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British PM: Highly Likely Russia Poisoned Former Spy; Trump-Kim Jong-un Meeting; Stormy Daniels Offers to Return Hush Money; Rohingya Nightmare; Victims of Human Trafficking Inspire Play in Mexico. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired March 13, 2018 - 00:00   ET


[00:00:10] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour --

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: A stern judgment -- Britain's Prime Minister says the nerve agent that poisoned a former spy came from Russia.

VAUSE: Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee handing the U.S. President just what he wanted, finding his campaign did not collude with Russia or going even further than that. And Mr. Trump is celebrating with a rare all-caps tweet.

SESAY: Plus the Rohingya crisis -- the United Nations blaming Facebook for a role in spreading hate and fueling Myanmar's campaign of Muslim murder.

Hello everybody. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause. I hope you stay for the next three hours.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is pointing the finger at Russian in the poisoning of a former Russian spy. She's demanding a response from Moscow by the end of Tuesday.

VAUSE: She says evidence gathered by scientist from the scene shows a military-grade nerve agent was used in the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in southern England last week.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal. Mr. Speaker there are therefore only two possible explanations. Either it was a direct act by the Russian state against our country or the Russian government lost control of its potentially, catastrophically damaging nerve agent.


SESAY: Well CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is live for us in London. And we hope to be able to speak with Sam Kiley our international correspondent who's with us in Moscow. Nic -- to start with you. Theresa May saying Russia highly-likely responsible for what happened to Sergei Skripal and his daughter and with that U.K.-Russia relations, which were already at an all-time low, suffered a devastating blow.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: They did. And Theresa May is an unenviable position right now of having only a short amount of time to essentially decide what she wants the future of the British-Russia relationship to look like.

She's been criticized at home here in the U.K. for being cautious. She was under a lot of pressure in the Houses of Parliament to find allies to support here in the European Union in NATO.

She's had some of that support overnight. We know she talked to the French President Emmanuel Macron. He has responded to say that he supports Britain in this. We've heard from the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying that he agrees with the British assessment and trusts the British assessment that points at this stage to Russia and says the United States stands with Britain on this.

But whatever the Russian government comes back with and says in response to Theresa May's question puts them in a difficult position. Either it opens them up as Theresa May called in that speech -- opens them up for inspections by chemical weapons inspectors for undeclared chemical weapons stock piles. That would be one part.

Or to accept responsibility and take the full measure of diplomatic business and other implications that may be coming. Theresa May has been criticized in the past for not being tough enough on Russia in particular two years ago following the investigation, the inquiry into the killing of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian government official who was living in the U.S. who was hoping the U.K. authorities and others investigate their criminal activities in Russia. He was poisoned with polonium. He died within a few weeks of that poisoning. So she was criticized for not being tough enough over that.

So now she's in this position. What is she going to do? She could seriously set back Russia-U.K. relationship. And that's something that she will have -- that she will in bear in mind.

But as I say she's under a lot of pressure, high expectation that she will be incredibly tough and that's the language that she used in that speech yesterday.

SESAY: Yes. And we're going to get to the question of what her options are in just a moment -- Nic.

Let me bring in Sam Kiley who joins us from Moscow now. Sam -- if you can hear me. Russian officials are being dismissive of Theresa May's comments and quick to say they had no involvement in what happened to Sergei Skripal and his daughter. If they didn't do it as they say, who do they think is responsible?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well they're certainly not saying who they think is responsible. They're calling Maria Zakharova, who is the foreign ministry spokesman here saying that this whole thing is a circus and a fantasy cooked up by the United Kingdom.

[00:04:58] They are not however saying how it was possible that a rare Soviet era nerve agent could have found its way all the way to the United Kingdom if it were not part of a state-sponsored action.

I think that really what's noteworthy here though is also what kind of signals, if it was a Russian plot, whether it came from a plot within rogue elements have somehow got hold of this extremely rare nerve agent or the state itself.

It all goes down to Skripal's role in the 19902 as an MI-6 agent. He was turned to the pro-western side by the use of money that came from military intelligence. And the agent that recruited him, we know the name of this agent, is working for MI-6. We know him for many years was actually a specialist in that period at tracking Russia's WMD. That is of course, the nuclear weaponry and know-how that is the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. But also some of these extremely dangerous nerve agents that the Soviets have developed to try and work around international treaties that were signed between the United States and Russia in particular but also the United Kingdom to get rid of the most dangerous chemical weapons themselves.

This Novichok brand, if you like, a series of different chemicals were developed precisely to kind of dance around those sorts of restrictions. And it was the MI-6's handler's job to keep an eye on this stuff as the post Soviet Union collapsing period in Russia recall. Of course, in the 1990s Russia was in dire economic straits and was selling off all kind of state assets including military assets.

There was very strong concern that these sorts of weapons could find their way into the wrong hands. And if it wasn't the Russian state then they have to admit, as Nic was suggesting that it did find its way into those wrong hands. In fact, it's something that is very, very worrying for the international community.

SESAY: It is all very much a business. We must leave it there. Nic Robertson in London, Sam Kiley in Moscow -- my thanks to you both.

VAUSE: Well, for more CNN's European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas is with us. Dominic -- good to see you.

The British Prime Minister had some very tough words for Russia during that address to Parliament. Listen to this.


MAY: Mr. Speaker this attempted murder using a weapons-grade nerve agent in a British town was not just a crime against the Skripals. It was an indiscriminate and reckless act against the United Kingdom, putting the lives of innocent civilians at risk. And we will not tolerate such a brazen attempt to murder innocent civilians on our soil. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Will not tolerate -- especially tough when you consider that Mrs. May doesn't have a lot of options here, at least not all are good options.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: No. I mean if anything. It's a distraction from Brexit. In that regard, it's something else to sort of turn her attention to. Not tolerate -- strong reaction.

The big question is what would a strong reaction look like? Yes you can, you know, expel diplomats; financial -- you know frozen assets; you can make travel restrictions and so on. And when we consider that elections are supposedly taking place, you know, in Russia in the coming weeks for Vladimir Putin to consider that some wealthy Russians or Russian investors in Britain may be facing further sanctions could potentially put him under pressure.

But for Theresa May to react here she needs to do so in a coordinated fashion. For that she needs really two partners -- the European Union and I think it's going to be difficult for her to rely on sort of, you know, unyielding support from them at this moment because we also are following these Brexit negotiations, and the United States who have condemned the attack. But Donald Trump is a long way from condemning Russia on this.

VAUSE: Yes. And the White House press secretary Sarah sanders wouldn't even go as far to say that Russia was to blame on this.

But just talk about Europe for a moment; how much support will there be, you know, within Europe especially given that we're in the midst of time of Brexit at the moment.

THOMAS: Right. We're in Brexit and so relationships with the United Kingdom, of course, are at a very difficult historic moment. And the question of Russia too in Europe in a more general context has been problematic because of meddling in elections, support for far-right political parties.

Many of the problems that Europe is facing today is because of Russia. And we have here at the table not only, you know, a China that has changed the constitution to have a new leader arguing that he will represent into the 21st century of this country. But we have Vladimir Putin arguing that he's the best candidate to continue on his 18-year rule because he's made Russia great and at the same time, Donald Trump arguing along those kinds of lines.

And that leaves the United Kingdom somewhat isolated in that particular spectrum. Now Emmanuel Macron has spoken out. There will be some support

[00:09:54] But I think it's difficult to see the European Union really coming behind her to impose actions and to really complicate this relationship with Russia further given his own internal issues with certain countries to the East of Europe, particularly that are increasingly closening (ph) their relationships with Russia.

VAUSE: Well, with that in mind the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, he was asked if the attempted murder of Skripal and his daughter, if that would trigger mutual defense. He replied, it certainly would trigger a response. I'll leave it to that. I'll leave it at that, rather.

He has been a lot tougher on Russia than the White House was, at least in the state which he put out. This reference though seems to be talking about Article 4 of the NATO treaty which allows a member to convene a meeting with the alliance when that country feels that its security is under threat.

It seems that that may be kind of the extreme end of what May could actually do here. But if she did go that far that would get Putin's attention.

THOMAS: That would get his attention but that's also going a long way. An attack on one is an attack on all -- right.


VAUSE: Because that would imply (ph) that the next --

THOMAS: Right, exactly. And of course, Tillerson is not there right now. He's on his way back from his Africa trip, right. So he's responding in a way perhaps less coordinated than when he gets back to -- gets back to Washington. But yes that would be taking it to another level.

And then one has to ask what those kind of coordinated responses would be. The interesting thing though with this latest development, of course, is it doesn't just involve an individual that was recruited by the international -- by the intelligence services in the U.K. but also Skripal's daughter, you know. So this is taking it to another level even.

And also putting the British public at tremendous risk and I think that that's where Theresa May has to be responsive when it comes to dealing with this.

VAUSE: Yes. It would be interesting if, you know, if this had been a suicide bombing which had killed or injured a number of people in Britain, what the response from the U.S. would be --


VAUSE: -- would it be completely different to what we're saying right now and also from the rest of Europe.

THOMAS: Right.

VAUSE: But we have what we have. And also these actions about U.S. sanction of the Russia money but that's going to hurt the British economy. THOMAS: Yes. All of those things. That's true. And this has

increasingly isolated U.K. that's looking for bilateral agreements and so on. And so each time they lose a partner like this it complicates the situation even further. >

VAUSE: Thank you. Dominic -- good to talk to you.

THOMAS: Thank you.

VAUSE: Appreciate it.

SESAY: Well, the White House says it fully expects the meeting between the U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un to take place if North Korea sticks to its promises. That's even though North Korea still has not said anything publicly about the talks.

South Korea's envoys are fanning out across the region to persuade weary allies and said the meeting would be positive development. South Korea's spy chief has been talking with Japan's prime minister and its foreign minister. Seoul and Tokyo agreed on the need to keep pressure on North Korea and to end its nuclear weapons program. Meanwhile South Korea's top security advisor met with the Chinese President Monday and he'll head next to Russia.

CNN's Paula Hancocks joins us now from Seoul. Paula -- how much concern is there in the region regarding North Korea's silence about this meeting with Trump?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Isha -- I'm not sure if it's concern at this point. There's certainly some surprise that there hasn't been more from Pyongyang.

We did ask -- or we heard from the unification ministry on Monday about this. The spokesperson saying that they're assuming it's because North Korea is being cautious. They're trying to solidify their position.

Potentially reading between the lines you could read that as the fact they didn't expect the U.S. President Donald Trump to say yes so quickly. I think that took many people by surprise. So certainly I'm sure North Korea would have been taken by surprise that that was accepted quite so quickly.

So there's not really concern at this point. We're hearing from the U.S. side as well from the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. They are expecting to hear back from them. So it's -- at this point from South Korea's point of view they're just sending their delegations to China, to Russia as you say, also to Japan. The foreign minister will be heading to Washington as well this week.

So that they're really just trying to make sure that everybody is on board and they can prepare as much as possible for this upcoming summit or both summits with the North-South Korean summit as well.

SESAY: Yes, indeed. And let's talk about the North-South summit because that is up in April. I mean what is the -- the potential of having this meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-un impact that summit in terms of the goals in terms of the scope of conversation if you will.

HANCOCKS: Well, certainly I think from North Korea's point of view that is going to be the biggest summit, the Washington-Pyongyang summit; the Trump/Kim Jong-Un summit. But of course, the North-South Korea summit will be the precursor to that. So however that goes could well impact what happens with the United States afterwards.

We know it's going to be at the DMZ. We know it's going to be in April at this point. There's a committee here in South Korea that's sort of trying to sort out the logistics of it. We just heard from the unification ministry that it's expected to be shorter than previous summits.

[00:14:58] There was a presidential summit in 2000 and 2007. But for those, the President of South Korea actually went to Pyongyang so inevitably staying overnight there. It was going to be longer by default.

So as it is at the DMZ, potentially these two leaders will be able to come back and forth a number of times. We know there will be a hot line set up between President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-Un. That's something that simply hasn't happened between the North and South Korean leaders before.

SESAY: A lot going on. Paula Hancocks joining us there from Seoul -- always appreciate it. Thank you.

VAUSE: Well, still to come here House Republicans of the U.S. have closed down their investigation declaring not only was there no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia but they're questioning the full assessment of every American intelligence agency.

SESAY: Plus, a new offer from Stormy Daniels, the adult film star says she'll give back the $130,000 -- what she wants in return. We'll tell you when we come back.


VAUSE: Well, Republicans on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee say there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. And in a break with the U.S. intelligence community they say Vladimir Putin was not trying to help Donald Trump actually win the 2016 election.

VAUSE: Well, the House panel ended its investigation Monday much to the dismay Democrats who call it tragic and yet another capitulation to the Trump White House.

VAUSE: Michael Genovese is president of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University and Peter Matthews is a professor of global science at Cypress College. And both of them join us now for more on the story.

Ok. So clearly the President sees this is as a good day and vindication. We had one of those rare all-caps tweet to show his excitement. "The House Intelligence Committee has, after a 14-month long in-depth investigation found no evidence of collusion or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election."

The people at Fox News -- they have not been this happy since hundreds of thousands of children were about to government-sponsored or government-paid for health care because they've been going with this story all day. Case closed.

But Michael there are still two ongoing investigations including the special counsel which seems to be expanding. It seems they're a little bit ahead of themselves -- been ahead of their skis if they think this is in fact case closed.

MICHAEL GENOVESE, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY: Well, you don't find what you're not looking for. And I think in this case, this committee was poisoned from the beginning by former chair Nunes. And I think, you know, their conclusion that there's no collusion, that all contacts were inadvertent -- it's sort of like Donald Trump's contacts with Stormy Daniels which was inadvertent --

VAUSE: Right.

GENOVESE: -- that's about as inadvertent as those contacts. Plus when they said that there seems to be no effort help by Russia to help Trump, which just flies in the face of all the evidence.

And so I think what we're seeing is this is a fig leaf for the President. He's going to make the most out of it. It might give him some ammunition to fire Mueller but it's certainly not going to be enough because Mueller's investigation is going to go on.

[00:20:03] VAUSE: Ok. So not only does this report from the House Intelligence Committee find no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, it goes even further.

Mike Conaway, the Republican leading the investigation, he told reporters "Bottom line Russians did commit active measures against our election sin '16. And we think they'll do that in the future. It's clear they sowed discord in our elections. But we couldn't establish the same conclusions the CIA did that they specifically wanted to help Trump."

And so Peter -- to Michael's point, how could it be even remotely possible that every intelligence agency in the U.S. got this wrong and the Republicans on this House Committee are the ones who -- they're the only ones who really know the truth of what happened here? It just seems ludicrous in so many ways.

PETER MATTHEWS, CYPRESS COLLEGE: Because it's essentially a political decision on their part. It's not an investigative one. And they're trying to cover their president's -- I don't want to say it on --

VAUSE: You can say "behind".

MATTHEWS: Behind. Cover the President's behind -- exactly. They've done it at least for now temporarily.

The Democrats have a lot to say on this too when they come up with their statement tomorrow. And everyone else is looking at the truth and it doesn't seem to me that this is the truth.

VAUSE: Remember last year when the chairman of the House Committee Devin Nunes, he went all secret agent man and he was found sort of, you know, on the White House grounds in the middle of the night because he had some information from a whistleblower about this illegal government surveillance.

You know, it was all sort of, you know, all hush-hush and where was he getting the information from? And where you're (INAUDIBLE) from the White House? Was it a whistle blower? And it led to one of this great Sean Spicy moment at a White House briefing. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you rule out that the White House or anyone in the Trump administration gave Chairman Nunes that information.

SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't know what he actually briefed the President on but I don't know why he would come up to brief the President on something that we gave him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's why it was confusing to many of us.

SPICER: Right. I don't know that that makes sense. I did not sit on that briefing. It just doesn't -- so I don't know why he would travel -- brief the Speaker and then come down here to brief on something that we would have briefed him on. It doesn't really seem to make a ton of sense.

So I'm not aware of it but it doesn't really pass the smell test.


VAUSE: I really miss Sean Spicer.

Ok. So this all sort of blew up in Nunes' face because the information came from the White House; then we had, you know, this Republican memo which was meant to discredit the Steele dossier and all this kind of stuff. Again that backfired on Nunes and the Republicans.

So Michael -- what are the chances this finding by this, you know, Republican-led House Intelligence Committee will also be another rake stepped on by the Republicans.

GENOVESE: It's not going to have much of an impact. You'll get a 48- hour boost for the President. But Mueller's investigation is going to go on. And poor Devin Nunes -- it's almost like a bad version of "Animal House", poking around the White House and jumping around, hiding behind bushes. That's all for show.

Mueller is the serious grown up in the room. And I would say, you know, patience is what you need. Mueller is going methodically, let him do it. The House has already shown us that they're not going to cooperate and give us a real report.

The Senate, who knows? They seem to be less partisan right now. But it's really going to be all on Mueller's shoulders.

VAUSE: Peter -- it almost seems like this whole investigation was written off from the very early days, you know, when Nunes was, you know, busted on White House grounds playing, you know, Inspector Clouseau.

MATTHEWS: Well, it's a partisan organization. The House has got Democrats and Republicans and it's a partisan decision basically.

VAUSE: But the Intelligence Committee never used to be partisan like this.

MATTHEWS: No, it didn't.

VAUSE: So what sort of damage has been done?

MATTHEWS: It's the weirdest shift to the party -- where the Republican Party went to the right wing and deciding to display -- completely cover the President, cover the leader as opposed to what is the truth and investigating what actually happened more carefully, more objectively.

And it's such a shame because this could have been a nice bipartisan decision with much more all-encompassing facts.

VAUSE: Ok. Well, a source has told CNN -- we move on to Stormy Daniels because we're hearing that the Stormy Daniels scandal, according to a source is a bigger threat to Trump's presidency than the Russia investigation.

This is all about the story about the hush money, $130000 which was paid by Trump's personal lawyer. It was hush kept in the headlines again today by this offer from Daniels' attorney to pay the money back to Donald Trump.

This is what he said on CNN's "NEW DAY".


MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS ATTORNEY: I don't understand why the President cannot come out and state unequivocally did he know about the agreement? Did he know about the payment? And did he have anything to do with the payment being made? Three very simple questions.

You don't need 140 characters on Twitter in order to answer those three questions.


VAUSE: Michael -- you don't need 280 characters either on Twitter to answer those questions. It is a very straightforward series of three questions.

GENOVESE: And it's humiliating for the President. I don't think he's in political hot water unless this turns out to be a campaign contribution that his attorney gave out of the kindness of his heart to a porn star.

But I think when you have a President -- David Dennison -- you ask why does the President have to use an alias? And why do you need to bring a fixer like Cohen and if nothing needs fixing.

And so I think it's really the humiliation factor that there's so many women that have come out and accused the President. This is the one that sticks closest to home. This is the one that could more legs. And as such the President can be humiliated.

[00:25:06] I don't think he's going to be politically damaged as much as he is personally humiliated.

VAUSE: Ok. Well, there does seem to be some (INAUDIBLE) Peter when we look at, you know, he survived so many sex scandals but this one seems to be different.

MATTHEWS: It is. And the fact is that the evangelical Christians were a big bloc in his voting team. Some of them are going to peel away from him. There's just so much to this, what you think is immorality in their judgment if even 5 percent of evangelicals pull away from him that's going to be unbearable for him to win the reelection especially the two potential elections.

VAUSE: And it will have a bearing on the midterms which are coming up in November.

I want to finish with what was a less than impressive interview over the week on CBS' "60 Minutes" program from the Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have the public schools in Michigan gotten better?

BETSY DEVOS, U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: I don't know. Overall -- I can't say overall that they have all gotten better.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The whole state is not doing well.

DEVOS: Well, there are certainly lots of pockets where the students are doing well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. But your argument that if you take funds away that the schools will get better is not working in Michigan. Have you seen the really bad schools? Maybe try to figure out what they're doing?

DEVOS: I have not -- I have not -- I have not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe you should.

DEVOS: May I should, yes.


VAUSE: Maybe. Secretary DeVos joins a growing list of those on the naughty list as far as the President is concerned, those he's unhappy with -- Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, press secretary Sarah Sanders, chief of staff John Kelly, Housing Secretary Ben Carson, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Scott Pruitt head of the EPA, David Shulkin head of the Veterans Affairs.

Michael -- at this point it might be easier to list the ones who are not out of favor with the President.

GENOVESE: Well, there's been an incredibly high amount of turnover for one year into this presidency. Much more higher than Obama, Bush or Clinton.

And so you can't really govern with that kind of disheveled organization. But DeVos from the start she was a liability. She's a handicap because she doesn't know the issues.

And you have a president who came in, who didn't have a lot of political background so he didn't know a lot of the players who played the different games in the different fields to bring in. And so the DeVos family has given a couple of hundred million dollars and very, very generous to conservative causes. There's your answer to why she's where she is.

VAUSE: Yes. There's 50 Senators, Republican senators who may be having a rethink about the whole confirmation hearing.

We're out of time but good to see you both -- Peter and Michael. Thank you.

GENOVESE: Thank you.

VAUSE: Ok. Still to come here -- Even if it was safe for the Rohingya refugees to return to Myanmar, Amnesty International says a military land grab leaves many of them with nowhere to go. We'll have the latest reports of all the devastation -- that is ahead.


[00:30:10] VAUSE: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour:


SESAY: The U.N. special rapporteur on human rights says atrocities committed against the Rohingya bear all the hallmarks of genocide. According to a scathing report by Yanghee Lee, she says there evidence that Myanmar's military is still burning villages and possibly using new starvation tactics to force out the remaining Rohingya.


YANGHEE LEE, U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY: This casts further doubt on the sincerity of Myanmar repatriating the Rohingya from Bangladesh. Importantly it will be impossible for anyone to claim where they are from or describe where they had previously lived if the region's landscape has been so significantly altered.


SESAY: Amnesty International has released several before and after satellite images that appear to show military efforts to reshape the region. You can see before on the left where there was a burned village; on the right exactly where that village was there are a number of new structures and helipads.

Here you can see where villages were razed on the left and a large area of farmland in the square. But now on the right, new structures and more helipads have been erected in the middle of the farmland.

Amnesty international and the United Nations are calling for accountability but Myanmar's ambassador has rejected these claims.

Matthew Wells is a senior crisis adviser for Amnesty International and he joins us now from Washington.

Matt, good to speak to you once again. Let me get your take on this speedy construction, the militarization of the areas the Rohingya used to live in.

What's the Myanmar military's end game here?

MATTHEW WELLS, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Six months ago the Myanmar military unleashed its campaign of ethnic cleansing, driving more than 670,000 Rohingya men, women and children across the border into Bangladesh.

What our new report shows is that, in the absence of the Rohingya population, as they shelter in camps in Bangladesh, the Myanmar authorities are in effect remaking Rakhine State. Where there used to be Rohingya villages, homes, markets and mosques, these have now been bulldozed. Farmland and vegetation has been cleared away.

And in its place we see new construction, including new security force bases, roads built directly on top of where villages used to be and other infrastructure. And it shows that the campaign of ethnic cleansing has never really stopped and that the Myanmar authorities are determined to completely reshape this part of the country as is the Rohingya in camps in Bangladesh.

SESAY: All of which makes a mockery of the repatriation deal, paving the way for the Rohingya to return to Myanmar.

What would they be coming back to? WELLS: That's exactly right. You have the government, even today the ambassador in Geneva saying that the bulldozing is to pave the way for the return of the Rohingya. Yet what the satellite images show is not just bulldozing, which is problematic in that many of these villages are crime scenes where massacres and other violations took place.

But in addition to the bulldozing, we see again that they're building directly on top of these villages and building things that have nothing to do with the Rohingyas' ability to return. In fact, things that directly undermine their ability to ever return, doing things like building a security force base directly where a Rohingya village used to be.

SESAY: Over the months -- and, Matt, you and I have been speaking for a while and I've been speaking to various people involved in an effort to draw attention to this and seek justice for the Rohingya.

I thought I'd heard it all in terms of the violence and the atrocities but then we're now hearing of something else, something new coming to us from the chairman of the fact finding mission on Myanmar, Marzuki Darusman. Take a listen to what he said.




DARUSMAN: -- information collected so far points to violence of an extremely cruel nature with ample and corroborated information on brutal gang rapes and other forms of sexual violence against women. We have again to receive information on sexual violence against men and boys as well. Fourthly, the violence has not spared children.


SESAY: So, Matt, we're hearing of violence against men and boys, according to the chairman of the fact finding commission.

Is that something that has been ongoing and has been underreported or is this a new feature of this crisis?

WELLS: Literally every segment of the Rohingya population has been targeted. We have documented sexual violence only against women and girls. We have documented widespread human rights violations against children.

I remember one of my first days in Bangladesh back in September, as this crisis was erupting, I interviewed a 12-year-old girl who's from the village of Chupien (ph). Her name is Fatima.

As the military surrounded her village, she and her family ran out of her house, trying to escape and the military opened fire from behind. Her father was killed right next to her. Her 10-year-old younger sister was killed right next to her. And she, too, was shot in the thigh.

She had a neighbor thankfully that picked her up and carried her to a neighboring village and ultimately on to Bangladesh so that she survived. But when I spoke with her, not only had her father and younger sister been killed but also her mother and one of her brothers.

And this just speaking to the fact that everyone throughout the Rohingya population has been targeted. There have been scores, if not hundreds of children who have arrived in Bangladesh with gunshot wounds from being fired upon by the Myanmar military.

SESAY: Gosh.

Matt, we're also hearing from Yanghee Lee about how the violence is being organized. I want you to take a listen to this.


LEE: I think it was used to convey public messages. But we know that the ultranationalist Buddhists have their own Facebooks and really inciting a lot of violence and a lot of hatred against the Rohingya or other ethnic minorities.

And I'm afraid that Facebook has now turned into a beast than what it was originally intended to be used, maybe in other parts of the world, too.


SESAY: So Matt, Yanghee Lee now talking about Facebook being involved in the dissemination of hate.

What's the answer here as we try and find ways of bringing this to an end, at least stopping the actors from being able to continue to terrorize this community?

How do we disrupt the dissemination of hate?

WELLS: Hate speech has been a really disturbing and, you know, key part of what's happened in terms of mobilizing the anger, the hatred against the Rohingya population, of treating them, an entire group of people as an other, who are seen as not belonging and, therefore, in some way being treated as if this violence is deserved.

And so it's critical that that be addressed. Facebook has almost become like the Internet in its entirety in Myanmar, so it's central in terms of how everyone uses the Internet.

But I think on the other hand what we really need to focus on is what the government itself has done, what the military itself has done because that's really what's behind this campaign and that is, in terms of the violations themselves and also in terms of at times disseminating inflammatory and outright hate speech themselves, it has to start from the top in Myanmar and sending a clear message that this sort of speech will not be tolerated. SESAY: Six months on, the violence and atrocities continue. Matt

Wells, thank you for joining us as always and thank you for the insight into the new Amnesty report.

WELLS: Thank you for having me.

VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back and ahead of My Freedom Day on March 14th, we'll introduce you to a theatrical play in Mexico City, trying to help victims of human trafficking.





SESAY: My Freedom Day is on March 14th and young people around the world are teaming up with CNN for a day of activism against modern-day slavery.

VAUSE: And artists are using their talents to raise awareness. Rafael Romo reports now on a theatrical production in Mexico City, inspired by victims of human trafficking.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): The play has been well received by audiences across Mexico but the producer's goal goes well beyond getting standing ovations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The audience realizes that anybody can be a victim of human trafficking. And it's shocking. And it brings you out of your comfort zone.

ROMO (voice-over): The play is called "From Heaven to Hell." It makes the point in a not so subtle way that human trafficking and slavery are still happening today around the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody can help to bring out the victims out of that situation. That's our main focus.

ROMO (voice-over): For one of the performers, getting on stage is not just about playing a role. Carmen de la Cuesta (ph) says she was one of several young singers and actresses held captive and assaulted by an abusive talent manager.

CARMEN DE LA CUESTA (PH) ACTOR (through translator): It reminds me of the story I lived. Even though I was never exploited for the purposes of prostitution, which is what the play, "From Heaven to Hell" talks about. But I endured five different forms of human trafficking punishable by Mexican law and, therefore, I know very well the traffickers' modus operandi.

ROMO (voice-over): Audiences hear the stories of girls who have been tricked into prostitution and a life of sexual exploitation. The real victims that inspired the play sometimes appear side by side with the actresses at the end of the show.

ROMO: The idea originated years ago when the play's producer says he had a conversation with the author of a book on human trafficking. It took them a couple years to come up with the most effective and relatable way to take the book's message to the stage.

ROMO (voice-over): Audiences seem to be getting the message.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It can happen to anybody and that we shouldn't judge so easily. People that are in this type of situation because, well, they were tricked.

ROMO (voice-over): Actress Karanina Ivankovich (ph), one of the actresses in the play, says every time she goes on stage, she thinks of those still held in bondage and the ones who will no longer be able to escape.

KARANINA IVANKOVICH (PH), ACTOR (through translator): There are many people who are still trapped and some others who lost their lives. And it's very important that we don't forget about them and that we honor their memory knowing what's happening. We need to be courageous and raise our voices so that girls don't keep on getting kidnapped.

ROMO (voice-over): The show ends with an angel that saves one of the victims. Cast members say their hope is that anybody in the audience can be that next angel who saves a victim from human trafficking and slavery -- Rafael Romo, CNN, Mexico City.


SESAY: A play with an important message.

VAUSE: Yes. And, of course March 14th.

SESAY: Yes, a big day here at CNN.

Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Stay tuned with us. "WORLD SPORT" is up next. You're watching CNN.