in Darfur and there was very little that happened afterwards in the way of
prosecution, the way of following up on things.
If very little happens in this case, what do you think that would do for the principle of prosecution and prevention in international law and
generally in international politics?
SANDS: Darfur is and was a problem, as you rightly say. There was a moment, I think it was in 2005 when President Bush suddenly embraced the
International Criminal Court and saw that there was something called a genocide taking place in Sudan. And some things have happened. It's not
that there's been no action at all.
But it has not alleviated the suffering for a lot of people. And although there have been some investigations and some prosecutions, action
on the ground is extremely limited. So I think there's a sort of fatigue that is setting in. And I think the next thing Mr. Kerry has to do -- and
we want to hear President Obama committing the United States to doing that -- is making absolutely sure, as happened in the mid-1940s, in the midst of
war, that it's not just words but it will be followed by action.
PLEITGEN: What would happen if he does -- I wouldn't say nothing at all -- but nothing significant?
What would that mean for these norms?
Would it embolden groups like ISIS?
What sort of precedent would it set?
SANDS: Look, I mean, the people from ISIS are not sitting around watching us talking about this, thinking, oh, my word, I'm about to be
indicted. I'm about to be prosecuted.
PLEITGEN: But other oppressive regimes might.
SANDS: But other oppressive regimes might but the main point is there are some people who are on the fence. And what this does is it transforms
the political dynamic. It makes it absolutely clear that there is a commitment to action. And the crucial next step is, as -- I said this,
we've been discussing -- to follow through in terms of gathering the evidence, beginning to identify the names.
You know, I've been in touch with some of the people who were involved in these stories. We have individual names of perpetrators. And you know
what I'm being told, the worst offenders are those who come from outside the area, from Australia, from Britain, from New Zealand, from the United
States, from Germany and turn up in these camps and engage in the rape and mayhem and horror that is being perpetrated in stories that are literally
PLEITGEN: Philippe Sands, we'll see what happens with that. We hope something happens. Thank you very much for joining us today.
SANDS: Thank you for having me.
PLEITGEN: Up next on the program, from the classrooms of London to the playgrounds of the West Bank. How two extraordinary teachers are
transforming young lived, one child at a time. Their inspiring story, when we come back.
PLEITGEN: Welcome back, everyone.
You know, there's an old British saying that goes, "Those who can, do, and those who can't, teach," meaning, of course, that people turn to
teaching when they really aren't good at anything else.
Tonight we meet two inspiring people who have proved that phrase very wrong. Hanan Al Hroub works in a primary school in the West Bank. She's
just been awarded this year's prestigious global teacher prize for her efforts helping young schoolchildren traumatized by violence.
And Colin Hegarty is a math teacher from London whose engaging online tutorials have helped thousands of children around the world achieve better
He was a runner-up for the $1 million prize. Well, Colin and Hanan joined Christiane Amanpour earlier this week.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to both of you, Colin here in the studio, Hanan out there in Dubai.
Let me ask you first, Hanan, how does it feel, what was it like to be awarded and announced as the winner by the pope himself?
HANAN AL HROUB, GLOBAL TEACHER PRIZE WINNER (through translator): Very happy. I still cannot believe it. I didn't believe hearing my name
as a winner. It's -- I respect him a lot and it's a big prize. It's a big prize that I'm very proud of.
AMANPOUR: Now unlike the special circumstances of the Palestinian territories, Britain is an intellectual hub, it's a science hub. People
talk all over the world about the great British education. But today, "The Times" of London says that British schoolchildren are at the back of the
class practically when it comes to global math achievement.
COLIN HEGARTY, GLOBAL TEACHER RUNNER-UP: Every successful system has a great culture behind it. So we need to promote maths, tell the good
stories of maths in this country, tell our children that you can do maths and that's the teachers, that's the media, that's the parents probably more
We can't by osmosis let children realize they're not good at maths by the messages we give them. And I think confidence and belief that you can
do it is the very first starting point, so that's what we should do in the first instance.
AMANPOUR: And, Hanan, you do a different kind of teaching. You're teaching traumatized children. Tell me how that came about.
HROUB (through translator): My way of teaching is play and learn, is to stop any violent behavior, any violent behavior in the classroom. If a
social group is violent, than that's going to affect the whole society.
I treat them that success can be for all of the students. I teach them how to converse, how to carry a dialogue. The games I teach them
teach them how to participate, how to be efficient.
AMANPOUR: But how did it start, Hanan?
Your own children witnessed a shooting, is that right?
And they were very traumatized by it.
Describe what led you to this.
HROUB (through translator): The story started as any story that a family in Palestine can go through. They were coming back from school and
they saw the wife of their aunt -- of their uncle -- they saw them being shooted in front of them.
And my children, they saw their own father, he was injured. It was quite a big shock for them. I suffered a lot due to that.
They were isolated. They lost self-confidence. And they were violent between each other. And I noticed most of the teachers at school, they
were not trained to treat this kind of shocks. So I had to deal with my kids by myself.
And I started playing with them. I started looking for a library. I started looking for colors, for tools to draw things to help my children to
get rid of that trauma.
Their results at school got better --
HROUB (through translator): -- and I managed to take them out of that trauma because of what happened. And I took it as a responsibility and as
a promise to myself that I will help anyone who has been through such an experience.
AMANPOUR: Colin, let me ask you. There have been so many high profile -- you know, the President of the United States, President Clinton,
Ban Ki-moon, the pope, all these people said how important their early teachers were to them. And I just want to play something that one of your
students has said about you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's here to get us where we want to go. And he'll help us in any way possible. And it was just quite inspiring to have
someone at such an important point in your life to just be, "I'm here whenever you need it, 24/7."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEGARTY: In my own life, education was everything. I'm from very humble backgrounds in London: myself, my mum, my dad, my sister lived in a
one-bed council flat in Kilburn (ph).
My parents taught me education was a great enabler in your life. It's an opportunity to give you choice and an opportunity to allow you to do the
things in life that you want to do, to help yourself but, more importantly, also to help your community and the problems that are in the world.
I think it was said during the conference at the weekend that, for any problem we have, education is the answer. And, I mean, what greater gift
is there, after the gift of life and love?
I think the third greatest gift you can give to someone is the love of learning.
AMANPOUR: Were you always -- did you always love maths?
Were you always a math wiz?
HEGARTY: Honestly, I just love learning. I was so lucky. My parents really told me that education was everything.
And wouldn't it be great if one day like young children think of being a teacher just the same as they think of it being a doctor or a lawyer?
AMANPOUR: Well, you know, that brings me to obviously the next question. There are certain countries, let's say Finland and others, have
been held up as some of the best education models in the world. They say that partly that is because they treat and pay their teachers as if they
were the highest profession rather than, oh, I couldn't do anything else so I went into teaching.
What is your view on how teachers should be valued by society?
HEGARTY: The worst phrase you hear is, you know, if you can do, do and if you can't, teach. It's such a tragic thing to hear. It's the exact
opposite. To be a great teacher, listening to Hanan and all the others, you need incredible passion, incredible energy and incredible expertise.
That's the one thing, all professions have a credible expertise. And to be a great teacher, there's a lot you need to learn about how the brain works,
a lot you need to know about how to motivate people.
These are skills that great business leaders have. And teachers are like business leaders. So I think we need to thank you for the Varkey
Foundation for this award, because it started the conversation. And I think it's the right conversation to be having and it's --
AMANPOUR: And they're already talking about this as the Nobel for teaching. So the two of you, thank you so much.
Colin, well done for being a finalist.
Hanan, congratulations on winning this year's award.
Thank you for being with us.
PLEITGEN: And up next, the young Palestinian boy living out a dream after surviving a nightmare that killed his family.
PLEITGEN: And finally tonight, imagine a world where the most well- known stars of football tried to heal the wounds of an almost forgotten child.
Bernabeu And he's the guest of honor today with Ronaldo and Gareth Bale at Real Madrid. Oren Liebermann reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cristiano Ronaldo bringing light to a face that's been shrouded in agony. Five-year-old
Ahmed Dawabsha, leading the stars of Real Madrid, the Palestinian boy mingling with his favorite football club in his team jersey, his
grandfather enjoying the time just as much as Ahmed.
The dream of this young Palestinian boy came true after months of nightmares. On July 31st, suspected Jewish extremists firebombed the
Dawabsha family's home in the town of Duma in the West Bank. Ahmed's parents and baby brother were killed in the attack.
Ahmed, who had burns over 80 percent of his body, was in the hospital for months.
He didn't know what happened to his family. The hospital feared it would be too much for this young boy to bear. Before he was even out of
the hospital, his extended family put in the request for him to meet Real Madrid. It was a way of giving him a goal, something to look forward to.
He walked onto the pitch at Santiago Bernabeu, felt the grass beneath his shoes and admired this stadium of stars, the burn scars still very
visible on his head. The dream of a new beginning for Ahmed starts with a shared smile and a game whose goal it is to bring happiness -- Oren
Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.
PLEITGEN: We hope he makes a full recovery.
And that's it for our program tonight. And remember you can always also listen to our podcast, see us online at amanpour.com and, of course,
follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.