tv BBC World News America PBS January 26, 2012 6:00pm-6:30pm EST
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>> this is "bbc world news america." reporting from washington, i am jane o'brien. taking a stand in syria, we are incited damascus suburb where the free syrian army is fighting back against the as side regime. >> we are going to win. whether there is intervention from outside or not. >> under arrest in france after his companies sparked an international health scare over breast implants, the founder is now in custody. and it is the pilgrimage taken by millions of muslims every year. a new exhibit celebrates the hajj with a vast collection that spans the globe. welcome to our viewers on pbs in
america and around the globe. just what can be done about syria? it is a question that has confounded the international community since the uprising began their 10 months ago. now the arab league is taking its plan to end the violence to the united nations security council. meanwhile, in syria itself, there have been fears classes -- fierce clashes between pro-asat troops and protesters. our reporter was helped by local activists to enter the area last night, and he sensed this report. >> look at central damascus, and you might think the city is calm, but when night falls, head for a city 15 minutes away. getting in to douma is not easy, but at the end of the lane is a muddy checkpoint, controlled by the free syrian army. a loose alliance of mainly army
defectors across the country, who are fighting president al assad's military. locals say they kept the president's men out for the past couple of weeks. their light weapons cannot stop that assault, but could make it costly for the regime forces to stay too long. the president says they are an armed gang, directed by foreign conspirators. they say they are protecting the people. "pass this on to the world -- our revolution is peaceful. we do not attack the regime. they attack us take a -- they attack us." the army and security forces keep trying to get in, but the defeat them. douma is forbidding and dark with power cuts and fuel shortages.
the nights here are very cold. so what has changed here that means we are able to move in? the free syrian army on the edge, some defectors are protecting us. >> the army and security are on the outskirts, okay? inside the city, there are defectors. >> you mean these are defectors who are fighting for you now? >> yes. >> slowly, people emerge from evening prayer. too often for them, the knights have belonged to the presidential arrest squad -- the nights. they had to the mosque where numbers make them feel strong. >> freedom! freedom! >> what do you think will happen to al assad?
>> he has to be killed. >> has to be killed. >> why do you want him killed? >> he killed our people. he killed our families. he has to be killed. >> the young men were full of bravado. the older ones often talk about victory, but they were more conscious of the regime poses strength. >> do you want help from abroad? do you want foreign intervention? >> we are going to win, whether there is intervention from outside or not, but the intervention will act as a raid. >> their enemy, the president, also has strong supporters who will check, clap, and fight for him, but for protesters across the country, there is no turning back. this is all bad news for
president al assad. an autonomous capital city in the hands of the people and offended by men who have defected from his armed forces. the question is how much firepower the president has at his disposal and whether he chooses to use it year to regain control of these streets -- whether he chooses to use it here to regain control of these streets. >> a few hours later, activists say the security forces were back, arrestin pmog e.eorepl >> for more on the situation in syria and whether there is any sign of the government goes a grip on power weakening, i spoke a short time ago to a fellow at the monterey institute of international study. damascus is considered a government stronghold, but it seems the rebels are beating at the door. how serious a threat is this to the president's power?
>> i am tended to make some conclusions, but the situation on the ground is very fluid, so i am cautiously optimistic. by that, i mean that what could be advances, as we're seeing by the rebels, could be nothing more than tactical retreats by the syrian forces. by that, i mean they could withdraw from the syrian territory today but the sad that tomorrow, they will pound it and shell it -- but beside that tomorrow, they will pound and show it. if they hold it for several more days and seize more territory, then this is a good sign, but for now, it is inconclusive. >> the arab league has taken its plan to end the violence to the united nations. given that russia still supports assad's government, is there likely to be any action? >> a note regarding the arab peace plan, as if it was from day one that the observer mission -- they were trying to
mediate a dialogue between two sides that simply do not want to talk to each other. the mistrust is very high, and they are fighting each other on the ground. there was not much of a chance for it to succeed. are they making the right move right now to take it to the security council? absolutely. will it work? i am not sure because the diplomatic obstacles -- by that, and the russian position -- is still significant. i thought i heard some rhetoric on the part of the russians yesterday, but i guess i'm wrong because they were still pretty define it today. >> does the tough stance of the arab league teams the dynamics of the other countries in the united nations and all? does it make them consider alternatives or review their own positions? >> i think it does, and it certainly have an impact on the minds of u.s. officials, at least. if they see that arab states are taking a more forceful stance toward syria, that might precipitate some sort of more
forceful action on the part of the americans. >> very briefly, they have ruled out military action so far. are you saying this is likely to change? >> there is a debate today. i to officially has started in washington, but i do not think it will have much of an impact on actual policy. >> thank you very much indeed for joining us. turning now to libya, it seems that thoughts of post-revolution reconciliation are some way off. eight agencies reporting that several people have been tortured to death in detention centers, prompting an medical charity to suspend its operation. it said it has treated more than 100 people for torture-related injuries at the center. >> they began working at this detention center in the summer, treating the war-wounded. but once the fighting had stopped, medical staff found themselves increasingly presented with other injuries,
of the type they say could only have been inflicted under torture. >> basically, we have had some unacceptable incidence, especially since early january, where we were somehow asked to provide medical care for people who had been interrogated and tortured and were then that same evening interrogated again and tortured, even though they needed attention in a hospital. someone who could hardly walk. >> when tripoli fell to rebel forces last year, this space was the scene of wild celebration, but now, three months after the capture and killing of colonel gaddafi, some of the men who fought and won this revolution are resorting to the same old methods of torture that work, and under the previous regime. >> their peace is not confined to the city of misratah. when clashes broke out earlier this month with a militia group from another town nearby, he
was adopted and subjected to prolonged and vicious beatings. >> the tortured me with chains, sticks, metal pipes. even when i lost consciousness, they kept on beating me. after they've finished, they stripped naked and made me stand outside in the cold for two hours. >> more than 20 men were captured that we can. all spoke of similar treatment. one man, a brigade commander, died of his injuries. the nurse who was present said he had been tortured with electric shocks. this kind of abuse is being presented with anchor in the countries affected by civil war. victims were often accused of loyalty to the former regime of colonel gaddafi. the perpetrators are often former fighters who still operate largely beyond their control. the national transitional council is encouraging the revolutionary brigades to disarm, but many say that while the militias continue to operate with impunity, they are reluctant to give up their
weapons. >> in the news from around the world now, authorities in the brazilian capital said three bodies have been pulled from the rubble of three multistory buildings, which collapsed overnight. dust and rubble were strewn over one of the busy streets in rio, closing it to traffic. rescue workers say it is unlikely anyone else will be found alive. president goodluck jonathan of nigeria has challenged the islamist military group to identify themselves and clearly state their demands as a basis for dialogue. he says military confrontation alone will not eliminate terror attacks. he says what is needed is enabling environment for young people to find jobs. parts of southeastern europe are struggling to cope after a second day of heavy blizzard's left some areas under 15 meters of snow. in romania, the army has helped to rescue hundreds of people from stranded cars and a train that derailed. in bulgaria, a nationwide alert
was declared as hundreds of villages were left without power. the scandal over faulty breast implants manufactured in france took another twist today when the co-founder of the company who makes them was arrested by police. jean-claude mas is accused of fraud and manslaughter for using industrial-grade silicon in the implants and that of medical-grade gel. it is thought to 400,000 women in 65 countries have been given the implants. our correspondent is in marseille. >> he has been hiding in a desolate luxury on the green coastline of the french riviera and in a villa paid for by the victims of the pip scandal, but today, jean-claude mas was finally arrested at the house he shares with a longtime girlfriend, the woman who claims to have left. his lawyer said the 72-year-old was cooperating with police and
dismissed the search of the property as a formality. while investigators allege the 72-year-old has been very clever in hiding his fortune. officially, this property together with pool, spa, and gym is in the name of his girlfriend and is the site of the abandoned warehouse. the company was officially liquidated in march 2010. today, we found the factory littered with all kinds of documents and abandoned stock. the equipment is the air of respectability, but the reality, of course, was very different. the implants were filled with an industrial jell more commonly used to film actresses. >> in an earlier interview with police, jean-claude mas said his company had full european inspectors for some 30 years. they did what they could to hide from them what kind of gel they were putting in these silicone implants. he also said in the interview that his victims were
psychologically fragile and were only after him for his money. >> so far, 20 women who had the implants had been diagnosed with cancer, but no direct link has been established with the implants. the major problem is the rate of rupture -- 5% higher than in normal cases. lawyers for the women in france who filed complaints said the arrest is excellent news. >> we are relieved. even if it is late. we want the informal inquiry to be open, and we want him placed on bail so he cannot leave the country. >> mr. mas will be held in marseilles for 48 hours before investigators must decide whether to charge him with causing injury and involuntary manslaughter. the 72-year-old complained he is not in good health. there is not likely to be much sympathy from the women he doomed. >> you are watching "bbc world news america." still to come on tonight's
program, out to protect the women of pakistan -- can help stop the brutal attacks which have taken such a heavy toll? the as trillion prime minister has been dragged out of a restaurant and bundled into a car by her own security staff when a protest outside escalated, barking safety fears. she says she is now fine as duncan kennedy reports. >> volunteer, state emergency services, queensland. >> the prime minister was giving out metals -- medals. they looked around to see where the noise was coming from. protesters now just a few meters from the prime minister and the leader of the opposition. 200 aboriginal people had gathered and started banging on the windows. apparently angered by comments
alluding to the end of a longstanding tented camp set up outside. they decided to make a run for it. it was there the scenes involving the prime minister unfolded. one body guard grabbed her around the shoulder, rushed for towards the car as the local alarm on the prime minister's face as she scrambled away. at one point, she appears to trick, almost ending up on the ground. the bodyguards still holding on. the scramble to get the two most important political figures in australia to safety may have cost the prime minister some of her dignity, but for the indigenous people involved, they say it is the lack of dignity shown to them by the as trillion state that is the reason they were angry in the first place. the police say the prime minister was never in danger. it was an ugly incident to
remind all australians the country's indigenous people continue to claim rights and respect they believe are denied them. >> forced marriage, domestic violence, and even acid attacks -- they are all dangers which the women in pakistan base. the government is trying to crack down by introducing new laws which will criminalize such acts, but cases of brutality against women are still often carried out in the name of honor. >> she was 16 years old when she says her husband will grow up in the middle of the night and attacked her -- woke her up in the middle of the night and attacked her. >> it was 4:00 in the morning. he tied me up and grabbed a knife. he cut off my nose and my lips.
afterwards, my mother-in-law came and untied me. neither of them told me what i had done to deserve it. >> she says she now believes her husband did it because she had taken longer than usual to get water from a well and he thought she was having an affair. she says she will not be at peace until he is caught and punished. he has been on the run since the attacks. pakistan has just passed new laws meant to help protect women. they will mean longer sentences in cases of violence against women and make specific crimes of things like forced marriage. while human rights groups welcome the laws, the legislation relieves only part of the problem. >> the community has a mind set against the rights of women, and they do not want women to go outside the home. they think they'll take away
their own decisions. they want them in home. >> she is in her 50's. she was in her home after an argument with her son's wife when she says two men burst into the yard. she recognize them as relatives of her daughter-in-law. she says they forced her into her room where they beat her and raped her. death would have been better than this, she says. "since what happened to me, i am tired of life. it is like to have a disease with no cure. it is difficult for me to even eat. -- even eat." there are countless women in pakistan for whom change is coming far too slowly. >> for more on what can be done to improve the lives of women in pakistan, i was joined a short time ago by the executive director of global program that women for women international.
those are horrific stories. this legislation actually going to make a difference to those women's lives? >> it is a great starting point to have legislation on the books. the big issue is going to be enforcement of women's rights at all levels of society, particularly women at the grassroots level who generally have no recourse when their rights are being violated on a consistent basis. that will be the test of whether this legislation is remotely effective. >> how common are the incidents that we just heard about? >> unfortunately, they are all too common, not just in pakistan, but for women around the world. in that region, it is daily occurrences of violations of rights, with women, as you just saw, having no recourse to change their dynamic and i just left to fend for themselves with no support from their families, communities, or society more broadly. >> this is a social problem as much as it is a criminal problem? >> it is a systemic problem, a question of social norms, the eight years, and changing
absolutely everything fundamental about how women are perceived in the society. >> how do you do that? with an organization like this externally, how did you make change happen within? >> it is a combination of factors. there are macro economic and social factors, but also working with women so they understand their rights and oftentimes, they did not know their rights around inheritance and how they are able to operate freely without violence, for it and to work and move, but also sensitizing many in society about what it means to protect women's rights. we do a lot of training in our program throughout the region about not just what it means for women, but what it means for and then to treat women differently. >> have you empower a girl of 16 who has been tied up by her husband and mutilated because she took too long to fetch water from a well? >> that kind of story is unfortunately all too common in that environment. the way to of power not just
those girls, but those women more broadly is to get education and make sure that those women are in a position to be able to protect their daughters, send their daughters to school, and educate the members of their family and their community, but you have to have enforcement mechanisms in place as well. in a place like rwanda, for example, there are hot lines available to women suffering from domestic violence and abuse to be able to take action. it is such a national, governmental priority, but they have made it available to women throughout all levels of society, and that is what it will take to make the legislation anywhere near meaningful in a place like pakistan. >> briefly, you are convinced it can be done? >> i think rwanda is an excellent success story where you have women and 56% of women parliamentarians, but also women equally in power at the grassroots level. >> thank you for joining us. one final note from pakistan -- in a bbc interview, the pakistani prime minister was
asked about why bbc world news has been removed from cable transmissions in this country. he told us he was in favor of freedom for the media and that he definitely wanted the bbc to be operating in pakistan. now, to an exhibition dedicated to the personal journey which millions of islamic pilgrims to mecca. the british museum hajj opens today, including textiles and practical items like the train tickets it takes to get there. >> from turkey to timbuktu, this exhibition on the hajj has taken two years to put together with objects on loan from 13 different countries. on display at the british museum of art exhibits that are rarely seen in the west, like this ticket issuedg by thomas cook r pilgrims traveling to india in
1886. >> it charts the history of the pilgrimage, which we do not know much about, and it is full of beautiful objects from archeological material to textiles to manuscripts to contemporary art. it is definitely an exhibition for muslim families. >> the hajj is one of the five pillars of islam and is compulsory for every muslim man and woman to complete at least once in their lives if they are able to. it is often referred to as the journey of a lifetime, and 3 million people descended on mecca last year. this is one of the star attractions of the exhibition. we see it as soon as we walked in. it is one of the oldest known editions of the koran on loan from the british library and thought to date back to the eighth century. >> setting out for the pilgrimage to mecca, the holy
city. >> another highlight, the centerpiece of pilgrim caliban, carried on the back of camels. there was no as well as old as this artist from saudi arabia demonstrates with his installation. >> it is standing. this feeling is exactly the same which i felt. >> this unique insight into the hajj opens on thursday and runs to the 15th of april. >> that brings today's show to a close, but remember, you can get constant updates on our website. to find out what we are working, -- what we're working on, simply visit our facebook page. that is facebook.com/news. from all of us at "bbc world news america," thank you for
watching. >> make sense of international news. bbc.com/news. >> funding for this presentation is made possible by -- the freeman foundation of new york, stowe, vermont, and honolulu newman's own foundation and union bank. >> at union bank, our relationship managers work hard to know your business, offering specialized solutions in capital to help you meet your growth objectives. we offer expertise and tailored solutions for small businesses and major corporations. what can we do for you? >> "bbc world news" was presented by kcet los angeles.