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Aired April 5, 2021 - 13:40:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[13:40:00]

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Live from London, I'm Hala Gorani. We'll take you back to our live coverage of the Derek Chauvin trial shortly. First though, I want to update you on some other stories developing around the world and we began in Myanmar where the crackdown on prodemocracy protesters is uniting some of the country's disparate and armed ethnic groups.

Over the weekend, 10 groups met virtually and urge the military government to end the violence. Now, this statement comes after fighting intensified between the military on the one hand and groups in Southern Myanmar on the other. Conflicts like these are fueling fears that the chaos could descend into an all-out civil war in Myanmar. Now activists say hundreds of civilians have been killed.

Thousands more rounded up since the February 1st coup that brought the military to power. CNN is in Myanmar with the permission of the military. It has to be said. The team is being escorted throughout. Here's Clarissa Ward. She's in Yangon right now speaking to my colleagues, John Berman and Alisyn Camerata.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Two months ago, a democratically elected government was overthrown by the military in a coup after the military suffered what can only be described as a humiliating defeat in the elections back in November. That coup has given rise to an enormous protest movement that has swelled across the country.

Put simply, the military does not have the support of the people of Myanmar. And as those protests have swelled, and have people have become more angered about this so too has the violent oppression of that protest movement by the military, as you said, hundreds have been killed, among them dozens of children. We wanted to come here to report on the ground because simply put, John, no other journalists, international journalists have been allowed into Myanmar since this coup happened. Now we came with permission from the military with all of the complications that that entails. But we still felt that it was a vital importance to come here ourselves, to see what was happening and to confront the people responsible for the violence.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And so Clarissa, I mean, I know all of this is delicate. But since you're under the auspices of the military, are you able to report freely?

WARD: We had been assured prior to coming here that we would have independence and freedom of movement. We wanted to stay in a hotel in Yangon, that was not allowed. We're staying instead in this military compound. It's completely walled off, we cannot come in and out and move freely. On our first day we were moving around with a convoy of six trucks full of soldiers. In addition to that, we have many minders following our every move.

Whenever we do have the opportunity to be on the street, which is very rarely, Alisyn, our minders are constantly filming everything with their cell phones, making notes, making phone calls, taking records of every single person we talked to, and every single movement we make. So, it has not been without its challenges, Alisyn.

[13:45:15]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, they're taking pictures and they're taking names apparently, Clarissa. So tell us about the people who've been detained after speaking with you.

WARD: So this was a very distressing incident, John. On one day, we were finally allowed to go to a public space to an open market. And it's important to underscore here that we have not solicited contact with any activists with anyone who is part of the protest movement because we know given the context that we're here and just how dangerous that could be. However, when we took our cameras out in this market and started shooting video, people started coming up to us.

People started giving the three-fingered Hunger Games salute that has become the symbol of this defiant movement. And they came up and started telling us their stories. They told us they were frightened. They told us there is no peace there. And we let them say their piece, we thought it was important to give them the opportunity to have their side of the story on the record. Shortly afterwards. However, we found out that many of them were detained.

One woman actually ran after me while we were still at the market, trembling like a leaf on the phone with someone who said that three people we'd spoken to had already been arrested. We had the opportunity, however, to sit down with Myanmar senior military -- senior military leadership, the government spokesman himself and we asked him why on earth these people have been arrested and we urged him to release them. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WARD: We went to a market in Yangon. And a lot of people approached us because they wanted to talk to us, they wanted to tell their side of the story. We subsequently found out that at least five of them were arrested. We have verified this independently. We have seen photographic evidence, in some cases to confirm this. Can you please explain why you would be arresting people for talking to us? What possible crime did these people commit?

MAJOR GENERAL ZAW MIN TUN, TATMADAW SPOKESPERSON (through translator): They haven't committed any crime. They saw it on the news yesterday and I asked how many were arrested. 11 got arrested, the security forces were worried that they would provoke others and start the protest in the market. And that is why they got arrested. However, the government is arranging to release them as soon as possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WARD: We are now very relieved to be able to confirm that at least eight of those 11 people in all eight that CNN new about have now been released. And that is really truly great news. But still, this just gives you such an idea of the situation that these people are confronting here. They can't even say on camera, that they're frightened that they want a better future, that they want democracy without being arrested.

That's how threatened the military is by these people and by this enormously popular protest movement. John, Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: So Clarissa, why does the military want you there or why have they agreed to allow CNN to be there if they're just going to arrest everybody that you talk to?

WARD: The military wants to get its side of the story on the record too. And that's important. And we gave them up the opportunity to do that. They see the protest movement as being violent, as being dangerous, as being disruptive to the economy. They say that if people allow the process to play out that there will be elections again, within the next two years. They paraded a series of victims before us who told us stories about being threatened by the protesters, by humiliated by the protesters.

They took us to buildings that they said had been vandalized by the protesters. But when it comes to the idea of this two-year process before which there will be elections, you can understand why very few people here have any faith in that. There were democratically held elections back in November. There were independent observers who attended those elections, who did not make note of any egregious fraud or anything of that nature.

And yet still the military intercepted and took -- and this coup took place. So, very few people here actually believed them, when they say that there will be another chance at elections and after more than half a century of repressive military rule. Simply put, they're not willing to give up, they're not willing to let go of the hard-won freedoms that they have enjoyed in the last decade.

BERMAN: Clarissa, do you have a sense if the military regime, their power is coalescing or growing at this point? Where is it on the curve as you look towards these elections, you know, two years from now?

[13:50:06]

WARD: From what we've seen on the ground, the military does not have anything in the way of strong support from the people. What they do have is sophisticated weaponry. What they do have is a large fighting force. There is no comparison in the scale of what you're seeing from the protesters versus what you're seeing from the military in terms of armaments, in terms of funding. And so the military does have that on its side.

And it may well be that brute force wins the day here. What's very concerning to so many people, including the United Nations who warned that this could turn into a bloodbath is that as the protesters become more incensed, as the protest movement becomes more violent, this country could be on course, for real civil strife. And nobody wants to see that happen.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: All right. Our chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward she is inside Myanmar reporting from Yangon with all as we mentioned of the security limitations that have been placed on her by the country's military.

Now to a crackdown in Jordan that is targeting the former Crown Prince, among others, Hamzah bin Hussein, the half-brother of King Abdullah II is accusing the government of forcing him into isolation in an apparent new audio recording. He claims the military has banned him from communicating with the outside world. The government accuses Hamzah of plotting to destabilize the country.

Now the Jordanian King is asking his uncle to step in to handle the ongoing dispute with the former Crown Prince. While our Jomana Karadsheh is following the very latest in Amman. So the foreign minister when he addressed reporters yesterday, essentially hinted at some sort of coup attempt with backing from foreign powers. And today we're hearing that it's Prince Hassan that's going to try to resolve some sort of family dispute. Where are we? It's a bit confusing.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: It is very confusing, Hala. We're in about 48 hours since this news broke here in Jordan and it's very difficult to try and understand what is happening. A lot of people in this country are asking the same questions. You know, you mentioned the foreign minister, Deputy Prime Minister Ayman Safadi's press conference. That really left people with more questions than answers.

The government came out basically saying that the former Crown Prince, the half-brother of King Abdullah Prince Hamzah and associates. Several people around him and others had been communicating with foreign entities that they were aiming to destabilize the country, that there was some sort of a plot, they really did not elaborate on what that plot was, what that foreign entity is and who they had been communicating with. They say that the country's military and security services, the intelligence had been monitoring these communications for some time. And they have to move on Saturday and that more than a dozen people had been detained. But you also essentially have competing narratives here because we also heard from Prince Hamzah himself as you mentioned in those selfie style video statements that came out on Saturday evening that were sent to several news organizations.

One in English, one in Arabic where he addressed these accusations of foreign links even before they were made by the government saying that he has -- he's not part of any foreign conspiracy or nefarious organization. He says that the government levels that sort of accusation at anyone who speaks out in this country. And it was really stunning, Hala, that video, the statement what he was saying it is something we have never ever seen before in this country.

A member of the royal family coming out in this manner criticizing the leadership of this country. He really lashed out at the ruling system accusing them of corruption, mismanagement, blaming them for the state the country is in right now. Now, as you mentioned, he did say that he has been cut off that this was probably the last communication we'll be getting for some time. And in the last hour --

(CROSSTALK)

GORANI: Jomana, just before we -- sorry to jump in. Just before we continue -- just before we continue, I want our viewers to hear from Prince Hamzah. This is what he recorded and then smuggled out to Western press outfits just about 20, 36 hours ago. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAMZAH BIN HUSSEIN, JORDAN'S FORMER CROWN PRINCE: I am not the person responsible for the breakdown in governance, for the corruption and for the incompetence that has been prevalent in our governing structure for the last 15 to 20 years and has been getting worse by the year. I'm not responsible for the lack of faith that people have in their institutions. They are responsible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[13:55:14]

GORANI: So this is unprecedented, as you mentioned Jomana here. Within this royal family, there's a big rift between Prince Hamzah and King Abdullah. They're half-brothers. They have different mothers. Hamzah's mother is Queen Noor who many of our viewers are familiar with. I guess the big question is, did -- was there a coup attempt?

KARADSHEH: Look, Hala. No one has used the word coup attempt in this country. You know, they have been very careful about how they word whatever this attempt or this plot that they foiled was. They say it was an attempt to destabilize the security of the country. There's absolutely, no, you know, they're not saying that any of the country's security agencies were involved in this in any way. These are several individuals from what we have seen that they say we're communicating with foreign entities. They accuse the former Crown Prince, Prince Hamzah of also trying to incite instability from within the country activities they say that are aimed at the country's national security. And this is -- the problem with all of this, Hala, is the government has been not, you know, really out front about what is going on.

And this is why people have so many questions, they feel that they are in the dark right now. They don't really know what has been unfolding. You know, a lot of people in this country have come out in support of the monarch, King Abdullah, the leadership of this country. But at the same time, you've got some more skeptical about this version of events that we are hearing from the government and they want more clarification, if there was any sort of plot.

They want to hear more about what these foreign entities are, who was involved in this. So, I mean, a lot of questions to be answered. And as you mentioned, we heard about an hour ago from the royal court saying that Prince Hassan, the King's uncle has been delegated. Of course, he was Crown Prince of Jordan for more than 30 years up until 1999 when he was removed as Crown Prince that he has been delegated assigned to deal with this to try and resolve the matter and indications in their statement.

That also is not very clear that he has spoken to Prince Hamzah and that he has agreed to this path towards -- trying to resolve it. Again, not very clear where this is headed but at the same time, people are going to want to hear from Prince Hamzah, Hala, after those dramatic videos, the accusations and what we saw over the weekend. We cannot overstate the kind of damage this has done domestically in this country.

GORANI: Right. Well, people are used to thinking of Jordan as a pretty stable country and an unstable region. There's a lot of drama in Jordan right now and there has been over the last few days. We'll see if this ends up being a family affair that Prince Hassan can mediate or whether or not it has tentacles that go further into other parts of the country. Thanks so much, Jomana Karadsheh. She is live in Amman on this important story.

Boris Johnson in the U.K. is tempering expectations. He's cautioning the British public to hold off on booking any summer travel abroad. We are live at Downing Street, next.

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