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Turkish-Dutch Tensions Rising Ahead of Elections; U.K. Parliament Clears Way for Brexit Talks; My Freedom Day; New White House Take on "Wiretapping" Claims; Massive Blizzard Moving through Northeastern U.S.; Schools Worldwide Take Park in My Freedom Day. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired March 14, 2017 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:09] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour:

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Turkey blocks high level talks with Dutch diplomats as tensions rise ahead of elections in the Netherlands.

VAUSE: More than two weeks into the wiretapping controversy and the White House now says Donald Trump didn't mean wiretapping in the literal sense when he accused former President Obama of literally wiretapping his campaign.

SESAY: Plus it's My Freedom Day here on CNN. We take you to three continents where students are fighting to end modern day slavery.

VAUSE: Hello everybody. Great to have you with us. I'd like to welcome our viewers all around the world. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay.

NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

VAUSE: Diplomatic tensions between Turkey and the Netherlands are getting worse by the day. Turkey is now suspending high-level relations between the countries.

The Dutch embassy in Ankara was still closed on Saturday and now the Dutch ambassador is not being allowed back into the capital.

SESAY: Violent protests broke out in the Netherlands when the Dutch government refused entry to Turkish officials traveling there for a rally with expatriates. Turkey's president compared the Dutch government to the Nazis.

VAUSE: Dominic Thomas is the chair to the Department of French and Francophone Studies at UCLA. He joins us now from Amsterdam.

So Dominic -- how serious is this move by Turkey to suspend high-level diplomatic relations with the Netherlands?

DOMINIC THOMAS, UCLA: Well, it's incredibly serious. Turkey has been a member of NATO since the 1950s and it's been working very closely with the European Union since 2016, in particular over the management of the migrant crisis and the level of discourse has escalated. And you mentioned in the intro on recourse to words like Nazi, fascism and so on.

And with the election pending the referendum next month in Turkey and the election coming up this week in the Netherlands as well as other important elections in Europe like the French, it doesn't seem as if this is going to go away any time soon.

VAUSE: How much is domestic politics? You mentioned the election there in the Netherlands and the referendum in Turkey on presidential authority. How much is all of this now playing into this high level diplomatic spat?

THOMAS: Right. Well, it's a very interesting situation because folks in the Netherlands are stunned really by the tremendous international attention that is being brought upon the Netherlands just in the last few months. Of course Brexit, the election of Trump, and the key role that Wilders is playing here with his Freedom Party in shaping the questions in the election around Islam, border control, the European Union and so on.

And so this question with Turkey has once again brought tremendous visibility to the substantial Turkish-Muslim expats and bi--national populations living here and has allowed folks like Wilders to question the allegiance of these folks to Dutch values and Dutch society as they have expressed their interest in voting in the elections.

And so it's interesting because, of course, domestic policies have really been, you know, shaping most of the election -- questions of health care, pension reform and so on. But this really plays into it. And when we consider the fact that the number of undecided voters is considered to around 30 percent to 40 percent but turnout has been on decline in recent years and that there is a remarkable number of political parties running in this election -- 28 by the last count -- it means that the outcome is unpredictable. And since so much of the run up to it has been organized around this crisis and fear and so on, it certainly leaves the outcome unpredictable.

VAUSE: Well, earlier on CNN the Dutch foreign minister said there really was no other choice but to turn away those high-ranking Turkish officials over the weekend. This is what he said.


BERT KOENDERS, DUTCH FOREIGN MINISTER: When you have a House minister -- comes, in fact without sovereign immunity on our own to Rotterdam in a very tense situation on the ground. It is of course not a very good situation. So then you have to try to find a solution and we did.

But I'm just telling you we take sharp measures. As the Netherlands, this is our country and we decide on our public safety but also on the rule of law and democracy. It's now up to all of us, I think, to make this reasonable relationship. (END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: As to that last part of what the Dutch foreign minister said, will these countries be able to move beyond this and have any kind of reasonable relationship any time soon?

THOMAS: Well, I think that what has happened now particularly since things have escalated, you have seen a number of other countries step into the fray, just the other day, Denmark and Switzerland more recently.

[00:04:59] And there is something highly problematic about this because, of course, the foreign minister was allowed to conduct a rally in France which, of course, has fuelled all sorts of anger from the far right and campaigning in (inaudible) communities, campaigning in your expat communities is not something that is that uncommon.

But this one has a particular flavor because of the question of Turkey and so on. But just last month Emanuel Macron, one of the leading candidates in the French election travelled to London to speak to a constituency of an estimated several hundred thousand French people who live there and held campaign rallies. These are not uncommon.

This one I think has really sort of, you know, gone out of control and they've used the excuse of security, public safety and so on as a way of preventing this and as a way for the current prime minister, Mark Rutte, to seem as if he is big tough on these times of external interventions into the country. But, of course, all of this has fed directly into the kind of campaign strategies of the far right populist Wilders.

VAUSE: Ok. Dominic -- thank you for being with us. Dominic Thomas there from UCLA but right now in Amsterdam. Appreciate it -- Dominic. Thank you.

SESAY: Now the U.K. is a big step closer to leaving the European Union. On Monday the British parliament passed a bill that will allow Prime Minister Theresa May to begin talks on an E.U. exit.

The House of Lords voted not to reintroduce two amendments that had been rejected by the House of Commons. The Queen is expected to approve the bill on Tuesday, making it law. Once that's done, Prime Minister May could trigger Article 50 any day now.

Scotland however, could throw a wrench into Mrs. May's plans. Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon calls Brexit a bad deal. So she will seek permission from the Scottish parliament for a second referendum on independence.

Details now from Diana Magnay in Edinburgh.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just as Theresa May finally manages to push her Brexit bill through the British parliament, Nicola Sturgeon throws in a bombshell from Edinburgh essentially saying to Theresa May, you take us on the road down to a hard Brexit and you put the very notion of the United Kingdom at risk.

What the Scottish first minister is also doing is effectively putting herself back in the game and taking up her role again in E.U. negotiations, something that she says the devolved administrations were promised that they would be able to play when Brexit happens but that hasn't happened and it has, in fact, been in her words like coming up against a brick wall.

For the Scottish people, though, it presents them with a very difficult choice, a choice effectively between two unions. The United Kingdom on the one hand, the European Union on the other and for many that is a very tricky decision.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On balance I think it's understandable that she is going this way because Brexit presents Scotland with such a dilemma and the dilemma for the national party (ph), the dilemma for many Scots is how do we handle a U.K. government doing what we don't want? I agree with her but I think it is fraught with hazard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think there has been much engagement. I think it's more of a electioneering (ph) pose.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've heard that before with the previous female prime minister. It doesn't typically go well with Scotland.

MAGNAY: So next week, the Scottish parliament will decide whether or not to hold this independence referendum. But it won't end there. Westminster has to give its consent too. It is unlikely to say no because that might work in Nicola Sturgeon's favor. But it might delay a vote until after Britain's Brexit and that will only complicate things further for Scotland.

Diana Magnay, CNN -- Edinburgh.


VAUSE: Well, from Seoul to London to Rio, students around the world are taking part in My Freedom Day.

SESAY: CNN has partnered with these young people from more than 100 schools worldwide as they hold events to raise awareness of modern day slavery and celebrate freedom. Driving this is a simple question: what does freedom mean to you?


CHILDREN: What are you doing on March 14th?

STUDENTS: My Freedom Day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe that freedom is having the right to be who you are and being comfortable in the environment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom is about being yourself and not confined to restrictions (inaudible).

STUDENT: Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom to me means the right to do or say anything no matter your age, gender or race.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom to us is the right to do whatever you want no matter what you like.

[00:10:05] STUDENTS: Freedom is knowing that you're safe and you are warm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we're going to tell you what freedom means to us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom means people have the liberty to do whatever they feel without resistance or hesitance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For us, freedom is (inaudible) on your own and choosing your own career.

STUDENTS: And to us freedom is the ability of expressing our ideas without being judged.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom means being able to do what you want to do and not having anyone stop you as long as it doesn't harm anyone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom means I can love whoever I want.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, I'm Ralph. I'm 17. And to me, freedom is to be empowered to love freely and have the courage to become my own person.

KATRINA SUAREZ: I'm Katrina Suarez. I'm 18 years old. And freedom to me is being able to laugh freely and experience happiness.

STUDENTS: #myfreedomday.


VAUSE: For part of My Freedom Day, CNN collaborated with the Global Sustainability Network, a group of religious leaders of all different faiths brought together under the leadership of Pope Francis. This year they called on film makers everywhere to try and create powerful and memorable public service ads to highlight modern day slavery.

This time tomorrow on CNN, music legend Quincy Jones will be here to announce the winning PSA and you'll also meet the film makers.

But right now we're joined from New York by Tony Schena (ph) by a former spy turned defense contractor who has also worked to try and end sex trafficking of children. Tony was also involved in getting those service ads made.

Tony -- thanks for being with us. Is one of the biggest problems here when it comes to the human trafficking is just the vast majority of people simply aren't aware of the extent of the problem which is why those public service ads are really so important? TONY SCHENA, FORMER SPY TURNED DEFENSE CONTRACTOR: Yes.

Unfortunately it's quite astonishingly and quite frankly depressing how few people still know so little about modern day slavery. You know, we have run various campaigns on this and various organizations do all they can. But still, I'm quite astonished how few people do actually know about it.

VAUSE: You know, back in the day you were a spy for the South African government so you know a little about law enforcement. How do you see law enforcement when it comes to human trafficking compared, say maybe to the focus and the resources which we have on stopping the trade of illegal drugs?

SCHENA: Well, I mean, it's -- we look at transnational crime involving human trafficking. You're looking at the penetration of various borders. Now, in order to, say for example solve one case of transnational human trafficking crime you may involve 10 or 15 or 20 different agencies in order to get a resolution to that crime.

Now the lack of communication between agencies and also that fragmentation and lack of cooperation is sometimes a hindrance. Regarding funding, that is another mechanism that is desperately needed.

You know, human traffickers have really all the money and no rules, whereas law enforcement has no money and all the rules. And that's one of the big problems.

VAUSE: Yes. And it does seem like there is this focus. Everyone knows about, you know, the war on drugs, the effort that goes into stopping the trade in illicit substances but there is so little known about what actually happens when it comes to human trafficking.

SCHENA: Exactly. I mean the expenditure on drug trafficking is enormous. When it first started maybe 40-odd years ago it's still a war that quite frankly continues to be lost. And billions upon billions have been spent on it. In comparison to human trafficking where the numbers are dismal in comparison.

VAUSE: When we look at what's happening around the world more than half of the world's human slaves are living right now in India. There are significant numbers too of human slaves in places like China and Pakistan.

When you look at the economies, look at those countries they are very poor places, how much does poverty play into all of this? And there's also, you know, when you talk about law enforcement as well, the issue of corruption, of government corruption in those countries.

SCHENA: Yes. I mean, in poverty-stricken countries, you obviously have an exacerbated issue because there is desperation, you know. Families often sell a single child or a second child in order to feed the rest of the family.

[00:14:47] But this issue is not just, you know, economic. It's also social and cultural. You know, some sectors of society, you know, having a permanent housekeeper or, for lack of a better term, a house boy is acceptable.

Now when these sectors kind of migrate or immigrate into other countries they continue that practice. These microcosms living, for example, even in America. You know, you look at the Haitians and the restavek practice where they keep a person at home to tend to them, you know, which is modern-day slavery, yet it's still in place today in America.

VAUSE: You know, one of the issues here I guess you managed to speak to Pope Francis about the issue of human slavery. It was one of the issues the Holy Father first spoke out against when he became pope. He launched the Global Sustainability Network. How much impact has that have?

SCHENA: Yes. And I think Pope Francis is very progressive in as much as he brought together faith leaders from the Archbishop of Canterbury to, you know, Greek Orthodox, leader of Sunni, Shia, Buddhist and to sign a declaration against human trafficking.

And I think Pope Francis, by bringing everyone together, has allowed all religious leaders to have a voice and put their foot down and go no, this is not right and you cannot, you know, do this. We do not condone this.

VAUSE: Well, Tony -- great to have you with us and thank you so much for being a part of My Freedom Day.

SCHENA: Thank you.

VAUSE: A lot more ahead on air and online for My Freedom Day including a running blog, live streams from school events around the globe and a whole lot more. All goes live about 30 minutes from now. Find it all at

SESAY: And time for a quick break now.

The White House appears to be pulling back a bit. Coming up -- what senior officials are now saying about the President's explosive wiretapping claim.


VAUSE: Well, the calls for evidence (inaudible) at the White House is now reshaping President Donald Trump's wiretapping allegation. On Twitter, Mr. Trump accused former President Barack Obama of ordering a tap on his phones. Two senior officials are now suggesting the accusation was not meant to be taken literally.

SESAY: Meantime the Justice Department asked the House Intelligence Committee for more time to collect evidence to support Mr. Trump's claim. The committee has set a Monday deadline for documentation.

VAUSE: Joining us here now in Los Angeles Ethan Bearman, a syndicated radio talk show host, and Shawn Steel California's Republican National Committeeman. Thank you both for coming in. Good to see you.

SESAY: Welcome, gentlemen.

VAUSE: Ok. So let's pick up with this wiretapping allegation because the White House is now saying don't take the President literally. Listen to Sean Spicer.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He doesn't really think that President Obama went up and tapped his phone personally. I think --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does he think?

[00:19:57] SPICER: -- but I think there's no question that the Obama administration, that there were actions about surveillance and other activities that occurred in the 2016 election. That is a widely- reported activity that occurred back then. The President used the word wiretapping quote to mean broadly surveillance and other activities.


VAUSE: Ok. So what Spicer is referring to is that in the tweet, President Trump put "wiretapping" in quotes. So that's the get out of jail free card according to them. Don't take the wiretapping literally.

Shawn -- that's the best they've got after two weeks?

SHAWN STEEL, CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: No, no. It actually said "tapping", didn't use the word wire. But let's move on. "New York Times", we all agree that that is the citadel, the fountain of all truth, on January 20th, the day Trump was inaugurated on the top of the fold, not the bottom said "wiretapping by Trump officials by the CIA".

Now this is something "New York Times" and many other liberal publications were seeing throughout the fall during December and then as late as January 20th. I tend to believe with that much information there was definitely some kind of surveillance taken. No president in the history of America has had more surveillance, more spying of American citizens than Obama. He loved those devices and used them.

SESAY: Ethan -- it's a very simple case here. If that is indeed true, why hasn't the President just come out and show the evidence he has? Why aren't they giving the list of these publications that they're talking about? Why?

ETHAN BEARMAN, RADIO HOST: Yes because the President in the tweet was very direct and said it was Obama that did it and he was a bad guy.

VAUSE: "I just found out that Obama was tapping my phones."

BEARMAN: Right exactly.

STEEL: Except -- BEARMAN: Obama was tapping my phones. There's a total difference

when General Flynn was having communications with the ambassador himself, when Attorney General Sessions now attorney general was having communications with the Russian ambassador, when Paul Manafort was on the payroll of the Russians.

And the way our country works is if you are communicating with a known spy, guess what, your communications are being listened to. That is what happens in this country through FISA courts, which by the way, are also highly classified.

I agree with you -- Isha. Why didn't the President just come forward? Because it's time to put up or shut up.

STEEL: But that is a false narrative. And I'll tell you why.

VAUSE: Quickly.

STEEL: The trouble is that we have a deep state of a lot of forces and powers that keep track --

SESAY: Deep state.

VAUSE: Time check. Ok. We go to the deep state.


STEEL: -- and the bottom line is there is definitely surveillance taking place. Nobody denies it but it takes a while to find out who the leaker is.

VAUSE: Yes. The question who ordered it and what was the reason for it.

SESAY: And he did --

STEEL: That's why you have Congress investigate it.


VAUSE: He said it was definitely happening.

Ok. More spin also coming from the White House senior aide Kellyanne Conway.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: There are many ways to surveil each other now unfortunately.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe that was --

CONWAY: There was an article that talked about how you can surveil someone through their phones, through their -- certainly through their television sets, any number of different ways, and microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera. So we know that that is just a fact of modern life.


CONWAY: What the President has asked is for the investigation into surveillance to be included in the ongoing investigation.


SESAY: Shawn, have at it. Microwaves that turn into cameras?

STEEL: I'll tell you one thing. In my office we have these nice little computer screens. We put little post-its over the cameras.


STEEL: Look, this is not an exaggeration to say James Clapper who was Obama's chief of security at --

SESAY: Even Kellyanne Conway is trying to walk that back.

VAUSE: Ok. Now, very quickly, we've got to get to Obamacare because --

STEEL: Nobody doubts that we are being spied upon by our own government.

VAUSE: Sure.

BEARMAN: Not through microwave ovens.

STEEL: Even liberals admit that.

VAUSE: Ok. We finally heard from the President on Monday. You know, he went underground for a while -- talking about the new plan to replace Obamacare. This is what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So the press is making it look so wonderful so that if we end it everyone's going to say remember how great Obamacare used to be. Remember how wonderful it used to be. It was so great.

It's a little bit like President Obama. When he left, people liked him. When he was here, people didn't like him so much. That's the way life goes.


VAUSE: Ethan, you know, right now it seems they don't have a plan really that they can get through Congress.

BEARMAN: Yes. Well, that's absolutely right because now we find out the CBO, which by the way, any time the Republicans agreed with the CBO, the CBO was absolutely perfect. I'm actually consistent in saying the CBO is an excellent source of information. The CBO has said 14 million people next year would lose or drop their insurance. This is a horrible plan that is going to be on the backs of the least able to support themselves, the lowest economic status. If you make under $40,000 a year you are getting punished. If you're older, you will be punished under the Trumpcare plan. That's where they're coming up with $337 billion dollars

[00:24:53] STEEL: These are great Democrat talking points but unfortunately there is hardly any truth. The CBO a year ago, August, I checked -- they also predicted that there was going to be 24 million uninsured with the Obama plan.

Now what is happening today is that you have a program that was put on the Internet, unlike what the Democrats did -- a bill that is one- tenth the size of the original bill that everybody could look at. And it's a work in process that people are looking at right now.

SESAY: And the people do not like right now.

STEEL: That is going to change. But I can tell you one thing pretty much for sure and I may not agree with Trump on this. You hear this -- I may not agree with Trump.


STEEL: He's not going to let anybody go without insurance. So this program is going to change. It's going to --

SESAY: I think his point is that people will have access to it.

STEEL: Well, he's very adamant about it. He's made it very clear. Old folks aren't going to suffer and his voters who are actually poor people are not going to be caught uninsured.

BEARMAN: But the data -- Kaiser Family Foundation laid this out very clearly.

STEEL: Oh, Kaiser.


SESAY: As much as we would like to keep this going on -- next hour. We'll do it again.

VAUSE: We'll pick it up from this point. Ethan and Shawn -- thanks so much.

BEARMAN: Thank you.

SESAY: All right. Now winter does not want to leave just yet. A massive blizzard is moving across the northeastern U.S. Take a look at this with us. As you can see here it's already snowing in Baltimore.

VAUSE: And in Wisconsin two people died while removing snow. And New York, New Jersey and Virginia are under a state of emergency. More than 6,000 flights have been cancelled.

SESAY: All right. Let's bring in CNN's Rachel Crane. She joins us now from New York.

Rachel -- it doesn't look bad where you are. But give us a sense of the conditions right now.


The blizzard warning just went into effect and it will be in effect for 24 hours. Now as you can see the snow has not started to accumulate but the snowflakes have just started falling and they are expecting up to 20 inches of snow here in New York also about -- pardon me, 40-mile-per-hour winds are expected tomorrow which could cause whiteout conditions.

Of course, the city doing lots of repair; a state of emergency has been here in New York as well as in Virginia and New Jersey. Also public schools closed here in New York City tomorrow as well as Boston and Philadelphia.

And of course, travel across the country is going to be impacted by this storm. Already 6,500 flights have been cancelled and Acela service between New York and Boston has been suspended.

SESAY: All right. Rachel Crane, joining us there from New York. Rachel -- stay warm. The governor says Tuesday is a good day to stay home. Rachel -- appreciate it. Thank you.

VAUSE: It didn't look that cold.

Ok. When we come back --

SESAY: You just want a snow day.

VAUSE: Absolutely. Can I stay home?

Students across the globe are taking part in My Freedom Day. We'll go live to Abu Dhabi to see how one school is standing up against modern day slavery.



[00:30:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom to me means the freedom to think.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Choosing love over hate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never ever take me for granted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The right do what you want to do, not what (inaudible) to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom to me means going to school. What about you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom is knowledge, happiness and emotion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A life without persecution, a life without slavery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom means living in a world that allows children to be children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What will you do on March 14th?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to raise awareness to 2,000 students.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Organize a panel session about human trafficking.

UNIDENTIFIED BOYS AND GIRLS: Join us March 14th to stand up to slavery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And rally around the organizations that are creating freedom for slaves around the world.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To me freedom is when every child irrespective of gender has access to education and save lives.



ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. My Freedom Day is here. From New York to London, to Abu Dhabi, students right around the globe are taking part in this special day. CNN has partnered with young people from more than 100 schools worldwide as they celebrate freedom and take a stand against modern-day slavery.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: We have received more than 19,000 submissions on Twitter from people telling us what freedom means to them. And we would like to hear from you. Let us know what freedom means to you by posting a photo or video using the #MyFreedomDay. It's not too late.

SESAY: Well, CNN has swirling events around the world as students marked My Freedom Day. Our very own Becky Anderson joins us now from Abu Dhabi with more.

Hi there, Becky.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a very good morning to you both. You join us live at the American Community School here in the Abu Dhabi in the UAE. One of hundreds of schools as you rightly point out. Around the world are taking part in My Freedom Day as we hand the mantle to students standing up for freedom and against slavery.

Now we asked youngsters around the world to get involve in raising awareness, to discuss the issue amongst themselves and join us in the fight to end what is this modern-day scourge. And the students here in Abu Dhabi have thrown themselves wholeheartedly into the project using performance in a whole variety of ways to shock their peers and expose the horrors of trading as many as 5 million kids' lives around the world.

Have a look at how one group here at the school took over the assembly last week to spread the word.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A common way for people to get marked as owned is getting tattooed. So if you were stamped on the way in, please stand up.

Imagine -- imagine you have all disappeared.


ANDERSON: Well, I attended that assembly last week and there was a palpable sense of horror when those students stood up, understanding the trading in human lives isn't a chapter of the past.

Three of those involved in the school assembly are with me now -- Morgan, Madison and Charlotte.

Just talk to me about the importance of getting involved in a project like this. What sort of impact has it had on you?

MORGAN PITMAN, STUDENT, AMERICAN COMMUNITY SCHOOL OF ABU DHABI: Well, we did it by starting with this project as we wanted to incorporate the audience more. And so we -- it had an impact on me because it was something that I was able to work with hands on.

ANDERSON: You got involved in the assembly. It was really powerful. I was in the audience. Tell me about just how you put that together.

MADISON GRANT, STUDENT, AMERICAN COMMUNITY SCHOOL OF ABU DHABI: I think that it took a long time to put together and we put so much thought into it because we wanted to make it so meaningful for everyone and to have everyone be able to connect with the performance. And I think that the most important part was the end where we displayed the quotes because nobody really knew that human trafficking was such a big issue.

[00:35:00] ANDERSON: What has this project, Charlotte -- what impact has it had on you? We've asked students around the world just like you guys to get involved. We've handed (INAUDIBLE). It's about raising awareness. What impact has My Freedom Day had on you? CHARLOTTE MAJEWSKI, STUDENT, AMERICAN COMMUNITY SCHOOL OF ABU DHABI: Really we were all just really keen on doing something different to show the issue at hand and kind of involve the audience. That's kind of why we had the stamps on their arms. And we wanted to do it in a way that nobody had ever seen before.

ANDERSON: Fantastic. But it was really, really impressive. And we've been talking about performance. Well, I've got year six choir behind me and they have composed and will now sing for you a song about freedom. Listen up and listen carefully, because the words of this, viewers, are absolutely beautiful and pointed.

Have a listen.






UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom to me is the ability to express anything you want, any way you want.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom to me means having a choice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom means being able to express my individuality whenever I want.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom to me is the ability to move around and express yourself and given all those human rights without being at risk of persecution.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody.

Students around the world sharing what freedom means to them for My Freedom Day.

SESAY: CNN is partnering with more than 100 schools across the globe, Tuesday, as students hold events to raise awareness of modern day slavery. Those who are spreading the word on Twitter with the #MyFreedomDay.

Well, CNN is following events around the world as students marked My Freedom Day.

VAUSE: We were checking in with Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong, but we are having a few problems. So let's go back to Becky Anderson, who joins us once more from Abu Dhabi.

That was a great song before the break, Becky. I really enjoyed it. ANDERSON: Oh, it's wonderful. It's the second time I've heard that song. As I say written, composed and sung by the Year Six choir here. And I'm joined by a whole bunch of other students who have been getting involved here in the UAE, in #MyFreedomDay, who understand that trading in human lives isn't just a chapter of the past.

[00:40:00] 45 million people, of course, trapped in slavery today. Among them, over 5 million kids. It is a lucrative. It is a dirty, dirty business. Traffickers earned more than $150 billion a year.

And I know that that is the sort of things that you, guys, have been learning about. The school curriculum has included an awful lot across the years over the past month or so. An awful lot about human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

Let me just introduce you to some of those who have been involved. Just tell me your name and how this project has had an impact on you?

DENNY: My name is Denny. And I think was this day teaches us is that the right to determine how to live your life is for many people a privilege, which something we take for granted and it kind of raises awareness about how everyone deserves to have that right no matter where they are from.

ANDERSON: So the impact is really been huge?

DENNY: Correct.

ANDERSON: Yes, fantastic.

What about you?

THEODORA: Hi, I'm Theodora. And for me, Freedom Day has meant learning to really appreciate the international education we get in the UAE, and how not everybody is lucky enough to have that around the world.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. Who else? Who else? Did you put your hand up? Go on. What does freedom day means to you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like having my own rights and doing what I want to do without anyone telling me what to do.

ANDERSON: Yes, yes. Fantastic. Who else? Who else is going to tell me how this has had an impact on their lives? Go on. Just pass the microphone around.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Freedom day has had an impact on my life in the was that it has raised awareness that people in a situation that are conducive to, can express themselves the way I can.

ANDERSON: Come on, pass it around.

MORRIS: My name is Morris (ph). I think, like, freedom means to me so you cannot -- I mean -- so no one can control you. No one can interfere you, because if someone control you or interfere you, it means nothing to you. Like you're just not going to do anything you want and means freedom to us to be the one who you want not being someone wants.

ANDERSON: I know you've all spent some time now learning about the horrors of modern-day slavery and of human trafficking.

What has shocked you most? I think you've got the microphone. The floor is yours. Go on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What struck me most about human trafficking and how it's going on is that it still goes on. It has been going on for centuries from like the 1500, and we call ourselves the modern world, but it's still going on and we're not doing anything about it.

ANDERSON: So what are we going to do about it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think that we should -- in fact, well, raising awareness about it will definitely help the problem. It just -- a lot of people don't know that it still goes on and that's a really big issue.

ANDERSON: Good. So raising awareness starts with groups of students like you. Do we all agree with that? Yes?


ANDERSON: Great. One more comment. Who wants to give me the last comment before I get back to my colleagues in L.A.?

Go on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe that human trafficking is such a big deal and there are so many students all around the world who are getting into such problems around the world and raising awareness would really help everyone.

ANDERSON: All right. Well, listen, let's raise a cheer for what you're doing, putting you on the map and other schools around the world. #MyFreedomDay, right?

Three, two, one -- #MyFreedomDay.

Back to you guys!

SESAY: Thanks so much, Becky. And thanks to all those great students with you. It is wonderful to see so many kids all around the world getting involved.

VAUSE: Yes. And Becky put them all on the spot there and they're very eloquent, very articulate on what they were saying. I think it's a credit to them and their school. So well done, guys.

SESAY: Yes, absolutely.

A lot more ahead on air and online for My Freedom Day including a running blog, live streams from school events around the globe and much more. And you can find it at

Well, thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, live, from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. "World Sport" is up next and we'll be back with another hour of news from around the world. You're watching CNN.