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Taiwan Defiant As China Calls For "Peaceful" Reunification; Polls Open In Iraqi PM And Parliamentary Election; Czech Republic Opposition Coalition Defeats Prime Minister's Ruling Populist Party; Father Of Pakistan's Nuclear Program Dies At 85; Brazil's Amazon Suffers Another Season Of Fires And Deforestation; Ghana's LGBTQ Community In Fear Over Draft Anti-Gay Law; Women In Afghanistan Protest And Return To Work, School And The Streets; River Of Lava Destroys More On Canary Islands' La Palma. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired October 10, 2021 - 02:00   ET




PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Paula Newton. Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, missiles and the military making statements in Taiwan, celebration national day while refusing to bow to China.

Polls are now open in Iraq. The war-torn economically challenged country is in desperate need of change but little is expected from this election.

Plus a TV exclusive, Amazon defenders take you deep into the rain forest, risking their lives to protect them. Why this battle in Brazil has global consequences.


NEWTON: Taiwan is pushing back hard against any suggestion it can be taken over by Mainland China without a steep price.


NEWTON (voice-over): These are images from the Taiwanese capital a short time ago. The annual parade marking the anniversary of the Chinese revolution, celebrated in both Beijing and Taipei.

The display of sophisticated military hardware was a departure from past events. The day before, Chinese President Xi Jinping had, again, asserted that Communist control of Taiwan was, in his words, "inevitable." Taiwan immediately rejected it and Taiwan's president amplified that defiance as she addressed the crowd.


TSAI ING-WEN, TAIWANESE PRESIDENT (through translator): We hope for an easing of cross strait relations. And we will not act irrationally. But there should be absolutely no illusions that the Taiwanese people will bow to pressure.


NEWTON: Our Will Ripley is in Taiwan at the parade. He has more now.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This may not match the massive scale of military parades in Mainland China but, for Taiwan, it is an extraordinary sight, four kinds of domestically produced missiles rolling through the capital in front of Taiwan's presidential palace, an ominous sign of escalating regional tensions.

Taiwan's military has never played a more prominent role in recent history as it has this year. While the overall atmosphere is festive, the island, is increasingly, concerned about the behavior of Mainland China.

Provocative behavior, more than 100 planes entering Taiwan's self- declared Air Defense Identification Zone this month. With those aerial incursions, come new propaganda videos from the Taiwanese air force, vowing to defend their national sovereignty.

And the weapons they used to plan to defend their sovereignty on display here. Taiwan is vowing to up its national spending on defense by billions of dollars. In 2020, alone, saying that they bought $5 billion of weapons from the United States, including F-16 fighters and Patriot missiles.

They're also developing their own weapons on the island, increasingly, calling on the support of the United States and other democratic regional allies, to come to Taiwan's defense.

Taiwan's president, Tsai Ing-wen, speaking in front of the presidential palace, laying out the situation, as a fight for the future not just of Taiwan but the world.


TSAI (through translator): At this moment, free and democratic countries have been alerted to the expansion of authoritarianism. And Taiwan is on the forefront of the defense line of fellow democracies.


RIPLEY: Defending that future, coming at a cost, Taiwan, having to up its military spending, even as they struggle to get a volunteer military force, after phasing out most mandatory conscription on the island.

Wil these weapons and the help of the United States be enough to defend against the threat from an increasingly assertive Mainland China?

As President Xi Jinping vows to, in his, words reunify the mainland with Taiwan. Beijing has long claimed the self governing island as its own territory, for almost 70 years, since the end of China's civil war. Taiwan points out, they've never been ruled by the Communist Party of China and, say they plan to keep it that way, putting their military on full display here -- Will Ripley, CNN, Taiwan.



Michael Cole is the senior fellow at the Global Taiwan Institute and he joins us, from Taipei, for more on this.

Will set it up for us, the very complicated time in Taiwan-China relations. The president said so herself. Xi's speech yesterday, in which he said that Taiwan's destiny was, in fact, reunification. We saw the military parade.


"We will not back down," they say.

But you argue, with all of this, so far, so normal.

Why do you say that?

J. MICHAEL COLE, SENIOR FELLOW, GLOBAL TAIWAN INSTITUTE: Well, this is not anything new, the rhetoric coming from Beijing has been hardening, for many years. Certainly, since 2016, under the Tsai Ing-wen government, the signal has been very clear, that Taiwan's democracy is nonnegotiable.

The way of life for the Taiwanese is not negotiable. And they get to decide their own future, notwithstanding the threats from Beijing which, indeed, have been escalating in recent years but even more so in recent weeks.

NEWTON: Taiwan's president herself, saying, she called it the most complex situation facing Taiwan in 72 years. That may be good for domestic politics, certainly, a defining statement like that.

All of this isn't happening in a vacuum. At this hour, the U.S., the U.K., leading an allied show of force, complete with warships in the South China Sea.

Has anything in your estimation changed materially, in the relationship, especially when it comes to China and the United States, deal with the sphere of influence?

COLE: You're absolutely right. None of this occurs in a vacuum. It is arguably, the most complex geopolitical situation in the world in a number of decades, at least, since the end of the Cold War.

Taiwan, finding itself in the front lines of that battle of ideologies, basically U.S.-led liberal democratic order against a grouping of authoritarian regimes, are trying to build new rules and exert influence within their own spheres of influence. Materially, we see, more and more signaling, not only in the United

States but also, countries like Japan, and other significant democracies, reassessing the value of Taiwan, in their efforts to push back against authoritarian expansionism, globally.

NEWTON: That expansionism some would argue, has quite the currency in Hong Kong this year. What is happening, obviously, will affect Taiwan.

Do you see this as an inflection point between China, in the United States?

Have they come to an understanding, going forward, about how they can get along on issues like trade and, yet have this stalemate in places like the South China Sea?

COLE: I think it's quite clear, we are in for competition for quite a number of years. Still, it remains to be seen whether Beijing will agree to, at least, collaborate on issues like global warming, for example, that, truly, require every country's participation, if we're ever to prevail, against those mounting challenges.

The problem right now is Beijing holds international community hostage by setting preconditions for its participation in efforts to combat things like global warming. So we're not there yet, we'll see when President Biden and President Xi, if indeed, they do have some dialogue later this year, if they can find some sort of agreement to move forward.

But given the highly ideological regime that exists in Beijing, I think it will be very difficult.

NEWTON: We should say, these will be video conferences. Xi Jinping has not committed to being in Rome for the G20 or at COP26 in Scotland. J. Michael Cole with the Global Taiwan Institute in Taipei, thanks so much, appreciate it.

COLE: Thank you.

NEWTON: To Iraq now, where polls have been open for more than 2 hours, in the country's general election. The vote is set to decide the next parliament and prime minister.

Now there have been calls boycotts and overall turnout is, in fact, expected to be low. Ethnic and religious fault lines, continuing to divide Iraqi politics. Security has improved after the ISIS war but corruption, unemployment and Iran's influence, remain major issues.

Going out to the region right now, Sam Kiley, in Abu Dhabi, and "The Washington Post" Baghdad bureau chief, Louisa Loveluck joining us now, from the Iraqi capital.

Sam, to you first. The Iraqis have been demanding change and accountability for years. Yet, the selection has been met with some skepticism and if you listen to Iraqis even contempt, why?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a weird catch- 22. On one level, there were earlier elections that had been called during demonstrations that reached their peak two years ago.

These were demonstrations, predominantly, Shiite demonstrations, against the presence of Iraq -- sorry, Iran, inside Iraqis' body politic.


KILEY: And demanding reforms, jobs and an end to corruption. They bring the elections forward and, now, we see widespread boycott and voter apathy.

Very much, among large numbers of people, who participated in those demonstrations. So the analysis, at the moment, coming from the ground and all of the indications are in pre polling and so on, have been that very little is likely to change, except for, perhaps, Muqtada al- Sadr, the leader of one of the major Shiite blocs, opposed to Iran's presence in Iraq and the very strong presence he has among political parties and militia groups, he may do the best out of the bunch.

But then will be possibly weeks of horse trading, while they try to put together a coalition of parties, which will, include, other Shiite blocs, which, also, have militias that are very close indeed to Iran.

Of course, you have the Sunnis and the Kurds as well. But predictions are the whole sectarian structure of Iraqi politics, likely, are to be repeated again in the new political dispensation, which, many Iraqis, fear will look like the last one.

NEWTON: It will take a while to figure out any outcome.

Lisa, where you are in Iraq, the religious and political divisions that Sam illuminated there, unfortunately, nurtured from anybody, who tried to lead or legislate, in Iraq.

What has changed on the ground in recent months?

Especially when you look at what Muqtada al-Sadr is trying to accomplish right now, through these elections, that he would've, in a past, life boycotted?

LOUISA LOVELUCK, BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I think you are right to say politics has been dominated for years by the politics of identity.

When America invaded in 2003, it was still the political system that divided government posts and ultimately helped create these fault lines. But as you say, Iraq today, it is changing. The elections coming on the backs of mass protests and more than 600 young protesters, killed on the streets.

These protesters born after 2003, they're born after the invasion. All they've ever known, really, is the rallying of sectarianism, for ill. So they don't want to be identified by that sector anymore and they want to be seen as Iraqis.

And, of course, as you say, Muqtada al-Sadr's bloc may be the biggest victor here but even his bloc, his support base, is fracturing. More and more people, some, say are disillusioned or have little faith in elections as a vehicle for change. And I think we will see that in the turnout.

NEWTON: I think we are all thankful that violence seems to have been kept to a minimum here so far and we all pray that it will continue to do so in the coming hours, as we await, what may be, a messy outcome. To both of you, thank you. Appreciate it.

Now Austria's conservative chancellor, resigning on Saturday, under the cloud of a corruption scandal. Sebastian Kurz stepped down just a few days after his office was raided by prosecutors, investigating allegations of bribery and breach of trust.

Opposition parties had threatened to bring a vote of no confidence against him next week. The former chancellor, denying using government money for political purposes and he wants Austria's foreign minister to step into the chancellor role.


SEBASTIAN KURZ, AUSTRIAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): I would therefore like to make room to resolve the stalemate to prevent chaos and ensure stability. I have asked the government team of the people's party to definitively continue the work and as the chairman of the people's party, we are the people with the most votes.

I have proposed Alexander Schellenberg as the new head of government to the president.


NEWTON: Now to the Czech Republic, where opposition groups, appear to have eked out a razor thin victory in parliamentary elections.


NEWTON (voice-over): You can hear the cheers there, in Prague, as the center right coalition, narrowly, won the majority in Saturday's vote. Leaders of the opposition groups are pledging to work together to form a new government.

PETR FIALA, SPCLU COALITION LEADER (through translator): Ladies and gentlemen, friends, the democratic coalitions have a majority in the lower house. Now we have a chance to create a majority government. That is the change. We are the change. You are the change.



NEWTON: What's key, is that if they will succeed, it will end the prime minister's grip on power, even though his populist party won the most votes of any single party.

Protests against a COVID health pass system in Italy, turning violent on Saturday, police used tear gas and water cannon to push back hundreds of demonstrators in Rome. The protests, come days before Italy is set to expand the green pass system to all workplaces.

The pass is a certificate, showing whether someone has been vaccinated, tested negative or recently recovered from the virus.


NEWTON (voice-over): Thousands of people took to the streets of Switzerland on Saturday to protest pandemic rules there. In Geneva, some demonstrators held signs, denouncing the Swiss COVID health pass.

As of last month, the passes are required to enter bars, restaurants and fitness centers.


NEWTON: Brazil, meantime, passes a grim milestone, with more than 600,000 people now dead, from COVID-19. And, it is only the second country that passed that threshold after the United States.

Brazil's president has been, heavily, criticized for his handling the pandemic, repeatedly, he has downplayed the dangers. Only about 70 percent of Brazilians have been vaccinated so far.

Then Russia is reporting its highest daily COVID death toll so far, with nearly 970 deaths on Saturday. It is the fourth day in a row the country has reported more than 900 deaths.

Authorities are blaming the steep rise on the country's low vaccination rate as well as the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. Just over 30 percent of Russians have been fully vaccinated.

To the opposite end of the spectrum, Portugal reached a major milestone in its COVID vaccination campaign. It is the first country to vaccinate 85 percent of its population. One key factor, high vaccination rates among young adults and teenagers.

Portugal's officials say, nearly 90 percent of people, ages 12, to 17, have received at least one dose.

Now Brazil is also experiencing extreme weather, high temperatures, a major drought, deadly sandstorms are what officials think the cause is of all of this?

That is next.

Plus, of course, Brazil's Amazon rain forest. We told you it has been in major trouble and an exclusive look at the extensive damage, done, just this year and the people trying to save it. That's ahead.



(MUSIC PLAYING) NEWTON: The man known as the father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program has died. State news reports that Abdul Qadeer Khan, known as AQ Khan, passed away after being taken to hospital.


NEWTON: The atomic scientist was hailed as a hero in his native Pakistan. But of course, he was seen as a dangerous threat by the West, for providing material to nations wanting to make their own nuclear weapons. Khan was 85 years old.

And for more on this, we want to bring in Sophia Saifi, she is live for us in Islamabad.

Sophia, I think it is difficult to overstate what this man meant to many Pakistanis. Of course, his role has been highly controversial.

But how do you think people in Pakistan will be taking this news?

SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN PRODUCER: Tributes for him have already started pouring in. There are many ministers in power at the moment, the minister of information, stating, it cannot be overstated how much Dr. Khan was important to strengthening Pakistan's defenses.

You have members of the opposition praising him. He was a controversial figure, like you said. Many critics, within Pakistan, Pakistani critics said, because of his involvement in that extensive nuclear proliferation network, he had damaged Pakistan's reputation, as a nuclear armed country.

However, he had been a mysterious figure over the past few years, living home in his farmhouse, out in the suburbs of Islamabad, under the shadow of intelligence agencies, kind of monitoring who he could or couldn't speak to, where he could or couldn't go.

He had filed a petition, in 2019, requesting for easier access to places in Pakistan and he wasn't allowed to give interviews. He was, of course, the father of Pakistan's nuclear program. He is still hailed as someone who empowered Pakistan, especially, with the relationship between neighboring India, which is also a nuclear arms. They had been in a race in the mid-'90s.

He was a celebrated figure, here in the country. He is going to have his funeral at the largest and most important mosque in the capital. There had been reports, in late August, that he had contracted COVID. We have not confirmed what his cause of death was yet.

But we do know that they've been in the hospital in a while because of contracting COVID-19. He had complained, only a few weeks ago, that he had not been given the right medical assistance or, any kind of assistance, from the current government.

This is the way that he had, always, been a controversial figure but again, a loss for Pakistanis, leaving behind a very complicated legacy -- Paula. NEWTON: Complicated and still many mysteries surrounding how he was able to do what he did for Pakistan's nuclear program. I know you'll be covering it all for us there in Pakistan and we will continue to bring you up to date on the story. Appreciate it.

In Brazil, unusually powerful sandstorms lead to the deaths of at least 6 people, in recent days. Since the end of September, there is at least 3 scenes with this one. Take that in. Terrifying orange dust clouds, rumbling across the rural and urban areas, packing extremely high winds.

Officials say, hot, dry weather, is making storms worse but add, they cannot be separated from climate change. Activists are speaking out, as Brazil sees its worst drought in nearly a century.


PAMELA GOPI, GREENPEACE CLIMATE AND JUSTICE SPOKESPERSON (through translator): Today, the water crisis in Brazil is giving us a sign, a warning sign, that is important for us to be able to act and demand concrete actions from government, to regulate our country's climate issue.

Today, to speak of a water crisis is to speak of the largest tropical forest in the world, the Amazon forest, which is, mostly and Brazilian territory and which, today, has alarming levels of deforestation, fire seasons and fires caused by human actions.


NEWTON: Now as Pamela Gopi would tell you there, the Amazon is suffering another season of devastating fires and deforestation.

CNN flew over some of the worst affected areas to see the charred destruction and spoke to some of the people trying to save the rain forest, despite threats of violence. Our Isa Soares, has our report.


ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Smoke billows above the Amazon state of Rondonia, a haze, so thick, it blankets this lush forest. Fire so intense that the Earth's left charred. Only dust remains.

It is a sight that troubles Romulo Batista, the spokesman for Greenpeace Brazil tells us, 60 hectares of the Amazon have gone up in flames in four days. And the blame, falling squarely, he says, on the president, Jair Bolsonaro.


ROMULO BATISTA, GREENPEACE: (Speaking foreign language).

SOARES (voice-over): CNN flew over some of this year's hardest hit areas, to see the devastation for ourselves. From above, we captured the damage of these increasing fires, the demarcated lines, a sign of human destruction at work. As the forest is cleared for agriculture or mining there have nearly

been 13,000 fires in the same area, roughly, a 50 percent increase from 2020, to 2021. Now compare these images with these, over a 5 year period.

BATISTA: (Speaking foreign language).

SOARES (voice-over): Further south, in the same state, Milton da Costa, a former cattle rancher, is fighting to protect what is left of the rain forest. This month, he begins the task of helping restore and reforest 2,600 hectares of land, having been burned and used for cattle production.


SOARES (voice-over): He has made it his mission to reforest the burned land but in doing so, he is facing attacks on his life.

DA COSTA: (Speaking foreign language).

SOARES (voice-over): Recounting, vividly, when he was ambushed in early September.

DA COSTA: (Speaking foreign language).

SOARES (voice-over): With the fight for land and resources comes increasing intimidation for those who work here. According to Brazil's land pastoral commission, 97 people have faced death threats, this year, alone. As association leader of a restoration reserve in the Amazon, Giuseppi Eduardi (ph) has seen this often.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

SOARES (voice-over): His love for the Amazon keeping him going.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

SOARES (voice-over): He, along with the other Amazon defenders could be face a losing battle. Carbon samples from the Amazon collected over 9 years by scientific researcher Luciana Gatti have showed that 20 percent of the Amazon is releasing more carbon than it absorbs.

LUCIANA GATTI, SCIENCE RESEARCHER: Amazon, now, the forest itself has become a source. This can means, the trees are dying more than growing.

SOARES (voice-over): Behind this, an increase in forest fires, leaving the Amazon unable to renew itself.

GATTI: We have records in deforestation, fire in the Amazon and, also, records in the reduction and precipitation in the whole Brazil.

SOARES (voice-over): The devastating impact of human behavior that, experts say, sipping the climate sales in the Amazon, leaving us, all potentially, gasping for air. SOARES: In a statement, the environment ministry says, it has

suspended agricultural fires from July until October. Our footage, you saw, that's mid September. As you saw, those fires keep on raging.

The environment ministry, claiming in that statement, it is allocating more money and hiring more firefighters to combat and prevent fires. However, these comments don't give the full picture.

The Bolsonaro government has taken multiple steps to reduce the overall budgets for the environment ministry. So these recent investments only bring spending, back, to roughly what it was before Jair Bolsonaro took office. So context matters -- Back to you.


NEWTON: Isa Soares there. Ahead, the terror of being gay in Ghana as the government considers passing a law, many, call homophobic. Violent anti gay vigilantes are forcing some to live in hiding. They speak to CNN. That is next.





NEWTON: In Ghana, some gay people and activists are in hiding after they were targeted for attacks. They also feel there is a new proposed law which would make being gay illegal.

Let's underscore that, make being gay illegal. It would be a green light for people who, in fact, admit to this. CNN's David McKenzie has an exclusive report. And we warn you, some of the video is disturbing.





How are you doing?

MCKENZIE (voice-over): We're heading to a safe house in Accra --

MCKENZIE: We're probably about 15 minutes from your live location now.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): -- run by gay activists.


MCKENZIE: Can we carry in the cameras or do we need to keep the cameras in boxes? "JOE": I think let's go into the boxes.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): We're meeting "Joe." We agreed to hide his identity, because he's afraid of being attacked again.

MCKENZIE: Take me back to that moment when those men came and started harassing you.

"JOE": I was shaken when they took me to that room and they said they had cameras. And I was crying.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): His crime, the Ghana man said, approaching another man.

"Is it true that you told him that you like him?" they asked.

"Yes," he whispers.

"JOE": Like, how can this happen to me?

They beat me.

How am I to living, all these times they beat me?

I wanted to kill myself. For me, when I saw this video, I was like, it would be better I kill myself, because I have nowhere to go.

MCKENZIE: And your dad threw you out.

"JOE": Yes.

MCKENZIE: And what was that moment like?

"JOE": I cried like never before.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Captured in videos too graphic to show and shared on social media, part of a pattern of brutal verbal and physical attacks by vigilantes to humiliate LGBTQ Ghanaians. Soon, the community fears, they could be targeted by the state.

MCKENZIE: What is your message to someone who is LGBT in Ghana right now?

EMMANUEL BEDZRAH, GHANAIAN MP: Well, we love them. We always say we love them.

MCKENZIE: But you want to send them to prison.

BEDZRAH: No, we are asking them not to do it.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): A draft law to be debated in weeks coerces LGBTQ Ghanaians to choose between jail time and so-called conversion therapy, seen by U.N. experts as torture.

It prosecutes same-sex displays of affection, even punishes activists supporting the community. Activists call it a homophobe's dream. MCKENZIE: Today in 2021, you believe that someone who supports or openly the LGBT community should potentially go to prison for 10 years?

BEDZRAH: Of course.


BEDZRAH: Because it's against our culture. It's against our norms. It's against our tradition. And we don't want things that are against our sensibility to be, you know, given priority in our society.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Tragically, THE LGBTQ community here says that tolerance was slowly improving in Ghana.

GREGORY ANDREWS, AUSTRALIAN HIGH COMMISSIONER: And I know that African cultures are cultures of tolerance, diversity, acceptance and participation.

MCKENZIE: When they opened a support center in January, it rallied conservative lawmakers, who said that being gay is un-African, a western import.


MCKENZIE (voice-over): Backed by powerful religious groups, the leadership of the million strong Pentecostal church, say LGBTQ organizations are a national security threat. We

MCKENZIE: Are you struggling a little bit to get hold of someone?

MCKENZIE (voice-over): But they refused to speak to us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We talk to our leadership.

MCKENZIE: To the leadership?

MCKENZIE (voice-over): And the security stopped us from filming.

MCKENZIE: We're just trying to speak to some people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not allowed.

MCKENZIE: It's not allowed.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): The religious support for the bill here is absolute.

MCKENZIE: It's one thing promoting the values of the church. It's another thing to prosecute those who are identifying like this.

So why take that extra step?

ARCHBISHOP PHILIP NAAMEH, PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC BISHOPS COUNCIL, GHANA: It is not the values of the church. It is the values of the human species. The human being is created to be in a family and to propagate itself. It's not just the church.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the same Bible told people to love their neighbor as ourself (sic), why would you want to torture your own neighbor? Why would you want to torture your child?

MCKENZIE (voice-over): This prominent gay activist has already gone underground. The draft bill calls on all Ghanaians to hand in their LGBTQ neighbors for prosecution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are waiting for the bill to pass so that they can actually beat you up, they can do whatever they want with you.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): The limited space Ghanaians like "Joe" had just to be themselves could soon vanish. And they'll need to move further into the shadows.

MCKENZIE: What is your message to those politicians?

"JOE": We are all human beings. They are sons and they're daughters, can be like you and me. My answer to them is, they should put a stop to it.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): David McKenzie, CNN, Accra, Ghana.


NEWTON: A disturbing report, we will stay on top of the proposed law.

Still to come, Afghan women, dealing with harsh conditions, imposed by the Taliban, since U.S. troops left the country. But some, remaining defiant. We look at the challenges and the courage, these women now face.

Plus, we talk to an evacuated Afghan activists who dreams of returning home, to a more stable country one day, in the future. Stay with us.




NEWTON: Senior Taliban representatives are meeting with the U.S. delegation in Doha, for the first time, since the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan, at the end of August. The Taliban, wanting the international community to unlock funds, belonging to Afghanistan.

They say that would stabilize the country which is in the global community's best interests, they argue. The U.S. State Department says the Doha meetings are a continuation of pragmatic talks on, vital, national interests.

Those issues, they say, include women's rights and safe passage out of the country for Americans and other foreign nationals.


NEWTON: Now women in Kabul, as you've heard here, are taking a stand, as the Taliban attempt to roll back their rights. CNN's Clarissa Ward, reporting on the courage these women are showing.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A handful of women stand quietly but defiantly. They're here to protest the Taliban's de facto ban on girls going to school after fifth grade, a small act of great courage.

Taliban fighters start to pour in, their heavily-armed presence a menacing question mark. A new arrival appears unsure of whether to get out of the car. For a moment, it seems the Taliban may have come to protect the women but the illusion is quickly shattered.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

WARD (voice-over): Someone from the Taliban has just come in telling everyone to put away their cameras, it's getting a little tense over there. A senior Talib rips a phone out of one woman's hands, these men shove journalists back. We try to keep filming but the Taliban don't want the world to see.

WARD: They're ripping the women's posters.

"No, put it away. Put it away."

WARD (voice-over): A machine gun burst sends a clear message, the protest is over. Maunadin Nasser Talal (ph) tells us, he is the head of the Taliban's intelligence services in Kabul and that the women did not have permission to protest.

(on camera): Why does a small group of women asking for their right to be educated threaten you so much?

WARD (voice-over): "I respect women's rights, I respect human rights," he says. "If I didn't respect women you wouldn't be standing here."

Would you have given them permission if they had asked for one?

"Yes, of course," he says, "we would have."

But permissions are illusive and previous protests have met a similar fate. On the streets of Herhana (ph) neighborhood, the consequences of one recent demonstration can still be seen. At almost every beauty salon, images of women's faces have been defaced as if to erase them from public life completely. The women inside this salon are too scared to appear on camera.


(Speaking foreign language).

How are you? WARD (voice-over): I asked them about the posters outside.

(on camera): Who did it?


WARD: The Taliban did it?


WARD (voice-over): "The Taliban came and drove away the protesters. Then they cursed us and said to remove the posters," they tell me.

"They told us to put on a burqa and sit in our homes."

But this city is full of brave women, like Arzo Khaliqyar, who refuse to do that. The activist and mother of five says she was forced to become a taxi driver when her husband was murdered one year ago, leaving behind his car but little else.

(on camera): Tell me a little bit about how life has changed for you since the Taliban took power?

ARZO KHALIGYAR, TAXI DRIVER (through translator): A lot of changes, too many. I'm sorry -- I'm sorry.

WARD: It's OK. Take your time. It's OK.

KHALIGYAR: Since the Taliban regime has come to power, it has become very difficult.

WARD (voice-over): She offers to take us for a ride. It's another small act of courageous resistance. While the Taliban have not officially banned women from driving, she says she has received threats and that the militants hit her car two weeks ago as a warning.

(on camera): I see the men. They stare at you.


WARD: They look at you --


WARD (voice-over): It's not long before she picks up a fare. Usually she prefers to take women and stay in areas she's familiar with.

(on camera): Are you aware of the risks that you're taking when you go out every day and do your work?

KHALIGYAR: Yes, and some places where I see Taliban checkpoints, I'm forced to go through a street or change my route. But I accepted this risk for the sake of my children.

WARD (voice-over): On the other side of town, English teacher Atifa Watanyar is also working hard to give her students a better future. ATIFA WATANYAR, TEACHER: Please open your books --

WARD (voice-over): The past year has not been easy. In May, a horrific bombing targeted the Syed Al-Shahada school where she teaches, taking more than 80 innocent lives.

(on camera): So you were here when the explosions happened?

WATANYAR: Yes, I was in front of the door.

WARD: You were in front of the door, did you see it with your own eyes?


WATANYAR: Yes, I saw a very huge explosion in front of the other door.

WARD (voice-over): Incredibly, the school reopened. But weeks later, the Taliban swept to power and announced that, for the time being, from 6th through 12th grade, only boys should come to school.

WARD: It's just very striking that a bomb was not able to stop these girls coming to school --


WARD: But now, the Taliban has been able to stop them from coming to school.

WATANYAR: Yes, it's true. Every day I see Taliban in the streets I become -- I'd be afraid.

WARD: But you're still coming here every day, you're still teaching?

WATANYAR: Yes, what should we do?

What should we do?

It's just the thing that we can do for our children, for our daughters, for our girls.

WARD (voice-over): In the 5th grade classroom, the girls are excited to test their English skills.



WARD (on camera): I want you to raise your hand if you love school.


Everybody loves school.

WARD (voice-over): This may well be the last year they get to come and study, yet they are still full of hope for the future. WARD: Raise your hand to tell me what you want to be when you grow up.

What do you want to be?


WARD: Doctor, OK.

Who else wants to be a doctor?

Oh, wow. There are a lot of doctors.

WARD (voice-over): Sixteen-year-old Sanam (ph) used to have dreams, too. She wanted to be a dentist. The explosion at her school left her with serious injuries but she was brave enough to go back for the sake, she says, of her close friend who could not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I felt that I must go back and study for the peace of her soul. I must study and build my country so that I can make her wishes and dreams come true.

WARD (on camera): So right now you cannot go to school. How does that make you feel?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I feel all of my dreams are crushed and buried, for I won't be allowed to go to school and study. All my motivation is completely gone.

WARD: It's OK, take a minute. It's OK. If you want to stop, we can stop. It's OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): No, Taliban -- the Taliban are the people who -- they are the cause of the situation I am in right now. My spirit is gone. My dreams are buried.

WARD (voice-over): And yet recently, she has started to read her books again and study a little bit every day, just one more small act of great courage -- Clarissa Ward, CNN, Kabul.


NEWTON: We want to bring in Afghan activist Ghazaal Habibya, forced to flee Afghanistan, following the Taliban's recent takeover there.

Thank you for being with us. I can imagine how difficult it is for you to hear Clarissa Ward's story, especially when you see young women and what they have to accomplish, to just set foot in school at their tender ages.

You and your family, took off from Kabul an hour after that suicide attack that killed so many Afghans at the airport, nearly 200 people. You had to try to calm down your own family, as this was going down. Share with us what you said to your children, specifically, to your son, when you had to leave your beloved home. GHAZAAL HABIBYA, AFGHAN ACTIVIST: Leaving Afghanistan was the most

difficult thing I had ever done. And, as we were taking off and I was crying and I went to take one last look at Kabul, I heard my son, crying, in the back.

So I asked, him why is he crying?

He told me, he didn't want to leave Afghan as a mother, to calm him down, it hit me so badly what he told me. Then I had to do what I had to do. So I held his hand and told him, we have to leave right now.


HABIBYA: But he will promise me, that he will study and become someone very good, and come back and build our country. That is the future plan for, him for my, daughters and for myself.

NEWTON: In so doing, they will follow in your footsteps. You were educated in Australia and returned to what do, you really, hoped would be a transformed Afghanistan.

What do you think, now, when you see how quickly the Taliban seems to be dismantling the important gains, made, for women and young girls?

HABIBYA: Like other Afghans, I'm still trying to come to peace with what happened. Basically, get over the shock that we went through. Everything that I had and my generation for years, it's going to be gone.

The values we worked for and the dream that we had for Afghanistan is gone. And we were hearing the stories of these girls, from Afghanistan, it is still personal for me because, let me remind everyone.

It's been 22 days since those Afghan girls are banned from schools. When we want something like that for our girls, for our sisters and for the other girls within the family, I don't think, anyone, would want that for their daughters.

I want everyone to try to imagine what it means for a teenager, to basically, lose all of their hopes and dreams they had for their future. I can tell of you of that situation, because I was a teenager when the Taliban took over Kabul in '96 (ph).

And in one sense, I was deprived of all my future plans. I was lucky I could study, because of my parents' support. I was lucky I could study because I had aunts and uncles who could financially support me to study.

But my classmates, my friends, they could not continue their education. It is exactly where we left off. So it's still painful to even think and talk about those experiences. To think that for 20 years we worked for all of the changes that we wanted to see and after 20 years, I'm exactly in the same place where I was.

This time, it's unfortunately my daughters and my nieces and so many other girls in Afghanistan.

NEWTON: Unfortunately, the word we've heard for weeks out of Afghanistan is despair. The Taliban, certainly, made it seem as if things would be different. But clearly, for the moment, they are not.

We wish you a lot of courage going forward and we know you will continue to hope and pray and that you and your family can, one day, return to Afghanistan in different circumstances. Ghazaal, thank you for sharing your story. Appreciate it.

HABIBYA: Thank you so much.

NEWTON: Now Afghan evacuees are, once again, leaving the Ramstein Air Base in Germany, bound for the United States. This flight, carrying a few hundred evacuees to Philadelphia. The flights paused for weeks, due to confirmed to measles cases among evacuees, who had already reached the United States.

Officials say, approximately 1,000 evacuees, will be flying out on a daily basis, until all 9,000 remaining at the airbase arrive at the United States. And it's important to note, the story you just heard there, so many of the families are starting a new life. But they wanted to continue their lives in Afghanistan.

Coming up right here for us on the NEWSROOM, the volcano on the Canary Islands keeps erupting and destroying even more homes. We speak to residents who say their livelihoods are gone.





NEWTON: Look at these scenes from the Canary Islands, as lava spews from the volcano on La Palma. Its eruptions have destroyed more homes and buildings. Lava has been flowing for more than 3 weeks now. Kim Brunhuber, with the details.


KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A view no property owner ever wants to see: a tree, catching fire, engulfed by a river of lava, steps away from a building. More than 1,000 structures, destroyed, since the volcano on La Palma began erupting, three weeks ago, according to E.U. Commission authorities.

It is incinerating the land, sparking fires and forcing families to leave their homes, abandoned neighborhoods have been turned into infernos and the lava just keeps coming.

This man says he felt powerless to stop it as it burned through the land passed down to him from his parents. JOSE ROBERTO SANCHEZ, LA PALMA RESIDENT (through translator): Here, we

are suffering many things. This is the inheritance you get and lose. This is what it is, noise, dust and a volcano that does not stop.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Another woman, saying her family winery and home, built over the past 50 years, is also at risk.

CLARA MARIA, LA PALMA RESIDENT (through translator): The lava is, really close. I have hope and faith that it will be saved.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Spain's military, saying it's closely monitoring the lava flow as it encroaches on residential areas. About 6,000 people have been evacuated. Authorities in La Palma are urging residents to stay calm.

Lightning flashes as the volcano continues to flare, a spectacle and a warning of how powerful and unpredictable nature can be -- Kim Brunhuber, CNN.


NEWTON: Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Paula Newton and I will be back for another hour of news, from around the world, after the short break. Stay with us.