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More Countries Hit Pause on AstraZeneca Vaccine; Grieving Families, Friends of Politicians Allege Torture in Myanmar; CNN Marks 10th Anniversary of Freedom Project; Top U.S. Officials Visiting Tokyo and Seoul to Bolster Ties; Hong Kong Conducting Snap Lockdowns, Forced Testing; London Sees More Protests in Wake of Everard Vigil. Aired 2- 2:45a ET

Aired March 16, 2021 - 02:00   ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Ahead this hour, violence of Myanmar escalating even further, we have accounts from protesters on what they're up against.

Also, after concerns of blood clots, some European countries pause their rollout of a COVID vaccine.

And --




CURNOW (voice-over): it is the 5th annual My Freedom Day, here at CNN and our continued effort with young people around the world, to put an end to modern slavery.

Good to have you along this hour. Live in Atlanta, I'm Robyn Curnow, you're watching CNN.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Robyn Curnow.

CURNOW: Many doses of a vaccine, much of the world's been anxious to receive, are sitting, unused, in Europe, because of growing concerns over safety.

One after another, European powers, suspending the use of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine. They want to be sure it does not cause blood clots. Top health experts and the pharmaceutical giant itself, say that there is zero evidence it does. They say the vaccines benefits far outweigh its risks. Those hitting pause include Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France

and all of those other countries you see there in red.

The U.K. and Poland, have not. Meanwhile, new cases have been flaring up across much of the region. Here you see the situation last week, when compared to the previous week. I want to talk about all of this was Cyril Vanier.

Cyril, hi, you're in London and I know you've been monitoring these developments with AstraZeneca across the European continent. Tell us more about these countries who are stopping the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Is this about politics?

Or is there real concern here?

CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Robyn, it is fair to say there is real concerns. Both about the frequency of which adverse health effects have been affecting vaccine recipients and the unusual nature of these health events.

The Netherlands is now the latest country to suspend AstraZeneca but studying that case, I think, there is an interesting light on all of this. 5 days ago, the Netherlands said, look, we understand that there are cases of blood clots among vaccine recipients but this is no cause for alarm, because at anytime, there are people who develop blood clots, including people who die of blood clots.

So it is no different within the vaccinated population than it is within the non vaccinated population. That was the Netherlands position 5 days ago. Then, on Sunday, it changed their mind in light of new information because they had cases that were brought to them from Norway and Denmark, because Europe is sharing this information that showed, some patients had developed adverse health effects.

There were multiple deaths and it wasn't just the blood clots, it was an unusual combination of symptoms of blood clots, bleeding and low platelet counts. When they looked at that and across the European landscape, seeing that there were several instances of that, they said, we need to put this on pause and wait for a thorough assessment by the European Medicines Agency.

Now a majority of European countries, basically, agree with this line of thinking. We are waiting for the assessment, that should occur on Thursday. And Robyn, I need to present the other side of this argument, which is upheld by the U.K., by the World Health Organization, by the EMA itself and AstraZeneca, the drugmaker.

They say there is no higher prevalence of blood clots within the vaccinated population. I want to redo the AstraZeneca statement, it says, a careful review of all available safety data, more than 17 million people vaccinated in the E.U. and the U.K., with AstraZeneca has shown no evidence of the increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis or thrombocytopenia in any defined age group, gender, batch or any particular country. It is with the experts now and no, it is not political, it is really

about how you read the science.

CURNOW: OK, thank you so much, Cyril Vanier.

I want to go over to Fred Pleitgen in Germany.

I want to get specific feedback from what is happening there. Of course, fierce criticism in Germany about the slow rollout of vaccines there.

How is Angela Merkel justifying the halt of AstraZeneca where you are?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think this is having a big effect here in Germany and certainly, AstraZeneca with what's happening right now, Germany halted as well.


PLEITGEN: It really feeds into in a volatile situation here in the country and you have seen erosion of trust in Angela Merkel and trust in government as well. We saw that in two regional elections, just this past weekend.

With AstraZeneca right now, with Germany halting those inoculations, of course, what Cyril was talking about it there, it really is increasing some of that political distrust as well.

It mentions, absolutely correct, you have a very slow rollout of vaccinations here and one of the reasons for that was the German medical agency, at the beginning, only approved AstraZeneca for people up to the ages of 65.

It caused huge distrust in that vaccine to begin with, they then changed that recommendation and just started to get to trust in AstraZeneca again. The amount of unused doses in this country was going down. Now they stop the use of that vaccine, again there is a huge public criticism of that move here.

There is health experts from other parties, independent health experts, who were saying that they don't believe that is a smart move. There were several cases here in Germany of blood clotting among 1.6 million people who are inoculated or received a shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The German medical regulator, however, says that those 7 cases were in very close proximity to the time that those people got vaccinated. Nevertheless, the criticism is there and certainly, Angela Merkel is under fire. The health minister is under even more fire as, once again, the vaccination campaign has sputtered.

At the same time you have a situation where the amount of new cases of COVID-19 are going up in this country as well. So it is feeding a growing distrust of Angela Merkel. You and I have been on TV, so many times during this pandemic. And in the beginning, we talked so much about how Germany is getting

it done, one of the role models for the world. Certainly, it doesn't look like that anymore here in this country. And really, this latest AstraZeneca backlash is causing political problems for Angela Merkel and a big health issue as well in this country.

CURNOW: Of course, exhaustion by ordinary Germans who are having these interminable lockdowns as well. I think that is playing into it as well. Fred, lovely to see you, live, from Berlin.

A year after ordering the first COVID lockdown in Europe, Italy has reimposed restrictions to contain a third wave there. The new measures are affecting half of the country, including places like Venice, normally bustling with tourists this time of year.

For reference, this is what the city looked like in November. This is what it looked like on Monday.

You didn't hear much, because the streets and canals have literally fallen silent with nonessential businesses closed and people ordered to stay indoors. Soon, more regions will look like this over the Easter weekend.

Restrictions will be expanded nationwide in Italy, before they are set to expire on April 6th.

There are renewed, urgent calls, for an end to escalating violence in Myanmar, despite nearly 100 pro democracy protesters killed in just 48 hours. Demonstrations have not stopped.

The junta imposed martial law in parts of Yangon and reportedly, in Mandalay as well. The U.N. secretary general, saying that he was appalled and called on the international community to help end the brutal crackdown by the military. Paula Hancocks, in Seoul, with the latest on this.

I know you have been monitoring this continued uptick in violence against protesters.

What has happened today?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's people on the streets of Myanmar today and despite the fact that there is risk to protesters. There is an uptick in violence used by the ruling authority, security forces, that has been borne out by the high level of those being killed over the last couple of days.

State run media from the military rulers this Tuesday as well, talking about two particular politicians, former members of the National League for Democracy, who died in custody. There have been allegations from their friends and family of torture.

The military saying that all talks to the NLD and all of the investigations have been carried out properly. But that is not what their friends and family say. And a warning that this upcoming report does contain some disturbing scenes. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HANCOCKS (voice-over): An all too familiar scene in Myanmar these days, the funeral, for yet another killed, by increasingly violent security forces. Kim Vun Lap (ph) was a member of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.


HANCOCKS (voice-over): The 58 year-old politician was supposed to be part of the new democratic Myanmar, instead fiercely critical of the military coup. Witnesses say he was taken from his home in Yangon in the middle of the night and was dead within a day.

His family showed us photos of the body, which showed wounds suffered while in the junta's custody. The wound, at the back of the head, one friend says he believes it is clear what happened.

He says, "The wounds he received could only be from intense torture."

The military has not responded to our request for comment. Just days later, Zom Yat Lin (ph) was arrested in the early hours of the morning. He, too, was dead within a day. Footage of his body shows significant injuries to his abdomen and face. The junta says he fell from a building onto a steel fence while trying to escape.

His wife says there is no steel fence near their home.

She says, "The soldiers have bayonets on their guns with a serrated edge on one side and a blade on the other. I think that is what was used to kill my husband. His neck is sewn up as well. They cut his neck and stabbed his stomach and killed him brutally and inhumanely."

The U.S. State Department, condemning, quote, "security forces' actions that resulted in the deaths of two NLD members."

The U.N. envoy from Myanmar said she has heard direct accounts of prisoners being tortured. The nighttime arrests continue, including NLD member Jamal (ph), seen here, on CCTV footage, being pushed in to the back of a military jeep. His family says they've heard nothing since. One of hundreds that have disappeared, hundreds more in hiding.

"I am constantly on the move," he says, "constantly switching places. I too have been to prison for over 10 years and I was tortured, made to sign confessions. I can't be arrested again."

Zom Yat Lin's (ph) widow says that she has lost all hope and direction. But has to carry on for their 10-year-old son. She says she is heartbroken but proud of her husband for showing the world how brutal the military can be.


HANCOCKS: One advocacy group say over 120 people have been arrested or charged or sentenced. There are many concerns for those in custody, many of whom have not been able to be in contact with their families -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Thank you, Paula, powerful piece there, live in Seoul.


CURNOW: Every year for the past five, CNN has partnered with young people worldwide for a student-led day of action against modern day slavery. And today is the day. It is My Freedom Day.

This year we are asking young people to pledge and do what they can to end slavery. Here are a few students from Nigeria and Abu Dhabi, here's what they had to say about freedom.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to become (INAUDIBLE) because I like to cook.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I grow up, I want to be a firefighter. I am free to do whatever I want.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to become a ballerina because I love dancing. And I am free to be a dancer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel free when I get to water board.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel free when I'm able to play tennis.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel free when I get to skate.


CURNOW: That last group of students is from the American Community School in Abu Dhabi, that's where our Becky Anderson joins us now.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): A very good morning to you from Abu Dhabi, Robyn. The morning is relatively mild, unusual for this time of the year. We're blessed this morning.

I'm with the student council here at ACS, we will be talking to them momentarily. There are 1,200 students at this school, 62 nationalities. Over the last five years, ACS has embedded MyFreedomDay into the curriculum.

And we have seen activities, writing, performances, songs, reflecting how passionate these students are about helping to end modern day slavery.

We have video of year 5 this year, who wrote and performed a TED talk, talking about the importance of ending modern day slavery. Right through the year groups we have seen passionate enthusiasm from the students here at ACS, who are back at school for a month.


ANDERSON: Despite the COVID restrictions, the social distancing and the regular testing, it's safe to say the students, or at least most of them, are happy to be here.

Absolutely, great.

Year 5 have been writing and performing a TED talk. This year, year 6, they have been giving out these, which are friendship bracelets. They actually made these this time last year for Freedom Day.

But because of the coronavirus, they weren't able to distribute them on camera. SO they're year 6 this year and most of the members of the student council are wearing these today as well.

My friends here are in grade 11, mostly. They have all been working on a really important initiative. Let me introduce you to some of them.

What does Freedom Day mean to you?

Talk to me about when you have been working on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom to means to be able to stand up for what I believe in and to speak and act independently and to advocate for those who can't. Something I am passionate about is migrant worker rights.

Although there is a labor law, oftentimes this is not enforced and workers can get trapped in a cycle of debt bondage which can restrict their freedom of movement. Something I've been working on is the ACS labor values. These values will protect the human rights of the workers at our school, including the construction of the new campus.

ANDERSON: That's fantastic.

What does freedom really mean to you?

When you started thinking about this incredible project, well done to you, Bella, what does freedom really mean?

How did it resonate with you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom means to be able to do whatever you want and however you want, without anything restricting you. For example, these values will be able to protect the rights of the workers and have them be able to be free from any debt that they may face.

ANDERSON: Excellent.

Sharice and Aiden, I know you've both been working on an initiative together. Tell me about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Aiden and I are both part of (INAUDIBLE) admissions program. It is yes, which is really the staple for the high school for a couple of years. Now and part of that is because the student body is so active politically and socially.

So what we do is we simulate the U.N. committee, General Assembly and other committees for debates, on a plethora of world issues. So (INAUDIBLE) opportunity of change for the students. They've allowed them to come and collectively (INAUDIBLE) from multiple different global sectors, which is something that they're really passionate about.

ANDERSON: You're looking at this from the prism of sustainable development goals, as I understand it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, recently we held a panel with our service coordinators and people who have done real change in the world. We had an interview with them to talk about anyone can sort of walk the walk. We were able to discuss the different types of (INAUDIBLE) that we can incorporate into our missions, in our everyday lifestyle.

We talked about poverty, the 10, which is diminishing the equality thing and 16 as the institutions. (INAUDIBLE) kind of serves the platform for that. We are able to talk about change and hopefully inspire people in the future to continue with that urge.

ANDERSON: Amazing. And using the United Nations to work through the ideas behind modern day slavery, I want to hear from you, what are you doing?

What are you up to?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we are in 2021 and people are still being deprived of their most fundamental human right, the right to be free. This past year, I've been taking activism and I've really come to the realization that the younger generation is the main leader of change.

And we are capable to change a lot and spread awareness. We also represent peace and we represent the future. If we work together, we can eradicate modern slavery and make the world a much better place.

ANDERSON: Matthew, you summed it up. Thank you everybody, these are the members of the student council here. I know there are lots of other initiatives that we were unable to get to.

Matthew really summed it up there. This is a generation that is impassioned about change and about helping others in this goal that is modern day slavery. We will hand it back to you as these students take the pledge, MyFreedomDay pledge is here. They will be signing throughout the day.

CURNOW: Thank you so much, Becky.

Also wherever you are in the world, you can take the pledge on social media, using the hashtag My Freedom Day. Tune in this weekend for the Freedom Day Global Forum, you will hear from hundreds of students across five continents to spread awareness and eradicate modern day slavery.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN -- CURNOW: So North Korea is sending the Biden administration an ominous

message as two top U.S. officials sit down to talks in Tokyo this hour, we have that next.




CURNOW: Right now top U.S. and Japanese officials are sitting down for what's called 2 plus 2 talks. U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are in Japan and South Korea on a fence mending trip.

But it isn't sitting well with North Korea and Kim Jong-un's sister had a warning for the U.S.

She said, "If the Biden administration wants to sleep in peace for the coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step."

With me now to talk more about this is Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University in Tokyo.

It's not like the secretary of state and Defense Secretary expected a warm welcome from the North Koreans.

But what do you make of this message?

Is it a signal of strength or weakness from the North Korean leadership?

What do they want by saying don't cause a stink?

JEFFREY KINGSTON, TEMPLE UNIVERSITY, TOKYO: Well, I think that is sort of mission impossible. I think already the stench is carrying over to Pyongyang, that they are signaling to the Biden administration that we're going to be playing hard to get. They have not responded to calls by the Biden administration to call them.

What they don't want is what Secretary Blinken will do, reaffirm American commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. So whatever comes out of the meeting will be unwelcome in Pyongyang and I don't think that's really the concern of the secretary of state or the Secretary of Defense.

CURNOW: Even though Mr. Blinken is in Japan now and this is the first stage of the trip, the looming question is less about by lateral relations and more about China, isn't it, and Chinese belligerence and threats.

Mr. Blinken and Mr. Lloyd has said that allies are like force multipliers. They want friends like South Korea and Japan to be this bulwark against Chinese ambitions.

How receptive are these allies to this charm offensive?

KINGSTON: Well, former president Trump set the bar pretty low. He was very erratic. He was considered to be an unreliable ally, cozying up to Kim Jong-un, treating his allies somewhat shabbily. So I think this charm offensive will go over well.

I think the symbolism is very important. By making Japan the first to visit, making Tokyo a priority, that will go down really well here. The alliance is the cornerstone of their foreign policy. And they feel they live in a dangerous neighborhood.


KINGSTON: So, yes, they will be talking about China and the threat that a rising China poses to not only the interests of the United States but to Japan and South Korea. So that is going to be high on the agenda.

CURNOW: How concerned -- when we talk about the agenda -- are folks in the region about Taiwan and the possibility of a showdown over Taiwan?

KINGSTON: Defense Secretary Austin will have a separate meeting with the minister of defense about Taiwan. I think they are more concerned about what's going on in the disputed Senkaku Islands. The Chinese government has authorized the coast guard to shoot vessels that tread on those waters.

There's a lot of issues revolving around China, North Korea. I expect there is a lot of common ground. But there's probably 2 sources of potential tension. One is over the recent coup in Myanmar and the bloody crackdown by the junta on pro democracy demonstrators.

I think the Biden administration has made human rights a centerpiece of its foreign policy. It's a bit frustrating that Japan, the leading provider of aid, one of the leading investors in Myanmar, haven't stepped up. It will have to do more than vigorous hand wringing.

The second fly in the ointment is I think, is Washington wants its 2 allies, South Korea and Japan, to get along better, get over their shared history, so that they can leverage this prior alliance to better cope with the rise in China.

That doesn't seem likely to happen anytime soon. Those are 2 areas, I think, that might be sources of frustration.

CURNOW: Either way, the tone and the symbolism we are seeing here is in stark contrast to the previous administration. Great to speak to, you, great to get your perspective from the region, Jeffrey Kingston, thank you so much.

KINGSTON: Thank you.

CURNOW: Just ahead here at CNN, snap lockdowns and forced testing in Hong Kong as the city desperately tries to avoid a new spike in coronavirus cases. That story next. (MUSIC PLAYING)



CURNOW: Welcome back. I'm Robyn Curnow, it's 29 minutes past the hour. Thank you so much for joining me wherever you are in the world.

Portugal is joining a growing number of European countries pausing the use of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine. The move follows reports of blood costs in some vaccinated. AstraZeneca says its analysis shows there is no evidence of an increased risk in vaccine recipients. The European Medicines Agency is set to hold an emergency meeting on Thursday to advise on possible next steps.


CURNOW: Across the globe, COVID cases have surpassed 120 million and there are more than 2.6 million deaths worldwide. Brazil's crisis is among the worst. ICUs have been pushed to the limits. Just in the past, week Brazil set new records high for COVID cases and deaths.

Hong Kong is imposing flash lockdowns on neighborhoods. Residents are forced to stay indoors until they get the results from mandatory COVID tests. The latest round turned up no new cases. Here is Will Ripley on a story that is felt across Hong Kong.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Hong Kong fights to fend off a possible fifth wave of COVID-19, nowhere is immune. This weekend, hundreds of health care workers and police sealed off several upscale neighborhoods, ordering thousands to line up for testing and locked down to wait for results.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a little all of a main (ph). We didn't know what to expect and suddenly, the building was taped up and there was a lot of cops. And there was a medical crew that walked in in hazmat suits. So it was all very sudden.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Hong Kong began ambush style lockdowns in late January, targeting clusters in densely populated lower income areas. These are the first to hit the high rent districts, full of expats, foreign residents, finding themselves on the front line of Hong Kong's latest outbreak.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Granted, that we've had a COVID for about a year and then suddenly this comes up?

We were a bit surprised. But I guess these measures need to be taken to a next wave outbreak.

RIPLEY: The hundreds of people who live in these buildings and others in the area, will not be allowed to leave until all of this testing is complete. They have to stay in their homes. Health authorities say, the latest superspreader event started here,

at this popular fitness center, raising questions about safety, just weeks after Hong Kong allowed gyms to reopen.

RIPLEY (voice-over): More than 100 cases, linked to this single gym. The cluster has closed schools, offices and force hundreds into government quarantine centers. Locked down for 14 days, including single mom, Jen Berman (ph).

JEN BERMAN (PH), SINGLE MOM: The most stressful thing is just the uncertainty and it was, the not knowing, it's getting that phone call. My main concern was my son. It was really, just not knowing if he was going to have to quarantine with me, what the results are going to be.

Because if I turned out to be positive, it means that my son would have to quarantine and go through this process, too. Obviously, as a mom, it's your worst nightmare for them to have to go through something like this.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Children may have a harder time coping with quarantine, mental health experts say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In young children particularly really thrive on safety, security and consistency. And so when their whole world is kind of turned upside down, that can be really disruptive. And as I mentioned, it can be quite traumatic.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Hong Kong has one of the world's harshest quarantine policies. Up to 3 weeks for incoming travelers, two weeks for anyone in close contact with the infected.

The city is just beginning COVID-19 vaccinations, most may have to wait months before they can get a shot. Potentially meaning, more outbreaks, more lockdowns and more damage to the already devastated local economy. Just as many hoped life was, finally, getting back to normal -- Will Ripley, CNN, Hong Kong.


CURNOW: And we just have this in to CNN. Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam says the government does not have a policy to deliberately separate children from their parents. Many have voiced frustration over children being placed in mandatory COVID-19 quarantines. Lam says public health concerns have to be respected.

I want to bring in Daniel Blurton, managing director of The Harbour School in Hong Kong.

I understand you and your school are directly impacted by these policies and in particular what's happened in the last day or 2.

How has your community has been impacted?

DANIEL BLURTON, THE HARBOUR SCHOOL: Hi, Robyn. First of all, thank you for having me. On Wednesday night, we found out that one of the teachers in our school was at the Ursus gym cluster and had brought it back to school. Subsequently we found out he had infected two more people at the school.

Right now about 35 of our students have been back and forth with the center for health protection to figure out how to contain the spread. They are going into quarantine. Some of our students have already been taken into quarantine, some of them are waiting for the call.

CURNOW: What do you mean, taken into quarantine?

For many people around the world, that just means staying at home, perhaps watching a little bit of extra TV in your bedroom.

What does it mean for these kids in Hong Kong?

BLURTON: Yes, absolutely. It is not that. Unfortunately what happens is you get a call from the government and they will actually appear in hazmat suits to take you to a government center.


BLURTON: Where you would spend 14 days since the point of contact with the cause of infection, just to make sure you are not positive yourself.

CURNOW: What does that mean particularly for children?

How young are some of them, being put into a place, in these quarantine units?

BLURTON: Yes. So you know, the students from our school that are infected are between the ages of 8 and 10.

What does it mean?

I guess, I think everyone knows that children between 8 and 10 are physically able to withstand quarantine, as long as their special dietary and physical needs that are accommodated for. But the potential damage is psychological, right.

These students, especially at that age, tend to see any negative consequence and feel guilty about, it, whether it's a direct result of their actions or not.

Also at the quarantine camp, there is no wi-fi. In a year where children have been pulled out of school and felt very isolated, they may become further isolated. That's a step in the wrong direction. Of course, if they undergo a long period of stress, that can have permanent physical effects on them.

CURNOW: We have just heard Carrie Lam say, they are not deliberately separating children from the families but these children aren't sent alone to these facilities. They have a parent that can go with them, am I correct?

BLURTON: Yes, they do have a parent that's allowed to go with them but in some cases that is not enough. Some of these children, I think every child is under special consideration. Some in our cohort, an inclusive population, about 20 percent is special needs.

To put them in a quarantine camp, maybe resources are lacking, it's just not the best treatment for them.

We are actually getting early evidence now that the government has started to consider sending those guys to what is called Penny Bay Camp (ph), which is slightly bigger and harder for some children, the government is considering sending them to a quarantine hotel.

CURNOW: What does this mean for a single parent families or working families?

BLURTON: That parent would have to go with them. You are absolutely right, particularly if kids are hoping to continue their own education online, the parent is also hoping to work online and it could be quite destructive.

Some of these kids have severe needs. They have to be on a regular schedule for sleeping. It will be really hard for him.

CURNOW: Daniel Blurton, thank you for joining us from the Hong Kong, The Harbour School. I hope you sort everything out there, everyone is safe and sound. Thank you for joining us.

BLURTON: Thank you.

CURNOW: Protesters are keeping the pressure on British leaders to prevent violence against women.


PROTESTERS: Who do you protect?

CURNOW (voice-over): Just again, we hear from one MP, who says the government care more about preventing vandalism to statues than about keeping women safe in the U.K.





CURNOW: Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the British government is taking steps immediately to keep woman safe from the streets at night. Many remain outraged for the aggressive police response to a vigil in London for murder victims Sarah Everard. Here's Nina dos Santos with more.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR (voice-over): They came to stand up for their rights to protest.

After gathering under the only statue of a woman in Parliament Square, the ended walking around London for hours to be able to do so.

By keeping it moving, the people said wanted to make the police task of reminding them that they were in breach of COVID rules more difficult. In turn, it made for very different scenes to Saturday's vigil in honor of the girls London of Sarah Everard.

DOS SANTOS: It took police just one hour to break up a peaceful protest in a south London suburb. Yet these demonstrators have been on the streets near Parliament for 1.5 hour already. So far there is no intervention. This despite the fact that they have blocked a bridge and are heading towards Scotland Yard.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Metropolitan Police said they hadn't wanted to break up the event on Saturday but felt the need to protect people from the pandemic.

As women showed their anger at London's police force, the government went ahead with the bill it had been working on for some time with new sweeping changes to the justice system that critics said protected statues better than women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What kind of message does it send out that if you violate a woman, you are likely to get no time at all or a very, very, minimal sentence. But if you violate a statue, which is made of stone or metal and usually is a statue of a man, that you are going to get up to 10 years?

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Parliament will vote on the new bill this week but the opposition says it's not expected to pass. Again, none of it is the heartfelt anger of a woman's right to safety in the U.K. -- Nina dos Santos, CNN, London.


CURNOW: Thanks to Nina for that.

A reminder, our partnership with young people is a global effort. Here are more students participating in My Freedom Day in the Philippines.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a student here. I pledge to fight human trafficking and modern slavery. I fight, I fight, I fight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am a student and I pledge to fight human trafficking and modern slavery. I fight, I fight, I fight.


CURNOW (voice-over): So to join CNN for My Freedom Day, please sign the pledge and nominate your friends to do the same. Share your pledge on social media, using the hashtag My Freedom Day.

Thanks so much for watching CNN, I'm Robyn Curnow. "WORLD SPORT" happens after the break. You can find me on Instagram. Thanks for watching