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First-hand Look At Migrant Camp At Belarusian Border; Some Of World's Biggest Polluters Resist Cutting Emissions; Europe The Epicenter Of COVID-19 Again; Afghans Desperate To Leave Turn To Private Operators; U.S. Journalist Sentenced To 11 Years In Myanmar Prison; The Artist Going Up Against China. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired November 12, 2021 - 10:00   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN INTENATIONAL ANCHOR: Freezing on the E.U.'s eastern front. An exclusive look at the treacherous conditions facing some 2,000 migrants

stuck in Belarus. 1.5 is alive in Glasgow, we're told, but can countries deliver on their climate commitments? And paintbrushes versus politics.

We'll tell you why Beijing is trying to shut down an art exhibition in Italy.

We're at 3:00 p.m. here in London. I'm Max Foster in for Becky Anderson. Hello, and welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD.

The war of words over the border standoff between Poland and Belarus is getting hotter even as the temperature plummets for some 2,000 stranded

migrants freezing in makeshift tents. Warsaw is accusing the Belarusian regime of using migrants as propaganda, but Poland is under fire by aid

groups who say Warsaw is breaching international law by pushing asylum seekers back into Belarus.

Right now you're looking at images from the Polish Defense Ministry from earlier today. Polish authorities say this video shows migrants crossing

the border in Kuznica on the Belarusian side. The border crisis has been bad for weeks, but the U.N. now says is catastrophic.

Men, women and children are trapped in a strip of land that's become a center of geopolitical dispute. The E.U. says it's working to stop people

smuggling and got confirmation that Turkey's flights to the Belarusian capital will be reduced to zero to stop the flow of Middle Eastern


Meanwhile, Moscow and Minsk are taking some action. They are holding military drills near the Polish border. Belarus' ally Russian President

Vladimir Putin has been talking with the German chancellor about settling the crisis, quote, "as soon as possible." Moscow goes on to say it'll

guarantee gas supplies to Europe regardless of threats to turn off the taps from Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

So lots of statements rolling out here. CNN's Matthew Chance is exclusively reporting for us from a camp on the Belarusian side of the border and

earlier showed my colleague, John Berman, what he was seeing on the ground.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, look, I mean, first of all, John, it's a feat in itself getting to Belarus. I

mean, you know, there's only a handful of television crews that have been permitted access at this extraordinary moment to come (INAUDIBLE). And as

far as I'm aware -- I would have been assured by Belarusian officials -- we're the only international crew that have been allowed to come to this

migrant camp on the border of Belarus and Poland.

Anyway, I'm shooting on my cell phone, so you can get a sense of the sort of depth of the camp. There are 2,000 people that have come here from

various parts of the world, maybe the Middle East, Iraq, Kurdistan and Iraq, you know, other places in the Arab world as well, a lot of people

from Kurdistan. At least 200 of them, I'm told, are children, some of them just babes in arms.

I've seen a lot of people here, I can spin around here, look, chopping wood, getting ready to make fires to get them through the very cold nights

here on the border. About 600 of them are women. The other 1200 are said to be young men.

I'm going to flip the camera around so I can show you some interesting scenes there, a better look there at the sort of scenes that are playing

out, unfolding here on the border between Belarus and Poland. And if you just allow me to sort of walk you down here, we can actually see the razor

fence -- you don't want me to show your face.

I won't do that. The razor fence that's been erected by the Polish side to try and prevent the migrants that have flooded into Belarus from moving

across into Poland, which is of course a member of the European Union.

There you can see, I think, the actual Polish police and border forces who are standing there on guard all the way down this razor wire barrier to

prevent migrants from breaking through to get a sense of how long this camp is, as it stretches down into the distance, into the forest out of sight.


Here's an interesting scene for you, something I came across earlier. They say a lot of the migrants are from Iraq, from Kurdistan. They're building

these makeshift shelters because the temperatures, as you can imagine, this part of the world in the winter are dropping down. Let me drop inside. And

they built a polythene shelter.

Hi. Hi. How are you? How are you? Where are you from?


CHANCE: From Iraq. From Kurdistan.


CHANCE: Excellent. All right. Thank you. Good luck. All right. So, just a little sense of the scenes we're visiting here. I should tell you that, you

know, both sides blame each other for this crisis. The Western countries, including the United States, the European Union, of course Poland, say that

Belarus is using these refugees as propaganda.

It's actually encouraging them to come in and then essentially directing them, forcing them towards this border to put pressure on the European

Union and to punish it, perhaps, for some of the support that the E.U. has given to Belarusian dissidents and to the sanctions that it's put on

Belarus for its various crackdowns on its own opposition figures here in the country.

What the Belarusians say, though, as well as some international aid agencies, I have so say, is that the polls are not doing everything they

can either to protect the rights of migrants. And in some ways they're not living up to their obligations under international law. But clearly it is a

very difficult situation. I've got some news for you from the migrant services. There's 2,000 people in this camp at the moment.

By the end of the week, there could be as many as 5,000, and there are thousands more according to Belarusian officials, who are on their way.


FOSTER: Well, we are live on the ground at the center of this dispute, as you can see, with Matthew there amongst the refugees. Fred Pleitgen is on

the Polish side of the border.

Fred, you know, what are the polls saying about the accusation from the other side of the border that they're not protecting human rights, they

should be supporting people gathering at their border?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, essentially what the Poles are saying, Max, is they're saying that they

believe this is not a migration crisis but this is a political crisis. And what the Poles are further saying is that they are not going to be put

under pressure by Alexander Lukashenko. They say that this was all manufactured by him, and therefore they are going to protect their border.

It was quite interesting because of course there are those accusations out there of, for instance, people getting pushed back into Belarus after being

apprehended here on the Polish side of the border. It's actually not many people who are getting through anymore because of course the Poles have

essentially shut the border down.

They put up that barbed wire fence at the border. They deployed some 15,000 not just soldiers but also border officials and officers as well to patrol

the area but also of course to stand in the way of people who try to get across.

But apparently some people have been pushed back up into Belarusian territory, and that of course has led to some criticism, for instance, from

Human Rights Watch and other organizations as well. The Poles, quite frankly, are saying that they say they have a right to defend their border.

They say they're not just defending their border but defending the borders of the European Union as well, and that they will decide who enters their

country and who does not.

So the Poles certainly standing quite firm on this. But all of that really has to do with the fact that both Poland and the European Union, of course

the United States as well, place the blame firmly on the shoulders of Alexander Lukashenko and said that he has been luring people into Belarus,

that there have been these flights that have been going from the Middle East especially into Minsk and that then people have actually been bussed

to or taken to the border by Belarusian security services. And so therefore the European Union says they are going to remain firm on this.

And of course they've also been trying to put pressure, Max, on some of the countries of origin as well, and some of the transit countries to make sure

that people are not able to fly into Minsk anymore. It seems as though the European Union is making some headway on that front.

Again, Belavia, the flagship carrier of Belarus, now saying it will not let people board who come from Iraq, from Syria and I think from Yemen as well

if they are flying to Minsk or trying to fly to Minsk.

There was directive by the Turkish Civil Aviation authorities. So clearly the European Union putting on the full-court press. But Poland definitely

very unapologetic about the way that it is handling this crisis at this point -- Max.

FOSTER: We're seeing military vehicles there. Obviously there is concerns this could escalate and could pit Russia against the European Union. We're

not going to point to any sort of military tension yet from what we can see, and there is at least diplomacy going on between the two sides.

PLEITGEN: Yes. There certainly is diplomacy going on between two sides. But I do think that there is a degree of military tension actually in all of

this. That's one of the things that really makes this conflict so dangerous and this crisis so dangerous.

Obviously, you have those migrants who are stuck at -- on the Belarusian side of the border, huge humanitarian catastrophe that's going on there.

But at the same time, you also have rhetoric coming out of Belarus and coming out of Russia as well that's voicing concern about the fact that

there are of course a lot of Polish soldiers who are now amassing at this border.


And at the same time, you also have the Belarusians and the Russians who today conducted paratrooper exercises. And we could actually hear planes

flying here in the vicinity of the border area. And of course, you've had Russian strategic bombers flying in the vicinity here as well. So,

certainly it is a very, very volatile situation here in the eastern part of Europe -- Max.

FOSTER: OK. Fred, thank you. We're watching of course.

We're also keeping an eye on Glasgow, Scotland today on the final day of the COP26 climate summit. World leaders under immense pressure there to

make real commitments to fight global warming while also protecting their economies. After 12 days of wrangling, they've come up with a new version

of their draft agreement. It includes an unprecedented acknowledgment that fossil fuels are contributing to climate change.

But the language is watered down from previous drafts and could be left out to the final agreement altogether. Protesters gathered earlier to say they

won't forget the promises leaders made at the conference. Today's draft keeps language saying the world should be trying to limit global warming to

1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. That's more specific than the well below two degrees goal agreed upon in Paris.

For much more on all of this, we're joined by Phil Black who's live in Glasgow for us -- Phil.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Max, the final day of negotiations, this is the real crunch point. 200 countries, as you say, trying to have

their say on language and largely at this point significantly being guided what they perceive to be in their national interest. It is a difficult

grinding, painful process. And the text that is starting to take form is in some ways positive. There is progression, incremental but also


To talk about all of this, I want to talk to a climate scientist, Mark Maslin, from University College London.

Mark, I'd like to begin by talking about the science specifically. There's still a lot of that in there, specifically what the goal must be, 1.5

degrees Celsius, and why there is real urgency in the work that needs to be done to achieve that goal.

MARK MASLIN, PROFESSOR OF EARTH SYSTEM SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON: Well, I think that was really important about the declaration. We're seeing

draft after draft coming out, and it's starting to get stronger, which is great. Yes, 1.5 is still in there, and there's three points that says one,

1.5 must be the global aim. Two, the science says if we don't, there will be massive effects after that. And so it's great that the science is in

there, right at the heart of these negotiations.

BLACK: And crucially it points out that this is a critical decade because if we don't cut emissions by 45 percent, 1.5 slips away. And with that in

mind, I've been banging on about this all week, but it's a very important point, it has instructions for countries to come back very soon with more

ambitious cuts because we are nowhere near cutting deeply enough in the short term.

MASLIN: Well, this is the interesting language of the U.N. because it isn't really a legally binding declaration. But what they are doing is they have

the word request. They require and request that countries come back with a new NDC next year in Egypt for the next COP. So what they're saying is

great, so you've made such NDCs now, but they don't quite get to where we want.

If you put them all together, 2.4 to 2.8 degrees Celsius, which is much better than, say, 10 years ago but we want to go further. We want to get

down to 1.5. To do that, we need new NDCs, we need new ambition. And actually for me the most exciting thing is the 20s. The actual

collaboration between China and the U.S. is going to start driving that decarbonation.

BLACK: You're talking about the recently announced deal for them to work very closely on this. That makes you optimistic about not so much I guess

where we go from this point, beyond COP26.

MASLIN: No. It makes me very optimistic because as you said we have to cut global emissions by 45 percent in the next 10 years. And actually the U.S.

and China between them have about 43 percent of all the global emissions. So if they start to collaborate and work together to decarbonize, that also

changes economics. It changes how cheap renewables will be. And so therefore that's going to drive the global economy in this decarbonization


BLACK: Mark Maslin, thank you.

MASLIN: Thanks.

BLACK: Max, I think it's fair to say for some of the viewers at home to be wondering why is this all still so uncertain, why are we dissecting nuanced

legalese? The Paris agreement was six years ago. Why hasn't the world sorted this out here in Glasgow because all promised to make real progress

towards achieving limitation on global warming to 1.5 degrees in temperature?

The reality is going into this, a lot of the big polluters did not come into this conference with sufficient ambition, with cuts that reflect what

the science says is necessary, and some of those countries weren't even very subtle about it. Take a look.



BLACK (voice-over): Throughout COP26, some countries have been talked about more than others, and not for the right reasons. Here's one example.

JENNIFER MORGAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL: I think the greatest disappointment maybe would also be Australia.

CATHERIN ABREU, FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DESTINATION ZERO: Countries like Australia come to these talks without an enhanced Paris agreement


SARAH HANSON-YOUNG, AUSTRALIAN SENATOR, GREENS PARTY: It is embarrassing being here as an Australian.

BLACK: Australia has been roundly criticized for coming to Glasgow and saying it will hit net zero carbon by 2050 without significantly changing

its behavior, especially in the short term.

SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: Driving the emergence of low emissions technologies and fostering their widespread adoption is at the

heart of our plan to reach net zero.

BLACK: So the Australian government says investing billions in future technology means there's no need to stop digging, burning and selling

fossil fuels, a provocative theory at a climate conference.

HANSON-YOUNG: Australia has got to do more than that. We are one of the world's largest exporters of fossil fuels. We've got to get out of coal. We

have to stop building new gas fields. We've got to reduce pollution. And if we want to reduce pollution, we have to stop making the stuff.

BLACK: But Australia isn't the only holdout. Several big polluting countries have persistently ignored what the science now says is necessary,

to get to carbon neutral by mid-century, countries collectively must make deep cuts now and reduce emissions by 45 percent this decade.

NIKLAS HOHNE, NEWCLIMATE INSTITUTE: There are some countries which clearly proposed a long-term target to disguise that they're not changing their

short-term target. And I think Brazil is in that category, Australia as well. Russia is in that basket as well.

ABREU: We've heard from countries like Saudi Arabia, a real reluctance to embrace the push for more ambition before 2030.

BLACK: Poor, vulnerable countries are watching with dismay.

PERKS LIGOYA, GLOBAL CHAIR, LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRIES GROUP: When you see countries coming up with targets, say by 2060, by 2070, we will do that.

Who knows? Right? Then most of our young kids will be dead.

BLACK (on-camera): They're not committing to what needs to be done this decade.

LIGOYA: Exactly, exactly.

BLACK (voice-over): Australia's policies aren't popular at COP26, but its pavilion is. Crowds line up eager for good free coffee. Next to displays

for a fossil fuel company.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't just shun countries out for being bad. You need to have conversations with them and bring them on the journey toward -


BLACK (on-camera): Especially when their coffee is so good.


BLACK (voice-over): While outside, activists blast an air raid siren, declaring alarm over the little progress made here.

A breakthrough was never likely at COP26. Too many countries are still unwilling to make bold, immediate changes. And some have powerful economic

and political motivations for sticking with the status quo.


BLACK: You can sense the influence of some of those countries in the language that talks about accelerating away from coal power and fossil

fuels. That's changed a little from the first draft. Now talks about accelerating away from unabated coal power, which means coal power without

carbon capture technology attached to it which is still a very much a controversial technology. And it talks about accelerating away from

inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, which is very much open to interpretation.

But it is unprecedented for language regarding fossil fuels and coal specifically to be mentioned in the final text. We will be looking to see

if it continues to survive in the next draft, which we're expecting to receive a little later today -- Max.

FOSTER: OK. Phil, thank you. We need unanimity on it which is the big challenge in these final hours.

Now ahead, two very different battles for freedom, desperate for a way out. Afghan families are struggling to find solutions and ways to pay for them.

And in the U.S., this might be the day that this pop star finally gets permission to control her own finances.



FOSTER: Europe once again the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. And that's forced some officials to consider a return to strict measures. Take

a look at Germany, which hit a daily high in cases with 50,000 infections on Thursday. Health officials are considering tougher restrictions for

workplaces and events. The capital, Berlin, will start banning unvaccinated people from certain venues starting next week.

Tough restrictions could also be imposed in Northern Austria. Officials there want a lockdown for unvaccinated people starting on Monday. Austria's

chancellor expects to get the legal green light to impose such a lockdown. On Sunday, Scott McLean following the story from London, as Europe sees

cases soar.

This is quite an extraordinary measures in Australia where you would effectively lock down just the unvaccinated. And a lot of people say it

wouldn't work because vaccinated people can transmit as well.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's certainly a debate and there's not a whole lot of precedent for this, Max. But the argument that the Austrian

chancellor is making is that it wouldn't be fair to impose any kind of lockdown restrictions on people who have done their duty and gotten their

vaccinations as they were asked to by the government. And so this is something that would apply only to unvaccinated people.

And we're not talking about lockdown-light either. We're not talking about a few privileges taken away. We're talking about the same kind of lockdown

that they had at the height of the pandemic, where you can only leave your house for work and for the absolute essentials.

And the chancellor is also promising that this would be enforced by police with random spot checks, something that countries like the U.K. were very

reluctant to do even when cases were surging. And so clearly the government thinks that something needs to be done here because the vaccination rate,

in the chancellor's words, is shamefully low -- Max.

FOSTER: In terms of other countries, are they looking at the same things? It does seem as though Germany is looking at a similar plan.

MCLEAN: So Germany is undoubtedly looking to tighten restrictions but not and nearly the same way as Austria. Some state governments have gone ahead

and taken away the option for unvaccinated people to get into sporting events, gyms, restaurants, that kind of a thing with just a negative test.

So now beginning on Monday in Berlin, for example, you have to show that you have some kind of -- or you likely have some kind of antibodies from

either vaccination or from having had the virus in the past.

And the health minister says, look, they need to do more than just rely on vaccinations because right now the vaccination rate is only slightly higher

than it is in Austria. One-third of the population still doesn't have immunity. And they need to go beyond just relying on testing as well.

They're actually bringing back free tests, something that they had taken away previously, just hoping to rely on the vaccination rates doing its


I think governments are finding out, though, that it's not so airtight when you don't have high, high proportions of the population that are

vaccinated. The Netherlands quickly, Max, there's announcement expected very shortly on whether they might also implement a lockdown. This would be

even further really than Austria's going because it would apply to everyone, though it would be temporary for now.

FOSTER: OK. Scott, thank you.

Now to the U.S. where 82,000 people have arrived from Afghanistan in recent months as part of a massive U.S. operation. But many Afghan families living

in fear aren't waiting for the official help but are seeking alternative ways to get out.


The results, evacuation has become big business with high price tags and high risk. Alex Marquardt investigates.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the heavy steps of a young man trying to save his family. He's

just 26 years old and lives in California. We can't show his face for the safety of his family in Afghanistan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm desperate. The danger is imminent.

MARQUARDT: Since the chaotic international withdrawal from Afghanistan, his parents, siblings and wife have been in hiding from the Taliban, who in the

past the young man says have violently by beaten his father, a doctor, and been angry with his mother, a women's rights activist who worked for the


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Taliban left announcement to my parents that anybody who help them find my parents or my family that ends up with their execution

will gain a prize.

MARQUARDT (on-camera): They put a bounty on your family's head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly. This is really serious. They wrecked our house. They destroyed every single thing.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Desperate he turned to Facebook, finding people offering ways to get Afghans out of the country. For a price.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That person came up to me and told me, hey, you know what, you've got to pay $10,000 per person in order to be evacuated.

MARQUARDT (on-camera): Per person?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nine, 10 people. It would be like $100,000 and I cannot provide $100,000 in cash. In a way, like, even if I provide that money,

there is no guarantee that they will be evacuated.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): According to Afghans and activists we've spoken with, desperate Afghans are now being exploited, like that young man, told

that they can get them or their families out of if they pay exorbitant, often impossible amounts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For only one family, $50,000.

MARQUARDT: We Skyped with a father of three in Kabul who had just met with a man offering to get them on an evacuation flight list.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to leave the country? If you say yes, they're going to say, OK, pay first. I said how we can pay that much money right

now? It's only business matters. People are making thousands -- hundred thousands of dollars per day.

MARQUARDT: This man, whose identity we also need to hide, worked as a contractor for USAID. He's a special interest visa applicant for the U.S.

The kind of Afghan citizen the Biden administration says they're working to evacuate.

(On-camera): What is the U.S. doing that you know of to try to get you and your family out?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately, they are not doing anything. After 31st, they said everything is closed and it's finished. We did not receive

anything back from the U.S. ambassador, from any other organization.

MARQUARDT: So he went online where he found a man named Zachary Young, who is one of many advertising evacuations from Afghanistan, posting just this

week, "We can deliver." One LinkedIn user posted messages with Young, where Young said it would be $75,000 for a car to Pakistan. He told another it

would be $14,500 per person to get to the United Arab Emirates or Albania for another $4,000, prices well beyond the reach of most Afghans.

We got Young's number and called, but he didn't pick up. In a text message, he told CNN that Afghans trying to leave are expected to have sponsors pay

for them. "If someone reaches out, we need to understand if they have a sponsor behind them to be able to pay evacuation costs," which Young says

are highly volatile and based on environmental realities. Young repeatedly declined to break down the costs or say if he's making money.

Back in California, the young Afghan American tells us even though he can't pay, he's still pleading to get his family out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have sent tons of texts, asking these people, begging them to evacuate my family. If I'm not able to evacuate them within the

next two weeks, I think I will lose them all. I think I will lose them all my family.

MARQUARDT (on-camera): That young man told me that the Taliban has now issued summons for his family in hiding, indicating, his father believes,

that the Taliban is really after them.

The Biden administration continues to work on evacuating people. But there are just so many more who want to get out of Afghanistan. And that just

drives these prices higher and higher.

In another message, that person offering evacuations, Zachary Young wrote, "Availability is extremely limited and demand is high. That's how economics

works unfortunately."

Alex Marquardt, CNN Washington.


FOSTER: Now an American journalist is sitting in jail in Myanmar this hour. We'll look at what he's accused of and why human rights groups call his

trial a sham.



FOSTER: Welcome back. I'm Max Foster in London, and you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

We have new developments in the case of an American journalist jailed in Myanmar. The court there has sentenced Danny Fenster to 11 years in prison.

He's found guilty of associating with an illegal group, incitement and visa breaches, Since the military coup in February about 100 journalists have

been arrested in Myanmar. About 30 of them remain in jail.

Ivan Watson has been following the story and joins us now from Hong Kong. So what actually is he alleged to have done?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's facing -- he's still facing a number of chargers. Fenster has been behind bars since

May, Max. He was detained by the authorities at Yangon Airport while trying to fly out of the country. He is a 37-year-old from Detroit, Michigan.

He was the managing editor of this independent online news site "Frontier Myanmar," and he was sentenced to -- in a closed court, closed to the

public -- at Insein Prison in Yangon to a total of 11 years for three combined charges, visa breeches, unlawful association within the legal

group and incitement, basically accused of publishing fake news.

And if that wasn't bad enough, his life could get much worse because he is also facing two charges, one for violating Myanmar's counterterrorism law

and another one for hurting the reputation of the Myanmar military with the things that he has published.

I might point out that the Myanmar military has done a good job of hurting its own reputation since it staged a coup on February 1st, overthrowing a

civilian elected government and putting its leaders behind bars, cracking down with deadly force on peaceful political protesters.

Fenster's parents spoke to CNN's Brian Stelter back in May. Take a listen to what they had to say then.


BUDDY FENSTER, DANNY FENSTER'S FATHER: Their efforts to squelch journalism and get the word out is -- it's just -- it just kills -- it kills life and

it kills freedom. It kills truth. And I think that they just need to let him go immediately. He has not committed any crime there.

ROSE FENSTER, DANNY FENSTER'S MOTHER: It's a total nightmare. It's a total feeling of no control. It's heart-wrenching. It's just -- it's -- excuse

me. I'm sorry. It's just not something you want anybody to go through. Any parent, anybody that cares about anybody, these are human lives and these

are people, not just numbers. And I just want my son home no matter what it takes.


WATSON: Max, the United Nations Human Rights -- Office of the Human Rights commissioner has issued a statement deploring the sentencing of Danny

Fenster calling it a closed-door, unfair trial and calling the sentencing harsh -- Max.


FOSTER: So where do we stand in terms of freedom of the press in Myanmar? It seemed it's completely over now.

WATSON: Well, you know, that same U.N. office went on to point out and argue that journalists have been under attack since the coup on February

1st, publishing statistics that at least 126 journalists have been detained since then. 47 currently remain in detention.

Take a listen to what a researcher from Human Rights Watch has to say about press freedoms months after that military coup.


MANNY MUANG, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: There's virtually no press freedom. At least eight independent outlets have been banned or have been classed as

terrorists. We've also seen at least 95 journalists jailed since February 1. And these are statistics from the Assistance Association for Political



WATSON: Journalists that CNN is in contact with -- has been in contact in Myanmar, they are either in hiding or have fled across the border, Max, to

seek refuge in neighboring countries. And they're just a part of the much broader crackdown, and just an entire situation where Myanmar is descending

into violence with insurgencies and the security forces cracking down on people and a terrible economic crisis to boot -- Max.

FOSTER: Ivan, thank you.

Still ahead, one artist is showing his defiance against China. We'll tell you how the Communist Party is trying to shut him down. A dream realized.

The happy announcement that had a rugby player almost in tears.


FOSTER: The Chinese government has been trying to silence a controversial dissident artist in China, Hong Kong and now Italy. But Italian officials

have refused to let that happen.

CNN's Ben Wedeman spoke to the artist about his work and the challenges that have come with criticizing China.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, it's not just --

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): China is seeing red over an exhibit in the northern Italian city of Brescia hosting

the Chinese Australian artist known as Badiucao.

BADIUCAO, ARTIST: It's almost impossible that you can avoid offending the Chinese government these days. Anything could be sensitive. Anything could

be problematic.

WEDEMAN: So sensitive that the Chinese embassy in Rome recently requested that the mayor of Brescia cancel the exhibit scheduled to open Friday.

"I have to say I had to read the letter twice because it surprised me," says Deputy Brescia Mayor Laura Castelletti. "It was an intrusion on the

city's artistic cultural decision."


CNN's repeated request to the Chinese embassy for clarification went unanswered.

Badiucao moved to Australia in 2009. His art and uncompromising critique of the Chinese Communist Party. Three years ago, a show he was scheduled to

hold in Hong Kong was cancelled after he tweeted his family was threatened by China. The exhibit in Brescia, however, is going ahead.

FRANCESCA BAZOLI, BRESCIA MUSEUM FOUNDATION PRESIDENT: It is a matter of artistic freedom of expression.

WEDEMAN: Badiucao has teamed up with Enes Kanter of the Boston Celtics, painting shoes for Kanter with messages, "Championing the cause of

oppressed minorities in China." Kanter himself is an outspoken critic of the China's alleged abuse of its Uighur Turkic Muslim minority.

ENES KANTER, BOSTON CELTIC FORWARD: Heartless Dictator of China, Xi Jinping, and the Communist Party of China, I'm calling you out right now in

front of the whole world. Close down the slave labor camps and free the Uighur people. Stop the genocide now.

WEDEMAN: Words like that, art like this, strike a raw nerve in China, which denies claims of genocide and mass incarceration. Increasingly angering

China is also a raw nerve for multinational corporations.

BADIUCAO: They're so into the money and market in China that they're willing risking that.

WEDEMAN (on-camera): That's now.

(Voice-over): Badiucao says he's regularly harassed online and occasionally threatened by those who object to his work. His art war by other means

against a system that has grown ever more powerful in recent years.

BADIUCAO: So it's like a battle realm. And that's how you can use visual language or use internet meme to kind of dissolve the authority of


WEDEMAN (on-camera): Who's winning the battle at the moment?

BADIUCAO: I think it's a long fight. It is too early to tell who will win.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): That this exhibit is happening, a small win, perhaps.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Brescia, Northern Italy.


FOSTER: Now, Britney Spears might be singing a victory song today after a Los Angeles court issues a long-awaited ruling. Spears hopes the court

decides to terminate their conservatorship that has controlled her finances and life since 2008. Her father, Jamie, was suspended as conservator in

September after a bitter public battle.

And in sports, a childhood dream realized.




FOSTER: That is Ollie Hoskins reacting to the announcement he's being called up to Australia's National Rugby Team, an emotional moment for an

athlete now getting to represent his home country.

Alex is here with more reaction from a clearly moved Ollie Hoskins. Not often you see this in rugby circles.

ALEX THOMAS, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: It's really cute, isn't it? And I think we've done enough mental stories on news and sports to be sure in saying

gone are the days where men feel they have to be big and strong and not show their emotions. Hoskins clearly moved by the fact that having moved to

the U.K. to join London Irish six years ago when rules meant as an overseas player he couldn't be considered for the Wallabies, something he told his

dad from only knee high that he wanted to be.

But now he's going to be in the match court for this weekend and with a very good chance of getting on the pitch and making his debut. For most

athletes representing their countries is the highest honor. We'll have more in "WORLD SPORTS" shortly.

FOSTER: Very good chance of being ripped as well. Thank you, Alex. "WORLD SPORT" after this short break.





FOSTER: And what a compliment there from him. Thank you so much, Alex. More from CONNECT THE WORLD after this short break.