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tv   Worldfocus  WHUT  July 13, 2009 10:30pm-11:00pm EDT

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>> tonight on "worldfocus" -- deadly milestones. six british soldiers killed in afghanistan in a single day. the rising death toll raising new questions back home. and then new concerns for american troops on the frontline. going home, convoys of wary refugees are beginning the journey back to pakistan's swat valley. twists of fate. fleeing to malaysia. they thought they escaped the tyranny of a military regime. instead, some these people were rounded up by authorities and sold into forced labor. and all of the world's a stage. the most famous train in the world becomes a rolling theater. tonight, we catch the show on the orient express, all aboard. from the world's leading reporters and analysts, this is what is happening from around the world.
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this is "worldfocus." made possible, in part, by the following funders -- good evening. i'm martin savidge. we begin tonight with the war in afghanistan, and a look at the two main western military forces in that country. that's the united states and great britain. the toll of that war on british troops 8,000 of them in afghanistan has suddenly become a big issue at home. that's because the death toll is soaring. 15 british soldiers have been killed so far this month. eight of them in just one 20-hour period this week. and that has put the british government on the offensive. in tonight's "lead focus,"we're going to draw on several of our partners to bring you the latest on that war. starting with james blake of britain's itn, who filed this report earlier today. >> reporter: this afternoon at astion in the heart of helmand province, the british army's holding a memorial
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service for the eight soldiers who died in the space of just 24 hours last week. most were victims of improvised bombs. casualties during this new offensive against the taliban called "operation panther's claw." this morning the foreign secretary has responded to several claims over the weekend that the uk mission in afghanistan is poorly equipped. >> the people who were killed on friday in sangin, five british soldiers, five british soldiers, they were on foot patrol. foot patrol in the central part of the mission that we have. we are not going to be able to do our mission in afghanistan through tanks and through helicopters alone. helicopters, as you said, are important for transporting people around. but in the end, the great danger that our troops face is on the ground. >> reporter: this lunchtime, the defense secretary ainsworth faces questions and the comments and the conservatives are likely to grill him on the shortage of helicopters.
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>> it is a scandal, in particular, that they still lack enough helicopters to move around in southern afghanistan. the government must deal with that issue as a matter of extreme emergency but it would not be in our national interest to scale back britain's commitment to building a better and more stabile world, which in the long run will actually help make it less likely that we'll need to send our forces in the future to places like afghanistan to protect our security here at home. >> reporter: of the six british soldiers who died on friday, three were just 18 years old. rifleman william oldridge, one of the youngest in helmand province. rifleman james backhouse and rifleman joseph murphy -- all victims of a multiple bomb attack near sangin. >> if there is a scandal in afghanistan, it isn't lack of boots or lack of helicopters over there. there is a lack of helicopters it's that young men are sacrificing their lives because our politicians, the leaders of the western operation in afghanistan, can't get their act together. >> reporter: and yet, public support for the war in
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afghanistan seems stabile. an icm poll for the guardian states that supports grown 15% since 2006. but antiwar protesters say the poll shows that most people in britain want the troops out by christmas. and it's emerged this lunchtime that the prime minister has already requested to various nato allies that they provide additional helicopters for coalition forces to use in afghanistan. >> that was james blake of itn. for the united states, the war's becoming more dangerous and deadly as well. with 21,000 additional troops moving into afghanistan, the u.s. expects 68,000 americans there by year's end. so far this year, 105 americans have been killed, including one that was killed in an attack yesterday. tonight, we've got a look at how that war is being fought from the perspective of one army company fighting the taliban in kunar province in northeast afghanistan. clayton swisher of al jazeera english is with them.
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>> reporter: aerial reconnaissance, their freedom to roam draws the envy of most infantry units but especially charlie company 132. the terrain out here along the afghan border with pakistan would be impenetrable without them. using sophisticated surveillance equipment, these aquila helicopters give eyes and ears to soldiers operating on the ground. helping them make sense of the bigger picture. >> that is kind of our border right now between us and what the enemy holds. these guys are kind of caught in the middle of it. we try to make sure that the civilians don't feel the blunt of combat operations. >> if the enemy's over this ridgeline, then why are we here? >> right now, i mean, mobility's a hard problem, but i mean everyone talks about the decisive terrain. doesn't mean sitting on a plot of land. this is our decisive terrain.
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the enemy can sit in the wood line all that they want, slow long as the people who are working with us. we're winning and they're not. >> reporter: what the lieutenant said was not the entire story. he knows that up until may, the army had a full-time outpost just beyond that ridge line, two kilometers away. that was until the taliban took it over. a coalition soldier provided al jazeera with this exclusive footage. these are the final moments of the american outposts known as barrio li. as the taliban overran their positions, the soldiers called in a so-called broken arrow mission. a request for friendly aircraft to bomb and destroy their own position. the army obliged, but it's not been without repercussions. three soldiers died and an investigation into how it happened continues. since losing barrio li, these soldiers face new restrictions
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from top army brass. foot patrols in the villages in groups of no less than 16 and backup must include another 16 waiting in combat vehicles waiting at all times. >> elevation 22. >> reporter: soldiers are also banned from leaving the base on patrol for more than 12 hours. that doesn't leave long to patrol almost 250 kilometers of border country in dirt roads, let alone win the hearts and minds of the afghan people. it's definitely not enough time to stay and fight the taliban. clayton swisher, al jazeera, kunar province, afghanistan. across the border today, at least nine people were killed in an explosion in punjab province in central pakistan. the explosion destroyed a house used as a religious seminary for children and seven children were said to be among the dead. police said the owner of the house had been accused of recruiting fighters to battle western troops in afghanistan. and they said, there was
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evidence that it was a meeting point for militants. hundreds of pakistanis began returning to their homes today in the swat valley under a government repatriation program. that is the area in the northwest part of pakistan, where the military fought an intense battle in the last few months to drive out the taliban. the united nations estimates that 2 million people were forced from their homes by that fighting. but as we hear in this next report from deutsche welle, not all are eager to return just yet. >> reporter: most of the displaced have been staying with family or friends, but nearly 300,000 are in tent camps set up by the government. some are now packing their belongings and returning home. >> translator: we are grateful to the government for all of the facilities they laid on at this camp. we are very grateful that they're sending us home now and we want peace in pakistan. peace is our main priority now. >> reporter: the pakistani army launched its offensive in april, after militants took over a district just a hundred
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kilometers from the capital islamabad. the government is now providing security for the convoys of refugees returning home amid concerns about attacks. the taliban are still a formidable power and many refugees are reluctant to leave. >> translator: i'm scared of going. if i go back and there's another clash, then i'll have to come back again. anything can happen there. >> reporter: aid workers say the refugees will need help when they return home, as most their crops have been destroyed. many are likely to stay in the camps now to see how the security situation develops. >> that report from deutsche welle. iraq has increased security in some christian areas of that country after a series of attacks aimed at the christian minority. a car bomb exploded near a church in baghdad yesterday, as worshipers left sunday mass killing at least four civilians and injuring 18. three more churches were also attacked in baghdad. wounding eight others. as you may have heard this weekend, the cia canceled a secret counterterrorism program last month.
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a program created by the agency eight years ago after the september 11th attacks. "the new york times" first reported this weekend that on orders from vice president dick cheney, congress was kept in the dark about the program, which never became fully operational. here's how that story was covered yesterday by britain's itn and its correspondents sally gould. >> reporter: dick cheney always said that to keep america safe the administration would need to work in the shadows. today "the new york times" seems to have shone light on those dark corners. sources telling the paper that the former vice president implemented a secret counterterrorism operation. and specifically instructed it be hidden from congress. >> welcome. welcome. >> reporter: leon panetta today meeting leaders in philippines has run the cia for the obama administration since february. but it wasn't apparently until june that he learned of this covert operation. within 24 hours, we're told, he'd canceled the program and
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told congress. u.s. law requires the cia to keep congress briefed on its activities, but the law is ambiguously worded and open to interpretations. the relationship between these two bodies fought at best, particularly over the bush administration and its legacy. >> i know that i've been lied to. this is certainly one example of an investigation, i hope, that we'll have into the cia, persistently lying to the congress over a number of years. >> i want to start with some breaking news this morning. the front story in "the new york times," is thaformer vice president dick cheney kep congress in the dark. his orders -- >> reporter: mr. cheney hasn't responded to the accusation, but fellow republicans say, they're not jumping to any conclusions. >> first of all, i would like to know the facts of the case before there should be "an investigation." how long did the director of the cia know aut this program and
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when did he terminate it? and all of these things are going to -- are probably going to be heavily discussed in the weeks ahead. >> reporter: but what may never be discussed, at least not publicly, is the exact nature of this secret program. the sources coming clean about the operation's existence refusing to solve the mystery. simply saying, it has nothing do with the flash points of rendition and interrogation. >> sally gould from itn. by the way the "the wall street journal" reported today that the program planned to kill or capture al qaeda operatives. a south korean tv news channel reported today that the leader of north korea, kance this follows an appearance by kim last week. he was looking thin and walking with a slight limp. today's report by ytn television said that kim was diagnosed with
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that cancer around the same time that he suffered a stroke last summer. and said that he's expected to live no more than five years. from southeast asia tonight, we're going to look at an issue that is underreported, the problem of human trafficking. we're going to take you to malaysia, where some immigration officials have been accused of involvement in selling refugees from myanmar, and also known as burma, to gangs in thailand. the attorney general's office in malaysia says ten immigration officers are being investigated after the u.s. state department placed malaysia on its list of its world's worst human traffic offenders last month. karen united states isman, an independent journalist, where she reported on the plight of the burmese refugees. >> reporter: each year thousands of burmese escape human rights abuses in their country by fleeing through the jungle through thailand and continuing on to malaysia. once there, many head to the capital city of kuala lumpur to work on construction sites and restaurants or as domestic workers.
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the pay is miserable and so are the living conditions. often as many as 30 refugees live in one room, sharing a single toilet. the senate foreign relations committee estimates that there are 90,000 burmese refugees living in malaysia. many of them do not have work permits and live in fear of arrest. what's worse, as you'll see later, following arrests, large numbers of them have actually been sold by malaysian officials to human traffickers. the arrests are conducted in raids like these by the raila. an armed vigilante citizen group. earlier this year i witnessed a raila raid. and documented it with a hidden tape recorder and a camera i tried to conceal. i took this shaky picture in which the raila are identified by their yellow berets. there are also police officers in a paddy wagon ready to haul off the refugees. one of the policeman caught me taking pictures. okay, okay.
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leave the pictures? but why do i have to delete? people are being loaded into cages on the trucks. they stick their hands through the holes and shout last-minute messages to their friends. i managed to take this final picture as the raila truck took the refugees to jail. their ordeal often gets worse because of official corruption. after several months in detention, many refugees have been sold by malaysian immigration officials to human traffickers in thailand. this is exactly what happened to a.a. chao in 2007. she old me that she heard malaysian immigration officials talking to traffickers as they brought her to the border to be sold. >> translator: they were talking on the phone. yes, yes, 55 of them. six of them are women. then, i knew they were taking us to the broder to sell us. when we reached the other side the men were there with very big guns. they already had the list with how many people, exactly as the immigration official had told them on the phone.
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they say to us, "you belong to us. we bought you from malaysian immigration for 500 each and now we need to make our money back plus profit. so whoever has friends and family to pay for them, call them now." >> reporter: fortunately, a.a. chooa had family who could pay the ransom and she was returned to kuala lumpur where today she works as a dishwasher but many are not so lucky. they are sold as force labor to prostitution rings, factories and fishing boats. >> karen zusman reporting from malaysia. for more on this tonight we are joined by a specialist on the problem of human trafficking. elaine pierson, deputy director of the asia division of human rights watch. welcome. >> thank you. >> what is the current situation when it comes to the status of migrants coming from myanmar? >> well, now what we're seeing is that -- actually since the u.s. foreign relations committee released their report, documenting the trafficking that
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we just saw at the time malaysian border, what we're seeing is that there's not so many deportations of burmese refugees to the border area. so now that the deportations have stopped. however, the raid -- >> why do you think that is? because of the pressure? >> because of the pressure from the u.s. government on both the malaysians and on the thai officials and what we're seeing, however is that the raids continue. that they continue to apprehend undocumented workers. they continue to apprehend burmese refugees and these refugees and migrants are being sent to detention camps, which are now completely overcrowd. there are concerns that some of the refugees are dying because the conditions are so bad. they lack access to good food, clean water supply, and there are also reports of mistreatment in the detention camps by guards and also by other detainees. >> now the malaysians don't consider that these people are refugees, do they? >> no, this is one of the problems.
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is that under malaysian law they don't distinguish between illegal migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers. so they haven't actually signed onto the u.n. refugees convention, which would provide some kind of a framework to protect these people who are fleeing, conditions of persecution. >> since they are fleeing, what they consider they're fleeing from then? >> well, they consider a lot of these people to be economic migrants. >> in other words, looking for better jobs, better livelihood? >> exactly. and they do not see that they have any real responsibility to take care of people from other countries. so this is a problem. >> how severe, would you say, the problem is when it comes to human trafficking in asia? >> i think what you see within asia is that particularly with the recent sort of economic crisis, there are increasing numbers of people who are desperate to move to other countries in search of better economic opportunities. and because there's not a lot of legal opportunities for people to migrate, people end up, you know, being subjected to traffickers to human smugglers and they tend to go to countries
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like thailand and malaysia, which are comparatively wealthier, and which -- where there is a real need for most gold workers, particularly in certain sectors. >> we mentioned the pressure that the united states has brought to bare when it comes to malaysia. do you think that there's more that the u.s. should be doing more and if so, what? >> really is just the first step. the u.s. should be putting pressure on -- countries to put pressure on burmese generals. we should remember at end the day, these people are fleeing persecution in burma because burma's leaders, you know, refuse to really -- >> make the situation better at home. >> to stop the abuses from which they're fleeing so we would ask to be putting more pressure on burmese leaders to stop these abuses and also on the malaysian authorities. pressure from the u.s., from other countries, where we really see that these investigations and prosecutions of those involved in the trafficking really lead to any real-scale efforts to stop the trafficking from happening. >> elaine pearson, thank you very much.
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>> thank you. >> you can find much more on human trafficking in malaysia including an hour-long documentary from refugees in myanmar. you will find all of that and more at worldfocus.org. we turn now to africa, where there was a big battle in somalia this weekend between government troops and islamic militants. it happened in the capital of mogadishu. where the militants came within a half mile of the presidential palace. although the insurgents were treated, some of them were still firing at troops today. killed dozens of people. and wounded about 150. and for the first time troops from the african union peacekeeping force intervened to support these somalian forces. president obama was in a far more stabile part of africa this weekend, ghana. this was the scene when first visited a castle on a coast from
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which slaves were once shipped to the new world. >> joining us for more built president's trip and the state of u.s./african relations is yaw nyarko. professor of economics and director of africa house at new york university. welcome. >> thank you. >> you were in ghana when the president was there. >> that's right. >> what was the mood? what was the anticipation like? >> well, everybody was excited that he was coming. there were these billboards with ghana's president next to obama all over the city and people were very, very excited. very, very proud of obama. everybody has this empathy with the united states now because of obama. it was very exciting. very exciting. >> why ghana? why do you think that that country was selected? >> well, for a variety of reasons. the first of course that ghana just finished a razor-thin very close elections. i mean the winner won by you know a percentage of the vote.
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half of a percent or something. and it was a very good election. very, very peaceful. and so it's something for all of africa, because africa typically, you only hear the bad news, the war, the famine, et cetera. here is a democratic country, they've gone through re-elections, no crisis. the economy is also doing very, very well right now. and finally, i think there's an emotional attachment to ghana. ghana was the first black african country to get independence. and in the '50s, late '50s, early '60s, martin luther king, as obama said in his speech, went to ghana, witnessing the birth of a new nation. so it's a big deal. ghana is special in africa. >> there are also reports of significant new oil discoveries in ghana and i wonder if that had anything to do with the president's visit. >> no, i don't think so. i think the oil is good for ghana. it's vitally needed resources. i don't think it's going to be earth-shattering, the
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discoveries are good. they're great. but it's not in massive amounts, okay? so, no, i don't think that factored into it. >> in his message, the president sort of had a tough love kind of message that he gave to africa. how do you think that was received? >> well, i think, among many, it was received very, very well. as africans, we all know that we have to get our own house in order. many people understand that africa can only be built by africans. if there's going to be development, africans have to do that. and people understand that. i don't think people were waiting for obama to come with, you know, tons of money or something like that. no. they appreciated his message. >> yaw nyarko, thank you very much for sharing your story with us. >> thank you.
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finally tonight, we take you for a ride on a train. it's a variation of the famed it's a variation of the famed orient express with the goal of creating greater understanding of the cultural differences along the way. the trains been traveling through six countries -- from turkey, germany, stopping in each to pick up actors from local theater groups, who had then offered performances in many languages. deutsche welle shows us what it's all about. >> reporter: it's called the orient express and it's a rolling theater. its journey began where those of its famous namesake once ended in turkey. along the way a theatrical experiment in every country. different audiences. a train carriage as the stage and six ensembles acting in six languages. it's an attempt of telling new stories in different countries. they deal with national identity
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and europeion and transformation. the theatrical journey shows how the continent is still divided by national borders. the equipment has to go through lengthy custom's checks. officials aside, the orient express also shows it can break down barriers. >> translator: it's possible to travel by train from ankora to stuttgart and involve all of those who partner all along the route. it's a wonderful thing. that's unification made tangible. >> reporter: stuttgart is the final stop. the place will be performed to local audiences for the next ten days and it might not be the last journey. already plans are being made to travel from west to east next year. >> deutsche welle on the orient express. that's "worldfocus" for a monday evening. don't forget to tune in tomorrow night for our online radio show. we will be looking at the
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political crisis in honduras. how latin american media have been covering that story. you can submit your questions ahead of time and then listen in at worldfocus.org. i'm martin savidge in new york. as always, thank you very much for joining us. we hope to see you back here tomorrow and we'll look for you anytime on the web. until then, have a great night. "worldfocus" is made possible, in part, by the following funders -- -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com
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