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The Threat of Poaching; Spreading the Wealth; Gay Rights in Africa; "Three Weeks in Hell"; Imagine a World

Aired February 13, 2014 - 14:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

Tonight, evidence of ethnic cleansing in the Central African Republic, we'll bring you exclusive footage of what's really happening on the ground there. I'll talk to Human Rights Watch director Peter Bouckaert, who has just returned from what he calls hell.

But first, to another crisis on the African continent, one that is fueling much of the instability and violence. The U.S. and Britain call it full-blown organized crime and that is illegal wildlife poaching.

Forty heads of state are here in London today, meeting to try to figure out a way to finally end this, including Prince Charles and his sons, Princes William and Harry, and senior cabinet officials. The British Foreign Secretary William Hague told me today that we are at the 11th hour, and he called it a moral issue.


WILLIAM HAGUE, FOREIGN SECRETARY OF GREAT BRITAIN: I think this will be a turning point, provided we all follow it up for what we've agreed here today. This is an important combination of measures where African countries and many others are going to take new measures to try to destroy the illegal trade, the illegal markets.


AMANPOUR: Prince William weighed in as well.


PRINCE WILLIAM: Some might imagine it is a crime without human victim. But over 1,000 rangers have been killed in the past 10 years. Every week another two rangers are murdered by poachers. There is also evidence that the poachers' activities are funding international terrorism.


AMANPOUR: Despite a 1989 law banning this poaching, more than 20,000 elephants are slaughtered in Africa every year. In much of the continent these numbers exceed their birth rate and that could lead these great mammals simply vanishing.

And the same goes for rhinos, whose horn has now become more expensive than cocaine, with false promises of curing everything from impotence to cancer and even hangovers.

Most of the demand comes from Asia, especially China and Vietnam, and it's a $20 billion market at least. Those billions are fueling heavily armed mafia networks with links to extremist militias from the Lord's Resistance Army to Al-Shabaab in Somalia.

African leaders are outmanned and outgunned and they are desperate for Western support. They hope to leave the conference today with commitments for at least some of the estimated $300 million they'll need to take on these poachers over the next decade.

Now one of those leaders is President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania. That country is widely seen of one of Africa's more stable and democratic ones.

President Kikwete, welcome. Thank you for coming in to the studio.


AMANPOUR: Let me ask you first and foremost, am I exaggerating? Are we exaggerating? How bad is the problem for your elephants in Tanzania?

KIKWETE: It's not an exaggeration. If I can give you the statistics: at independence, Tanzania had 350,000 elephants. During the first wave of intense poaching, the 1970s-1980s, when you read the census, in 1987, there were only 55,000 elephants left.


KIKWETE: And then of course because it was an unprecedented situation, so the government of the day, that time, decided to bring in the military. We had a mammoth operation by the military called Operation Ohimene (ph) -- Operation Life.

AMANPOUR: But now it's bad.

KIKWETE: And then of course when it was backed by scientists, scientists ban in 1989, and this operation then we begin to see the numbers coming back.

In 2009, the numbers reached 20. Now 110,000. And then come 2010, another wave.

AMANPOUR: Of poaching.

KIKWETE: Of poaching. And this is madness now. You know it is just impossible.

AMANPOUR: And it's -- they're on the verge of extinction.

KIKWETE: Oh, it is very sad. For example, in one of our game parks where we used to have about 30,000 last count gave us 13,000 left.

So you know, it's a serious matter.

AMANPOUR: And you also have a serious matter because even your attempts to combat the poachers have basically been suspended because of the irregularities that your anti-poachers conducted, raping and murdering and all sorts of brutality. You've had to fire four ministers because of it.

Why are you having such a hard time cracking down on the poaching?

KIKWETE: Well, those are -- those are -- they're the challenges that we are facing. Of course, after the wave started, what I did realize first as I ordered the police to come in assist the game wardens and the game rangers, which they did. And then when I found that the police alone could not cope then we brought in the military. We have this new operation, the Operation Tokomeza. They did a fantastic job on the side of winning with the poaching side. But of course, they are now problems with regards to the way they handled cattle that had encroached into the game parks, the way they handled the cattle keep on the pastures and the cattle itself. And when they were reports of human rights abuses, we said this is not acceptable. We'd send them to deal with the problem poaching. That's why many foreign ministers had to take responsibility. We had to suspend operation for some time in order to sort out.

I think now the issue, the matter is in safe hands. We'll soon resume daily operation.

AMANPOUR: Well, let's hope for your -- for your sake and for the elephants' sake.

In the meantime, what did you hear out of this meeting that perhaps gives you more funds -- did you get any commitments for some of these hundreds of millions of dollars that you say you need?

KIKWETE: Well, of course, there wasn't a specific commitment in terms of money apart from Canada, who made a commitment for $2 million. But the British government has made a commitment that they will be facting (ph).

In fact, at this meeting, my interest and the interest of the African leaders is that first, of course, in order to fight this war, you need to be the human resource, human capacity resource, employee, game rangers, train them well. We expect the developed countries -- U.K., U.S. -- to help us deal with capacity in terms of training our game rangers but also equipping them.

AMANPOUR: Because the opponents have military style weapons.

KIKWETE: Sure. That's the weapons, the vehicles, the surveillance capacities. So that's another aspect that we have been expecting from this. And we got commitment that we're going to get that assistance.

AMANPOUR: In terms of symbolic and substantive next moves, you have stockpiles of ivory in Tanzania. Will you burn them, as the U.S. has, as China did even a month or so ago to show that this is not acceptable?

KIKWETE: Well, we have about 112 tons, 112 tons of ivory and we are thinking about that. We're thinking about that for a little -- because we're used to the idea of asking for permission to proceed, but I don't think these are not the times because it was the relaxation, the acceptance that was created after the site disband which created and opened the door.

AMANPOUR: That's right. So now you need to absolutely crack down on all of that.

KIKWETE: And this is -- has been my demand -- our demand that, please, stop the trade. If this trade is going to be stopped, there's going to be no demand for ivory. There's -- be no incentive for anyone to kill an elephant. Therefore, elephant will live to their full age.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you something also, obviously animals, former big part of Tanzania's economy, the safari business, the wildlife, the conservation.

Tanzania had it quite growing and healthy economy, much more than many other countries over the last few years.

And yet there are many, many people there who don't see it trickling down, about a third of your country people live below the poverty rate.

Let me quote you something from a young Tanzanian.

"Look around," she says. "The only people benefiting from economic growth and gas discoveries are government leaders. Ordinary people like myself are still stuck in poverty." That's a 26-year-old car washer.

What can you tell those people who see government ministers, you know, getting an extra $98,000 on their salary while they're languishing in poverty?

KIKWETE: To say getting an extra $100,000 is an exaggeration.

AMANPOUR: All right. Well, let's just talk about the poverty.

Have you spread the wealth?

KIKWETE: No I think one bad observation is correct. That observation is my observation. The Tanzanian economy has been growing at 7 percent on the average, yes, on the last --

AMANPOUR: But how do you spread it?

KIKWETE: -- in 15 years.

So whenever we say the Tanzanian economy's doing fine, somebody in the streets says, wait a minute, did I hear correctly? She thinks that --

AMANPOUR: Right. And he's the one with no electricity and languishing on less than $1 a day.

KIKWETE: It is 7 percent economic growth rate but poverty reduction has been 2 percent. And all of our wish and why -- what is it really at issue is that this 7 percent growth rate is contributing -- has contributed mainly by the telecommunications sector, the transport sector, the manufacturing sector and so on.

The sector that employs the majority of the people, which is agricultural, is growing at 4 percent. And this is. So that's why we had to give a lot of focus to agriculture so that if agriculture can also grow faster than what it is, it is growing now, then that will remain.

So really how to trickle down the growth to reach the people? This is something that we are also waiting. I realize that is a proved observation. That observation is my own, my own assessment as well.

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you one last question before I let you go? The issue of gay rights. It's becoming the civil rights issue of this 21st century.

In Africa, including in Tanzania, it's illegal; people can be fined and jailed for up to 30 years or life in prison.

Is it not time for Tanzania to say this is a human right and let us cast down those laws which criminalize people for consensual relations?

KIKWETE: It will take time. It will take time for our people to accept the norms that the West is accepting.

AMANPOUR: But do you want to see that happen?

KIKWETE: I cannot say that now.

AMANPOUR: This terrible violence being committed against gay people across Africa, it's not good for Africa.

KIKWETE: It is not happening in Tanzania, but if -- because I remember there was a time -- I think the prime minister of Britain here, David Cameron, raised that matter. It created a lot of -- a lot of uneasiness. But I think it coincided with a visit of Prince Charles at that time. And it was bad.

So I think for our people right now, I don't think it's the time now to discuss these issues.

AMANPOUR: Well, we'll keep asking you.

Mr. President, thank you very much for being here. And we hope that some solution comes to this terrible wildlife poaching. Thank you.

KIKWETE: We look forward to it. Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And as we mentioned, the rhino also is being slaughtered in South Africa. It, too, is threatened with extinction because of Asia's insatiable appetite for all the cures it's supposed to bring.

South Africa seems helpless to halt the killing. It's one more mark against the troubled government of President Jacob Zuma, who gives his final State of the Union address today before seeking another term in May.

On the plus side, of course, the Rainbow Nation is now celebrating 20 years of democracy after the end of apartheid.

When we come back, ethnic cleansing in the Central African Republic, where human beings are on the endangered list. That's after a break.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program and we turn now to the horrendous ongoing slaughter of people in the Central African Republic.

The head of the U.N. refugee agency is there and he describes full- scale ethnic cleansing and he's calling for more international peacekeepers to stop it. Human Rights Watch, which documents these crimes, has shown us exclusive footage of lynchings, burnings and the mass exodus of the country's Muslims. It's a unique insight into what's happening there.

This short clip of a few scenes shows the chaos when the agency's team discovered one of many bodies, this one in a wooden coffin.



AMANPOUR: Peter Bouckaert is the Human Rights Watch emergency director. You saw him there taking cover from the gunfire in that clip and he joins me now live from Geneva.

Peter, welcome; welcome to the program.

I want to ask you first to describe for me what I just mentioned about, you know, ethnic cleansing and some of the clips that you brought back show truckloads of Muslims on the road.

Tell me what is happening to the country's Muslim population.

PETER BOUCKAERT, EMERGENCY DIRECTOR, HRW: The Muslim population of the Central African Republic is facing an unprecedented wave of violence. It comes in the aftermath of 10 months of horrendous rule by the Muslim Seleka rebel group, which forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes.

The Seleka is now starting to lose power and all across the country, Muslim communities are facing a wave of vengeance and revenge, which is forcing them to flee the country in the hundreds of thousands. We were in the country for just over three weeks and personally witnessed 12 lynchings or attempted lynchings. In some cases we could intervene to stop these killings.

But it is a scene of absolute brutality in the Central African Republic at the moment.

AMANPOUR: Well I want to bring up -- you mentioned lynchings. I want to bring up one of your tweets.

You tweeted while you were there, "Soldiers who carried out lynching" -- describing this picture -- "following the National Army's ceremony are identifiable. They even posed with the burning corpse," and you can kind of see smoke in the background of that picture.

How did that happen? And how could they dare be so obvious in front of the world's cameras?

BOUCKAERT: Well, this was at a ceremony a few days ago to relaunch the National Army. Most of the soldiers fled from the army when the Seleka rebel group came to power last year. And the president addressed the ceremony, expressing her pride and her hope in the new army, just after she left uniformed soldiers found a Muslim man who they claimed was a Seleka fighter. And they publicly lynched him and then put his body on fire. I arrived back at the scene just moments later. And as I started photographing the scene, a group of soldiers rushed forward to pose with the body and give me the thumbs-up signal. That's what we've seen day after day, children watching these lynchings, people taking photographers and generally cheering as Muslims are lynched in the street and their bodies brutally mutilated --

AMANPOUR: It is truly --

BOUCKAERT: -- in front of large crowds.

AMANPOUR: -- it really is horrific. And just a couple of weeks ago, I interviewed the country's leading Catholic priest, the archbishop, and a leading imam of the Muslim community, and even today the archbishop continues to plead with the Christians not to go on these vigilante murderous rampages. They're clearly not listening to him. People are calling for more peacekeepers from the international community.

What is it going to take to stop this?

BOUCKAERT: Well, the archbishop and the chief imam are both very courageous men of peace. But their message is not being listened to in the country. And small presence of the African peacekeepers and the French peacekeepers is simply not enough to stop the violence.

We have come out in many of these communities. And people are really desperate to stop these attacks, to stop the violence that they face. But we need a much larger peacekeeping presence, hopefully a full U.N. peacekeeping mission, so this violence can stop and the Muslim community can continue to live in this country where they have lived for generations and generations.

It will take a much greater international effort than is underway at the moment.

AMANPOUR: In the meantime, we're going to play another one of those clips. And I want you to talk over it. It's the clip where you're out there; you can see the smoking shacks, the destruction of Muslim homes and a town and -- rather a mosque in the town of Yaloke (ph). And again, it seems that this is going even with you and your cameras documenting it.

How long is it before there is the extinction of the Muslims there, for want of a better phrase?


BOUCKAERT (voice-over): Well, the city of Yaloke (ph) used to have a population of 30,000 Muslim and eight mosques. Today, even the French peacekeepers are present in the city, only one mosque remains and 300 very scared Muslims, literally surrounded by looters, as you can see in the clip. The very survival of the Muslim community in the Central African Republic is at stake. And they play an incredibly important role in the society. They are the traders, the people who run the markets and import goods. They also run the livestock business.


BOUCKAERT: So their disappearance from the country will not just mean the disappearance of the Muslim community; it will mean the complete collapse of the economy of the Central African Republic.

AMANPOUR: You spoke to some Rwandan troops who make up part of the African Union troops there. You know, what do they say to you, given that it's really 20 years ago, right now, just about, that the incredible genocide took place right there?

BOUCKAERT: Well, it's five years today that Human Rights Watch lost their own Rwandan researcher, the amazing Dr. Alison Des Forges. And really what we are doing in the Central African Republic is what she gave us the example to do, to shout louder, to inform the world about what is happening in the Central African Republic and together with the Rwandan peacekeepers, we really do see a lot of flashbacks to what happened in Rwanda in 1994, not just in terms of the scale of the violence, but also in the lack of international response.

If we say never again, as the Rwandan soldiers certainly feel strongly, we have to mean never again. And we have to intervene to stop this violence and to allow the Muslim community to remain in this country where they have lived for generations.

AMANPOUR: I want to play just another clip, because it goes to the heart of the international community's commitment and that is some of these troops, we see them as they are being chased -- or rather followed -- by residents. They seem to be cheering. You'd think that it was a good news story.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): But it seems to be they're cheering these troops because, I don't know, maybe they saw off some of the Muslims.

What is this all about?

BOUCKAERT (voice-over): Well, this was an incident in which Seleka fighters with the help of the MISCA African peacekeepers were relocated from one military base in Bangui to another military base. And I think it really shows the joy people have, once they're released from the terror of the Seleka rebels, the Muslim rebels in this case.

Sadly, many of those Muslim rebels then escaped from the city of Bangui and they're now continuing their own killing campaign in the northeastern part of the country where many people are being killed and executed at the moment.

AMANPOUR: Peter Bouckaert, thank you very much indeed for joining me. Thank you for sharing these really remarkable pictures. It's a document of what's going on there. I appreciate it. And we'll keep following your work.

And after a break, the history of ethnic cleansing didn't begin in the CAR or in battle-scarred Bosnia. Long ago, the American Indians, the native tribes, were driven from their land and their way of life. And yet they survived. And now one of their members, Matika Wilbur, has set out to photograph them, to try to change the mostly negative view that people have of Native Americans today, a so-called disappearing race that refuses to disappear.

And speaking of refusing to disappear, while the world is glued to the Winter Games in Sochi, imagine a police officer and an insurance clerk who not only won Olympic gold 30 years ago, but have come back again for an encore, magic on ice. It's Orville and Dean, when we come back.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, yesterday on this program we examined the current unrest in Bosnia, which is the worst in two decades, since the terrible war there. Angry demonstrators have filled the streets of the capital, Sarajevo, over the last week.

Now imagine a world where grace and beauty return to the ice, a hopeful reminder that even the hardest hearts can be melted. The year was 1984, eight years before ethnic cleansing would shatter the patchwork nation of Yugoslavia. Sarajevo hosted the Winter Olympics. And on Valentine's Day, a pair of British ice dancers, Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean, stole the show and stole the hearts of millions around the world, skating flawlessly to the romantic music of Ravel's "Bolero." The police constable and the insurance clerk from Nottingham, England, scored perfect 6's from the judges, and that is still unmatched in Olympic competition. And they took home the gold medal. In so doing, Torvill and Dean transformed their sport, blending athletics with esthetics, making it a marquee Olympic event and setting the standard for those competitors who are now skating for gold this week in Sochi.

During the 1990s, the arena where Torvill and Dean had triumphed was destroyed in the war. The basement became a morgue; the wooden seats were made into coffins and the land outside that arena became a graveyard. But like Bosnia itself, the venue has struggled to rise from the ashes. And so it is only fitting that Torvill and Dean return there to an emotional encore 30 years after they achieved perfection. As they skate once again to the strains of "Bolero," now in their mid-50s and still in amazing shape, they're skating to score another victory, this time not for themselves or their country, but for the spirit of perfect harmony that Sarajevo and the rest of the world has never needed more.

And that's it for our program tonight. Be sure to tune in tomorrow night for my entire interview with the British Foreign Secretary William Hague. And remember you can always contact us at our website,, and follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.