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New Zealand Mosque Attacks; Yellow Vest Protests; Ethiopian Airlines Crash; "Extreme Havoc" as Cyclone Moves Inland from Mozambique. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired March 17, 2019 - 03:00   ET

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


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IVAN WATSON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm Ivan Watson, broadcasting live from Christchurch, New Zealand.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Cyril Vanier from the CNN NEWSROOM. We want to bring you all the updates on the New Zealand terror attacks.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says within the next few hours, bodies of the victims will start being returned to the families. They hope to have all bodies turned over by Wednesday. The country's cabinet will also be meeting on Monday to discuss possible gun policy changes.

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JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: I've already said there will be gun law changes and there will be. The nature of those changes, I'm looking to move on as quickly as we can. But I do need to talk them through with cabinet and then we'll look to share them publicly as soon as we're able.

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VANIER: Earlier, the prime minister joined mourners at a mosque in Wellington, consoling those in grief.

Meanwhile, here was the scene at Christchurch. More tears, more songs, as the country tries to come to grips with what happened. The death toll now stands at 50; 50 people also were wounded and 34 are being treated at Christchurch hospital; 12 are in intensive care in critical condition. And another young girl is in critical condition in Auckland.

Some have required multiple surgeries and that will be ongoing over the next few days. The head of surgery at Christchurch Hospital described how it's affecting his staff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GREG ROBERTSON, CHRISTCHURCH HOSPITAL: We're all part of the community and we're struggling with it as much as everyone else is, this is not something we expected to see in our environment. We do see gunshot wounds. We do see all these types of injuries.

But, you know, 40 or 50 people in a day is more than what we should see. Horror, stunned, anger, those are words that I've sort of had related to me at this point.

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VANIER: And we've learned the suspect, 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant is the only suspect in custody in connection with the attacks.

Also we got confirmation that he sent a copy of his hate-filled propaganda manifesto to the prime minister just nine minutes before his rampage.

We want to take a moment to remember the victims, the 50 people who were murdered as they gathered for Friday prayers.

This is Naeem Rashid. He was 50 years old and had lived in New Zealand for seven years, taught at a university. Both he and his 21- year-old son, Talha, were killed in the attack.

Khaled Mustafa came to New Zealand last year as a refugee from Syria. He went to the mosque Friday with his two sons. One of them just underwent a six-hour operation in the hospital.

And here's Haji Daoud Nabi. He was born in Afghanistan but moved to New Zealand more than 40 years, seeking asylum. He had five children, four sons and a daughter.

Those are just four names, four of the 50 who were killed in the attack.

Let's go to Ivan Watson now on the ground in Christchurch, New Zealand.

You've been speaking to people there, people who come to pay tribute and who want to have that sense of togetherness.

WATSON: That's right. This is an improvised memorial site, one of many that have sprung up across this country but certainly here in Christchurch, by the botanical gardens, where the messages here -- and I'll step out of the way -- are often, "I'm sorry" or "We're sorry."

There's another theme here and that's "Kia kaha," a Maori expression that says stay strong. So there's a constant and very somber procession of people coming here as the sun sets over Christchurch, lighting candles, laying flowers, putting forth cards.

I met up with one family who were quite moved, the father in tears, while visiting this site. And I asked him why he brought his family --

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WATSON: -- to this location on this Sunday.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We felt the need to show respect to the people who lost their lives and share with the city how we feel. This is so tragic, so horrible. And I think it's been clear, the whole city wants to show (INAUDIBLE).

WATSON: You've brought your children today.

Is that important for you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. The kids need to understand what's happening here. This isn't OK. It can't happen in the world. And it's just devastating that it's happened in our little corner of the world. But it's not OK. It's just not OK.

WATSON: You guys were probably in school on Friday here in Christchurch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

WATSON: And what were your teachers telling you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just that there had been a shootout at one of the mosques. And then we had to go into lockdown.

WATSON: Ariana (ph), what would you like to tell people around the world, in the wake of this tragedy?

ARIANA, CHRISTCHURCH STUDENT: I think that it's a tragedy and it shouldn't have happened. And the Muslim community shouldn't have had this grief. It's just disappointing. And I just think that the Muslim community belong in New Zealand.

WATSON: I wonder if you could help me. I see many of the signs here say, "Kia kaha," which I assume is a Maori expression.

What does that mean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It means stand strong. And when you have people, when you say that to them, it shows you're with them, you're standing beside them.

WATSON: I've seen so many people walking up and down here, wiping tears from my own eyes, and they're crying, too. And you are. I just -- where do you move on from here, you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess the messages that are about the love we have for each other and how we want to show that and I guess, with time, that will help people support the people that are grieving and have lost people and help them rebuild their lives.

And I hope we can, you know, follow through with what people are saying. (INAUDIBLE). I think it's always been a sense of pride that we've been around refugees from all over the world and so many of them have this hatred (INAUDIBLE). We want to rebuild, help them rebuild their lives.

WATSON: And also, all the more stunning, because officially, there are only about 1 percent of your country's population is, in fact, Muslim. So this is a tiny community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

WATSON: That felt the brunt, the brunt of this violence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes. But that's still part of our community. Everyone is part of our community no matter (INAUDIBLE). I heard the other day that the percentage of people killed here is more per capita (INAUDIBLE) on 9/11 for America. It's a massive tragedy for us. It's terrible. It's a tragedy for the world.

WATSON: And the messages you're hearing from the authorities, from the police, from the prime minister in the wake of this attack, does it bring you confidence moving forward for safety in this community?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. For me, especially. I have massive pride in how Jacinda has handled this.

WATSON: Jacinda Ardern --

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, she has been amazing. She's gone straight out to them and talked to them about the support she'll be giving them, that this doesn't define us as a country, that we are here for them. She's been incredible, you know.

She's talking about changing our gun laws and they're having a meeting tomorrow about that and I think every New Zealander will want those gun laws changed because this cannot happen in this paradise that we live in.

WATSON: Some of the victims were children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

WATSON: Around your age.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

WATSON: Do you have any message for children, perhaps their siblings, their relatives after this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just the kids that died, they had so much more time to live and it's so sad that they just had to die so early, when they could have done amazing things later in life.

WATSON: OK. I want to thank you and your family for taking the time to talk with me and my condolences to your community for what's taken place. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATSON: OK earlier that was a conversation with Phil Temple (ph), Donna Melesh (ph) and their children, Noah (ph) and Ariana (ph), ages --

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WATSON: -- 13 and 15.

And when you take a look at the messages of love that have been posted here, it almost immediately puts a lump in your throat. There is such a profound and heartfelt outpouring here in Christchurch.

And you're seeing that not only in public squares across New Zealand but also on social media as well.

Unfortunately, there is a darker side to the phenomenon that has come out on social media and that is that the key suspect in the atrocity, the terror attacks that were carried out here, posted his hate-filled manifesto and livestreamed his attack as he was carrying it out.

In fact, residents on lockdown, some of them were actually watching the images of violence as they were cowering for safety in this city. So that has put pressure on social media sites to address the spread of those images.

Now Facebook has put out a number of statements, one of them a tweet, saying that, quote, "Out of respect for the people affected by this tragedy and the concern of local authorities, we're also removing all edited versions of the video that do not show the graphic content."

That's Mia Garlick of Facebook New Zealand.

In a separate tweet posting that, in the first 24 hours, Facebook removed 1.5 million videos of the attack globally, to give you a sense of how quickly this spread out across the Internet.

Now to get a little more insight and understanding about this, I want to get to a guest in Lahore, Pakistan, Arsalan Iftekhar, a human rights lawyer and a senior fellow at the Bridge Initiative at Georgetown University.

Arsalan, thank you for speaking with me.

In the wake of what we have learned now about the attack and about the key suspect, what lessons, do you think, not only New Zealand but other governments around the world can take, going forward, to protect their communities from this type of extremism and hate-filled violence?

ARSALAN IFTEKHAR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Well, Ivan, I think the one thing we're seeing is that there's a rise of white supremacist terrorism all over the world, whether we're dealing with the New Zealand mosque massacre; last year in the United States we had the Tree of Life synagogue anti-Semitic attack in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Before that in Quebec City in Canada, another white supremacist killed six innocent Muslim parishioners as they prayed in their mosque.

So the rise of ultra right-wing nationalism in the world, the rhetoric of President Trump, whitewashing this white supremacist terrorism, I think it behooves us as a global community to stand up for one another and say that an attack on one house of worship will be considered an attack on all houses of worship.

WATSON: And I do have to point out that some Muslim community leaders here in New Zealand have told us that they were trying to sound the alarm about what they saw as a rise of Islamophobia here in New Zealand and complaining that those worries and complaints were falling on deaf ears.

Now you're speaking to us from Pakistan and Pakistan has suffered losses here; at least six Pakistanis were killed in the attack on the two mosques on Friday.

That has prompted the Pakistani prime minister to publish a tweet, not only expressing support to the victims of the terror attack but also adding, quote, "Pakistan is proud of Naeem Rashid, who was murdered, trying to tackle the white supremacist terrorist and his courage will be recognized with a national award."

Is this attack resonating in Lahore, in Pakistan, so many miles away from where we're located right now?

IFTIKHAR: It is absolutely. I live in Washington, D.C., and I flew 7,000 miles to visit family in Pakistan when this tragedy occurred. And it's really quite stunning to see the sort of international, you know, solidarity that we're seeing.

I think what you see with the 50 victims of this mosque attack, you see the diversity of the world. You see people who are black, who are white, who are young, who are old, who are doctors, who are mechanics.

You know, we, as a human race, you know, are all about diversity and inclusion. And I think that is what is really at the heart of this rise in white supremacist terrorism is that --

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IFTIKHAR: -- they are against diversity. They are against inclusion. They are against multi-culturism and immigration, all the people of conscience support.

And you know, with my own president in the United States, you know, the rhetoric that's been coming from Donald Trump, Trump is inspiring white supremacist terrorism. And we've seen that as early as 2011, with Anders Breivik in Norway, who killed 77 innocent people in a rampage, railing against multi-culturalism and Muslims. So we really need to speak out, whether it's Islamophobia, anti-

Semitism, anti-black racism anywhere in the world and really stand up for each other as human beings and try to bind ourselves together.

WATSON: And one of the concepts that just so befuddles me is that the suspect here in his manifesto wrote and talked about the threat of what he described as "white genocide" coming from what he described as "invaders," immigrants.

Can you shed any light on where this is coming from?

And what does it mean exactly?

IFTIKHAR: Well, you know, it's a really good question, Ivan. One thing that I really want to, you know, highlight and, you know, accentuate is the fact that these were not immigrants. These were New Zealand Muslims. These were Maori Muslims. These were European Muslims, these were Pakistani Muslims, Arab Muslims.

These were people born and raised, in many cases, in New Zealand. This notion of Muslim people being immigrants or The Other or Jewish people being immigrants or The Other. You know, every country has natives of different backgrounds, both religious ethnic and national origins.

So we really need to push back against this rise in jingoistic, ultranationalist rhetoric that we're seeing that now, sadly, is manifesting itself and is weaponizing itself in terms of mass murder, acts of terrorism.

WATSON: All right. Thank you very much for your insight there, Arsalan Iftikhar, from Georgetown University, speaking to us from Lahore, Pakistan, right now.

IFTIKHAR: Thank you.

WATSON: Thank you.

And as the New Zealand government has pointed out, it is working with consular representatives from Pakistan, Turkey, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Jordan. There were Palestinian victims here as well to help with returning some of the victims.

One of the biggest challenges, it seems now, from what we've heard in briefings today, is identifying the victims and making sure that they can be reunited with their loved ones who, of course, are in anguish and wishing to fulfill Islamic tradition of burying their dead, which is normally conducted within 24 hours of someone's passing.

That is it for me here in Christchurch, New Zealand. Back to you, Cyril.

VANIER: Ivan, thank you for your reporting and interviews.

You see the people behind Ivan, who are coming to show their support for the victims and the sense of togetherness coming out of New Zealand and Christchurch right now. Ivan, thank you very much.

When we come back after the break, we want to tell you about what's happening in other parts of the world, including these luxury boutiques, star-studded restaurants in Paris, ransacked, even set ablaze. We'll have more on Saturday's violence from the French capital, stay with us.

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VANIER: Authorities in New Zealand say they have begun the process of positively identifying the 50 victims killed in mass shootings in two mosques. They say the first bodies are given back to their families in the coming hours. The prime minister said all should be retired by Wednesday and that money would be made available to help families cover funeral expenses, this, regardless of immigration status.

Other points of interest: the prime minister confirmed that her office did receive a copy of the manifesto nine minutes before the rampage started. She was on a list of about 30 people that it was emailed to.

Ms. Ardern also said a second person is in custody, who may have tangential connection to the case.

We'll get more from New Zealand in a few minutes. But first let's start with other things going on around the world, starting with the Yellow Vest protests in France, which have turned violent once again.

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VANIER (voice-over): French police fired tear gas and used water cannons to disperse those who shattered store windows and set a newspaper stand on fire. This in the 18th consecutive Saturday of demonstrations against President Macron's policies. Correspondent Catherine Norris-Trent has more.

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CATHERINE NORRIS-TRENT, FRANCE 24 CORRESPONDENT: These were the most intense clashes between Yellow Vest protesters and police for several weeks. There were tense standoffs along the Champs-Elysees, a hard core of protesters encircled by riot police for several hours.

The air here was thick with tear gas fired at the protesters by security forces. It was also full of smoke, billowing from burning buildings and cars. Rioters had smashed and looted several shops and restaurants here. On one building which they'd set on fire on the ground floor of a bank premises but upstairs there were still people living inside, those residents including an mother and a young baby had to be dramatically rescued by firefighters.

As of 7:00 pm Paris time, we were told 192 people were questioned by police; 106 of them taking into custody and 42 protesters were injured; 17 members of security forces and one firefighter as well.

It's been confirmed that French president Macron, the target of much of the protesters' anger, has cut short a skiing holiday in the southwest of France. He's returning to Paris in the wake of these clashes.

A little earlier on the scene, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe had denounced the violence as unacceptable.

There had been a sense that the Yellow Vest protest movement had been dying down. We'd seen fewer protesters hitting the streets in recent weeks. But on this, the 18th weekend, these clashes show there is still an anger simmering in France -- Catherine Norris-Trent for CNN in Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: And we're also following the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, where there are still more questions than answers. Data from the cockpit voice recorder was successfully downloaded at a facility near Paris. Accessing the flight recorder data is still ongoing.

Airline officials say the DNA testing to identify the victims may take up to six months. Passengers on the flight came from more than 30 countries. "The New York Times" reports that the pilot experienced problems with the Boeing 737 MAX 8 almost immediately after takeoff.

According to "The Times," air traffic controllers detected the plane pitching wildly up and down and accelerating to an abnormal speed.

The biggest storm to hit southeastern Africa in years has killed dozens of people. Tropical cyclone Idai has brought destruction in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Many have been forced --

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VANIER: -- to evacuate from their homes as flooding, heavy rain and winds have battered the region.

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VANIER: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, from my colleague, Ivan Cabrera, and Christchurch, New Zealand, and myself in the CNN Center here in Atlanta, I'll be back with the headlines in just a moment.