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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Skips G7 Climate Summit; Trump Pitching to Host Next G7 at His Club; Trump's "Parade of Lies" at the G7 Summit; G7 Proposes $20 Million for Amazon Fire Aid; Brazil's Indigenous Guardians of the Amazon; Indonesia Will Build Its New Capital City in Borneo as Jakarta Sinks into the Java Sea; Refugees Mark 'Genocide Day' with Calls for Justice. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired August 27, 2019 - 00:00   ET

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


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JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A G7 summit in France ends with a G8 list of presidential lies and distortions, including the easily disprovable whopper of why Donald Trump skipped a briefing on climate change.

Two years since genocide day, the day when Myanmar's military set out to ethnically cleanse the Rohingya Muslim minority. Thousands were killed, probably more, almost 1 million fled across the border to Bangladesh and are still terrified and refusing to return home. U.N.'s special rapporteur on Myanmar will join me live.

And as the Amazon rain forest burns an indigenous tribe is not only feeling the devastating impact of climate change but also a president determined to allow miners and ranchers access to clear and develop their land.

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world, I'm John Vause and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

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VAUSE: The G7 summit came to an end on a somewhat optimistic if vague note. U.S. president Donald Trump's zigzagged on the trade war with China days after announcing new tariffs and calling President Xi Jinping an enemy. Asked about the confusion, Donald Trump told reporters that that is just how he negotiates. A surprise visit by Iran's foreign minister may lead to an easing of

tension vote between Washington and Tehran. Jim Bittermann picks up the story.

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JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: So I guess the big headline here was Iran basically -- it appears that Mr. Macron won his risky bet by bringing in the foreign minister of Iran to the Biarritz sidelines here because now it appears that a way has been opened for some kind of meeting or at least some lowering of tension between President Trump and President Rouhani of Iran.

It's not clear how or when or what could happen from this pathway that has been opened but Mr. Trump says if the circumstances are right and if they are good players, meaning the Iranians, he will be happy to sit down with Mr. Rouhani.

The president of Iran has said from Tehran today that he would be welcome to such a meeting. The other subject talked about a great deal was the idea of world trade and the tariffs the U.S. is imposing against China, what kind of devastation that is wreaking on the various other economies here.

The other players emphasize that they don't believe Mr. Trump's approach is the best way to go on China and it was not clear in the end, after the final news conference, exactly where Mr. Trump stands. He said he had received a phone call from China overnight and that it was quite promising, that the Chinese want a deal, he said.

But there's no confirmation of that from China. Finally, I guess the communique, which was not supposed to come out, it didn't come out but there was a one-page statement, very brief, made no mention of climate change, no mention of the situation in the Amazon.

But the leaders have promised, nonetheless, to put about $30 million worth of funding into the Amazon to help combat those fires there -- Jim Bittermann, CNN, Biarritz, France.

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VAUSE: And with us now from Vermont is CNN political analyst David Sanger. David is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and national security correspondent for "The New York Times."

David, thank you for being with us.

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Great to be back with you.

VAUSE: OK, we've seen Donald Trump and all his Godzilla-like glory stomping over the world stage before but this G7 ended with a twist, a sales pitch, you know, it would be like a timeshare salesman, you know, selling to a retired couple. The 45th President of the United States was pitching his own resort in Miami as a host venue for the next G7. Here he is.

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TRUMP: Doral happens to be within Miami. The airport is right next to it. We have incredible conference rooms, incredible restaurants. We have many hundreds of acres. So that in terms of parking and in terms of all of the things that you need, the ballrooms are among the biggest in Florida. Each country can have their own villa or their own bungalow.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: It was extraordinary in -- for all the wrong reasons. But it also seems to add to this accumulation of evidence that this is a president who clearly has no time for these international gatherings. He doesn't take them seriously, he fails to see their value or their worth and it makes this calculation that he may still do some business, make a little money while he's there, otherwise, it's a complete waste of time.

SANGER: One of the oddities of this is his phrase "we have" because he said when he came into office he was completely separating himself from the business. He was no longer going to be part of the Trump organization.

True, he wouldn't divest himself from it, which is traditionally what presidents would do with their business ties but instead he was making it sound very much like it was Trump property.

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SANGER: Sometimes he's got the good sense of humor to sort of recognize his own foibles here. When he was in the midst of the Greenland dispute last week -- but it seems so long ago -- he actually tweeted out a picture of a Trump Tower superimposed over a rural part of Greenland, most of it is rural and said don't worry, I won't do this, right.

But here he was actually doing it at the summit basically making the argument there's only one place in America he could imagine where you could hold this summit and it wasn't you know, with some other hotel resort or the Rocky Mountains.

VAUSE: Yes. And he said summit we certainly held the bottom line at that Doral Trump resort. According to "Miami Herald," Trump reported that he made $76 million from the Doral resort and Golf Club in 2018, down from $116 million in 2016.

The president though insisting that had nothing to do with his sales pitch. His advisors and aides he said, were the ones who decided it would be the best location for the next G7. Here he is.

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TRUMP: They went to places all over the country and they came back and they said this is where we'd like to be. Now we had military people doing it. We had Secret Service people doing it. We had people that really understand what it's about. It's not about me.

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VAUSE: "The Washington Post" reports aides say Trump has thought for months to hold the summit at Doral but many of his advisers have warned against the idea, concerned about the ethics of the president potentially profiting from an official government event.

You know, maybe someone in the West Wing read the emoluments clause, who knows. But even in the unlikely event that all this is above board, you mentioned this, the president seems to brought the stench of corruption onto himself by refusing to put all of these companies, his businesses into a blind trust by divesting his business holdings and walking away.

SANGER: That's absolutely right. And you know essentially he said you know, we surveyed the country and everybody came back and said this was the best result. Well, they knew exactly what answer that the president wanted. It had been leaked out before. He had talked about it before as a possibility.

So it was pretty clear they weren't going to come back and say well, you know, we found this you know, really fabulous Westin hotel out in San Francisco, sir. So it was pretty clear where this was going to happen.

So far in the emoluments clause, the courts have pretty been pretty consistent in ruling that the fact that foreign entities, foreign countries, visitors stay at the Trump hotel that's in Washington just a few blocks and the White House is not considered to be a violation. At least that's what they ruled so far but I think he's sort of taking the ball and running with it.

VAUSE: This is all part of a credibility problem for this White House which does itself no favors by issuing statements like this to explain why the president skipped a briefing on climate change at the G7.

"The president had scheduled meetings and bilaterals with Germany and India so a senior member of the administration attended in his stead."

Not a bad excuse if it was true but it's not. Here is German Chancellor Angela Merkel and India's prime minister Narendra Modi at that climate change briefing.

When the lies and the statements are this easy to disprove, it seems to be a sign that the White House isn't even trying anymore. I also wonder, a big reason for this would be an end to the daily briefings because you know, at least then reporters could actually challenge the administration or call out this type of thing.

SANGER: Well, in this case, it's interesting that the session that he wanted to put on was the one where he could talk about American economic performance which certainly has looked better than that of the other members of the G7 but he wanted an opportunity to highlight that.

And I'm sure he was looking for a reason to come up with other urgent business at a time they were taking up topics that he's made clear he not only doesn't want to hear about but doesn't particularly believe it.

And this was the moment to discuss climate change, biodiversity, areas where his administration has basically sought to walk away from the agreements of the previous administration.

But it does tell you something that this is a president who is not eager to sit down and listen to contrary views. And so you know, one way of looking at this is there would be no more

important session for him to go to than the one that was important to the other members of the G7 to show that he at least respects their opinion and wants to hear them even if he doesn't agree with them.

But that's not quite the way he operates. And you know, I don't think it's an accident that they chose to schedule some of his other meetings coincident with this -- with this particular session.

VAUSE: You know, there was a long list of Trump distortions and lies and falsehoods at the G7. We'll put up the most significant ones now. We can read them as we go along. Everything why he's skipped that -- skipped that climate briefing to you know, the resort in Florida and why he wants the G7 there.

But David, in particular, when it comes to China, the president made the claim over where trade talks are heading --

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VAUSE: -- and the likelihood of a possible deal sometime soon with Beijing. Here he is.

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TRUMP: China called last night to our trading people and said let's get to the table, so we'll be getting back to the table. The problem is the foreign ministry in Beijing wouldn't confirm that actually happened. Here's the spokesman at the press briefing on Monday.

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GENG SHUANG, SPOKESMAN, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY (through translator): We hope that the United States can return to rationality as soon as possible abandon their mistake and actions and create conditions for talks on the basis of mutual trust, equality and mutual benefit.

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VAUSE: Has there ever been a time when the word coming from a Communist dictatorship is considered as credible, possibly more credible than the word of the U.S. president?

This seems to be uncharted territory.

SANGER: Well, it is new territory as so much is with this administration. But actually what I found to be the most interesting thing in this discussion about China was the moment where he said -- he said several times that Xi Jinping was a great leader, a powerful leader, somebody he could work things out with.

Now you'll remember it was only Friday, only on Friday that he described President Xi as an enemy of the United States and said that he would order American companies to begin to prepare to leave China.

And then today he said well, you know, they can stay in China if we reach this trade deal and they'll do a terrific job. So that's separated by 72 hours.

And when he was challenged on this, he said, well, this is just -- sorry that's just how I negotiate which gives you a sense of what allies and adversaries are dealing with here, which is somebody who openly admits that almost everything he says is sort of a negotiating position.

Which then raises the question, if it's just a negotiating position, why is it that somebody would go listen to him and take his word to the bank?

VAUSE: David, as always, thank you so much.

SANGER: Always wonderful to be with you.

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VAUSE: In contrast to the U.S. president, who left behind a trail of confusion and chaos, the new British prime minister, Boris Johnson, actually walked away from the G7 with a few accomplishments. Anna Stewart has the report.

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ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER (voice over): He may not be the smoothest political operator. Britain's prime minister certainly knows how to put a smile on the face of his counterparts, receiving a particularly warm welcome from U.S. president Donald Trump.

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TRUMP: You know who this is?

Does everybody know?

He is going to be a fantastic prime minister -- fantastic.

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STEWART (voice over): The president says he will do and I quote, "A very big trade deal with the U.K." A win for Johnson and yet the prime minister still plucked up the courage to rebuke the president over his trade, albeit gently.

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BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It's fantastic to see that. But just to register the faint, sheep-like note of our view on the trade war.

We're in favor of the trade peace on the whole and dialing it down if we can."

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STEWART: Then there was the other Donald to deal with, E.U. Council President Donald Tusk, who kicked off the summit with a dire a warning for the prime minister.

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DONALD TUSK, PRESIDENT EUROPEAN UNION COUNCIL: And I still hope that Prime Minister Johnson would not like to go down in history as Mr. No Deal.

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STEWART (voice over): Johnson managed to turn that frown upside down.

JOHNSON: But so far, in this G7, I think it would be fair to say, Donald, you and I have spent most of the conversations in completely glutinous agreement on most of the issues that have been raised.

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STEWART (voice over): Outside that busy meeting schedule. The prime minister even found time for a dip.

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JOHNSON: Let me give you a metaphor. I swam around that rock this morning, OK? Now from here, that huge rock there -- from here you cannot tell that there is a gigantic hole in that rock. There is a way through.

I want to point to the E.U. --

QUESTION: Did you go through?

JOHNSON: I point to the E.U. --

QUESTION: There's a hole.

JOHNSON: There a way through, but you can't find the way through if you just sit on the beach.

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STEWART (on camera): All jokes aside, the optics around Boris Johnson's first summit as prime minister are important. He will return to Downing Street with assurances from the leaders of the United States, Canada, Japan, amongst others about a future trading relationship after Brexit.

But he also returns having scored highly on his charm offensive, displaying a natural aptitude for showmanship that actually put the U.K. front and center of the G7 summit.

STEWART (voice over): And highlighting the difference with his reserved predecessor, Theresa May, who earned the moniker Maybot for her wooden performances. Little wonder, the prime minister has a spring in his step -- Anna Stewart, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: And while the U.S. president played hooky during a climate change briefing at the G7, citing scheduling issues, his empty chair seemed to speak volumes, as the six other world leaders were left to tackle the crisis in the Amazon. Canada is offering more than $11 million to fight the fires currently burning as well as water bombers.

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VAUSE: And it's not entirely clear if any of that is part of a donation of $20 million of the G7 emergency fund that was unveiled by the French president Emmanuel Macron.

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EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): There was a true convergence so that we all agreed to help as quickly as possible the countries that were affected by these fires. There were several. This morning Colombia called out to the international community and we must be present and we will analyze this (ph).

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VAUSE: The president of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro is actually pushing back on, that accusing Macron of treating the Amazon like a colony on a no man's land that needs to be saved, and he says shows a lack of respect for Brazil.

Brazil's president also at odds with another group, the Waiapi tribe that lived deep in the heard of the Amazon for decades. He wants to open up their land to miners and cattle ranchers. As Isa Soares reports, the results could be catastrophic for the Waiapis' way of life as well as the environment. Her report includes exclusive video from the filmmaker recorded in the Waiapi village in northeastern Brazil.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (from captions): Butterfly, we are singing for the butterfly. What are you doing, butterflies?

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For as long as anyone can remember, the Waiapi tribe have been the stewards of these waters and the land that caresses it. I return, the Amazon rain forest has given back, with every drop and seed safeguarding their livelihood, tradition and ultimately their survival.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): We live inside the lung of the Amazon, because the Amazon brings health to us. Health of the World. This air is of the world. Polluted air means problems to us, health problems, sadness. This is why we care about climate change and is our concern, we Waiapi indigenous.

SOARES (voice-over): But the isolated Waiapi, 1,500 strong 92 villages in Anapa state, say they've never felt so under threat as they do today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (from captions): Some time ago we lived well. We did not worry about land. We did not know that we would have many invaders, loggers and prospectors in the future. Many talk about our land. They said that they will take our land.

SOARES (voice-over): And it seems not even the demarcation setup Brazil's 1988 constitution can protect them, that is now perilously close with president Jair Bolsonaro calling for protected and demarcated parts of the Amazon to be opened up to roads, ranching, farming and mining, arguing this demarcated area is too large for the indigenous and is hindering development.

On the ground the Waiapi tell us they have already begun to feel the impact of his words and policies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): This government is massacring our rights and our indigenous peoples.

SOARES (voice-over): With gutting pados (ph) (INAUDIBLE) miners, loggers and ranchers invading and assaulting their land.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): They're already started killing the indigenous people. We do not want to lose another drop of blood.

SOARES (voice-over): Audio provided to Brazilian journalists just after their chief was killed on July 22nd shows their urgency for action.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): He was stabbed multiple times in his body and his genitals. He was killed cruelly.

SOARES (voice-over): But they say the savagery didn't stop there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): They are entering indigenous houses and are assaulting children, assaulting women.

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SOARES (voice-over): They may be shaken but the Waiapi are not running scared. Instead, in silence, they ward off evil spirits and ready for battle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): We will never let them touch our land. We will never stop fighting. We will fight forever. I've always been here and I won't go out.

SOARES (voice-over): Their fight has taken them all the way to the United Nations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): With the election of Jair Bolsonaro president of Brazil, it increases the threat to our rights and our territories. We do not accept mining on our land.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): He does not respect our culture.

SOARES (voice-over): The Brazilian government says there was no credible evidence that the chief was murdered, with the minister of the environment adding that the chief drank too much and fell into the river.

But according to Amazon Watch, there have been at least 14 cases of invasions and assaults into indigenous territories by land grabbers, loggers and miners, who have left their dark stain on indigenous people and on the world's greatest rain forest, with fire scorching the land at an unseen rate.

The Waiapi have luckily been safe from the fire but remain threatened by Bolsonaro's environmental policies.

The yellow marks here shows the scale of deforestation which has increased more than 60 percent in June compared to last year. That is over 750 square miles of lost land. Put it simply, that is 1.5 soccer fields being destroyed every minute of every day.

AJAREATY WAIAPI, VILLAGE CHIEF (from captions): Our concern here is that if the forest is gone, people will also end.

SOARES (voice-over): So while the Waiapi wait for the world to act, life goes on here, 59-year-old chief Ajareaty goes to school to learn Portuguese.

WAIAPI (from captions): I said I want to learn what non-indigenous life is like. How is their life ... I want to know how to speak their language. I want to know so I can talk to the white people out there.

SOARES (voice-over): Teaching the next generation.

WAIAPI (from captions): I want my daughter to be just like me, a chief.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (from captions): She always talks about the fight for the land, of our land. This is very important for me.

SOARES (voice-over): Traditions that have protected their ancient lands, actions that defend the very air that we breathe -- Isa Soares, CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (from captions): We are singing for the butterfly.

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VAUSE: CNN reached out to the press office of the Brazilian president about his economic policies for the Amazon and received no comment. CNN also contacted the environment ministry as well as Brazil's National Indigenous Affairs agency.

There was no reply from the environment ministry and the Indigenous Affairs agency redirected us to the president's office and the press office for the ministry of the environment.

Time for a short break and when we come back, Jakarta is one the move. The capital is packing up and moving out and we will tell you why and where in just a moment.

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VAUSE: It's a sprawling, overcrowded metropolis, clogged with traffic, the air thick with pollution but for Jakarta, the final straw seems to be -- it's also at risk of sinking into the sea. So the city is being downgraded from capital but replaced by a new shiny one, all planned and laid out and won't sink into the sea. CNN's Lynda Kinkade has the story.

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LYNDA KINKADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jakarta is sinking. Scientists say the sprawling capital of Indonesia, which is home to more than 10 million people, is dropping below sea levels at alarming rates.

The government of Indonesia announced Monday that it now wants to move its capital to the island of Borneo. Indonesian president Joko Widodo says the new capital, which is yet to be named, will be in a safer, more centralized place.

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JOKO WIDODO, INDONESIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The place has minimum risk of natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, forest fires, volcanoes and landslides.

Secondly, the location is strategic, as it is located in the center of Indonesia.

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KINKADE (voice-over): But critics are concerned that building a new city in Borneo will destroy more of the island's forests, which are home to orangutans and other wildlife already under threat by the palm oil industry.

Some residents say Indonesia should concentrate on fixing on the problems in Jakarta, the residents are struggling to cope with pollution, traffic and frequent flooding.

"In the past it was not like this. It was nicer and the sea water was good. The beach sand was nice and we could still play in the water. We now can't do it anymore, the water is murky, dirty. Every high tide, it is flooded."

Reports say North Jakarta could be 90 percent submerged in the next 30 years. The authority built on swampy ground, with water now spilling over from the Java Sea in the city's 13 rivers. Although water is everywhere, it's not fit to drink. People must rely on underground aquifers, which are wedged (ph) in the city's foundation, making it easier for the city to slip into the sea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Now why has the water level become higher than my home and I am now below water level?

Maybe because the seawater is eating up the soil little by little. That's what I know.

KINKADE (voice-over): Indonesia's president says Jakarta will continue to be the country's financial capital. But it's unclear how he plans to stop the city's decline with another city ready to rise as soon as parliament gives its approval -- Lynda Kinkade, CNN.

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VAUSE (voice-over): It's been two years since genocide day, a day when Myanmar's military set out to ethnically cleanse the Rohingya Muslim minority. Thousands were killed, almost a million fled across the border to Bangladesh. They are still terrified (INAUDIBLE) their home. After the break, U.N. special rapporteur from Myanmar will joins us live.

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JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back, everybody. I'm John Vause with an update on our top news this hour.

[00:01:00] The G-7 summit may have opened a door for diplomacy between the U.S. and Iran. According to France's Emmanuel Macron, the president of Iran is willing to meet with Donald Trump. He then told reporters there's a good chance he would actually meet with Assan Rouhani. Both will be at the upcoming U.N. General Assembly.

G-7 leaders have agreed on a $20 million emergency fund to help Amazon countries affected by the fires. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, meantime, accusing G-7 leaders of treating his country like a colony.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees are marking what they call Genocide Day, their own genocide. Over the weekend, they rallied in tent camps in Bangladesh, the world's largest refugee center.

It's been two years since Myanmar's military began an ethnic cleansing operation, which forced more than 700,000 Rohingya to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. Many Rohingya who did not escape were killed, their villages burned to the ground.

Myanmar's military insists it was targeting insurgents denying allegations of mass killings and gang rapes. Yanghee Lee is the U.N. special rapporteur on Myanmar. She joins us

now live from Seoul.

So thank you for being with us. Let me get straight to this. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is on, and even though your own internal report released earlier this year found the U.N. had essentially failed the Rohingya people, it seems that failure is happening again in Myanmar with the military employing almost identical tactics, this time, though, against a Buddhist ethnic minority, also, in Rakhine state. How can we prevent this from happening?

Ms. Lee? I think we have some audio problems with Ms. Lee there. Ms. Lee, can you hear me? It's John here in Atlanta.

OK, we'll try and work out what's happening with our communications there with Seoul. We'll be back in a moment. We'll take a short break.

Also after the break Tropical Storm Dorian barreling closer to Puerto Rico. The government assuring jittering citizens that it is prepared. The latest, where it's headed and how strong it will be. That's next.

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[00:35:06] VAUSE: Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees are marking what they call Genocide Day. It's their own genocide. It's been two years since Myanmar's military began ethnic cleansing of -- and forced more than 700,000 Rohingya to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.

Myanmar's military insisting it was targeting insurgents and denies allegations of mass killings and gang rapes, as well as a whole list of other atrocities.

Yanghee Lee is the U.N. special rapporteur on Myanmar. She's been banned from the country. She joins us now from Seoul.

Yanghee Lee, thank you for being with us. I want to get straight to this point, because tea is on (ph). Even though an internal report within the U.N. released earlier this year found out that the United Nations essentially failed the Rohingya, that failure appears to be happening again in Myanmar, with the military there employing almost identical tactics. This time, though, against the Buddhist ethnic minority but also in Rakhine state.

So how can this stop? How can the U.N. actually prevent this from playing out a second time?

YANGHEE LEE, U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON MYANMAR: Well, it's unfortunate that the U.N., or notably the Security Council, has been very, very ineffective in trying to find accountability and put justice at the forefront of what they are doing in the Security Council.

What the Tatmadaw is doing now is not new. They've done this to the ethnic Kachins, the Chans (ph) and Kayans in the past, and they've done it to the Rohingyas two years ago. Now they're doing the same thing to the Rakhine community. So they are going on and on with the same old modus operandi, because they have not been held accountable for any of their misbehaviors.

VAUSE: So you know, and this is the problem here. You know, genocide which goes, basically, unnoticed or essentially, you know, without sanction, it's a very dangerous message, and it leads to more genocide.

LEE: Of course, it just emboldens the perpetrators of the genocide. So it's called an ongoing genocide, not only for the Rohingyas, but now it's a new genocide occurring for the Rakhine community.

And so I have stressed over and over again that the Security Council must refer Tatmadaw to the ICC, if -- if they fail to do so, I've also recommended that a tribunal, an international tribunal be set up. And, at the same time, what member states can do is apply universal jurisdiction.

Furthermore, other states, who are party to the genocide convention can refer Myanmar to the ICJ, and I think Gambia took the initiative for the OIC. And I really call for other states to come forward to calling -- or referring Myanmar to the OIC in the interim.

VAUSE: And just for our viewers who may not be up to speed with everything, Tatmadaw is essentially Myanmar's military here. Some of these terms that people may not be entirely familiar with.

But getting back to the U.N. role in all this, the Human Rights Watch, among other groups, have highlighted the problem with that report, which came out earlier this year that basically, in many years, was highly critical of the U.N. but no one was named. No one was held accountable.

And the Human Rights Watch group says that was an exercise designed to show commitment to accountability when, in reality, it accomplishes exactly the opposite.

I realize this will not help a million Rohingya refugees, terrified to return home. But for years, those who sound the alarm leading up to the events of August 2017 were silenced or they're ignored. The U.N. resident coordinator for Myanmar sent reports which played down what was happening.

So if no one is named, if no one is held accountable, if no one is fired, demoted, systems are not changed, then that report is a waste of time, isn't it?

LEE: Of course, and it's really shameful that the U.N. has embarked on this exercise again. But many years ago, after the Sri Lankan situation, Charles Petrick (ph) came up with a damning report and -- which resulted in Ban Ki-Moon, secretary-general, to initiate the Human Rights Affront Initiative. This initiative has not been applied in Myanmar as -- in regards to the Rakhine situation. And now we are seeing this over again like a broken record, "Never

again." But we will hear this again. We are hearing it again now, as we speak.

VAUSE: I would be that right now, there is not one Rohingya refugee sitting in a camp in Bangladesh who was willing to return to Myanmar, and this is why. Listen to this.

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SABBIR AHMAED, ROHINGYA REFUGEE (through translator): With nothing but our lives we came to Bangladesh. Here in Bangladesh, we have shelter now, we have a little peace. Now they want to send us back. Please, it is better to kill us here, but don't send us to that country of brutal people. Better to give us poison. I will dye drinking that poison. I will take poison, but I will not go back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: If the leaders who are responsible for this are not held accountable, and that includes the de facto civilian leader San Suu Kyi, then nothing is going to change, is it?

LEE: Absolutely. The Rohingyas will not want to go back. Because right now, the Tatmadaw who forced them out, who committed the brutalities, are still there, with total impunity.

The oppressing laws are still there, oppressing policies, administrative and policies and practice are still there. The Rohingyas had citizenship. Many Rohingyas had citizenship prior to 1982. That was our (ph) revolt. They wanted citizenship to be reinstated again and be granted. Freedom of movement, freedom of right to services, like such as education and health services. In other words, just like any other Myanmar citizens enjoy. This is what the Rohingyas want. Then they will go back.

VAUSE: Why won't the U.N. call out Aung Sun Suu Kyi?

(CROSSTALK)

LEE: -- have been totally (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

VAUSE: Sorry. I just want to get this Aung Sun Suu Kyi. Because --

LEE: Well, Sun Suu Kyi --

VAUSE: -- back in June, she told Hungary -- this story went under the radar. She met with the far-right, anti-immigrant, Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban, and "Foreign Policy" noted, "These two tarnished icons, now spurned by disappointed humanitarians and former Western friends, bonded over their far-right tropes, such as the supposedly continuously growing Muslim populations in Myanmar and in Europe, the fake news media, and their beastly liberal critics."

The lady, as she once was known, is not quite the lady or the leader the west thought she was. Isn't it time she's held accountable alongside the military.

LEE: The comments she has made recently and before has really baffled me, as well as others. Totally disappointed us.

Aung Sun Suu Kyi, I had -- I had total respect for her in the past. I thought she was the human rights icon. But we have to remember that she's the icon that the international community portrayed her to be. She is a politician, through and through, and politicians' main objective is to get elected and to get reelected, therefore stay in power.

I think that's her priority. So if you understand her priority and the general Myanmar public, the majority support her. She's not going to change her mind.

VAUSE: So you're giving her -- you're giving her a clean state, that she said she's not responsible for this? She doesn't have a role to play? She's not accountable for any of this?

LEE: Of course not, no. I have said this in another interview that she is not not accountable. She cannot be not accountable. And in the future decisions, I think we may find out that she -- that her complicity may -- may have played a greater role, and therefore, complicity is part of accountability, too.

VAUSE: Yanghee Lee, thank you so much for being with us. It is an appalling situation. It's not getting any better, but thank you. We appreciate your time.

Very quickly, now, Puerto Rico's governor has declared a state of emergency as Tropical Storm Dorian was closer to the island. Meteorologists expect that Dorian will strengthen, a Category 1 hurricane, bringing winds to nearly 120 kilometers an hour as it approaches land on Wednesday. That's a quick update there.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. WORLD SPORT is next. You're watching CNN.

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