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Duke and Duchess' Revelation Ripples Around the Globe; Royal Crisis Divide People's Opinion; China Denies Allegation of Genocide Against Uyghur Minorities; British Tabloids Fire Back Over Harry And Meghan Claims; Crisis In Myanmar, Independent Media Stripped Of Publication Licenses; Protesters Trapped In Yangon Allowed To Leave; Brazil's Supreme Court Annuls Ex-President's Convictions; Brazil Reports Over 80,000 New COVID-19 Cases In One Day; Iraq Extends Restrictive Measures For Two More Weeks; Get A Vaccine, Get More Freedom; International Women's Day, Women Around The World Rally For Security And Equality; Tunisian Restaurant Sells Pizza For $360. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired March 9, 2021 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom. And I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, reaction coming in from all over the world to the Harry and Meghan interview with Oprah with one big exception.

CNN gets big exclusive access to a damning report accusing China of committing genocide against Muslim minorities.

And security forces in Myanmar appear to be targeting journalists in a move aimed at silencing news coverage of the virus.

Good to have you with us.

Well, as the shock waves from the duke and duchess of Sussex's interview with Oprah Winfrey reverberate around the world, all eyes are now on the royal family which has yet to issue any sort of response.

The British public got its first glimpse of the full interview and its stunning claims on Monday night. Among them that Harry and Meghan experienced racism and were left to fend for themselves while experiencing mental health issues. Some are calling it the worst royal crisis in 85 years.

Isa Soares takes us through an explosive 24 hours.


MEGHAN, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: And then there are senior members -- ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Unprotected, unloved and according to the royal couple, undermined by the firm.

MEGHAN: I just didn't want to be alive anymore. That was a very clear and real, and frightening constant thought.

SOARES: A feeling so intense it drove the duchess to consider suicide.

MEGHAN: We had to go to this event and I remember him saying I don't think you can go, and I said, I can't be left alone.

OPRAH WINFREY, TV HOST: Because you were afraid of what you might do to yourself?

SOARES: But the onslaught continued with negative coverage of Meghan Markle. The royal family she says didn't lift a finger to defend her. One of the more shocking moments involved a conversation that Harry says he heard with an unnamed member of the royal household about their first-born son.

MEGHAN: And also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he is born.


MEGHAN: And --

WINFREY: Who -- who is having that conversation with you? What?

MEGHAN: So, there is a --

WINFREY: There's a con -- hold up.


MEGHAN: There are several conversations.

SOARES: A stunning revelation that is rocking the royal household which is yet to issue a response.

WINFREY: Yes. And he did not show the identity with me but he wanted to make sure that I know. And if I had an opportunity to share it that it was not his grandmother nor his grandfather that were part of those conversations.

SOARES: So, who said it? And why did the royal family decide to deny Archie, their son a royal title and refused to provide him with security?

MEGHAN: The idea of our son not being safe and also the idea of the first member of color in this family not being titled in the same way that other grandchildren would be.

SOARES: As ever, the couple has polarized the nation.

PIERS MORGAN, CO-ANCHOR, ITN NEWS: This is a two-hour trash of our royal family.

SOARES: This a reminder of the attacks they had tried to shield their growing family from. Attacks that they say drove them to step down as working royals and start a new life in America. Away from a family and a father Harry says who wasn't there when he needed the most.

PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX: I feel really let down. Because he's been through something similar. He knows what pain feels like. And this is, and Archie is his grandson.

SOARES: The wounds still raw and while Harry says he wants to heal this rift, the couple's scathing words could have the opposite effect.

Isa Soares, CNN, London.


CUOMO: Anna Stewart and Salma Abdelaziz both join me now live from Windsor. Good to see you both.


So, Anna, still no response from the palace to these serious allegations of neglect and racism. When might that response come? And how the tabloids covering all of this?

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Yes. It has been over 24 hours now and no response from the palace, although it should be noted that this interview actually only broadcast in the U.K. last night. Of course, newspapers have been filled with lines about it though for the last two days.

What's so interesting, Rosemary, is if you look at the broad sheet newspapers, you'll see that most of the headlines are about the fact that what the palace is going to do. This is a crisis. Looking at some of the tabloids and I can show you some of those now, Daily Express says so sad it has come to this. The Daily Mail, what have they done? And The Mirror pointing out that they think it's the worst royal crisis in 85 years.

I think it really reveals what is a very splintered reaction here in the U.K. to this interview. Certainly, it's quite different than what you are getting in the United States. People are definitely empathizing particularly with some of the bombshell revelations that Meghan revealed about racism and mental health.

But there is also a feeling for many that this was an attack on the crown. And there was a poll that came out overnight from YouGov very interesting comparing what people felt about this interview in the U.S. compared to the U.K. In the U.S. only 20 percent of the audience polled felt it was inappropriate, but in the U.K., it was nearly 50 percent. Forty-seven percent of those polls, nearly half, felt it was inappropriate. And actually, only 21 percent in the U.K. felt it was appropriate.

And this is really interesting. It doesn't mean that people don't sympathize with Prince Harry and Meghan and what they went through, but people feel like this was an attack on the crown. And a really interesting point to make on that is the fact that Prince Harry in the interview says, you know, he felt trapped. He and Meghan couldn't say what they needed to say now they are liberated.

He pointed out that his father and his brother are still trapped in this institution. Now, to lay claims against people that perhaps can't defend themselves, that is the point people are raising here. When we get statement, will we get a statement? Well, that's something we're all watching out for.

Perhaps the palace is aware though that while they've had this two- hour broadcast there is an additional two hours of material from the interview that is yet to broadcast. So, there could be plenty more to come. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Yes, indeed. Pressure is building. Anna, thanks for that. Salma, let's focus on the racism allegations directed at the royal family. Everyone trying to figure out which royal would have asked about the color of Baby Archie's skin. What's being said about all of this?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: Well, Rosemary, we simply don't know which member of the royal family did that. Prince Harry was insistent in the interview that he was not going to reveal any more details. Oprah was later asked about it and said it was not the queen, it was not Prince Philip, but she does not know which member of the royal family it is.

But I think it's important to understand here, Rosemary, that yes, this allegation might shock some but if you are a Black Britain, if you are a person of color in this country, it probably did not surprise you that much to hear that that conversation took place. The part that might have surprised do is that Meghan told you about it at all.

So, you are, as you heard from my colleague Anna Stewart, seeing a very divided response here. Those who are Black Britain in this country who are people of color in this country they are going to associate with Meghan Markle's lived experience as the first modern royal of color. They will hear not just the specific allegations of racism but her careful response. Her calculated response. To say this is a systemic issue. This is about the firm. This is about the institution.

And in not naming any specific person she's tying her lot with the global anti-racism movement. She is talking about entrenched racism in one of the most powerful institutions in Britain. The monarchy which of course holds onto traditions very dearly. Traditions that date back centuries even to the British empire.

Now, Meghan is of course, again, the first modern royal of color. The diversity she brought to the monarchy would've come with the expectation that there would be changes inside the palace. But this is of course a system, a queen, a crown that has prided itself on being unchanged. On staying steadfast with tradition. But we are seeing this global movement sweeping around the world

holding corporations, holding governments, holding institutions to account if the palace response. The first question will be, are they going to change? Are they going to adapt to the times or will they remain the same?

And secondly, again, hearing from my colleague there Anna, will people even watch this interview again? Again, Meghan Markle is the only modern royal of color. Only she can tell you about that lived experience of being inside. But will people listen to her? Or will they tune out and block it out completely? Rosemary?

CHURCH: Yes, that is a question. Anna Stewart and Salma Abdelaziz both joining us there, thank you.

And joining me now to discuss all this from London is Shola Mos- Shogbamimu, founder and editor-in-chief of the Women in Leadership publication. She is the author of "This is Why I Resist: Don't Define My Black Identity." And is also a New York attorney and solicitor of England and Wales. Thank you so much for being with us.



CHURCH: So, in her tell-all interview Meghan accuses the royal family of neglect and racism that nearly drove her to suicide. But still no response from the palace to these serious allegations. What was your reaction to what she revealed? Particularly questions about Baby Archie's skin color.

MOS-SHOGBAMIMU: Outrage. I mean, I was not surprised that structure and racism as we know it, also exists in the monarchy as an institution. Because the monarchy as an institution in this country is steeped in the legacy of slavery and colonialism. That is what the British empire was able to build its wealth on. On the backs of dehumanizing black people.

So, I thought outrage that this was still happening now. All I want us to start thinking about is holding the monarchy to account. I also felt really worried and deeply sad that she was clearly suffering in silence and nobody cared.

I mean, based on what Meghan said, it was more important to the royal family to look good than to give her the support that she needs. And these are -- this is a case of mental health that we know that members of the royal family like Prince William and Prince Harry have said they support. So, are you paying lip service to this critical issue? That when somebody in your own family is experiencing it you don't support them?

That is what it sounds like. Just like from the issue of racism. When Prince William came out a few months ago to speak out against the racism that Marcus Rashford, the footballer had experienced. He said in his capacity as chairman of the football association that racism as for players he spoke out against it.

But it did beg the question why didn't you speak out against racism that your sister-in-law was experiencing?

CHURCH: Right.

MOS-SHOGBAMIMU: So, watching that interview made me feel very strongly that the royal family had let down Harry and Meghan.

CHURCH: Now this bombshell interview has elicited mixed reaction from across Britain and the world. Some supporting Harry and Meghan, others attacking them.

You took on Britain's morning show host Piers Morgan who is particularly critical of the couple along with the British tabloids which are turning on them. How brave were Meghan and Harry in their effort to pull back the curtain on the British monarchy? And will it be worth it in the end?

MOS-SHOGBAMIMU: I say yes, they were brave, and yes it should be worth it. You see that interview we saw with Harry and Meghan was Harry and Meghan exhaling. It feels to me like in the last few years they've been waiting to exhale and in that interview they finally did. And that is what happened.

I think it is important for us to understand that for the last few years we only heard one side of the story. And that story was the side of the naysayers. The so-called sources from the palace. Those who want -- who wanted to, you know, assassinate her character and also assassinate Harry's character by making him look weak.

So, for the first time they came out and shared their side of the story. They debunked a lot of the lies. For instance, a lie that Harry blindsided the queen, or that Meghan made Kate cry, which apparently, which was the reverse.

It was really important for them to do this. I mean, all we have to do is look back in history. Imagine if Princess Diana had not on that interview. Imagine if we had not heard her story in her own voice, in her own words. We would never know what she went through. So, this interview, the interview they did was absolutely right.

CHURCH: Right. And the British royal family did have an opportunity to include Meghan in the family and modernize the institution by showing they could embrace a woman of color but they didn't do that. Why did they turn their back on that opportunity? And will this be the royal family's racial reckoning?

MOS-SHOGBAMIMU: I think it's most definitely the royal family's racial reckoning. They lost a big opportunity in embracing everything that Meghan stands for. But again, if you look back in history using Diana as an example, it seems like the royal family have a very real problem with strong independent women. That's what it looks like. The irony of that is that the queen is the head of state.

So it seems to me like anytime you have someone coming in, a woman coming in what they want to do is break her to fit the mold rather than, I don't know, re-package the mold so that they get the best out of the newest member of the family. They've lost an opportunity to be seen as a progressive institution. Especially in the light of the global Black Lives Matter protests last year. From which, I mean, of which we heard absolutely nothing from the royal family.


There is definitely a racial reckoning and it's definitely right now the monarchy needs to be held to account for their actions, their inactions, and for their omissions. Because somebody, somebody dropped the ball here big-time.

CHURCH: Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, thank you so much for talking with us. We do appreciate it.

Well, a scathing new report blast China for its treatment of Uyghur Muslims and accuses the government of genocide. We will have an exclusive report on the findings.


CHURCH (on camera): Well, now to a damning report that finds the China bears responsibility for the alleged genocide of Uyghur Muslims, and ethnic minorities in China's western Xinjiang province. Dozens of experts came to this conclusion after examining evidence from Chinese state media.

Leaked state communications, satellite images and witness testimony. The Independent report accuses China of violating the U.N.'s Genocide Convention and committing systemic atrocities.

CNN has an exclusive first look at the findings. Now Ivan Watson is covering this live for us from Hong Kong. He joins us now. So, Ivan, what all does this report reveal? What is the extent of the evidence? And what's China saying about it?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, a lot to unpack there. This is the first time that a non-governmental organization has made an independent legal analysis of allegations of genocide committed by the Chinese government in the Xinjiang region.

And as you mentioned, it compiled evidence, a lot of it coming from Chinese government statements and publications, as well as reports from news organizations like CNN and testimonies from victims and residents of the region. And you had at least 40 different legal scholars, academics, human rights experts who all came to this conclusion that judging by state policies the definitions of genocide as laid out by the United Nations convention on genocide were met.

And these are the state policies that the report lists. Government mandated home stays where the Chinese government freely admits it sent more than a million Chinese Communist Party officials to live in Uyghur family homes. They didn't have any choice in that matter.

Mass internment with the State Department accusing the round up and detention of more than a million people in internment camps. A mess birth prevention policy, forceable transfer of Uyghur children to state run facilities. The eradication of Uyghur identity, community and domestic life. Selective targeting of intellectuals and community leaders.


The report points out that the definition of genocide is not Nazi gas chambers or killing an ethnic group with machetes like what we saw in Rwanda. It can be a definition of it could be to destroying mosques or cemeteries or rounding up the intellectual and religious leaders of a community.

And the report argues that all of the five definitions that the U.N. lays out of genocide were met based on its analysis. Now the Chinese government has long maintained that its policies in Xinjiang are aimed at eradicating terrorism and eradicating poverty. And the Chinese government has forcibly angrily denied any suggestion that genocide was committed there.

Take a listen to the foreign minister of China.


WANG YI, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): The claim that there is genocide in Xinjiang could not be more preposterous. It is just a rumor fabricated with ulterior motives and a thorough lie.

Over the past four decades and more, the Uyghur population in Xinjiang has more than doubled, from 5.5 million two over 12.


WATSON: He is right that population grew over 40 plus years. Strangely, in the three years when the internment policy was at its peak, the birth rate in Xinjiang, according to official statistics, drop dramatically. And when we reached out to the Xinjiang government in a previous investigative report to ask about that the government said that the drop in birth in part 120,000 fewer babies from 2017 to 2018. that 80,000 fewer children were because of better family planning policies.

The government insists that providing, for example, sterilization operations and the implantation of contraceptive devices for free is a purely voluntary process. But I've interviewed several survivors who have said they were forced to undergo these types of procedures.

You have dramatically different narratives emerging of what's happening in Xinjiang. And independent academics making a very serious allegation here. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Ivan Watson joining us live from Hong Kong, many thanks.

And joining us now from Washington is Azeem Ibrahim. He is director of special initiatives at Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy which commissioned this report and a research professor at the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute. Thank you so much for speaking with us.

So, this report concludes the China bears state responsibility for committing genocide against the Uyghur people. How extensive was the body of evidence that convinced you and your team of this conclusion?

AZEEM IBRAHIM, RESEARCH PROFESSOR, U.S. ARMY WAR COLLEGE: Rosemary, this report was undertaken by over 50 of the top legal experts, ethnic experts, China experts, genocide experts from around the globe, every corner of the globe. They examined all the evidence that was available and it came to the complete conclusion that China is in breach of the Genocide Convention particularly article two on every account.

So, their evidence is overwhelming. And much of the evidence we did not put in the report we had significant amounts of evidence, we only inserted into the report what we were absolutely certain of. But there is so much more out there and there is so much more still coming out. I don't think there can be any doubt now that China is in breach of the Genocide Convention.

CHURCH: Right. Your report outlines high-level statements of intent that includes orders to round up everyone who should be rounded up. Wipe them out completely, destroy them root and branch, and break their lineage, break their routes, break their connections, and break their origins.

So, your report goes on to explain that Chinese officials describe Uyghurs with dehumanizing terms and likened the mass internment of Uyghurs to eradicating tumors. I mean, this is extreme language. Why does China feel such deep resentment toward the Uyghur people?

IBRAHIM: Yes. This is language that we are already familiar with. This is the same language that was used by Nazi Germany so this is nothing really new. I think the primary motivation behind China undertaking these policies is instigated by Xi Jinping himself. You know, he is a leader who is a hard nationalist. He's undertaking a process of Sinicization of all of China and the Uyghurs are the most prominent victims of Xi Jinping's policy.

But in fact, there are many other ethnic minorities who are (Inaudible) in the classic, so it actually feel -- feeling the same sort of treatment from China's policies, and even Christian minorities in fact are actually being targeted also.


So, this is a big process of Xi Jinping pursuing a hand nationalist policy and trying to make single ethnic identity through China.

CHURCH: And China as we just heard with Ivan's report has vehemently denied any accusations of committing genocide against the Uyghur people. Insisting their population has actually increased. What do you say to that?

IBRAHIM: The population has increased but if you look at the actual trajectory of their population is actually been declining very fast. So, the rate of growth has decline very dramatically. And that simply because the force sterilization process that China has enacted. The separation of children from their parents. The separation of married couples to emerge, so not allowing them to recreate and reproduce. These are all genocidal policies that are design to wipe out their ethnic Uyghur identity.

CHURCH: So, what needs to be done about this? If China bears responsibility for committing genocide against the Uyghurs, what does the international community need to be doing about this right now?

IBRAHIM: Well, there a 100 -- over 150 countries actually that are part of the, you know, state parties to the Genocide Convention so the onus falls upon them to actually take action. So, one of the strengths of this report is actually makes no policy recommendations whatsoever. We do not tell nations what they should be doing. It simply a legal, pure legal analysis.

The onus is on states to actually take the action. And under the Genocide Convention the absolute minimum thing that they could do is not to be complicit in a genocidal policy, and that means not being passive observers. And also, the fact that they have universal jurisdictions so Chinese leaders who travel across the globe, you know, have -- they have -- states have the ability to actually arrest them and out them on trial.

But the onus is on the international community and other states to actually take this faction and deal with China in appropriate fashion under the Genocide Convention.

CHURCH: Well, let's say what action is taken. Azeem Ibrahim, thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate it.

And next here on CNN Newsroom, Myanmar's military steps up its crackdown on protesters and the news media trying to cover the increasing violence.

Plus, Brazil's former President Lula is free to run for office again after a Supreme Court justice annulled all convictions against him.


CHURCH (on camera): Welcome back to CNN Newsroom.


Well, Britain's royal family is facing the brunt of the backlash of Harry and Meghan's explosive interview, the duke and duchess also have plenty of criticism for the British press particularly the tabloids. And now some of them are firing back. Max Foster, reports.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Fights, camera, action. Harry the hostage. Kate made me cry. Flashy headlines filling U.K. new stands, as British tabloids hit back after an explosive royal interview.

In a two hour tell-all, Prince Harry, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, leveled bombshell accusations against two of Britain's most recognized institutions. The royal family, and the press. But in the aftermath, a deluge of stories, focused on Meghan, revealing that she had thoughts of suicide. And, their allegations of dysfunction, and racism in the palace.

One paper calls the interview self-serving. Another, nick names the couples rift with the royal family, Megxile. While (inaudible) outlets often appeared somewhat sympathetic, some U.K. tabloids seem to be venting their anger. In the morning news, reactions ranged from shock, to dismay.

PIERCE MORGAN, U.S. EDITOR FOR DAILYMAIL.COM: I am sickened by what I've had just to watch. This is a two hour trash-a-ton of our royal family, of the monarchy, of everything the queen has worked so hard for.

FOSTER: Such a media scrutiny is one of the key reasons the couple said they move to the U.S. Prince Harry, going as far as saying, the royal family was scared of press turning on them.

PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX: The control, and the fear by the U.K. tabloids, it is a really -- it's a toxic environment.

FOSTER: Megan spoke of the tabloids unchecked racism, comparing headlines about herself with those about her sister-in-law, Kate. But, she laid blame for media pressure, firmly, on the royal family.

MEGHAN MARKLE, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: We haven't created this monster machine around us, in terms of clickbait, and tabloid fodder. You have allowed that to happen. I think there is a reason that these tabloids have holiday parties at the palace. They are hosted by the palace. The tabloids are. Y, there is a construct that is a play there.

FOSTER: She also spoke of outlets working with her estranged father to publish private information, which has lead to a lawsuit that she, recently won. Now, Harry and Meghan's tumultuous relationship with U.K. tabloids, seems to be continuing. As the fallout of their explosive interview ricochet's worldwide. Max Foster, CNN, Windsor, England.


CHURCH (on camera): And here is a look at some of the headlines splashed across other newspapers around the world. From Australia, to India, the Harry and Meghan interview is front and center.

Well, the palace is scrambling to respond to shocking allegations of racism. Megan told Oprah Winfrey how someone, within the household had asked about how dark the skin tone of their baby son, Archie, would be. Charles Anson was Queen Elizabeth's press secretary from 1990, to 1997. And he spoke to CNN and said, there was never a strand of racism in the royal household while he was there.


CHARLES ANSON, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY TO QUEEN ELIZABETH: I would say the root of the monarchy is, very much in a multiracial society. In fact, affect the. I can't think of any other arrangement, francophone, Africa, or any other alliances which are quite as multiracial as the commonwealth. And it has been a large part of the queen's work in this range to develop that. And, in a sense, I think she has been a pioneer, a post war, multicultural society. And that is what Britain is becoming.

So, I don't think that there is embedded racism. I think what there is, in our country, in your country, of the United States, and many other countries, are individuals who have strong racist theories which they actively promote, and tweet, and retweet on social media.

So, it gives a sense of a society that has a strong streak in it. But I suspect it is less people, with a rather large or, exaggerated voice. I don't sense an embedded form of racism, at all.


CHURCH (on camera): And for much more on the British royal family, check out our news service, and you can sign up for our new weekly news letter.

The crackdown in Myanmar, now extends to five independent media companies, which have been reporting on the coup protest, according to state run TV, the companies are now stripped of their publication licenses.


Meanwhile, military troops are occupying hospitals, and can be seen here, storming a University campus in Mandalay. Well, Paula Hancocks is in Seoul, she joins us now with the latest. So, Paula, what more are you learning about Myanmar's military cracking down on an independent reporting of the protests, and the occupational hospitals and University campuses?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, Rosemary, we have really seen, from the beginning of this coup on February 1st, the military trying to control the narrative. We had seen them amend certain laws, change the rules so that it became a criminal offense, effectively, to say anything that could disparage the military. So certainly, they have been trying to control the military from the beginning. This is going a bit further though, as you say, they have suspended the licenses of five independent media organizations.

Now, we heard from two of those organizations who insisted that they will continue to show what is happening in the country, and we are seeing that, one of them, for example, is still on YouTube showing what is happening. We are also seeing an awful lot on social media, on live streams, not just from the media, but from protesters themselves. Knowing how important it is that they can show exactly what is happening in their country. Now we have also, as you say, been seeing the military taking over

some hospitals and universities. We heard from the U.N. that the high office for commissioner for the human rights saying that they had heard at least five hospitals have been occupied, although they are not specifying by the military themselves.

But pointing out that that is against international humanitarian law, the hospitals are protected and should not be occupied in any way. Calling for the military, or calling for the occupiers to move away. Now, the military has pointed out that they believe that they are, quote, maintaining these hospitals. Saying, certain doctors and nurses, had not been doing their job. We know that they have been a big part of the civil disobedience movement. And so that is the rationale from the military point of view.

Another thing we want to point out, as well, a different turn of events that we saw overnight in one neighborhood of Yangon. We saw, according to local media and Reuters, the police actually, cornering hundreds of protesters. Threatening to go door to door, finding out who is not from that district, and then arresting them.

Now, dozens are reported to have been arrested, but this particular incident did spark some pretty strong international condemnation. The U.S., the U.K, the U.N., the secretary general also saying that this should stop, that they should not be allowed to happen. And the police and the security forces did in the early hours of this morning, move away. So, most of those protesters were allowed to go home, but it is another tactic that we are seeing from security forces that we haven't seen in the past. Rosemary?

CHURCH (on camera): Alright. Our Paula Hancocks, bringing us up to date on the situation in Myanmar, I appreciate it. Well, meanwhile, a former U.N. special rapporteur on Myanmar says the military's actions should be condemned.


YANGHEE LEE, U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON MYANMAR: I must say that the recent crackdown on the media, and detaining of reporters and especially female reporters. And I'm not going to say just female reporters, but what has been the trend now is that the security forces are arresting more women, and detaining them, and many parents do not know where their daughters are. And this is alarming, and this should not go on, and it should be stopped, and it should be condemned world over.

I've heard a credible and very viable report, that one town (inaudible) about 300 women were minor detained, were rounded up and detained. And we see more reports coming into us saying that women are being more targeted in this recent crackdown, and many of them are the inside prison, and of course many are elsewhere too. And as I said many of the families don't know the whereabouts of their daughters


CHURCH (on camera): A Supreme Court justice, in Brazil has annulled all criminal convictions of former Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Meaning, he is free to run for office once again. Lula was convicted for corruption, and money laundering, in 2017. But the Supreme Court ruled the judge in those cases, lacked jurisdiction. Lula says the decision proved his innocence. His supporters had this reaction.


UNKNOWN (through translator): If I were Bolsonaro, I would not sleep peacefully. Because I'm sure that on January 1st, 2023, he will be passing the presidential sash to Lula.


UNKNOWN (through translator): The feeling of hope, it's a feeling that we have a chance to reestablish democracy in our country and fight for our rights.


CHURCH (on camera): Brazil's Attorney General, plans to appeal. Well, this is CNN Newsroom, coming up, we have more from Brazil as Rio de Janeiro faces a COVID crisis. The city's ICUs are on the brink of collapse with capacity at 96 percent.

Plus, get a vaccine, get more freedoms. Details on the green passes Israel is offering to those who are vaccinated against COVID.


CHURCH: Italy is now the sixth country to top 100,000 COVID deaths. The Prime Minister here is also an uptick in new cases link to COVID variants and that the strain first identified in the U.K. has become prevalent in Italy. Meantime Italy has approve the AstraZeneca vaccine for those over 65. Just as other European countries have done. Almost 5.5 million people, across Italy have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine.

Well, the COVID crisis, in Brazil, is worsening. It reported more than 80,000 new COVID cases in one day. The largest daily increase in two months. ICUs, had been stretched across the country, Rio de Janeiro's hospital system is close to collapse with ICU occupancy at 96 percent.

And CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is following this story from London. He joins us now live. So, Nick, how bad is the situation in Brazil? And why is the president not doing anything about it?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): It's still the numbers first, Rosemary. Utterly extraordinary. Last week its highest death toll at 1,910 reported last Tuesday. And, over Sunday, there was a startling leap in the number of cases reported in Brazil. 80, 000, the largest uptick in two months. And we've seen this happen before with the numbers just get utterly terrifying.

And that appears to be the case now as well, and we are starting, of course, to see a really flashing red light in the ICU ward of Brazil. As you mentioned there, specifically, Rio de Janeiro in the high 90s. Other ICUs, across the country, reporting 90 percent occupancy. That's when it starts to be reflected in and even more staggeringly alarming death toll.

What is the president doing about it? What we have seen a split Brazil in the past where local governments, like Sau Paulo, now declare red measures where they say that only a central businesses can open. Brasilia, for example, the capital putting it in a night time curfew, essentially saying, if you are out at night, you shouldn't be.

But most importantly, Jair Bolsonaro drier forging his own path. We've heard this kind of rhetoric before, stateside as well. Him saying, very clearly, I have the power to decree a lockdown and Brazil, but I won't do it.


He was talking to agricultural workers there. He went on to say, you didn't stay at home like cowards, we have to face our problems, to stopped being sisis, enough whining, how long are they going to keep on crying? We have to confront our problems, respect the elderly in those with illnesses and chronic conditions, but where is Brazil going to end up if we all stop?

Again, these sorts of comments, obviously, appealing to people who don't like the difficult things of mask-wearing, and staying at home etcetera. He's always said the economy should come first. He's had the disease himself, and is now saying, that he's actually going to wait for the vaccine until other people have had it first, after previously disparaging comments about it.

But it is, when you hear the central messaging from the most powerful person in the country essentially saying, look, just get on with it, ignore it. Where else do you see numbers like this rockets, I'm sure that's familiar for some people in United States as well.

But it is the real sign in Brazil. What we are seeing here is a slow rollout of exactly how bad a pandemic can get if you have key parts of the government giving a message saying, this isn't really a problem, you need to hold to your daily life to confront, Rosemary.

CHURCH: It is astounding, and tragic at the same time. Nick Paton Walsh, with that report, many thanks.

Well, Iraq is extending its COVID restrictions for two more weeks, it is part of a nationwide effort to contain the spread of the virus. This includes a full curfew on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, through March 22nd. The restrictions also impacts entertainment venues like theaters, which must remain closed.

On Monday, Iraq's health ministry reported more than 4,400 new confirmed cases, and 16 deaths. Iraq has reported more than 731,000 infections since the pandemic started.

In Syria, President Bashar al Assad, and his wife, have tested positive for COVID-19. The president's office say the Assad's are in stable condition, and planned to self isolate for two, or three weeks. Syria has recorded more than 45,000 positive cases, and more than 2,000 COVID deaths since the pandemic started. That is according to local health officials.

With Israel's vaccination program moving at lightning speed, the country is easing more restrictions, and issuing, so called, green passes. Giving those who have been vaccinated more freedom. Our Sam Kiley joins us now from Jerusalem with the details. Good to see you, Sam. So, you talk to some Israeli's who are now, are using these green passes. How do they work exactly?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, Rosemary, these green passes are vaccination certificates, the type of, which everyone is familiar with the yellow fever vaccination certificate, without which, you cannot visit many countries around. That's been the case for many decades, similar sort of thing being issued, vaccination certificate by the Israeli authorities, that is carried on a phone and it has a bar code that allows a link to the ministry of health website.

Have to say, the app roll out has not gone particularly well for the government, but what has gone fairly well, at least for the population, is the opportunity to get out, get into restaurants, bars and hotels. This is what it looked like the moment is started happening.


KILEY (voice over): An hour before reopening, Israeli celebrity chef, Assaf Granit, is on site for the renaissance of the kitchen at the center of his restaurant empire.

UNKNOWN: It's like a re-branding. It's like reopening all over again. Let's see it's going to -- I think lunch will be, slowly, picking up. And then they're already booked. So, it will be a long, and happy day.

KILEY: It is so surprising really that there's a party atmosphere her in (inaudible) Yehuda, it's perhaps the most famous restaurant in the city, famous for its high energy music, high energy food, high energy chef, but also, it's going to be working at 75 percent capacity, patrons have to be 6 feet 2 meters apart that is going to be policed, and vigilated by extra member of staff. And this is all going to be a result of the introduction of the Israeli queen passport, the vaccinations certificates that means that slowly, at least, this economy could recover.

First in line, 30 minutes ahead of their booking, a couple from Tel Aviv, proud of their vaccine passes.

UNKNOWN: We have it on the phone, but here, you can see.

UNKNOWN: Wonderful.

KILEY: Why are you so excited?

UNKNOWN: After one year. KILEY: 40 percent of Israelis have had both vaccine shots, and can

now enjoy new freedoms to attend concerts, hotels, restaurants, bars, even universities with some limits on total numbers. But the fears of another lockdown loom over even the most optimistic. Renewed restrictions would be ruinous.


About 5 million Israelis has have the first dose of the vaccine. A world leading level of take up. Even though ultra orthodox Jews, and Israeli Arabs, are lagging behind. It's an achievement that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party will trumpet in a couple of weeks remaining before elections here.

How does it feel to be opening?

UNKNOWN: A little scary and very exciting.

KILEY: Why is it scary?

UNKNOWN: First of all, opening up, getting customers again, it's been a year.

KILEY: He's screening customers for vaccine certificates.

What if people don't have it?

UNKNOWN: They can sit outside.

KILEY: Not a bad option. After all, spring is in the air.


KILEY (on camera): Now, Rosemary, just yesterday, the fifth -- the 5 millionth Israeli to received a vaccine got the shot, so that is a landmark moment for Israel which is also imposing, or experimenting, with a lateral test on people getting onto aircrafts. And not only do they have to have a PCR test in order to fly, but they're also being tested 15 minutes prior to getting on an aircraft.

So, the first aircraft empirically had no COVID carriers recently took out, took off from (inaudible), on the edge of Tel Aviv. But Israel, really, is anxious to get this, completely, to the level where they can achieve a herd immunity. And the government reckons that they will be able to achieve that in about a month. Rosemary?

CHURCH (on camera): Impressive progress being made there. We'll keep an eye on all of that. Sam Kiley, joining us from Jerusalem, many thanks for that report.

Well, England got its first dose of normality in months when students headed back to school Monday. It is the first step in Prime Minister Boris Johnson plan to reopen Britain. He praised parents, and teachers, for keeping children educated throughout the lockdown. But, did acknowledge that opening schools would have an impact on the virus. He said, people need to continue following the rules if they wanted to see the country open up further.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: At all times, and as we decide on the next steps forward, and when we take them, we will be driven by the data. And, with a number of patients being admitted to hospital with COVID each day, still, around eight times higher than the lows of last summer. It is more vital, than ever to follow the rules. Hand, face, space, and please continue to stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives.


CHURCH (on camera): And here in the United States, the CDC has just issued new guidelines for people who are fully vaccinated. That applies to more than 30 million Americans, right now. The CDC says fully vaccinated people can safely visit with other vaccinated people, indoors, without masks, also social distancing. And they can visit small groups of unvaccinated people, who are at low risk for severe disease. But fully vaccinated Americans are still encourage to avoid travel. The CDC director explains why.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CHIEF INFECTIOUS DISEASES DIVISION, MASS GENERAL HOSPITAL: Every time that there is a surge in travel, we have a surge in cases in this country. We know that many of our variant had emerge on international places and we know that travel corridors are place where people are mixing a lot. We are really trying to restrain travel at this prime period of time. And we are hopeful that our next set of guidance will have more science around what vaccinated people can do, perhaps travel being among them.


CHURCH (on camera): And the airline industry is pushing back against this guidance. It says, flying poses a low risk of infection, because of heavily filtered air and federally mandated mask wearing.

Around the world, huge crowds mark international women's day. Ahead, a loo at several cities where people pack the streets, demanding equality.



CHURCH (on camera): International Women's Day, was marked with protests against government leaders in a number of countries. Demonstrators clashed with police in Mexico City as women spoke out against the violence, they say, they face every single day. Women in the Philippines denounced President Rodrigo for what they say are abuse of security policies. And, in Paris, demonstrators call for day of feminist strikes to condemn injustices against women.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ZAHRA ARSALN, PROTESTER (through translator): We had to question our

place some society. Why would I do the same job, and put in the same effort, that I am paid less for example?

GABRIEL VERGNE, PROTESTER (through translator): I'm here today because Women's rights are humans rights in my opinion, and it is important to take part in the fight, that women's rights, are human rights that must be won, and are extremely precious.


CHURCH (on camera): The cofounder of the Gates foundation, used the data to point out 47 million women, around the world, are falling into poverty due to this pandemic. Melinda Gates says women are dropping out of the workforce in droves.


MELINDA GATES, CO-CHAIR GATES FOUNDATION: So, we have to look at three things, governments are starting to do this. They have to look at the caregiving work that women do, the unpaid caregiving work. That is 30 hours a week globally for women. That is almost a full-time job. We have to address that sector, the unpaid work that is happening in the caregiving.

Secondly we need to realize that women are in these informal jobs around the world, and so we need to do things like digitize social payments to them, to support them, during this time. And third, we need to look at women's jobs and realize that women led businesses are some of the most new and fragile in the economy, and are things that we need to do to prop up those women lead businesses, so they don't collapse and go away.


CHURCH (on camera): An important message there. And on a lighter note, many people love pizza, but not many of us are used to paying $360 for one. That is how much this pizza in Tunisia will cost you, as you can see, it is a little different. It is covered with luxury foods, and edible gold leaf. The restaurants owner admits that his creation may not be for everyone.


AHMED HERGAL, FOUNDER, DAPIETRO PIZZERIA (through translator): There are many people who understood this initiative differently and said, why do you make such expensive pizza? While you live in a country that is going through a crisis? This pizza is not for everyone, it is directed, mostly, to people who come from abroad, or to Tunisian's who want it. As, there are people who travel, to buy expensive food. We bring it to them here because, now, they cannot travel, due to the coronavirus situation.


CHURCH (on camera): And thank you so much for joining us this hour, I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with more news in just a moment. Do stay with us.