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Dao Family Holds Press Conference Over United Airlines Lawsuit; Turkey Debates Changing Constitution Ahead of Referendum. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired April 13, 2017 - 11:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: Now, on Wednesday, I'll remind you, they filed an emergency request in court to require that

United save video recordings and other evidence linked to an incident on Flight 3411.

It happened on Sunday night when Dr. David Dao refused to get off the overbooked flight to make way for some United employees.






ANDERSON: Well, you see security officials dragging the doctor down the aisle at one point. Passengers said the doctor hit his head on an armrest

and video shows blood streaming from his mouth.

Now, three security officers have been placed on leave, and United has compensated all the

passengers on the flight for their tickets.

Coming to that press conference, then, for you as soon as we get it.

I want to move on to Syria, though, at this point where Bashar al-Assad is speaking out for the first time since those horrific pictures emerged of

men, women and children in agony after a suspected chemical weapons attack.

Now, Assad's government is widely blamed for that attack, but he calls it 100 percent fabrication made up by the west to justify U.S. strikes on his


The Syrian leader spoke to Agence France Press in Damascus. We'll get that shortly.

Let me get you, though, back the States and let's hear from David Daos' lawyer and his daughter.


[11:33:13] ANDERSON: Right, you have been listening to David Dao's lawyer and comments from his daughter.

We are joined now by CNN aviation correspondents Rene Marsh from Washington and aviation analyst Miles O'Brien in Boston.

Let's start with you, Rene. Your thoughts on what we just heard?

In fact, we're going to Miles. Miles, your thoughts on what we heard?

MILES O'BRIEN, AVIATION ANALYST: Well, I think Mr. Dao has an excellent attorney.

Mr. Demetrio, a couple Google strokes and you will see, is a very high powered - one of the top lawyers in the country when it comes to this sort

of litigation. So, he's got a good attorney with an impassioned plea, frankly, almost a very personal plea to all of the airlines to start

treating their passengers a little better, which is something I think anybody who has flown a lot, like I do, can concur with.

I do think that there is, when you consider the cost equation here and how the airline was a

little bit parsimonious for offering up awards for people remove their seats, compared to what the litigation exposure here is, you can see in the

end it's better just to pay people a little more to get off the plane.

ANDERSON: Rene, I think I have got you now.

Let's just go over a little bit of what David Dao's lawyer said. He said this, right at the top

of the news conference, this is the law. If you are going to eject a passenger, under no circumstances can it be done with unreasonable force

and violence. That's the law, he said.

I hope you can hear me. Under no circumstances can you eject a passenger with unreasonable force and violence. I don't think Rene can hear me, so

Miles back to you.


[11:35:12] O'BRIEN: Becky, are you there?

ANDERSON: Correct. Yeah, carry on Miles. We'll sort out the problems with Rene's sound in a moment. Go on.

O'BRIEN: Let's step back here for just a moment. It's actually amazing to me that we have to even have this discussion. We are paying customers of

an airline and the fact we may have to say pretty please, don't abuse us when the airline is completely at fault in this case. And I should point

out, there's some confusion here. this was not an overbooked aircraft, it was sold out, yes, but it wasn't oversold. There's an important

distinction here.

This was a situation where the airline, and it is actually a co-chair, was trying to move its crew

to Louisville. It was taking paying passengers out of their seat in order to make room to reposition a crew. A little different than an oversold

situation. Different sorts of rules are employed there.

It's just stupid business is what it is to take paying passengers out of seats and put nonpaying individuals into their base when they could have

gotten in an Uber. And I checked it out, it would have been a $400 Uber ride and four hours to get them to Louisville and we wouldn't be even

talking about this.

So, to say the airlines are not thinking about their customers is a bit of an understatement here.

ANDERSON: Miles O'Brien with you out of Boston, Massachusetts. And apologies for our technical issues with our CNN aviation correspondent Rene

Marsh who was in Washington for us, but couldn't hear us.

All right, thank you guys.

Let's get you back to here, to Turkey, now.


UNIDENTIFEID MALE (through translator): One man will decide what their duties will be. The parliament will be completely bypassed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): What one man? What one man? Read those 18 articles, and you will see that's not the case.


ANDERSON: For more than 4,000 years, from the Hittites to the Ottomans, world history has been shaped right here in Ankara.

And right now with just days to go until a crucial vote on what is going on on how Turkey is run.

Its capital is a more important stage than ever, as you heard a moment ago. The vote is yanking the country in two very different directions. And now,

as I'll show you, it's a story that all started last year.


ANDERSON (voice-over): One night last summer, Turkey changed forever. A small army faction trying to snatch control of the country. For hours, it

seemed like the plotters would pull off their coup. But as word spread, Turks poured out of their home demanding they stop. They were met with

violence. More than 200 lost their lives, including Sevin's (ph) 35-year- old son, Batal (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): It was Friday and we worked together. We prayed. Then we heard the fighter jets. After a while we heard

the calls to prayer and my son left.

ANDERSON (on camera): Tell me, what happened on the night of the coup.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): Two people were shot right in front of us, then we stood up to pray. It all happened very fast. While we

were about to begin the prayer, they opened fire on us.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Thanks to people like Batal (ph), the coup was crushed. From it emerged an almighty purge. Under a state of emergency,

tens of thousands of military officials, civil servants, academics were fired or worse, arrested. Most of them charged with links to this man,

Fethullah Gulen, who President Erdogan blames for orchestrating the coup, an accusation Gulen denies.

The crackdown caught countless victims in its net. Like Nesla and Seti (ph), they used to work at Ankara University until last February, that is,

when they were fired for a petition for peace calling for an end to the crackdown on the Kurdish population.

(on camera): Neither of you had any involvement in the coup, correct?



ANDERSON: Are either of you supporters of Gulen? Are you Gulanists?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no. The Gulen organization.

Seti (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are just academics of this country.

ANDERSON: Personally, how has this whole episode affected you?

[11:40:06] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Personally, actually, I though that my academic life finished in Turkey.

ANDERSON: So, will you move away?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, we want to move away, but now all passports are canceled. They don't give us. As I know --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- visas right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Suspected persons.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Now Turkey is on the brink of yet more political upheaval.

(on camera): In less than a week, people here will go to the polls to vote in an important referendum. A "yes" vote would mean more power concentrated

in the hands of President Erdogan. A "no" vote would be a rare political rebuke for his ambitions.

(voice-over): But regardless of the outcome, one thing is clear, Turkey is polarized, and it will be awhile before the rift brought about by the coup

and the purge that followed are healed.


ANDERSON: Well, it's very easy to get into the weeds of this story. We don't want that. We want to bring you the big picture here.

For that, let's bring in Gulnur Aybet, once dubbed one Britain's most powerful Muslim women by the Times magazine. She's now a senior adviser to

Turkey's president.

Gulnur, a right-wing populist strongman say his critics. An already authoritian leader now looking to consolidate power in his own hands. How

do you argue that point?

GULNUR AYBET, CENTER FOR SECURITY STUDIES: Well, look, all of these positions and arguments, they are not actually presenting any argument

based on the 18 proposed changes to the constitution to support their case. So, I think that, you know, what's

happening with this run up to the referendum is that everything is so politicized and taken out of context and just focusing on one man whereas,

you know, all these people who are actually making statements about authoritarianism aren't even referencing the 18 points.

ANDERSON: With respect, it may be something to do with the fact that Erdogan's picture, his

face is plastered across the yes campaign posters all over Turkey at present. This is about one man, Gulnur, isn't it?

AYBET: Well, no, actually, this is about much needed constitutional changes.

When you look at the present constitution, it's based on the 1982 constitution that was drafted by the generals after the 1980 coup, plus a

series of amendments, so it's like a patchwork quilt. You know, it's hodgepodge.

And then on top of that, we had a referendum in 2007 which asked the people, do you want to

directly elect your president? And they said yes.

So, what we have is not even a parliamentary system. It's actually a semi- presidential system. It's a hodgepodge system. And because it's based on the 1982 constitution, this is something that all those critics won't tell

you, Becky, because it's based on the 1982 constitution, there is no accountability for the president. And he's given all these powers. And

the new proposals will actually make him more accountable.

ANDERSON: Let's then just consider what is being said by some former leaders of this country, because this is interesting. A former Turkish

prime minister Amet Davutoglu and another founding member of the AK Party, along with the president. Just a few months ago, he said, and I quote,

parliament is the shield and spine of democracy since it encompasses all of society.

By that measure, you are skipping society by concentrating everything in your bosses hands.

AYBET: That's not true. Again, people have not read the 18 proposed changes. And I have to keep repeating this. Parliament will still be a

very strong functioning part of Turkish government.

ANDESON: Will it? How?

AYBET: Yes, because it will be responsible for legislation. Under the proposals there will be a separation between the legislature and the

executive. And the whole point is to make the executive more functional and speedy, but not functional and because the president can pass decrees,

which are only confined to six areas in the day-to-day running of the nitty gritty of the executive whereas the majority of the laws will be made by

parliament and they can scrutinize the decrees. And they can hold the president accountable.

ANDERSON: Let me try this one for a moment then, and work with me on this, the former Turkish president, prime minister and co-founder of the rule

party Abdullah Gul said this a couple years ago, quote, we have experienced a Turkish-style parliamentary system

and seen its problems. There shouldn't be a Turkish style presidency.

What kind of style of presidency is this looking like being then if not Turkish?

[11:45:06] AYBET: Well, every country needs to have its own unique governing system, and especially this one considering that the present

constitution and the present amendments to it plus a directly elected president are unworkable.

So, we need something that is going to make everything workable. And I mean, obviously, the previous president may have said that, but he said

that - let's not take it out of context, at the height of the debate about what kind of a system, before these amendments were proposed. He hasn't

made any comment about the new amendments.

ANDERSON: He has also not got involved in this campaign.

AYBET: That's true.

ANDERSON: Certainly not campaigning for the yes vote.

AYBET: Look, people he said a lot of things about former politicianss. We heard syesterday that, you know, another group of people were saying that

the former prime minister (inaudiboe) is going to vote yes, but she hasn't come out and said anything.

So, I think it's wrong to actually speculate about what politicians are likely to do.

ANDERSON: Take a look at the latest poll.

AYBET: When they haven't said anything themselves.

ANDERSON: Let's look at the latest poll worth quoting. And I say that loosely termed, because we know that polls don't work everywhere,

particularly not in the U.S. and the UK.

AYBET: And the UK. I mean, Brexit exactly.

ANDRESON: ...over the past couple of years.

This was conducted, though, a week or so ago. It put the yes vote narrowly winning this with something like 51.5 percent with I think I'm right in

saying 9 percent still undecided.

Were that to be the result, that isn't a mandate, is it, for sweeping change? You would need more than that.

AYBET: Well, I would hope that, you know, the yes vote would be turning out more than that. But, I think we can't really go by the polls because I

have been seeing polls that have been saying things like over 60 others have been saying 51. It's very difficult. Because rightly, as you pointed

out, there is this undecided vote.

But recently, you know, we have been seeing in the polls the yes vote is considerably ahead.

ANDERSON: Can I just this last question because I need for our viewers to understand why they should care about this referendum, because they should.

Yeah. This is about Turkish policy going forward. And this would be crucial for, say, issues with relation to

the EU and NATO, for example. So, were the yes campaign to win and were President Erdogan to get an opportunity to rule for the next 10 years. I

know he would have to be elected again...

AYBET: Exactly.

ANDERSON: But were he to go on and rule for another 10 years, that will be quite a long time in anybody's book, 27 years. What does the rest of the

world need to know about his policies going forward?

AYBET: Absolutely.

Now, look, a lot of people have been speculating not just this referendum and all these changes that are being proposed, but for the last 10 years, I

have been hearing lot of things with the AK Party government being in power over 15 years. Is Turkey drifting east? And I keep repeating, that's not

the case. The world is changing. The region is changing. Turkey has already changed considerably.

So, under these circumstances, you know are going to have a Turkey that is going to more proactive with countries in the region and organizations in

the region even with regional cooperation organizations, but it's going to remain firmly embedded within the transatlantic alliance, because Turkey is

an important decision maker at that table. They are not going to give up that position. And if anything, their influence at this very crucial time,

when we are all talking about major change in the world, I think Turkey has an important input there, because like you saw I mean, with the Syrian war,

the Astana talks - who is there? Russia, Turkey and Iran. They were the only deliverables for the humanitarian aid, not Geneva.

So, again, Turkey has an important contribution to make to the Transatlantic relationship precisely because of these different

relationships it can cultivate.

And they're all based on real politik. So, I think for the next 10 years, Turkey will continue that very real politik line and a foreign policy.

ANDERSON: I'm going to take a very short break. But we are here for the next three to four days. We are covering this. It's a very, very

important issue. You didn't answer my question on Europe, but we'll have you back.

Gulnur, thank you.

AYBET: Thank you.

ANDERSON: More from Turkey after a very short break.


[11:51:24] ANDERSON: Right. You are looking at the Bosphorus. Strictly speaking, it's a strait that separates two sides of Istanbul, Europe and

Asia - or European and Asian, as it were. But it's much more than that, it's a symbol of how the city and the whole country, for that matter,

straddles two civilizations, and in the run up to the referendum this weekend, it can also be seen as emblematic of the divide in Turkey with a

decision to be made which path the country should follow.

Well, you are watching CNN. This is Connect the World with me Becky Anderson in Ankara. Welcome back.

On the one side then, of course, Turkey's president himself insisting that getting new powers makes total sense and is the best way to keep this

country strong and safe.

But on the other hand, critics see an emerging dictator, one person who sees that is Sayek Boke, she is - Selin Sayek Boke. She is the deputy

leader in charge of economic policy at CHP, which is Turkey's main opposition party, campaigning for a no vote. She is also the party's

spokeswomen. So, understandably, on with me today.

I was in (inaudible) yesterday, in the heartland of central Anatolia where you would be hard-pressed to find anybody who isn't voting yes. Yes for

the AK Party, and yes for the president.

Their argument is very clear. Erdogan has helped push policies over the last 15 years, which has resulted in unprecedented growth in the rural

areas. People who like in the U.S. were in the Rust Belt, people who voted for Brexit in the UK, who had been disenfranchised by the liberal elite in

the Ankaras and Istanbul.

How do you argue the case against that?

SELIN SAYEK BOKE, CHP: First and foremost, this is not an election of political parties, it's really about Turkey being at the crossroads, it's

about whether or not we're going to go into isolation, further isolation or whether we're going to be an open society, whether we're going to have a

true democracy or whether we're going to have a one-man rule.

So, it's really about rule of law versus discretion.

Now, the economics success story of 15 years has nothing to do with this ballot box. This is really about a de facto situation that has been

created in the past two and a half years.

ANDERSON: Selin, the problem is when I was in (inaudible) yesterday, it is about politics. It is about one man.

BOKE: Oh, for sure, this is politics.

ANDERSON: I couldn't find anybody who wasn't going to vote for him. And that is mirrored across provincial Turkey.

BOKE: Well, you have to take this into account, there is an amazing pressure for people not to say no. This has not been a fair campaign about

being able to voice your true feelings and your true vote; therefore, one should be somewhat skeptical of what you hear, especially if it's not a no.

That's the first thing.

ANDERSON: Well, I didn't find anybody who felt pressured yesterday.

BOKE: Oh, that's wonderful. I think if everybody is freely voting on what they believe in, that's a true democracy.

Now, we should be very clear on what we are voting for. And we have been campaigned by saying this is not about a judgment of 15 years, we are not

electing a new government. This is about the de facto position that has been created over the past two and a half years, which is the

constitutional proposal that was put forth by this government, what's stated as writing a law that would suit the de facto situation over the

past two and a half years.

ANDERSON: The supporters of the yes campaign and of, by default President Erdogan say that the Turkish style parliamentarism here is dysfunctional

and it creates the sort of environment where we saw military intervention in July of last year. It cripples the economy, it makes for a

dysfunctioning civil politics.

Again, we witnessed that in Turkey over years. So, why not enhance the powers, change the environment, make good on what hasn't worked in the


BOKE: To ensure Turkey doesn't face coups, military or non-military, regardless, what we need is more democracy. What we need is a stronger

parliament, not a parliament that is blamed for the dysfunctions of not allowing it to be operational.

So, what we observed in July 15th was that Turkey actually needs more democracy.

ANDERSON: This was the coup, of course, yes.

BOKE: This was the coup attempt

What avoided the coup attempt, what lead to a failure was indeed the democracy overtook in Turkey that night. Four political parties came in

the parliament. They signed a common declaration for democracy.

ANDERSON: Selin, with that we're going to leave it there, because I do have to take a very short break.

But again, we're here across this referendum. We're going to talk again.

BOKE: Wonderful. Thank you.

ANDRESON: Right, that's it from us for this hour. But as I say, back tomorrow with another special show. It's an important story. Be with us.