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Clock Is Ticking On Iran; Children Suffer In Syrian; Syrian Army Snipers Fight for Homs
Aired September 25, 2012 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN ANCHOR: And, thanks, Ashleigh. Welcome to NEWSROOM INTERNATIONAL. I'm Deborah Feyerick, in for Suzanne Malveaux. And we're taking you around the world in 60 minutes.
As world leaders gather at the United Nations, unrest in the Middle East tops the agenda. Here's what's going on in one of the main crisis zones.
FEYERICK: And rebels are battling government forces in the Syrian city of Aleppo. The fight for control of this key city has been going on since July. And in the capital city Damascus, there were two explosions at a Syrian intelligence compound. Opposition activists say the building is a school that the military is using as a base. The new school year hasn't started, so there probably weren't any children inside.
Well, this was the scene near a group of tiny islands at the center of a tense territorial dispute. Japan, Taiwan, and China all claim ownership of the uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, located near rich fishing ground and potentially large gas reserves. The Japanese coast guard shot water cannons at dozens of Taiwanese boats. Taiwan returned fire, turning their own hoses on the Japanese.
And tempers are flaring in Spain over the country's economic crisis. Police blocked roads leading to the country's parliament in Madrid as hundreds of protesters gathered. They were complaining that the crisis has, as they put it, hijacked the country's democracy. Spain is preparing to cut billions in spending before a bailout loan from Eurozone countries kicks in.
And President Obama tells world leaders the U.S. will do what we must to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The president spoke just a short time ago at the U.N. General Assembly. He has another big speech this hour at the Clinton Global Initiative. And we're going to be bringing that to you live. At the U.N., the president tried to turn up the pressure on Iran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So let me be clear, America wants to resolve this issue through diplomacy. And we believe that there is still time and space to do so. But that time is not unlimited. We respect the right of nations to access peaceful nuclear power. But one of the purposes of the United Nations is to see that we harness that power for peace. But make no mistake, a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of gulf nations and the stability of the global economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FEYERICK: And President Obama's next major speech of the day is set to begin shortly. He addresses the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. It's the annual gathering convened by former President Bill Clinton, where world leaders tackle global problems. We'll take you there live as soon as President Obama begins speaking.
And the president's speeches at the Clinton summit and at the U.N. put him on a world stage just six weeks before Election Day. His words have major implications for the presidential race and for U.S. foreign policy. I want to bring in foreign affairs reporter Elise Labott.
And, Elise, Iran was really one of the big themes of the president's U.N. speech. He said when it comes to finding a diplomatic solution to Iran's looming nuclear crisis, that time is not unlimited. And the president is facing criticism over his strategy in Iran from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel, but also from Mitt Romney here at home. Did his speech temper any of that criticism? And what were the points he hit on?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Well, Deb, I don't think, if you look at his main critics being Prime Minister Netanyahu and Mitt Romney, I don't think he's going to answer those critics because certainly they're looking for the president to lay out what we've been calling this so-called red line on Iran. What would it take, how far does Iran have to go before the U.S. would get involved militarily?
Now, President Obama has said all along that it's a difference of opinion between the Israelis and the United States. On one hand, the U.S. has said, listen, I'm not going to get -- let Iran get the bomb. President Obama has said, if I see Iran going to assemble a nuclear weapon, that is a red line for me. Prime Minister Netanyahu says I want to see -- I don't want to have any nuclear capability. Iran can't have all this so-called knowhow and technology. And that's a red line for him. So it's a difference of opinion.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is looking for President Obama to inch up on that line. I think President Obama made clear in this speech that he is not going to tolerate an Iranian nuclear weapon. He said that the U.S. will do what it must to prevent that. So he doesn't want to give Iran any wiggle room. Doesn't want to go up to the line and show Iran how far it has to go. Doesn't want it to go crazy here.
FEYERICK: Sure, because you talk about setting a red line. You also are talking about a potential strike or something militarily. And that clearly raises a whole different set of discussions.
Now, the president also talked about the violent protests in Arab countries over what he described at that crude and disgusting anti- Muslim video. What was the message that he was really trying to send countries, trying to move forward after this -- the Arab Spring revolutions?
LABOTT: Well, he was trying to do a couple of things, Deb. On one hand, he was trying to say, this violence is not the answer. Clearly the United States doesn't believe in this video, doesn't espouse the values and doesn't decry Prophet Muhammad.
But at the same time he's saying that, we're talking about the Middle East being a democracy now. We're moving towards the Arab Spring. We're supposed to have less (ph), got rid of all these dictators and led to democratically elected leaders.
But he's saying, listen, if you want to live in a democracy, free speech is part of that. That is one of the values that he says the U.S. has -- U.S. troops, for instance, have gone to battle to defend. And so he's saying that he can't ban the video.
But at the same time, saying that he has a problem and saying that violence is never the answer. I think he was also trying to say to these leaders, you can't let Islamic extremism hijack your resolution. Because he sees these violent protests that have wrapped (ph) the U.S. embassies over the last couple of weeks. He's saying that your -- violent extremism is hijacking these democratic revolutions, which you fought so hard for.
FEYERICK: Right. Absolutely. I think what he said was extremists, violence is their only way to stay relevant, which was interesting.
Now, the president met with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. He did not have any planned meetings with world leaders at these U.N. sessions. Instead, he made a view -- he made an appearance on "The View." Does that look like he's sort of focusing on politics more so than negotiating foreign policy?
LABOTT: A little bit. I think there are a couple of things going on. First of all, he's clearly reaching out to the American public and he feels that maybe the world stage, meeting with these leaders, is not really what he needs to be doing. He needs to connect to American voters on "The View" on these other talk shows. He was on some other talk shows in the last few weeks.
But it did kind of resonate in the halls here. There's a lot going on right now. You have what happened in the horrible attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya. You have these protests. You have the U.S. trying to mop up in Afghanistan and get out. And so he really left all the diplomatic heavy lifting to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. One person that in this whole list of characters he didn't meet is really Prime Minister Netanyahu. And this -- a lot of people think this is one of the reasons why he didn't meet anybody because he didn't want to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. A lot of war of words going on between these two leaders.
FEYERICK: Yes, certainly a very interesting time to be at the United Nations.
Elise Labott for us there, monitoring what is going on. Thank you so much.
Well, Mitt Romney also is on the national stage today. He's talking foreign policy at the Clinton Global Initiative. The former Massachusetts governor zeroed in on foreign aid, saying it must be tied to America's values that have long-term impact.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To foster work and enterprise in the Middle East and in other developing countries, I'll initiate something I'll call prosperity pacts. Working with the private sector. The program will identify the barriers to investment and trade and entrepreneurship and entrepreneurialism in developing nations. And in exchange for removing those barriers and opening their markets to U.S. investment and trade, developing nations will receive U.S. assistance packages focused on developing the institutions of liberty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FEYERICK: And we did see something that we don't normally see with Mr. Romney. A lighter side. He opened his remarks with a joke after former President Bill Clinton, who backs Barack Obama, introduced him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Thank you, Mr. President. It's an honor to be here this morning. And I appreciate your kind words and that introduction is very touching. If there's one thing we've learned in this election season, by the way, it is that a few words from Bill Clinton can do a man a lot of good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FEYERICK: And Mr. Romney also used part of his speech to push a theme of his campaign, reiterating he would never apologize for America.
Well, from politicians to philanthropists, the Clinton Global Initiative wants ways to change the world. And Philippe Cousteau will join us with his idea.
And, you know the drill. You get on a plane. You turn off your electronic device. But, guess what? That rule could be changing.
FEYERICK: The civil war in Syria is one of the tough issues on the agenda as world leaders meet today at the U.N., where rebels are battling government forces. Well, the fight for control of this key city has been going on since July. Videos posted online are said to show innocent civilians who were gunned down in the streets by troops loyal to the Assad regime. As you know, CNN has no way of verify the authenticity of these images. But is there any way to solve this crisis and end all the killing? The prime minister of Qatar says there is and he calls it "Plan B." He laid out his plan in an interview with our Christiane Amanpour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Who would participate in this "Plan B," as you put it, the safe haven, safe areas, no fly zones?
HAMAD BIN JASSIM AL THANI, QATARI PRIME MINISTER: I believe there is a lot of Arab countries who will participate. And there is also European countries who will participate. And what we need, we need United States of America. I know, to be more frank, that there's election now and we are in election period. Maybe that's not a dramatic (ph) way to say it, but I hope that after the election, the American governments look at this matter in different way.
And I always meant no military intervention. But we need to take some measures and we need this measures with the United States, the European countries, the Arab countries, the Muslim countries to save the Syrian people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FEYERICK: And it really is the Syrian people who are suffering the most in this civil war, especially the children. And the group Save The Children is letting these kids tell their stories in their own words. They just put out a report called "Untold Atrocities" and Hala Gorani joins me now.
And, Hala, these stories, you know, we've seen Arwa Damon and Nick Paton Walsh reporting.
HALA GORANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
FEYERICK: And the horrors that these children are suffering. What are some of the things that the report now says?
GORANI: Well, this is the report. You know, a copy of it. And you mentioned the title of it, "Untold Atrocities." Some of the things that I've been reading, testimonials from children who are now in refugee camps in Jordan, in Turkey as well, are -- sound so unspeakable that you can't imagine an adult even coming close to committing those types of crimes that are described to children.
And these are testimonials. And you look at the -- sort of the images of the children looking back at you. One says, I knew a boy called Aleh (ph). He was only six years old. He didn't understand what was happening. A boy who was six who was tortured so badly that he only eventually survived three days before passing away.
And then another thing is, you look at some of these children, Amani (ph), a 13-year-old, describing what she doesn't know yet is essentially a depression. I cry every day. I can't stop thinking about what happened to me. So what Save The Children is saying is that not only should the people who committed these crimes against children be held accountable, but also the children themselves need psychological counseling in order to get through what they witnessed and what they experienced. We're talking about the worst kind of torture that is -- that these children have endured or witnessed.
FEYERICK: Reading part of the U.N., one of the things they mentioned, the situation for children was so bad, they suggested closing down the schools. Some of the children, obviously, they're so right in the middle of it. Is there a plan to get the children the kind of help they need? Or are we not there yet?
GORANI: We're not even there yet. I mean, priority no. 1 is getting some of them to refugee camps. You have hundreds of Syrian families, some with injured children, waiting on the Syrian side of the border trying to get to the camps. We're so far from providing the psychological help that the children need. Getting to treat the injuries is an issue. Getting them to a place where there is clean food and water is an issue. This is a generational problem. You have a generation of lost kids.
FEYERICK: It's so frustrating for the people like Save the Children, who want to help, but can't because -- who can't because they can't get anywhere near it. Are aid workers waiting on the other side of the border, too?
GORANI: They indicated they're not able to get inside of Syria. Some of the NGOs are not getting the permission from the Syrian government to help the people. This is heartbreaking. I urge viewers to read the whole report. I didn't want to read the disturbing details. When you read about a 6-year-old being, you know, tortured with electroshock. 13-year-olds in stress positions. Girls subjected to sexual violence at a young age. You cannot imagine an adult being able to overcome, let alone a 12, 13-year-old. This is the worst on children because the shelling, as we have seen in all the videos, it's relentless and it's hitting residential neighborhoods. Who gets hit there? Children.
FEYERICK: Families, parents, grandparents.
GORANI: If you're a parent watching your child go through these -- watching the child as you lay helpless or sit helpless watching the child go through that, it's heartbreaking.
FEYERICK: Thank you, Hala Gorani.
President Obama is set to speak at the Clinton Global Initiative shortly. We'll bring it to you live.
FEYERICK: And our Piers Morgan just finished interviewing former president Bill Clinton, and one of the many topics they discussed was Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: What they're really saying is, in spite of the fact that we deny the Holocaust, that we threaten Israel, that we demonize the United States, that we do all this stuff, we want you to trust us. In spite of the fact that we won't cooperate with the international regime set up to avoid an arms race in the Middle East and set up to avoid nuclear proliferation, we want you to trust us. They don't have a tenable position.
PIERS MORGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Do you trust them?
CLINTON: The reason nobody believes them is they don't have a tenable position.
MORGAN: Do you trust Ahmadinejad?
CLINTON: Not on this I don't.
MORGAN: His argument is why should America be allowed nuclear weapons? Why should Israel, who have never admitted they have them, why should they permitted to have them? Why should many countries be allowed nuclear weapons and not Iran?
CLINTON: Well, then why isn't he going for a bigger nonproliferation initiative instead of acting like what he really wants is a nuclear bomb, because that will help to get everybody to get rid of their nuclear weapons? No serious person believes that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FEYERICK: You can watch Piers' full interview tonight at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.
President Obama is scheduled to speak at the Clinton Global Initiative in a few minutes. We'll bring it to you live. There are some live pictures right there.
FEYERICK: Well, at the center of the Syrian conflict is the city of Homs. Death there can come silently and can be unseen. Bill Neely follows a Syrian army sniper as they do their deadly work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL NEELY (voice-over): He's ready to kill. A Syrian sniper aims through a crack in the wall. From their firing point, they target rebel positions just 50 yards away. Every day, men die here. This is Homs, the heart of the war. Here, it is stalemate. The streets are so deadly, we move through holes in walls and houses up to near darkness and another sniper. He waits in total silence. [ gunfire ] It's never quiet for long. The Syrian troops are trying to take back whole districts the rebels have held for months. They are edgy. The rebels killed five of their men just hours earlier. So in Homs, they run for their lives and we do, too. They've been doing it for longer than they ever expected. NEELY: Why is the war lasting so long?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will be continuing months. Today, one year. We don't know. We don't know. I am ready to die. And all these persons are ready to die for Syria.
NEELY: One and half years after it began and the battle for this city and for Syria grinds on relentlessly. The bombardment of Homs is as intense as ever. These soldiers have the rebels trapped in this area and the battle will be over soon. Whole neighborhoods are a wasteland. Few civilians remain. It's almost a shock to see them. In your heart, when you see your area like this --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I have no heart at all. Can you imagine this? I feel very sorry for what has happened. Greatly.
NEELY: How long will this go on for here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. God alone knows. God alone knows.
NEELY: The war here is almost macabre. Bizarrely, a mannequin marks the deadliest junction. Few places are safe for anyone. So as world leaders at the United Nations begin to talk again of Syria, deadlocked in disagreement, the snipers on both sides take their positions. Death on their minds. Victory in their sights. Bill Neely, ITV News, Homs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FEYERICK: Well, a hospital that mainly treats women and children who are victims of sexual assault and violence is about to get much needed help itself. Philippe Cousteau has announced a new project to aid the hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He made the announcement at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York yesterday. He's joining us live. You're creating a way to make the hospital self-sustaining. Tell us what you're doing.
PHILIPPE COUSTEAU, CO-FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN, GLOBALECHO FOUNDATION: Thank you so much. We're thrilled and honored to participate in the program. We launched it two days ago. It's an initiative to support the Pansi hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are subject to unreliable grid energy. We've committed to work with Suntech. We want to build solar panels for the hospital to create clean, reliable energy for the hospital and help the thousands of people that the hospital is impacting positively.
FEYERICK: You mentioned Suntech. That's a private company. Why is there not a private/nonprofit partnership done more often?
COUSTEAU: This is a perfect example of what the Clinton Global Initiative does. We tried to think differently about how the leverage wall street to do good. A percentage of the standard management fee is what funds the foundation. It's a -- it's a wonderful example of how you can have an organization like the hospital being supported by an investment fund. The investors have a hand in helping make in a success. An organization out of China, Suntech, it's bringing organizations together to change the world.
FEYERICK: Philippe Cousteau, thank you for joining us.
COUSTEAU: Thank you for having me.
FEYERICK: President Obama is about to make his second major speak today. He's addressing the Clinton global initiative. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN LIVE FEED)
OBAMA: And President Clinton, thank you for your very kind introduction, although I have to admit I really did like the speech a few weeks ago a little bit better.
Afterwards, somebody tweeted that somebody needs to make him secretary of explaining things.
Although they didn't use the word "things."
President Clinton, you are a tireless, passionate advocate on behalf of what's best in our country. You have helped to improve and save the lives of millions of people around the world. I am grateful for your friendship and your extraordinary leadership. And I think I speak for the entire country when we say that you continue to be a great treasure for all of us.
As always, I also have to thank President Clinton for being so understanding with the record-breaking number of countries visited by our secretary of state.
OBAMA: As we've seen again in recent days, Hillary Clinton is a leader of grace and grit, and I believe she will go down as one of the finest secretaries of state in American history. So we are grateful to her.
To the dedicated CGI staff and every organization that's made commitments and touched the lives of hundreds of millions of people, thank you for being an example of what we need more of in the world, especially in Washington, working together to actually solve problems.
And that's why I'm here. As Bill mentioned, I've come to CGI every year that I've been president, and I've talked with you about how we need to sustain the economic recovery, how we need to create more jobs. I've talked about the importance of development, from global health to our fight against HIV/AIDS to the growth that lifts nations to prosperity. We've talked about development and how it has to include women and girls, because by every benchmark nations that educate their women and girls end up being more successful. And...
And today I want to discuss an issue that relates to each of these challenges. It ought to concern every person because it is a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community because it tears at our social fabric. It ought to concern every business because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime.
I'm talking about the injustice, the outrage of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name: modern slavery.
Now, I do not use that word "slavery" lightly. It evokes, obviously, one of the most painful chapters in our nation's history. But around the world there's no denying the awful reality.
When a man desperate for work finds himself in a factory or on a fishing boat or in a field working, toiling for little or no pay and beaten if he tries to escape, that is slavery. When a woman is locked in a sweatshop or trapped in a home as a domestic servant, alone and abused and incapable of leaving, that's slavery.
When a little boy is kidnapped, turned into a child soldier, forced to kill or be killed, that's slavery.
When a little girl is sold by her impoverished family -- girls my daughters' age -- runs away from home or is lured by the false promise of a better life and then imprisoned in a brothel and tortured if she resists, that's slavery. It is barbaric and it is evil and it has no place in a civilized world.
Now, as a nation...
... as a nation we've long rejected such cruelty. Just a few days ago we marked the 150th anniversary of a document that I have hanging in the Oval Office, the Emancipation Proclamation. With the advance of Union forces, it brought a new day that all persons held as slaves would henceforth be forever free. We wrote that promise into our Constitution. We spent decades struggling to make it real. We joined with other nations in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights so that slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms. A global movement was sparked with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act signed by President Clinton and carried on by President Bush. And here at CGI, you've made impressive commitments in this fight. We are especially honored to be joined today by advocates who dedicate their lives and at times risk their lives to liberate victims and help them recover.
This includes men and women of faith who, like the great abolitionists before them, are truly doing the Lord's work: evangelicals, the Catholic Church, International Justice Mission and World Relief; even individual congregations like Passion City Church in Atlanta, and so many young people of faith who decided that their conscience compels them to act in the face of injustice.
Groups like these are answering the Bible's call to seek justice and rescue the oppressed. Some of them join us today and we are grateful for your leadership.
As president, I've made it clear that the United States will continue to be a leader in this global movement. We've got a comprehensive strategy. We're shining a spotlight on the dark corners where it persists. Under Hillary's leadership, we're doing more than ever with our annual trafficking report, with new outreach and partnerships, to give countries incentives to meet their responsibilities and calling them out when they don't.
I recently renewed sanctions on some of the worst abusers, including North Korea and Eritrea. We're partnering with groups that help women and children escape from the grip of their abusers. We're helping other countries step up their own efforts. And we're seeing results.
OBAMA: More nations have passed and more are enforcing modern anti- trafficking laws.
You know, last week I was proud to welcome to the Oval Office not only a great champion of democracy, but a fierce advocate against the use of forced labor and child soldiers, Aung Yung Suu Kyi (sic).
And as part of our engagement, we'll encourage Burma to keep taking steps to reform. Because nations must speak with one voice: Our people and children are not for sale.
But for all the progress that we've made, the bitter truth is that trafficking also goes on right here in the United States. It's the migrant worker unable to pay off the debt to his trafficker; the man lured here with the promise of a job, his documents then taken and forced to work endless hours in a kitchen; the teenage girl beaten, forced to walk the streets. This should not be happening in the United States of America.
As president, I directed my administration to step up our efforts, and we have. For the first time, at Hillary's direction, our annual trafficking report now includes the United States, because we can't ask other nations to do what we are not doing ourselves. (APPLAUSE)
We've expanded our interagency task force to include more federal partners, including the FBI. The intelligence community is devoting more resources to identifying trafficking networks. We've strengthened protections so that foreign-born workers know their rights.
And most of all we're going after the traffickers. New anti- trafficking teams are dismantling their networks.
OBAMA: Last year we charged a record number of these predators with human trafficking. We're putting them where they belong: behind bars.
But -- but with more than 20 million victims of human trafficking around the world -- think about that -- more than 20 million, we've got a lot more to do. And that's why earlier this year I directed by administration to increase our efforts. And today, I can announce a series of additional steps that we're going to take.
First, we're going to do more to spot it and stop it. We'll prepare a new assessment of human trafficking in the United States so we better understand the scope and scale of the problem. We'll strengthen training so investigators and law enforcement are even better equipped to take action, and treat victims as victims, not as criminals.
We're going to work with Amtrak and bus and truck inspectors so that they're on the lookout. We'll help teachers and educators to spot the signs as well, and better serve those who are vulnerable, especially our young people.
And second, we're turning the tables on the traffickers. Just as they are now using technology and the Internet to exploit their victims, we're going to harness technology to stop them. We're encouraging tech companies and advocates and law enforcement, and we're also challenging college students to develop tolls that our young people can use to stay safe online and on their smartphones.
Third, we'll do even more to help victims recover and rebuild their lives. We'll develop a new action plan to improve coordination across the federal government. We're increasing access to services to help survivors become self-sufficient. We're working to simplify visa procedures for T-visas so that innocent victims from other countries can stay here as they help us prosecute their traffickers.
And this coming year, my Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships will make the fight against human trafficking a focus of its work. And I'm also proud...
(APPLAUSE) ... they're doing great work. I'm also proud to announce a new partnership with Humanity United, which is a leader in anti- trafficking, a multimillion dollar challenge to local communities to find new ways to care for trafficking victims. And I want to thank Johns Hopkins University which will be focusing on how to best care for child victims.
Now, finally, as one of the largest purchasers of goods and services in the world, the United States government will lead by example. We've already taken steps to make sure our contractors do not engage in forced labor. And today, we're going to go further. I've signed a new executive order that raises the bar. It's specific about the prohibitions. It does more to protect workers. It ensures stronger compliance.
In short, we're making clear that American tax dollars must never, ever be used to support the trafficking of human beings. We will have zero tolerance. We mean what we say. We will enforce it.
Of course, no government, no nation can meet this challenge alone. Everybody has a responsibility. Every nation can take action. Modern anti-trafficking laws must be passed and enforced and justice systems must be strengthened. Victims must be cared for.
So here in the United States, Congress should renew the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Whether you are conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican, this is a no-brainer. This is something we should all agree on. We need to get that done.
OBAMA: And more broadly, as nations, let's recommit to addressing the underlying forces that push so many into bondage in the first place. With development and economic growth that creates legitimate jobs, there's less likelihood of indentured servitude around the globe. A sense of justice that says no child should ever be exploited. That has to be burned into the cultures of every country.
A commitment to equality, as in the Equal Futures Partnership that we launched with other nations yesterday so societies empower our sisters and our daughters just as much as our brothers and sons.
And every business can take action, all the business leaders who are here. In our global economy companies have a responsibility to make sure that their supply chains, stretching into the far corners of the globe, are free of forced labor.
The good news is more and more responsible companies are holding themselves to higher standards, and today I want to salute the new commitments that are being made. That includes the -- the new Global Business Coalition Against Trafficking, companies that are sending a message, human trafficking is not a business model, it is a crime, and we are going to stop it. We're proud of them.
Every faith community can take action as well, by educating their congregations, by joining in coalitions that are bound by a love of God and a concern for the oppressed. Like that good Samaritan on the road to Jericho, we can't just pass by indifferent. We've got to be moved by compassion. We've got to bind up the wounds. Let's come together around a simple truth: that we are our bother's keepers, and we are our sister's keepers. And finally, every citizen can take action. By learning more, by going to the website we helped create, slaveryfootprint.org, by speaking up and insisting the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the products we buy are made free of forced labor. By standing up against the degradation and abuse of women. That's how real change happens from the bottom up, and if you doubt that, ask Marie Godea Nahoni Ota (ph) from the Congo.
Think about Marie's story. She was kidnapped by rebels, turned into a slave. She was abused physically and sexually. They got her pregnant five times. In one awful battle, her children were killed. All five of them. Miraculously, she survived and escaped. And with Karen's support, she began to heal. And she learned to read and write and sew. And today Marie is back home working toward a new future.
Or ask Ima Matool (ph). She grew up in Indonesia and at 17 was given the opportunity to work as a nanny here in the United States. But when she arrived, it turned out to be a nightmare. Cooking, cleaning, 18 hours days, seven days a week. One beating was so bad it sent her to the emergency room. And finally she escaped. And with the help from a group that cared, today Ima has a stable job, she is an advocate, she's even testified before Congress.
Or ask Sheila White (ph), who grew up in the Bronx. Fleeing an abusive home, she fell in with a guy who said he'd protect her. Instead he sold her. Just 15 years old -- 15 -- to men who raped her and beat her and burned her with irons. And finally after years, with the help of a non-profit lead by other survivors, she found the courage to break free and get the services she needed. Sheila earned her GED. Today she is a powerful, fierce advocate who helped to pass a new anti- trafficking law right here in New York.
These women endured unspeakable horror. But in their unbreakable will, in their courage, in their resilience, they remind us that this cycle can be broken. Victims can become not only survivors, they can become leaders and advocates and bring about change. And I just met Ima and Sheila and several of their fellow advocates, and I have to tell you, they are an incredible inspiration. They are here. They've chosen to tell their stories. I want them to stand and be recognized because they're inspiring all of us. Please. Sheila, Ima.
To Ima and Sheila and each of you, in the darkest hours of your lives, you may have felt utterly alone. It seemed like nobody cared. And the important thing for us to understand is there are millions around the world who are feeling that same way at this very moment.
Right now there's a man on a boat casting the net with his bleeding hands knowing he deserves a better life, a life of dignity, but doesn't know if anybody's paying attention. Right now there's a woman hunched over a sewing machine, glancing beyond the bars on the window, knowing if just given the chance she might someday sell her own wares. But she doesn't think anybody's paying attention.
Right now there's a young boy in a brick factory covered in dust, hauling his heavy load under a blazing sun, thinking if he could just go to school, he might know a different future, but he doesn't think anybody's paying attention. Right now there is a girl somewhere trapped in a brothel, crying herself to sleep again, and maybe daring to imagine that someday just maybe she might be treated not like a piece of property, but as a human being.
And so our message today to them is, to the millions around the world, we see you, we hear you, we insist on your dignity, and we share your belief that if just given the chance, you will forge a life equal to your talents and worthy of your dreams. And our fight -- our fight against human trafficking is one of the great human rights causes of our time, and the United States will continue to lead it in partnership with you.
The change we seek will not come easy, but we can draw strength from the movements of the past. For we know that every life saved, in the words of that great proclamation, is an act of justice worthy of the considerate judgment of mankind and the gracious favor of Almighty God. That's what we believe. That's what we're fighting for. And I'm so proud to be in partnership with CGI to make this happen.
Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. God bless America.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN ANCHOR: And there you have President Obama finishing up his talk at the Clinton Global Initiative. He's talking about human trafficking, or what he calls modern day slavery, and U.S. efforts to stamp it out, including FBI taskforces targeting traffickers, stronger prosecutions by U.S. attorneys, treating victims, but also making people aware that maybe some of the things that they're buying are, in fact, made by slaves. We will be back after this.