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CONNECT THE WORLD

The Netherlands Votes in Parliamentary Elections; Suicide Bomber at Palace of Justice in Damascus; Leaked Documents Show Partial Trump Tax Returns for 2005. 11:00a-12:00p ET

Aired March 15, 2017 - 11:00:00   ET

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


[11:00:23] BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Casting their ballots: voters head to the polls in The

Netherlands to decide a contest that is being closely watched in and outside of the country.

Next, why the result could signal a seismic shift in Europe.

Also this hour...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think it's possible that he could have sent them to you?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Oh, absolutely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Tax man calling. Leaked documents show Donald Trump paid $38 million to the IRS. But many questions remain. Coming up, what we know

and what we don't know about the president's returns.

Plus, a war six years on more carnage in Syria, as a suicide bomber targets the Palace of

Justice in Damascus. An update on the deadly attack is just ahead.

Hello and welcome. This is Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson, in Abu Dhabi.

It's just after 7:00 in the evening here. Right now, Dutch voters are making a decision that is much, much bigger than just them. Who they pick

to run their country could be a sign of where Europe itself is heading.

It is a stark choice between what we think we know about politics as usual, and a new bubbling tsunami of populism.

Now in The Netherlands, that's coming down to these two men -- Nark Rutte and Geert Wilders. Mark Rutte has been prime minister for almost seven

years now. And he wants a third win. But the far right hopeful Wilders has other ideas. He doesn't like the EU. He doesn't like Muslims. And he

does not like people coming into his country.

He took on the current prime minister at a vehement debate on Tuesday night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEERT WILDERS, FREEOM PARTY LEADER (through translator): The Netherlands is not for, Netherlands is for the Dutch. Do you hear me well? People who

have chosen 10 percent our country. Your party, they make sure that people feel like foreigners in their own country, second-class citizens, that's

why they don't vote for you any more. The people do not want this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, Hala Gorani is in the Hague for you this evening where she is joined by a special guest who will be outraged I think by what we just

heard from Wilders - Hala.

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. And Nourdin el Duli is joining me. He is the party - he's founder of NIDA Party. It's a local

party based in Rotterdam, not a national party yet, though you hope potentially to bring it to the national stage.

So, we heard from Geert Wilders during this debate yesterday, saying essentially the 10 percent immigrant extraction population of this country

is making Dutch people feel like foreigners in their own country.

How do you react to that type of rhetoric? Because it does resonate with a pretty sizable portion of the electorate in this country.

NOURDIN EL-DULI, FOUNDER, DUTCH NIDA PARTY: Well, it's quite problematic to perceive such citizens into and divide them into groups. In his point

of view, Dutch citizens with a migrant background are not part of the this society.

GORANI: And he means you, by the way.

EL-DULI: He means me and others with me, and particularly he has a problem with Muslims, to be honest.

So when he speaks about Dutch citizens, he doesn't speak about all of the citizens, but only in

particularly, not the citizens with the migrant background and that's problematic.

GORANI: Right. But we've seen in the polls, and by the way, we've learned not to trust the

polls, based on what happened, both in the United States and also with Brexit in the United Kingdom; however, we have seen perhaps some support

lessening, weakening for the party of Geert Wilders. Why do you think that is?

EL-DULI: Well, I think that is because he doesn't bring any solutions. He really problem, he's good, he's the champion in telling people what the

problem is. And he has a simple recipe. The problem is the other, it's the foreigner, it's the migrant, it's the Muslim. And that's really -

that's his only, only policy.

But he doesn't bring a solution.

GORANI: Well, his solution is ban Korans, close the country to Muslim immigration. He's saying his solution is.

EL-DULI: Well, that's not a solution, because we have...

GORANI: Close mosques as well.

EL-DULI: Yes, true. He has these kind of ideas which are dangerous ideas, because we have a constitution in this country that guarantees equal rights

and freedom, all the freedoms, just like in your country - freedom of religion and so on and so forth.

So his ideas are not democratic ideas, but really extreme ideas. They don't fit in an open, democratic, liberal society.

[11:05:25] GORANI: What is this election about? It's a lot about identity, right?

EL-DULI: Yes.

GORANI: It's a lot about what it means to be Dutch. What does it mean to be Dutch?

EL-DULI: True. True. But if you ask me...

GORANI: Today.

EL-DULI: If you ask me what this is election is about, I would say it's about ecology. It's about poverty. It's about work and things like that.

And health care.

But yeah, it's true, it's about mainly about Dutch identity, I think, it's an idea of people feel that

our values are under pressure. And I agree with that.

GORANI: what do you agree with?

EL-DULI: Well that our values are under pressure. But the story is that they are under pressure because of these new groups - migrants, Muslims and

so forth and so on.

But the real challenge...

GORANI: But I've got to stop you there, because what I find interesting is you're saying you do agree with the notion that some of the traditional

Dutch values are under pressure because what, of recent waves of migration?

EL-DULI: No, my point of view is a different one, that's the point of view of Wilders and also our prime minister.

GORANI: That's why I was a little puzzled when you said that. I want to understand you very clearly.

EL-DULI: Our values, our Dutch values are reflected in our constitution. And you just said what kind of solutions this kind of politician wants. So

they're under pressure. And the threat is even bigger. The threat is not coming from outside, it's in our parliament.

GORANI: I see.

EL-DULI: So, this kind of ideas really put the pressure on our values and people like me oppose to that, because we say we are Dutch citizens. Yes,

we have a migration background. Diversity isn't a problem, it's enriching us. And it comes with challenges, that's true. But at the same way, this

is not the solution.

GORANI: Lastly, what are the challenges? You have often older, often sortof non-migrant Dutch citizens, of not of an immigrant background, I

mean, Dutch citizens, feeling like perhaps this mass migration is changing the identity of the country, the tradition of the country. On some level,

how does this enter into the equation of how this election will be decided? I mean because it is something that you hear.

EL-DULI: Yes, it is something that we hear. It's not the majority, to be honest. The thing is there's a lot, a lack of trust. A lack of trust.

And the lack of trust is because of the crisis that we have been through, and it was a quite difficult time. But the lack of trust concerns

politics, concerns justice system, concerns Europe as an institution, concerns the banks. So people feel, feel -- feel that they are

not in the living in the same country as they used to, because of this insecurity. Only they blame the migrants. And I think we should look in a

different manner and address the problems in a different manner and find solutions that will work.

GORANI: You believe some of the immigrants are being scapegoated, perhaps, or being blamed for..

EL-DULI: That's the case.

GORNANI: Nourdin el-Euli, the founder of the NIDA Party, thanks so much for joining us. And also a counselor for the City of Rotterdam as well.

Well, Becky, the vote is ongoing, the ballot, by the way - I was showing it to - it's so big and so

heavy I actually dropped. This is a lesson in democracy, an exercise in democracy, and origami all in one.

There you have it.

So it takes, I was told by some people who voted today, it takes longer to fold it than to actually vote. So I'm going to try to do that.

28 parties are in the running and -- the turnout is said to be high, midday.

This election is really attracting a lot of interest worldwide and certainly people here are speaking very passionately about the process.

And everybody is waiting with a lot of impatience for the results.

We should have the results about 2:00, 3:00 a.m., but the first exit polling at 9:00 p.m. Central European time. that's when we should get a

general idea of how the vote broke down. Back to you.

ANDERSON: Well, you are clearly an origami expert. That was brilliantly well done.

We know what Hala does at the weekends, joking.

We are going to stay on the story. Thank you, Hala. Not far ahead we'll speak to a man who's not even in the race but could have a huge impact on

it by pushing a certain group of people to get out and vote. Get the details when we speak to Tom Offman, which is just ahead.

First, though, let's get to the deadly suicide attacks in the Syrian capital of Damascus. Time to inflict a huge number of casualties.

Syrian media reported a suicide bomber detonated explosives at the Palace of Justice, the main

courthouse in Damascus. Then another report, another explosion, this time in a Damascus restaurant.

Well, Jomana Karadsheh tracking developments in Syria from Istanbul for you. And she joins us now from there.

What do we know at this point, Jomana?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDETN: Well, Becky, what we know is coming from Syrian state media. As you mentioned that first attack

targeting the Palace of Justice, that's the main courthouse in Damascus. And according to

officials there, they say that this was timed at a time when that courthouse is really crowded, really busy. They say that was aimed to

inflict maximum casualties.

Now, according to one official quoted by state media, he says that the police there tried to stop

that suicide bomber from entering the courthouse, but he managed to force his way through before detonating his explosives. At least 25 people were

killed in that attack.

Now a short time after that, a second attack in northern Damascus. We don't know much about that attack, not much information at this point or

casualty figures. But according to Syrian state media, it was a suicide bomber, also who detonated explosives at a restaurant there, Becky.

ANDERSON: Jomana Karadsheh, reporting for you from Istanbul in Turkey for you tonight. Jomana, thank you.

Right. U.S. President Donald Trump in the news once again. Another big story in Washington that we are following for you this hour.

Leaders of the House intelligence committee are meeting, and clearly, the story for them is that of alleged ties to Russia.

Let's bring in David Chalian is for you the political director out of Washington. Apologies, I'm just getting conflicting information as to what

exactly we are expecting to hear from the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee about their investigation into President Trump. I know their

meeting. What do you - your sources tell you at this point?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yeah, so the House Intelligence Committee chairman and ranking member, the Republican Devin Nunes, the

Democrat Adam Schiff, you've seen them talk a lot about this Russia investigation. They're having a joint news conference in just a few

moments from now and sort of laying the groundwork for how their hearings are going to proceed. They are set to begin on Monday in earnest.

And so as you know, the house intelligence committee and the Senate intelligence committee

two different congressional committees are beginning to head down the path now of publicly investigating any ties between Donald Trump, his

associates, his campaign, and Russia.

During the campaign, at the time that our intelligence community has already stated, Russia was

clearly trying to have an impact on the American election. So what we will learn today is sort of how that process is going to go forward. And the

other big thing that we're watching today, is whether or not we're going to learn from the FBI Director James Comey that - whether or not there was a

or is a wiretapping investigation. You'll remember Donald Trump claimed that his predecessor, Barack Obama, wiretapped his phones in Trump Tower

during the campaign. He made that claim without any evidence whatsoever. One of the things we may hear later today from the FBI is, is whether or

not there's any evidence to suggest that wiretapping existed.

That claim of course made by Twitter over a weekend, a week or so ago. David, just how is, or are these alleged ties to Russia playing out in the

bigger story here. They sgot clearly overshadowing the Trump administration. Try as it might it cannot get away from -- what

sort of impact are they having?

CHALIAN: Yeah, it's a great question. Every time there's been sort of a moment where the attention has gone elsewhere, the Trump administration

seems to get sucked back into this Russian controversy.

For example, just a couple of weeks ago, President Trump gave that very well-received speech to a joint session of congress. And the next day, we

learned that Jeff Sessions had misled the committee that he was testifying before, when he was getting confirmed, as to the fact that he met with the

Russian ambassador.

So, you are right, this is something that has been swirling. There have been sort of many pieces

of information. What the committees that are investigating this are hoping to do for the American people is be able to tie it all together and say

there's either something real there or there's just a lot of smoke and no fire.

[10:15:07] ANDERSON: David, should there be something there? If that is what the committee finds, what happens next? What is the worst-case

scenario here? And just give us a sense for our international viewer of what the process is here.

CHALIAN: I mean I think it is so early in this process. We are so -- at very beginning stages of fact-finding and piecing together the patterns of

information that I don't know that we can even look too far beyond the very beginning of this process.

I think right now what is incumbent upon the congressional leaders who are having this press conference at this hour, is to sort of commit to the

American people that this will be free of partisan warfare, and this will be an above-board and thorough investigation so that when all is said and

done, when they issue a final report, it is one that can be, that can be taken to the bank by the American people and not have to be viewed

necessarily through a partisan lens.

ANDERSON: We are expecting to hear from leaders of the House Intelligence Committee. They are indeed holding a news conference, let's get to it.

(HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE PRESS CONFERENCE)

[10:24:27] ANDERSON: Right. No evidence of the claims by President Donald Trump that he was wiretapped. These claims, of course, made by

Twitter over a weekend, a couple of weeks ago.

That amongst what we have just heard and learned from the House Intelligence Committee members, of which have just spoken, or are speaking

in Washington. David Chalian is still with us. David, pick apart just what we've just heard, if you will.

CHALIAN: Yeah, you identified the big headline there, which is that Chairman Nunes, the Republican of the chairman of the House intelligence

committee said the evidence of that claim, of that Donald Trump claim over Twitter that Barack Obama wiretapped his phones, remains the same, which is

-- we don't have any.

So he went on to explain that he is as part of the investigation interested to find out who in conversations with foreigners, may have been picked up

in surveillance, inside Trump Tower, Trump Associates, certainly that is something that this entire investigation will look at. That's how we

learned of some of the Michael Flynn conversations perhaps.

And so I do think, though, separating that out from Barack Obama wiretapping Donald Trump's

phones, which would be an unprecedented kind of scenario, Donald Trump made that claim without any evidence. And the chairman of the house

intelligence committee of Donald Trump's own party, a Republican, just said, there is still no evidence of that charge - to support that charge.

ANDERSON: With regard to these claims, the White House absolutely determined it will be

vindicated.

CHALIAN: Yes.

ANDERSON: How damaging is what's going on David for this administration?

CHALIAN: Well, yes, they say they'll be vindicated, but look at what the White House has been doing. They've been trying to change the parameters

of the discussion and no longer sticking to the words that Donald Trump actuallytweeted out that Saturday morning a week and a half ago or so now

saying well, he put it in quotes. He was not referring to the president, Barack Obama himself, but Obama administration doing surveillance writ-

large.

All of a sudden it got very, very broad, which is not what Donald Trump made.

And so what are the ramifications here? Well, the ramifications are the credibility of the president of the United States of America. That's one

that is in question. And that, that becomes a concern, not just on this issue alone, but on every issue when the

president speaks. If he is not a credible source of information, that can complicate a lot of negotiations with foreign countries, negotiations with

congress, and his approval with the American people.

ANDERSON: You're always a pleasure, Mr. Chalian. Thank you for that. David Chalian in the house out of Washington on what is a roiling story

there.

Well to Iraq now, and the ongoing fight to retake Mosul from ISIS. Iraqi forces are inching closer to a symbolic target, the city's great mosque.

There are reports that they have retaken a strategic bridge nearby.

The reason the mosque is important? Well, it's there where the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, proclaimed his caliphate in July 2014. That

was his first and only public appearance.

CNN's Ben Wedeman has been in Mosul. He's joining me now from Irbil.

What more can you tell us, Ben?

ANDERSON: Well, Becky, when you said they're inching forward, that really is the best way to describe it because the fighting was intense today. We

were just about 150 meters when a car bomb went off, not far from that area. And what we've seen is that Iraqi forces really are encountering

some really stiff resistance in the old city where that mosque, the Grand Nouri Mosque is located.

Now we saw its minaret, which is famous because it looks a bit like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, it's called the Hadbah (ph), "the Hunchback."

But to get there would be a suicide mission, because the fighting is intense. We saw helicopters overhead, mortar fire going in both directions

and we saw lots of ambulances rushing to the battle zone to take away Iraqi wounded.

We also did see two, what appears to be ISIS suspects being led away with their shirts over their heads by Iraqi forces. But of course, as this

battle goes on, there are hundreds of thousands of civilians caught in the middle. We saw hundreds of them streaming out of Western Mosul. The

International Organization for Migration announced as the total number have left the city tops 116,000.

And more are coming every single day. We spoke to one family, who were caught in their basement for 12 days, 23 people in total. Their house was

hit by mortar fire and burned as they were in the basement. So it's a horrific situation, I have not seen this level of destruction for quite

some time. And this battle still has a very long way to go - Becky.

[11:30:02] ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman in Irbil, just back from Mosul. Ben, thank you.

We will be right back. CNN coverage for the day's news as you would expect continues after what is a very short break. You're watching Connect the

World. I'm Becky Anderson. It's half past 7:00 in the UAE.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(HEADLINES)

[11:33:47] ANDERSON: The U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has arrived in Tokyo. He's on his first trip to Asia with stops in Beijing and in

Seoul. The issue dominating the visit is the growing threat from North Korea.

Well, we are in the final stretch of the Dutch election now, with a little more than four hours for voters to decide the fate of their country. And

this is such an important story to all of us, because what's happening in The Netherlands right now doesn't stay in The Netherlands. It could give

us an idea what's going on and what might happen right across Europe.

Nearly a dozen countries on the continent are holding elections this year, including France and

Germany.

Well to help us get a sense of how things are going, let's get you back to my colleague, Hala

Gorani who is in The Hague for you - Hala.

GORANI: Well, Becky, you mentioned it a little more than four hours, four and a half hours to be precise, at 9:00 p.m. polling stations in this

country closed, there are 28 parties in the running. The big contest there between Geert Wilders, probably the best-known name among Dutch politicians

abroad and his anti-Islam party and the incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Now, I'm joined, though, by someone named Tim Hoffman, who is here with me, who is a young man, who believes that young people in this country should

be motivated to participate in political life. You actually drove a bus around the country to try to get young people to vote. What did you tell

them to convince them to get out the vote?

[11:35:11] TIM HOFMAN, TELEVISION PRESENTER, BNN: Well, I tell everyone I speak to is that politics are always about you, no matter if it's about

your parents or the taxes they pay or about your study and how to finance that it's always about you. And a lot of young people did not like, like

had the idea it was about them. So that's the first thing I told them. It's about you, go vote. No matter what, go vote.

GORANI: Now, what are some of the big issues, because immigration has become a huge issue because of Geert Wilders, because the prime minister of

your country as well started talking a little bit more about immigration in order to attract perhaps some of these Wilders voters. So, what about

young people?

HOFMAN: Yeah, it's kind of like we say. Immigration is an issue, but not the biggest issue. It is a big issue, but also health care or how to

finance your study, or more like basic things, but immigration is an issue. Well, I tell people if that's what you're worried about or not worried

about, then choose a party which is -- you know.

GORANI: If more people vote in this election, typically what party does that favor in this country?

HOFMAN: It's parties as we see it, we got an F, so we got like 150,000 people that filled in the F what they would vote, it's basically the

politicians that are understandable.

So, Geert Wilders speaks out very clear language. And people understand. But those who also -- from the Green...

GORANI: From the Greens, the Greens as well.

HOFMAN: You know, he's young. He talks stuff that people understand, so it's more like the extremes, but there's also something in the middle.

GORANI: All right, thanks very much. Tim Hofman there for your view. Tim, driving a bus. Very motivated to get other young people as well to

vote in this very important election. As you mentioned, Becky, it's the first sort of litmus test, the first big test after the election of Donald

Trump and Brexit last year in 2016. We'll see which way it goes in the coming hours. And we'll have full coverage this evening.

Back to you for now in Abu Dhabi.

ANDERSON: Hala Gorani is in The Hague for you. Thank you, Hala.

Right, now you now may be very surprised to learn this. No, you know, I want to do something

completely different. Let's get you back to Washington, and to the Department of Justice. We may

find out who was behind a huge hack of yahoo last year. Let's listen.

(U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE PRESS CONFERENCE)

[11:42:21] ANDERSON: Russia in the crosshairs of the Department of Justice in the U.S.. Indictments delivered against what the U.S. describes as

Russian spies in the massive hack of Yahoo accounts.

Fred Pleitgen up from Moscow for us. This is just in. It's happening, Fred, ass we speak. U.S. officials have, of course, been stepping up

actions against alleged cyber intrusions originating in Russia. Maybe too early at this stage to get specific reaction on this DOJ announcement from

the Kremlin. But what are you hearing?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Becky, I mean, and certainly there's going to be a vehement reaction we believe at some

point either from the Kremlin or from some other agency of the Russian government. This certainly is - are some very

serious charges, not just levied against obviously hackers that the U.S. believe was behind this, but also members of the Russian intelligence

service, of the FSB.

Asnd you know, listening to this press conference, it was really interesting to hear at least one of the names that was mentioned, that was

Dmitri Dokuchaiev (ph), who was apparently one of the FSB operatives who the Department of Justice says was behind all of this. Because we found

out in the past couple of weeks, the past couple of months, that he is also also in custody here in Moscow, in a

separate case, and that he has been -- this is according to one of the lawyers in that case, he has been charged with treason on behalf of the

United States.

So it appears as though at least one of the people that the U.S. is seeking in this indictment is

already in custody here in Russia for allegedly spying for the United states. So -- certainly this press

conference raises a lot of questions, not the least of which is that one. But then also on top of this, there's also the question where are these

people? At least one of them, the U.S. says, has been arrested Kareem Beratov (ph) in Canada.

But it was interesting, because earlier today, there was a conference call by the spokesman for

Vladimir Putin, by Dmitry Peskov, where he was asked the exact same question. Looking forward to a possible announcement today, are any of

these hackers in the Russian Federation? And he simply said that he had no information on where they were, didn't want to give any further

information.

So, certainly there's going to be a lot of questions that will be asked. And we certainly what sort of reaction there's going to be from official

Russian either tonight or at some other point in time, Becky.

ANDERSON: Yeah, information coming thick and fast out of Washington, much of it seems to have a route through to Russia.

Anyway, Fred, thank you for that.

We're going to be, folks, right back. CNN coverage of all the day's news continues after this very short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:47:24] ANDERSON: Well, the very nasty diplomatic battle between Turkey and The Netherlands has a new front: Twitter. Hackers have vandalized

several prominent accounts, posting images of the Turkish flag along with anti-German and anti-Dutch messages. The hackers used inflammatory

language and Nazi symbols to attack The Netherlands and Germany. The hacked accounts included government agencies, nonprofit organizations and

media outlets. CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson joining me from London with the latest on this fued between the two countries. And

for the past 36 hours or so, Nic, there have been efforts certainly on the European's part to take the heat out of this.

The Turks are determined that this will continue. Why?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Why? It seems because President Erdogan wants to in one part. He certainly feels that he has a

role to play in Europe. He's certainly a beneficiary for many European countries, because he's helped Europe turn off the tide of refugees coming

through Turkey on the way from Syria and other places, that he works with European

counterterrorism officials to help keep Europe safer.

Yet, in this particular spat has come at a time when he wanted to ramp up a message that will give him support in a referendum next month that will

essentially transfer the powers of parliament and prime minister to him as president, where he will hold more power. And he doesn't want to seem to

back down, because it gives the appearance, perhaps, that if he was to back down on this big spat, that he's very much behind creating in The

Netherlands and also a little bit with Germany as well that that would reflect badly on him and it might go against him in the polls.

I mean, on the surface that's how it appears to be, Becky.

ANDERSON: Nic Robertson on the story out of London today. Nic, always appreciate it. Thank you.

We are in Abu Dhabi, this is Connect the World. It has been a really, really, really busy hour of news, much of which has been coming thick and

fast out of Washington, from the House intelligence committee who say they have no evidence on wiretapping allegations from Donald Trump, and out of

the DOJ who say that they are indicting four Russian spies on a very big Yahoo hack.

Also coming up tonight, the best moments of global movement. I'm going to get you a whirlwind tour of our worldwide My Freedom Day project. That's

next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:51:41] ANDRESON: A new generation determined to make their mark. Students around the world pitched in to make CNN's My Freedom Day a huge

success, including right here in the UAE. These scenes were filmed by our colleagues at CNN Arabic in Dubai. Students at the American School

there joined their peers across the globe in what was a day of action against modern-day slavery.

Besides class discussions and message boards, a highlight of their My Freedom Day activities

was a doll-making workshop. Young people made toys to be delivered to Syrian refugees in Iraq, Jordan, Greece and Lebanon, a gesture of some of

the millions of children around the world who find their lives changed by conflict.

You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me, Becky Anderson, welcome back. Well, the messages poured in from near and far from schools

in the U.S. to those around the world, in places like Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, South Korea, Kenya, and Mexico. It was

all My Freedom Day as CNN partnered with youngsters to shine a light on the scourge that is modern-day slavery and explore how the next generation can

help fight it. Take a look at some of the inspiring scenes that we witnessed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(SINGING)

ANDERSON: 45 million people of course trapped in slavery. Today is a dirty, dirty business.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: My Freedom Day, a student-led day of action against global slavery. Here, students are

reading books about modern-day slavery. They're making paper chains, posters, sending social updates all about raising awareness to end this

multibillion-dollar criminal enterprise.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE; This day is empowering for these young people. And it's really about asking them to think to the future. They know they're

going to inherit what is a global problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Slavery in Sub-Saharan Africa is still an ongoing thing.

You're talking about kids who have been forced into servitude, that they can't see a life beyond that. Freedom Day has been a very important step

for the kids to gather their thoughts and reinforce their commitment to a life in nobody's control.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've been bringing a big canvas, a big wall for students to write on what they feel freedom is to them.

UNIDENITIFIED FEMALE: Here at the Atlanta International School they actually have a club that deals with human trafficking. Some of the

students are here today - I want to show you the project that they're working on. They are designing paper plates, pretty colorful project, to

talk about what freedom means to them.

(SINGING)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We believe that our generation should work towards raising awareness.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom Day has had an impact on my life in the way that it's

raised awareness that people in situations that are conducive to it can't express themselves the way I can.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's our generation's responsibility to really step up to the cause and promote equality, promote freedom in order to bring its

victims justice.

CROWD: My freedom day.

CROWD: My freedom day.

(SINGING)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[11:55:06] ANDERSON: Fantastic. And I spent my freedom day at a school here in Abu Dhabi. You can watch more of our interviews with the guests

and a fantastic kids at the American Community School here in Abu Dhabi on our Facebook page. That's Facebook.com/cnnconnect. As a regular viewer,

you will know that. And you can watch our coverage from around the world of that very special day of action on our freedom project page. That's

CNN.com/myfreedomday.

And just so you that you know, this project continues, My Freedom Day, we hope, will be a

day of annual awareness around the world. But the Freedom Project is an everyday project for us so do

get involved.

I'm Becky Anderson. That was Connect the World. Thank you for watching. We'll leave you with this video from the American School in Dubai, a

reminder of the Trojan effort of students around the world into our Freedom Day initiative. Young people here in Abu Dhabi and Dubai speaking out with thousands of others around the world

against modern-day slavery.

The news on CNN continues in just a moment.

END