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Queen Elizabeth II Responded to Prince Harry and Meghan; Duke and Duchess Not Treated Unfairly; NLD Member Died of Torture in Myanmar; Security Forces Raided Workers in Myanmar; Bad Leadership Resulting to More Deaths in Brazil. Russia Struck a Deal with European Countries; Sussex's Bombshell Interview A Big Hit With U.K. Audience; Piers Morgan Storms Off Set, Quits Morning Show; Palace Watchers Compare Meghan And Diana Interviews; Uyghur Genocide Report As China Vehemently Denied Claims; Russia And China Plan To Build Lunar Space Station; Dozens Drown After Migrant Boats Sink Off Tunisian Coast; WHO one in three women subjected to physical or sexual violence; Venezuelan Women Losing Access To Affordable Contraception; The Fight Against Modern-Day Slavery On March 16; Shopping For Love On Aisle Three; California Man Spends 24 Hours In Bean Dip To Save Restaurant; CDC, Almost One In 10 Americans Fully Vaccinated. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired March 10, 2021 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): 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, the queen responds to Meghan and Harry's interview but she isn't denying or apologizing. We're live in Windsor.

Failed leadership and COVID variant create a perfect storm in Brazil resulting in record deaths. And packed ICUs across the country, and it's quickly becoming a global issue. We'll explain how.

Plus, Russia turns away from NASA and makes a pact with China to build a base on the moon.

Good to have you with us.

Well there are many questions about what's next for the British royal family now that Buckingham Palace has broken its silence about Harry and Meghan's explosive television interview.

The palace in a statement on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II now says that the whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for the couple. But Harry and Meghan say the royal family subjected them to racism and neglect.

So, let's turn to CNN's Anna Stewart, she joins us live from Windsor with more. Good to see you, Anna. So, a much anticipated and a loaded statement from the queen but will it be enough to end this crisis? ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Rosemary, I think loaded is the word

because it's incredibly succinct to all of three very short paragraphs. But every single line is loaded with meaning. I think even the first line when they are saddened, but they say they are saddened to learn the full extent of challenges that Harry Meghan faced. They suggested that they weren't fully aware.

And of course, there is that in it that says recollections may vary. What a diplomatic way of essentially saying that they don't agree with the version of the events or the conversations that were had by Harry make.

However, they do recognize the seriousness of some of those allegations particularly when it comes to racism. And they really try to draw a line under the whole episode here by saying we will, you know, discuss this privately as a family. And it ends on a note of reconciliation really, saying that the royal family will always love Harry, Meghan, and archie. And I guess that will resonate with families who go through difficult times but ultimately, you're always family.

Now will this be enough to quell what has become really outrage. And it increasingly has become a Sussex versus crown sort of debate. I'm not so sure. It really depends, I think, whether people are expecting an apology because that is not what they got here. It really was just an acknowledgment. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Right, and of course Prince Charles was the first royal to appear in public since Meghan and Harry's tell-all interview. But he ignored any questions in relation to that interview. Talk to us about that.

STEWART (on camera): Yes. Well, Prince Charles it may appear rather brave, he went about business as usual which included an official visit to a vaccination center in London. Now, inevitably, someone was going to ask him what he thought about the interview. Take a watch at what happened.


UNKNOWN: Sir, can I ask what did you think of the interview?

UNKNOWN: Thank you, everyone.


STEWART (on camera): He completely dodged it. It's no surprises there. Of course, no surprise that someone was going to ask that question. And even though the statement has not come out and it came out a few hours after that visit, I think you can expect that all official engagements particularly the public are there or members of the media that they are going to ask what the royal family feel about their interview. They're going to want more reaction. But I doubt we're ever going to get any. Rosemary?

CHURCH (on camera): Yes. public appearances will never be the same for the family, I suspect. Anna Stewart joining us live from Windsor on a wet and windy day there. Many thanks.

Well the problems the Sussexes say they experienced has thrust the issue of racism inside the monarchy and the U.K. back into the spotlight.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz reports on how Britons are reacting.


OPRAH WINFREY, TV HOST: Did you leave the country because of racism?

PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX: There was a -- there was a large part of it.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER (on camera): It's the interview stirring emotions across Britain. Reactions ranging from shock to vitriolic rants by a popular white TV host.

PIERS MORGAN, CO-ANCHOR, ITN NEWS: This is a two-hour trash-a-thon. They are portraying the royal family as racist. And it's a very incendiary charge and I don't think it's fair to the royal family.


ABDELAZIZ: To angry and protective tabloid headlines. So why does the mention of racism provoke such defensive reactions in Britain? In the months after Prince Harry and Meghan stepped back as senior members of the royal family, Britain faced its own moment of racial reckoning.

UNKNOWN: Say his name!

CROWD: George Floyd!

ABDELAZIZ: Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. spread to the U.K. Tens of thousands directed their anger at the country's elite institutions of power, toppling icons of British colonialism that ignited a national debate. Yet the topic of race is considered culturally awkward, if not outright taboo.

DIANE ABBOTT, FIRST BLACK FEMALE BRITISH M.P.: The British like to think of themselves as quite liberal. And the British are quite offended if they are accused of racism. There is something about Black women, I think. There is something in this country that makes them particularly triggered. I don't know why, but it's a combination misogyny and racism and that triggered. And Meghan came into that, in space.

ABDELAZIZ: From the moment Meghan's relationship with a member of the royal family became public, her race became the subject of constant tabloid fodder and discontent. During the couple's engagement, the queen's cousin's wife apologized after wearing a controversial broach many considered racist when she met Meghan for the first time.

The couple's multicultural royal wedding offered hopes of societal change, but soon after the racist backlash continued. Meghan endured attacks for things as mundane as avocados, while her white sister-in- law by comparison, was praised.

When Meghan became pregnant with her first child, a wave of racist online abuse followed from social media trolls. After her son was born, one television presenter was fired for likening him to a picture of a chimpanzee. Through the barrage of racist attacks against his wife, Harry says he came to terms with his role in historically white institution.

PRINCE HARRY: My upbringing in the system in which I was brought up than what I was being exposed to, it wasn't -- I wasn't aware of it to start with. As sad as it is to say, it takes living in her shoes.

ABDELAZIZ: There is only one person in the world who knows what it means to be a British royal of color, Meghan.

MEGHAN, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: Growing up as a woman of color, as a little girl of color, I know how important representation is. I know how you want to see someone who looks like you in certain positions.


CHURCH (on camera): Salma Abdelaziz with that report.

Well let's bring in Queen Elizabeth the second's former press secretary, Charles Anson. He joins us via Skype from London. Thank you, sir, for talking with us.


CHURCH: So, this short statement issued on behalf of the queen was very skillfully crafted. The first line reading the whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan.

But sir, how believable is that given Meghan's cries for help were rejected, Prince Charles stopped answering Harry's calls about the problems they face, and the British tabloids kept attacking Meghan. The world knew what was going on here.

ANSON: I don't think that the British media have constantly attacked Meghan. Of course, they get strings of prejudice in any society in any media but I don't think that there is a deliberate -- no one says out deliberately to attack either of them. In fact, if you look back to the beginning of their marriage and their wedding it could not have been a more welcoming British public in British media to Meghan marrying Prince Harry on that day in 2018. And of course --


CHURCH: Certainly, it was a fairytale on that day but it all went downhill from there, didn't it?

ANSON: Well, I don't think it all went downhill. I think the entry of someone into the royal family, someone marrying into the royal family is a difficult process. You are constantly under scrutiny. Often under criticism. And that goes for all members of the royal family, it goes for other public figures as well. It's a difficult entry because you are marrying not only your future husband but you're also coming into a new job. It's not just simply a marriage. It's a marriage and a role. And I think --


CHURCH: All right, let's look at the next sentence then of the queen's statement because it reads, the issues raised, particularly that of race are concerning while some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously.


Now those words, some recollections may vary, they do appear to cast doubt on Harry's version of those conversations about his own son's skin color. How wise was that to be so dismissive of the couple's concerns about these racist overtones?

ANSON: I don't think it's intended at all to be dismissive. The queen is a fair-minded person. And she has been head of the commonwealth, the largest multiracial organization in the world for 69 years, so I don't think she needs any lessons in the importance of a multiracial society.

And I think it's quite usual for recollections of sense of conversations to vary a bit. It's not a judgment about it. It is just saying this is a fact. The queen recognizes that they must be taken very seriously particularly the question of race.

And they wish like any family to be able to discuss family conversations in a private setting and not do it all in public. And I think that's a right that every family in the world has to be able to discuss their problems, their family problems in a private setting. But the --


CHURCH: And Harry did mention in his tell-all with Oprah that Meghan offered the royal family the greatest asset to the commonwealth. An opportunity to become a diverse family reflecting the multicultural society. Why didn't they up take that opportunity? Because they didn't.

ANSON: They did take up that opportunity. Meghan, the duchess, was made patron of a major commonwealth charity. Prince Harry also involved is involved commonwealth youth affairs. They were both engaged in that. And those were patronages which the queen offered alongside being patron of the national theater and several other philanthropic organizations. So, I think that she was welcomed very warmly.

CHURCH: But clearly, if they felt included, they would've stayed. But they didn't. They left. And that was a very big step to actually come and live in America and leave the royal family. ANSON: That was a choice that they were entitled to make and they

made in close discussion with the queen who, and with of course with the prince of Wales. And as a result of those discussions the queen make it clear that she was disappointed, sorry, sad, that they felt they wanted to leave. But that they would go with her good wishes and those of the royal family, and that they would remain much loved members of that family.

And what is more, she was very careful to make sure that they knew that if they wanted to give it a yearn and talk about it again, she would always be willing to do that.

CHURCH: Charles Anson, thank you so much for talking with us. We appreciate it.

Well, security forces in Myanmar have been raiding more homes and work places since the early hours of the morning. Soldiers are searching railway stations and the homes and workshops of striking railway workers in Yangon. Myanmar's railway workers are one of the largest groups that has joined the civil disobedience movement protesting the military coup.

Meantime, a second official from Aung San Suu Kyi's party has died while in the military's custody after allegedly being tortured, that is according to the watch group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

Paula Hancocks is in Seoul, she joins us now. So, Paula, talk to us about the latest these events happening in Myanmar.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, there certainly is growing concern there as you say, the second NLD member who has died in custody. AAPP alleging that he was tortured just as they allege that a previous NLD member was tortured over the weekend.

Now, this particular one, Zaw Myat Lynn, he was arrested in the night in Tuesday morning, about 1.30 in the morning according to local reports. And then later his family was told that he had passed away. Now, we have spoken to a family friend who say that they are still waiting for the NLD members' body as well from the military hospital.

So, certainly this is of concern. There are dozens of NLD members who are currently imprisoned by the military leadership, and certainly those who are free will be concerned about what is about to happen going forward.

Now we have heard from the military themselves though through state media, they say at this point that the security forces and the police are using minimal force. We heard something very different though from activists, from protesters and also from the U.S. State Department.


The spokesman, Ned Price saying that the U.S. is, quote, "repulsed by the military regime's continue use of lethal force against the people of Burma." So, rejecting the military group's claims that the police themselves are using minimal force at this point.

Now there are other groups that are being targeted by the military. This Wednesday, as you mentioned, Rosemary, the railway groups are the ones that -- were one of the first big groups to go on strike and to joined the civil disobedience movement. There were early morning dawn raids at some railway stations, some housing and workshops of those workers.

We are still trying to gain information as to whether they were injuries, whether there were arrest in those predawn rains. And then also there were some raids on media groups as well. This comes just a day after five independent news outlets had their licenses revoked.

And we know that there have been a number of raids of those media groups across the country. Although, some of those media groups that we've spoken to say that they will continue to operate albeit a little more under the radar. Appreciating the dangers that journalists will now be. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Our Paula Hancocks bringing us the very latest on events in Myanmar. Many thanks.

Well, amid the violence in Myanmar, a nun made a courageous but ultimately futile plea to police in one northern town. She begged them to stop shooting protesters. They told her they were just clearing the road. But gunfire began moments later. The nun and other witnesses say at least two protesters were killed and several others injured.

Still to come on CNN Newsroom, a fast spreading variant, a lack of government restrictions, and a slow pace of vaccinations. A look at why Brazil's coronavirus crisis is worsening.

And Western Europe is about to become a new center for manufacturing from Russia's COVID vaccine. We will find out how that's happening even though the vaccine isn't approved there. We're back in a moment.


CHURCH (on camera): Brazil is now reporting its deadliest day yet in the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, the country's health ministry reported nearly 2,000 COVID deaths in a 24-hour period.

Brazil remains one of the hardest hit countries with the second highest death toll in the world behind the U.S. That's according to Johns Hopkins University. A new wave of infections is pushing the health care system to the brink. Hospital ICUs in half of the country are at more than 90 percent occupancy.

One woman who lost a parent to the virus says not enough people are taking the pandemic seriously.



PAMELA GABRIELA OROZCO, DAUGHTER OF COVID-19 VICTIM (through translator): Every minute a family member is lost. This is not normal. This cannot be trivialized. We are paying the cost for the selfishness that we see at the end of the year and at the beginning of the year. Now more than ever, people have to understand the seriousness of this. Unfortunately, every family is paying for the irresponsibility of others.


CHURCH (on camera): Joining me to discuss this is infectious disease expert Dennis Carroll. Thank you so much for talking to us.


CHURCH: So, we are seeing hospitals in Brazil on the brink of collapse with deaths from COVID-19 reaching record levels, and still the country's president refuses to do anything about it. Is Brazil at crisis point?

CARROLL: Well, again, I think what we are watching in Brazil is the consequences of failed political leadership. Until six weeks ago in the United States, we had something not dissimilar. And fortunately, we found that when political leadership steps forward, we can begin to martial the right resources, to be able to begin bringing this virus under control.

And one would hope given the extraordinary circumstances underplay in Brazil right now that there will be a dramatic rethink about how leadership addresses this problem. And it's clearly putting Brazilians at risk, but with the emergence of these new variants, we're also seeing it puts the world at risk.

CHURCH: Right. And of course, Brazil has only vaccinated about four percent of its population. So, the slow pace of vaccination along with the spread of the Brazilian variant and the lack of these restrictions has created this crisis. And you mentioned the leadership issue.

I mean, you've got the situation with a president who has the power to call for a lockdown but chooses not to do this. So where do you see this going and is this time for the international community to step in?

CARROLL: Well, first off, let's remember that Brazil is also a country that has been a leader in universal healthcare. They have provided excellent vaccination coverage in the past. So, they have the infrastructure and the capability to be able to address this virus. It is a matter of leadership failing to really mobilize the resources that are within Brazil.

Secondly, we can't look at Brazil isolated from the reality that the whole world is vulnerable to the spread of these variants. And at some point, the global community has to begin addressing the shared risk of how a variant like this could undermine the progress that is being made elsewhere where these measures of the masks and social distancing, but also the vaccinations are bringing this virus under control. It's really vulnerable to a variant of the type that is not spreading.

So, it's not just a Brazil issue. It is a global issue that ultimately is going to require a shared global response.

CHURCH: And how -- how does the international community go about doing that or intervening in some ways? Is that possible or do we have to stand by and watch Brazil fail, in essence?

CARROLL: Well, it's a very good question. We don't have great examples of how the global community can respond. I think first and foremost, there needs to be an effort to make greater availability of the vaccines that do work available to Brazil to be able to bring this under control.

And secondly, there needs to be the offer of assistance, whether it is from the larger international community or from regional, such as PAHO, to be able to work with Brazilian authorities to really mobilize the kind of response.

So, we can't look at this in isolation. We need to look at all of the resources available. But how to do that within a politically-charged environment is a challenge. But hopefully, both the countries of South America and the global community at large can come together to work with Brazilian authorities to be able to address this as a shared risk, a share venture, and a shared action.

CHURCH: Let's hope that can happen. Dennis Carroll, thank you so much for talking with us.

CARROLL: Thank you very much.

CHURCH (on camera): Well, there has been an increase in the number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs across France. Authorities there say the numbers stands at just under 4,000. That is the highest number since November.


The head of the ICU at one hospital said they are close to capacity.


MEHRAN MONCHI, HEAD OF ICU, MELUN-SENART HOSPITAL (through translator): What his worrying is that the pressure and the limit being reached is mainly on intensive care unit beds. There is still a bit of leeway, but ICU beds in our region and a few other regions are starting to reach the limits of saturation.

This disease is still killing around 10,000 people every month in France. So, this is a serious disease.


CHURCH (on camera): Paris is seeing more than 1,000 people in ICU beds. Despite this, the head of the French health agency said a lockdown of the region was not being considered because hospitals are still holding up.

Italy's state-owned rail company has introduced a fully equipped train to transport up to 21 ICU patients to other parts of the country. They are also planning to introduce COVID-free trains on their high-speed service between Rome and Milan to start. Passengers and staff would only be allowed to board after testing negative.

And Italy is one of several western European countries where Russia's Sputnik V vaccine will be manufactured. The Russian direct investment fund says it has struck distribution deals with companies in Italy, France, Germany, and Spain. Even though the European Medicines Agency has yet to authorize its use.

CNN's Matthew Chance has more now from Moscow.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, production of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V is set to begin in Europe this summer after Russian officials tells CNN deals have been struck with facilities in Italy, Spain, Germany, and France.

The Italian-Russian Chamber of Commerce has welcomed the deal, it would say it will see the Italy become the first E.U. country to produce Sputnik V. A Russian vaccine which is now being approved by at least 46 countries around the world has not yet been formally registered for use by the European Union, although several E.U. countries of whether vaccine shortages have independently given it a go ahead.

E.U. officials have expressed concern that the Kremlin is using Sputnik V as a political tool to sow divisions in Europe. One European medical official recently comparing emergency approval of the vaccine to playing Russian roulette. The Russian authorities have demanded an apology for that.

Moscow Russia says its vaccine, which is shown to have been one of the world's most effective, is important in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


CHURCH: Well, rich nations are vaccinating people at the rate of one person per second, but some of the poorest nations have yet to give a single dose. That is the finding from the watchdog group the People's Vaccine Alliance. They say rich nations are blocking efforts by developing countries to waive intellectual property rights on COVID vaccines.

The World Trade Organization's Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property committee is set to meet today to discuss the issue.

Well years ago, a Uyghur businessman vanished in China after returning from the U.S. His sister says recent images of him have surfaced and they are shocking.


UNKNOWN: He lost tremendous weight. He looks like a bone with a human face, except the face is absolutely unrecognizable.


CHURCH (on camera): Ahead, why she fears her brother is one of possibly millions of ethnic minorities put into Chinese internment camps.

Plus, Russia and China have plans to build a new space station. We will tell you who they are inviting to visit.




CHURCH (on camera): Well, Meghan and Harry's bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey was a big hit with U.K. viewers. British broadcaster ITV says the two hour special attracted a peak audience of 12.4 million viewers. While it aired on Monday. That is about one fifth of the U.K.'s population. And it is the networks largest peak since the 2019 rugby world cup final.

The broadcast was especially popular among young viewers ages 16 to 34. Meantime, one of the best known morning TV host is out of a job. Piers Morgan has abruptly left Good Morning Britain. He stormed off the set. Tuesday morning after being confronted over his attacks on Prince Harry and Meghan.


UNKNOWN: You continue to trash her.

PIERS MORGAN, GOOD MORNING BRITAIN HOST: OK, I am done with. No, no, no. Sorry.

UNKNOWN: Do you know what that --

MORGAN: See you later. Sorry, can't do this.

UNKNOWN: This is absolutely, diabolical behavior.


CHURCH: Morgan's comments about the Sussex's interview Monday morning drove fierce criticism and an investigation by the U.K.'s media regulator after more than 40,000 complaints. In the past few hours, he has responded saying on Twitter that he still doesn't believe what Meghan said in her Oprah interview. Many royal watchers are drawing comparisons between Meghan's interview and a similarly shocking sit- down by Princess Diana more than 25 years ago. CNN's Max Foster has more from Windsor.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When they joined the ranks of monarchy through their world famous marriages, one was a wide eyed young British girl of 20, born with an aristocratic pedigree who barely had any worldly experience. The other, an American biracial divorcee in her thirties, an independent career woman in her own right, an actress who had already had her fair share of the limelight. But whilst the journeys that led Diana, Princess of Wales, and Meghan Duchess of Sussex to give the two most shocking interviews about the royal family are quite different.

Diana, already separated from her husband Prince Charles, Meghan, with her husband Prince Harry supportably by her side, the sit-down exposes filmed 26 years apart are hauntingly similar in describing how their lives changed after becoming part of the firm, both admitting naivety on the lives they've chosen.

PRINCESS DIANA, PRINCESS OF WALES: At the age of 19, you always think you're prepared for everything and you think you have the knowledge of what's coming ahead.

MEGHAN MARKLE, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: I didn't fully understand what the job was.

FOSTER: Both sharing the weight of being the constant focus of tabloid fodder.

PRINCESS DIANA: And I seem to be on the front of a newspaper every single day, which is an isolating experience and how the media puts you -- plays you is a big of a drop.

MARKLE: I am everywhere, but I am nowhere. And from that standpoint, I continue to say to people, I know it's an obsession with how things look, but has anyone talked about how it feels? Because right now, I could not feel lonelier.

FOSTER: The sense of loneliness and isolation leading to a deterioration of her mental health. Diana opening up about bulimia and self harm. Meghan to thoughts of suicide, leading to one overarching feeling for both, shame.

PRINCESS DIANA: I didn't like myself. I was ashamed, because I couldn't cope with the pressures.

MARKLE: I said, I was ashamed. I'm supposed to be stronger than that.

FOSTER: At their darkest moments, detailing a lack of support from the firm.


PRINCESS DIANA: When no one listens to you or you feel no one is listening to you, all sorts of things start to happen. MARKLE: And I said that I needed to go somewhere to get help because

I never felt this way before and I need to go somewhere. And I was told that I couldn't, that it wouldn't be good for the institution.

FOSTER: Both interviews noting a curiously specific similarity that the women's tours of Australia led to a rise of jealousy within the royal family. Even more alarming, the accusation from both women that the institution was not only not helping, but actively working behind the scenes to hurt them.

UNKNOWN: Do you really believe that a campaign was being waged against you?

PRINCESS DIANA: Yes I did, absolutely.


PRINCESS DIANA: I was the separated wife of the Prince of Wales. I was a problem, full stop. It never happened before, what do we do with her?

MARKLE: The narrative about you know, making Kate cry, I think was the beginning of a real character assassination and they knew it wasn't true. And I felt if they are not going to kill things like that, then what are we going to do?

FOSTER: And yet, both women ending on a note of optimism, despite the turmoil.

PRINCESS DIANA: I sit here with hope because there is a future ahead, a future for my husband, a future for myself, and a future for the monarchy.

MARKLE: We've actually not just survived, but we are thriving. You know? This, I mean, miracles. And this is in some ways just the beginning for us.

FOSTER: And while the world watched as Diana story ended in tragedy, Meghan's chapter are still being written. Max Foster, CNN, Windsor England.


CHURCH: A day after the release of a new report which says China bears responsibility for the alleged genocide of Uyghur Muslims. The U.S. State Department says there is no reason to believe the atrocities in western China have stop. The independent findings by dozens of international experts and compiled by Washington think tank accused the Chinese government of violating the U.N.'s genocide convention. And of committing systematic atrocities against the ethnic Uyghur minority.


NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Secretary Blinken have arrived at the judgment that genocide has taken place in Xinjiang. We absolutely stand by that. In fact there had been additional reports even today. Detailing allegations that -- of what has transpired in Xinjiang.


CHURCH: Sister of a Uyghur man who vanish after taking part in a program in the United States is calling on the U.S. to take actions. She says her brother is among up to two million Uyghurs and other minorities detained in interment camps in China's western Xinjiang province. CNN's Kylie Atwood has the story.


UNKNOWN: He was recently seen in a video.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Rayhan Asat hasn't seen her brother in almost five years after he returned home to China and disappeared. Now, in a rare interview with CNN, the Chinese national living in the United States says recent images of him are shocking. She has not seen them herself but says that he was described as --

RAYHAN ASAT, UYGHUR HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATE: Absolutely unrecognizable. He lost tremendous weight. He looked like a bone with a human face except the face was absolutely unrecognizable.

ATWOOD: Epkar Asat, a successful Chinese entrepreneur went missing in 2016 after arriving back in China from a safe department program in the U.S.

ASAT: He's gone by and I'm still looking for answers.

ATWOOD: She said that the Chinese government without evidence or trial sentenced him to 15 years in prison. On charges of incitement of ethnic hatred and ethnic discrimination. The Harvard law school graduate says that the 35-year-old Epkar never criticize Chinese leadership and believes he is one of up to two million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities detained by the Chinese government and put into internment camps.

ASAT: He spent three years in the concentration camps and only in January 2019, he transferred to prison.

ATWOOD: The Chinese government says it is a policy of re-education. The U.S. Government has called it genocide. The Chinese dispute those claims.

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 lie through and through.

ATWOOD: After years of staying silent, Rayhan has begun speaking out. Taking to new social media platforms and speaking with us. A great risk she says, to her and her family's lives.

What do you think would happen to you if you went back to China?


ASAT: I think I would also disappear into the shadows of these internment camps.

ATWOOD: Your parents are still in China?

ASAT: They are.

ATWOOD: Do you fear are for their safety?

ASAT: I do. Every time I speak out I do.

ATWOOD: Now, Asat is turning her attention to the new Biden administration which is facing mounting pressure from human rights advocates to hold China accountable for these camps. Former detainees tells CNN, inmates are subject to rape and forced sterilization which the Chinese government denies.

President Biden voiced concern about these alleged human rights abuses in China's Xinjiang region during his first phone call with President Xi. Biden publicly claims China will face repercussions. His administration has yet to offer specifics.

PRICE: I think the question that we are proposing to like-minded allies and partners around the world is what collectively can we do.

ATWOOD: For her part Rayhan is very clear. She believes the Biden administration must put this genocide above everything else when dealing with China.

ASAT: I would love to have an opportunity to make a case for President Biden and Secretary Blinken that any sort of future engagement with China has to have some form of conditions, and one of which to release my brother.

ATWOOD: Kaylie Atwood, CNN, the State Department.


CHURCH: Russia and China are teaming up to build a lunar space station open to all countries and international partners who are interested. It could be a sign Russia is ready to move on from its partnership with the U.S. and others involved with the international space station. And CNN's Will Ripley waiting patiently there as I read through the script. Joining us live from Hong Kong, many thanks. So, Will, how big a deal is this? And what does it reveal about relations between Russia and China?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I could sit here and listen to you all afternoon, Rosemary as you deliver that soothing introduction. But this is really interesting and exciting news for people who get excited about space. People who are looking for a distraction from everything that is happening here on earth. Because you now have Russia, which 60 years ago this year was the

first country to launch people up in space. And China, a new emerging leader in the space realm that is pumping billions of dollars into it's space program has brought back rock and soil samples from the moon for the first time in more than 40 years. And has a probe orbiting Mars. China with its money, Russia with its legacy.

Of course, Roscosmos has fallen in stature in the post Soviet years and they are starting to distance themselves from the United States and their long standing partnership, the lost the monopoly on flying people up to the international space station with Elon Musk's SpaceX started doing that. And they didn't sign the Artemis accord for lunar explorations led by NASA.

So Russia is looking for a new partner in China. And what their planning to do is something that could really be a game changer. Because they are talking about building a facility that would either orbit the moon or be on the surface of the moon or perhaps both. This would be research, it would be inviting people from all over the world if they are interested to participate. And it comes at a time that the United States is making its own plant. To fly the first woman to the moon in 2024.

They have the Perseverance Rover on Mars, sending back audio and images and trying to look for evidence of life on Mars. And there are even early plans to try to send people to mars by the United States. But now that you have Russia working together with China, it is clear that NASA and the U.S. and all of its space allies which would include Japan, you know there's that Japanese businessman that wants to fly a bunch of people on a SpaceX flight around the moon in the coming years. So this could be a really interesting moment in our history where once again, people's eyes here on earth will be turning up to the sky.

CHURCH: Alright. Will Ripley joining us from Hong Kong. Many thanks as always.

Well, COVID vaccines are still hard to come by in much of the world, but birth control usually isn't. Why Venezuela is reporting a severe shortage and the effect that is having on women's reproductive health and freedom.



CHURCH: The search for survivors continues after at least 39 migrants drowned off the coast of Tunisia on Tuesday. 165 other migrants all from different parts of Africa were rescued by the Tunisian Coast Guard. They were board two boats that sunk trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to an island off the Italian coast. Human rights watch calls the central Mediterranean the deadliest migration route in the world with more than 17,000 lives lost since 2014.

In the United States, homeland security officials say an unprecedented number of migrants reached the U.S. Mexico border last month. In fact, data obtained by CNN shows more than 100,000 migrants were encountered at the border over a four-week period ending on March 3rd. That is the highest level for the same timeframe in five years. As of Monday, the DHS said more than 6,500 migrants were in border patrol custody, around half of those are children.

And what has been called the largest study of its kind, the World Health Organization says one in three women worldwide have been subjected to physical or sexual violence. And data shows the violence starts alarmingly young. The report finds one in four young women who have already been in a relationship will have experienced violence by an intimate partner by the time they reach their mid twenties.

And an estimated 37 percent of women and some of the poorest countries were subjected to violence at some point in their life. In some places, that number is closer to 50 percent. The author of the report calls it a wake up call.


CLAUDIA GARCIA-MORENO, WHO DEPARTMENT OF SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: Prevention entails action at many different sectors. We need to address women's access to education and economic empowerment and access to paid employment. We need to address the acceptability of this violence in many places and the gender inequality that kind of underpins this violence.


CHURCH: In Venezuela, many women's lives are being put at risk due to a lack of access to health services. And now, affordable birth control is also becoming tough to find. CNN's Rafael Romo explains.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice over): Women start lining up very early in the morning.

It's just impossible to find contraceptives elsewhere this woman says. What all of them have in common is they are seeking subsidized women's health services at this independent clinic in Caracas affiliated with the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

In the Venezuela of the oil boom and even during the first few years of the (inaudible)-Chavez mandate, who declared himself not only as socialist, but also a feminist. The government offered free women's health programs, contraceptives, condoms, and other birth control methods were offered at no cost. But after several years of a deep financial crisis, the current situation is dire, according to this administrator at the women's health services clinic.


For example, she says, we now have more unplanned pregnancies which are happening to younger women. We are also having higher rates of maternal mortality. Scarcity of birth control methods reached a level of a whopping 90 percent in 2018, and it has since improved to 50 percent according to a report by the Venezuelan Association of Alternative Sexual Education. But scarcity is not the only problem.

We don't have money to pay for them, this woman says. Minimum wage is not even enough to buy food, much less contraceptives or other kinds of birth control. Contraceptives that used to cost 5,000 Bolivars in local currency are now around 20 million, some $10.60 of the official exchange rate, according to Freddy Ceballos, president of the Venezuelan Federation of pharmacies. And since 95 percent of pharmaceutical products are imported, the industry depends on the U.S. dollar, a currency that has gone through the roof in the last few years.

Couples and women have to decide between buying food and getting contraceptives. That's the reality, Ceballos said. CNN recently visited several conventional pharmacies and also checked online and found that condoms cost between 2 and 8 million Bolivars, from $1 to $4. Contraceptives between 24 and 36 million from $13 to $19. An IUD's as much as 260 million or $115.

For most women, those are an affordable prices, especially considering that the monthly minimum wage is 1.2 million or 65 cents of $1 according to the official exchange rate at the Venezuelan central bank. This situation means women's health in Venezuela is as bad as it was several generations ago, according to this expert.

We could say that we are in the same situation our grandmothers and great grandmothers were. And what are the implications for women? Number one is that they end up trapped inside the home, Leon says. Not that there is anything wrong with being a mother or a housewife, she adds. The problem is the lack of choice and the risks that women are exposed to.

According to Leon, effective Women's health program were replace a few years ago by seasonal campaigns whose reach is insufficient. An official at the Venezuelan health ministry contacted by CNN recognized the government has indeed had difficulty getting enough birth control supplies, but blamed U.S. sanctions saying that they've also have had negative effects on importing food and medications.

Meanwhile at the Caracas clinic, women keep waiting, hoping that one day they wouldn't have to stand in line to get pills to avoid unplanned pregnancies and get the health services they need to live safer lives. Rafael Romo, CNN.


CHURCH: Coming up next week, CNN is partnering with young people worldwide for a student-led day of action against modern day slavery. This year, we are asking young people to make a pledge to take specific action to help end slavery around the world. So join CNN on March 16th for My Freedom Day. Sign the pledge and nominate your friends to do the same. And share your pledge on social media using the hashtag my freedom day.

Well, the phrase pick up in aisle nine has taken on a new meaning in a German grocery store. Find out what you can now shop for buying a big ruby red heart. [03:55:00]


CHURCH: Bread, milk, and a date for Friday night perhaps? It's not a typical grocery list, but a German supermarket is giving customers the chance to find love while they shop. Lonely hearts can come on the first Friday of the month, grab a numbered heart balloon and attached it to their shopping cart.

Single shoppers left the store know if they are interested in someone and leave their contact information. The store's owner say they started the event as an alternative to internet dating. Hopefully with more permanent results. Pretty unique there.

Well, many businesses are struggling of course, from the pandemic, but just how far would you go to save your favorite local restaurant? Well, for one California stuntman, it means soaking in a tub full of homemade bean dipped for 24 hours. Hunter Ray-Barker took the plunge when he heard his favorite Mexican restaurant, Los Toros was struggling to stay afloat. He says he wanted to attract more diners and hopes others will show their support.


HUNTER RAY-BARKER, CALIFORNIA STUNTMAN: I personally believe that small businesses are the backbone of the nation. I believe that it is our duty to support them. And I juts think, if we can do that in a fun way or in a way that encourages other people to you know, bring some excitement to the small businesses as well, I think that's really, really helpful.


CHURCH: Well, meanwhile, in the U.S., almost one in 10 people are fully vaccinated against COVID with about 94 million doses administered. Those lucky enough to get the vaccine are enjoying a taste of freedom and some precious and long-awaited hugs.




CHURCH: This is gorgeous. And a tender moment shows a fully vaccinated Evelyn Shaw hugging her granddaughter in New York. Shaw is a widow and lives alone, so this was her first hug in a year. Can you imagine? Her granddaughter actually got a doctor to write a prescription for that hug and put it in a sealed envelope for Shaw to open. It reads, you are allowed to hug your granddaughter. Beautiful.

Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. I will be back with more news after this very short break. Do stay with us.