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tv   Democracy Now  PBS  April 24, 2015 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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04/24/15 04/24/15 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from denver open media in colorado, this is democracy now! >> what is going on? it was a level of brutality that was pretty hard to wrap your mind around. amy: in a democracy now! broadcast exclusive we'll look at explosive new video depicting extreme violence new york city's rikers island jail complex. rare surveillance footage obtained by "the new yorker" magazine shows a former teenage prisoner kalief browder, being , abused on two separate occasions. in one clip from 2012, the
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teenager is violently hurled to the ground while he is handcuffed. in another video, browder is attacked by almost a dozen other teenagers. then, president obama has apologized after the white house revealed a u.s. drone strike in pakistan killed an american government contractor and an italian aid worker held by al qaeda in january. >> as president and commander-in-chief, i take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism operations. including the one that inadvertently took the lives of warren and giovanni. i profoundly regret what happened. on behalf of the united states government, i offer our deepest apologies to the families. amy: we'll get reaction from the aclu. today marks the 100th anniversary of the armenian genocide. >> the fate of the armenians is exemplary for the history of mass extermination, ethnic cleansing, expulsions, even genocide of which the 20th
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century stands for in such a gruesome manner. amy: on april 24, 1915, the government of the ottoman empire began a systematic premeditated genocide of the armenian people-an unarmed christian minority living under turkish rule. an estimated 1.5 million armenians were exterminated through direct killing starvation, torture, and forced death marches. another million fled into permanent exile. we'll speak peter balakian, author of, "the burning tigris: the armenian genocide and america's response" and with two armenian americans here in denver, colorado. whe an armenian genocide monument will be unveiled today at the state capital. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. president obama has apologized after the white house revealed a
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u.s. drone strike killed an american government contractor and an italian aid worker held hostage by al-qaeda in january. despite hundreds of hours of surveillance and near-constant visibility of the al-qaeda site, officials said they did not know the hostages were there. officials said the strike also killed an american linked to al qaeda, ahmed farouq, while another american, al qaeda member adam gadahn, was killed in a separate strike. obama apologized to the families of hostages warren weinstein and giovanni lo porto. >> as president and as commander-in-chief, i take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism operations including the one that inadvertently took the lives of worn and giovanni. i profoundly regret what happened. on behalf of the united states government, i offer our deepest apologies to the families.
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amy: we'll have more on the drone strike later in the broadcast. european leaders have vowed to triple spending on border protection as part of a plan to address a migrant crisis, after up to 900 people died when their ship capsized in the mediterranean. amnesty international blasted the plan as "woefully inadequate and shameful," noting the border program "patrol[s] within 30 miles of italian and maltese coasts, far from where most deaths occur." the u.s. senate has confirmed loretta lynch as the first african-american woman attorney general. democratic senator patrick leahy praised her confirmation but rued how long it took. >> she becomes the first out of 82 attorneys general in our nation's history to face a filibuster, has had to wait longer than any other. she is an historic nominee. on one hand, for the right reasons, first african-american woman highly, highly qualified.
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everybody agrees with that. but what a shame that we had the second part of history to have her be the first out of 82 filibustered, to be held to this very disturbing double standard. amy: loretta lynch presided over controversial terrorism cases as the top federal prosecutor in brooklyn. she supports bulk nsa surveillance and disagrees with president obama's stance marijuana may not be more dangerous than alcohol. comcast has reportedly dropped its bid to acquire time warner cable in a deal that would have merged the country's two largest cable providers. the move follows reports of opposition from the justice department and federal communications commission over the merger, which would have left a single company in control of 57% of the broadband internet market.
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in maryland, governor larry hogan deployed state troopers to baltimore amid days of protests against the death of freddie gray. gray died sunday of spinal injuries a week after an arrest during which a witness said he was bent like a pretzel. police have now confirmed gray was not wearing a seatbelt in a police van, where he was handcuffed and in leg irons. baltimore resident randy wellington attended thursday's protest. >> i'm here to fight for the justice of freddie gray and all those that have been persecuted by the baltimore city police department as well as the police department all around this world . we're getting sick and tired of being persecuted for no a pair of reason. and i think it should stop. amy: the family of michael brown has failed a civil lawsuit against the city of ferguson missouri, over the wrongful death of their eighteen-year-old son by police officer darren wilson. while wilson avoided both criminal and federal civil
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rights charges over the shooting, brown family attorney anthony gray said the lawsuit could present new evidence. >> the evidence has not changed. at the presentation of that evidence will. we expect put on evidence that you never heard about before, never seen. amy: former cia director and retired us army general david petraeus has been sentenced to two years probation and a $100,000 fine after pleading guilty to leaking highly classified information to his biographer and lover paula broadwell. petraeus will avoid jail time, unlike fellow leakers, like chelsea manning and john kiriakou. the fine is reportedly less than he gets for a single speaking appearance. deutsche bank has become the latest financial firm to settle accusations it rigged a key global interest rate used to set the value of trillions of dollars in investments.
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the bank agreed to pay $2.5 billion under the settlement with u.s. and british regulators, and accept a criminal guilty plea for a british subsidiary. no one at the bank has been charged with a crime. in india, a funeral has been held for a farmer who hanged himself from a tree at a rally in the capital new delhi. gajendra singh left a note saying he had suffered crop losses as a result of heavy rains. his death came in the midst of a political rally opposing prime minister narendra modi's bill to ease corporate land takeovers. more than 300,000 indian farmers have killed themselves amid debts and crop failures since in peru, a farmer has been shot 1995. dead after police opened fire on protesters taking part in a month-long campaign against a mexican-owned copper mine project supported by the peruvian government. mass protests have been taking -- protesters say it would
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contaminate water and hurt farming. thousands of police have been sent to quell the protests. in the united states, three more women have publicly accused comedian bill cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them . in total, about 40 women have come forward with allegations against bo causey -- bill cosby dating back decades. students at columbia university in new york city are launching a sit-in today to call for the university to divest its shares from private prisons. the students plan to sit in outside the office of president lee bollinger to call for divestment from the firms corrections corporation of america and g4s. and supporters of imprisoned journalist and black panther mumia abu jamal marked his 61st birthday thursday. they have continued to call for prison authorities in pennsylvania to let abu-jamal access outside medical care as he remains seriously ill from diabetes and eczema.
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and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we are on the road in denver colorado. president obama has apologized after the white house revealed a u.s. drone strike kills an american government contractor and an italian aid worker held hostage by al qaeda in january. despite hundreds of hours of surveillance and near constant visibility of the al qaeda site, officials said they did not know the hostages were there. officials said the strike also killed an american linked to al qaeda while another american al qaeda member was killed in a separate strike. obama apologized to the families of hostages worn weinstein and giovanni lo porto. >> i want to express our grief and condolences to the families of two hostages. one american, dr. worn weinstein
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, and an italian, giovanni lo porto, who were tragically killed in u.s. counterterrorism operation. as president and as commander in chief, i take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism operations including the one that inadvertently took the lives of warren and giovanni. i profoundly regret what happened. on behalf of the united states government, i offer our deepest apologies to the families. amy: the u.s. counterterrorism operation has reportedly accidentally killed two hostages that were being held captive by al qaeda. again, u.s. government contractor worn weinstein and italian giovanni lo porto. we're joined now by jameel jaffer, the deputy legal director as the aclu. we welcome you to democracy now! talk about this latest
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revelation. >> it provides us with more reasons to question the strength and reliability of the intelligence that the government is relying on to conduct these drone strikes. in neither of the strikes to the -- that the government disclosed yesterday, to the government actually know who it was killing. it was in after -- until after and in one case weeks after the strike, that the government figured out who had been in the sides of the drone operators. that, i think, is troubling. we have seen over the last few months or the last couple of years, repeated instances in which the government despite committing itself to applying the most stringent standards has ended up killing civilians in drone strikes. it happens over and over and over again. yesterday's disclosures just provides more reasons to question what it is, what kinds
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of regulations the government has governing these strikes. amy: can you explain who these two men are, the american government contractor worn weinstein and the italian aid worker giovanni lo porto? >> they were being held hostage. and apparently were held in this al qaeda compound. according to the government, the drone operators who were surveilling the compound didn't realize the hostages were held there, despite having conducted surveillance over a peri at least a weeko, i think. it was only after the strike was carried outd when the government saw the six bodies were being taken out of the compound rather than just the four they expected that they realized they had killed two people they had not known were even there. it was only later they determine those two people were the hostages. it is obviously a very sad thing.
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these were entirely innocent people. and nobody is suggesting the government had any idea they were there, but it does lead one to question the standards of the government is applying -- the standards the government is applying and leaves one to question how much the drone operators actually know before they political or. -- the drone operators actually know before they pull the trigger. it is not isolated in the sense -- there been many previous strikes in which the drones ended up killing civilians. and that is something that i think the country hasn't really confronted. amy: can you explain also who the american linked to al qaeda, ahmed farouq and another american adam gadahn were killed another strike? >> these are two americans that were said to have gone and joined forces with al qaeda. adam gadahn is somebody who is a
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spokesperson for that organization. according to the government, neither of these americans was targeted. again, it was only after the strikes of the government determined those americans were actually there. so once again, i think it provides reason to question how much information the drone operators have before they are carrying out these strikes. amy: jameel jaffer -- >> one other thing that is remarkable about yesterday's disclosures, the very fact of the disclosures. normally, the government doesn't disclose information on individual drone strikes, at least, not on the record like this. this is a very unusual thing where the government is actually disclosing information about who was killed and a little bit of information about the operation. what the vast majority of drone strikes, we don't get that level of transparency. we still don't know.
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we don't have the government's information, the government statistics about civilian casualties, and the government is to withholding even basic information about the legal framework for the program. the justice department memos for example, are still being held with the exception of two memos related to the killing of u.s. citizens. despite three or four litigations by the aclu and "the new york times." amy: has warren weinstein's family spoken out? >> i did see one statement by his family. it is a very, very sad thing. the family is devastated by the news. i think there were holding out hope that mr. weinstein would be rescued. i think one can readily understand why the family is so devastated by the disclosures of yesterday. amy: i want to turn back to
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president obama with more of his apology when it was revealed that the u.s. had killed these two hostages in the drone strike in pakistan back in january. >> as soon as we determine the cause of their deaths, i directed the existence of this operation be declassified and disclosed publicly. i did so because the weinstein and lo porto families deserve to know the truth. i did so because even as certain aspects of our national security remain secret in order to succeed, the united states is a democracy, committed to openness in good times and bad. amy: jameel jaffer, can you respond to president obama talking about this democracy committed to openness? >> i guess i have mixed feelings about that particular statement. as i said, the president made that statement in the context of
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disclosing information about a drone strike or to drone strikes. i think the president was right to make those disclosures. on the other hand, it is hard to square that statement that we're committed to openness with the government's record on the drone program more generally. the government doesn't release information about who it is targeting. it doesn't release information about civilian casualties. it doesn't even release those kinds of statistics long after the strikes. all of that information is kept secret, in case -- except in the cases intelligence officials make off the record disclosures to the press. as i mentioned, the legal memos, which are really the law of the targeted killing program, are still being withheld from the government. until recently, the cia's position in court was that the agency could not disclose even whether it was involved in the drone program at all.
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which is an absurd position given how much is written about this program and the newspapers. the administration has been taking this very hard-line position with respect to transparency around the drone program. releasing almost no information. the memo released last year, the office of legal counsel memo that related to the killing of awlaki in 2007 that memo was released only after three years of litigation and two appeals court decisions, holding the government secrecy was unlawful. even after the disclosure of that memo, the government continues to withhold the other memos that apply to strikes that don't involve u.s. persons. obviously, those strikes account for the vast majority of drone strikes in pakistan and yemen and somalia. so we really have a program that is cloaked in secrecy, even now. the public is heavily reliant on information released by the government itself and the
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government itself quite often cherry picks information releasing only the information that cast the program in the most favorable light. so while i suppose i applaud the president for stating the government has committed transparency i question whether the government's actions actually reflect that commitment. amy: on thursday, abc news reporter jonathan karl asked white house press secretary josh earnest about the legal justification for killing an american citizen said to be a member of al-qaeda. >> is it legal under the guidelines this administration has put in place -- is it legal to kill american citizens who do not represent an imminent threat of violence against the united states? >> what is permissible under international law and in protocol the president has establishe is for the united states to carry out strikes, to carry out operations against al
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qaeda compounds that we can assess with near certainty are al qaeda compounds that are frequented by al qaeda leaders. and that is the operation that took place. that operation did result in the death of al qaeda fighters and al qaeda leaders who are in the upright a compound. >> but would it have it illegal for you to intentionally target those two men? >> there's a separate procedure and protocol for specifically targeting american citizens. amy: jameel jaffer, can you explain? >> sure. there is a lot of confusion here about what procedures the government is actually applying in what places. the president announced in may 2013 during a speech at the national defense university, a series of procedures that the government would comply with when it used lethal force, when
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used armed drones to carry out the strikes. one of the things a president said, we would not use lethal force unless there was a near certainty that no civilians would be killed. now, the understanding was that standard was going to be phased in and it would apply outside zones of active hostility, but there is a lot of uncertainty about precisely where that standard is being applied. and even where it is clear, that standard is the one that is supposed to be governing the government's actions -- for example, in yemen, we see repeated these instances in which u.s. drones and up killing civilians. just last week or the week before, the open society justice initiative released a report that discusses nine drone strikes or nine incidents in yemen, which drones ended up killing civilians. and some of those incidences postdated the may 2013 speech by the president.
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even where it is clear that near certainty standard is the one the government says is applying, we see these repeated instances in which civilians are being killed. it is hard to understand -- i think there's a question first, is the government really applying that standard in those places? and if it is, is the government using these words in ways that are different from the ways we ordinarily use them? because near certainty is hard to reconcile with the number of civilian deaths been reported. amy: very quickly, jameel jaffer this front-page "washington post" report mentioning president obama plans to close guantanamo? >> this is very important because next week, the house armed services committee is going to vote on new restrictions on transferring prisoners out of toronto -- guantanamo. if congress imposes these
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restrictions, i think what is been proposed right now is a two-year ban on any transfer from guantánamo. it will make it literally impossible to close the prison. so it is very important president do everything he can to prevent those restrictions from becoming law. and it is also important that anyone who can call their member of congress, do so, and make clear it is important that legislators vote against those proposed transfer bans. it really would make it very, very difficult to close the prison and to transfer out people who have been cleared for release now for many, many years. about half the people who are still held at guantánamo have been cleared for release meaning, six different government agencies have agreed they don't belong at guantánamo. and those are the people whom the government couldn't transfer of commerce imposed these restrictions. amy: jameel jaffer, thank you for being with us deputy legal , director of the aclu. when we come back, explosive new
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video showing extreme violence against a teenage prisoner at rikers island in new york. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we are on the road in denver colorado. we turn now to an exclusive interview with "new yorker" staffer jennifer gonnerman. a former teenage prisoner kalief , browder, being abused on two separate occasions. in a video clip from 2012, the teenager is seen inside rikers' central punitive segregation unit, better known as the bing. as a guard escorts browder to the showers, browder appears to speak and then the guard
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suddenly violently hurls him to , the floor although he's , already handcuffed. in a separate video clip from 2010, browder is attacked by almost a dozen other teenage prisoners after he punches a gang member who spat in his face. the other inmates pile onto browder and pummel him until guards finally intervene. reporter jennifer gonnerman, wrote about browder for "the new yorker" last year in an article last year and told the story on our show. she described how he arrived as a 16-year-old high school sophomore after he refused to plead guilty to a crime he did not commit. the crime? stealing a backpack. it was may 15, 2010 when browder was walking home from a party with his friends in the bronx, and he was stopped by police based on a tip that he had robbed someone weeks earlier. he told huff post live what happened next. >> they had searched me and the
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guy actually -- of first he said i robbed him. i didn't have anything on me. >> no weapon or property? >> he said -- nothing he said i allegedly rocked him for. so the guy changed his story and said i tried to rob him and another police officer came and they said i robbed him two weeks prior and they said, we're going to take you to the precinct the most likely we will let you go home. i never went home. amico kalief browder would be imprisoned for the next almost three years, even though he was never convicted of any crime. for nearly 800 days of that time, he was held in solitary confinement. the teenager maintained his innocence and requested a trial but was only offered plea deals while the trial was repeatedly delayed. near the end of his time in jail, the judge offered to sentence him to time served if he entered a guilty plea, and told him he could face 15 years in prison if he was convicted.
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he refused to accept the deal maintaining his innocence. , he was only released when the case was suddenly dismissed. new york city mayor bill de blasio has cited browder's ordeal as a reason to "root out unnecessary case delay." in a statement to "the new yorker," the mayor wrote -- "kalief browder's tragic story put a human face on rikers island's culture of delay -- a culture with profound human and fiscal costs for defendants and our city." mayor de blasio has recently launched a sweeping new plan to improve conditions at rikers. well, for more, we're joined by jennifer gonnerman. she's a staff writer for "the new yorker." welcome back to democracy now! i would like to start by first you telling us, setting the scene for us of this explosive video. how rare it is to have video inside rikers. >> it is unbelievably rare. footage like this never, ever comes out. it is not as if this was shot by
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camera crew. this is what goes on the nobody is looking. nobody really sees what goes on there except the people who work and live there. having footage like this is invaluable. it never, ever gets out like this. it is highly unusual. amy: so when you narrate because the video is silent, when you narrate the first video of the guard coming to solitary confinement where this teenager is, kalief browder, you see him outside his prison cell, the guard, flexing his muscles. can you start there and narrate as we show it? >> the correction officer has come to kalief browder's cell to take him to a shower which is supposed to be a daily occurrence. you appears to have him to the ground. that is what is happening. it is unclear why exactly that is happening. there are no microphones on the
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cameras. it looks like maybe kalief said something. i asked him, what was going on? he told me a week or two prior they had some sort of verbal dispute, and argument. he felt this was just the way the officer was dealing with it. he came out of nowhere to kalief. i met kalief about a year ago. he told me about this incident. you tell me the exact date it occurred. he said, you need to see the video. i did not think i would ever see it. the fact he was so adamant -- it wasn't as if he wanted me to see it because it was the worst thing that happened them on rikers island, he just knew it had happened in full view of the cameras. or something about that that was blatant and egregious that he was very eager for people to know what had happened and for people to see it. it struck me. here he was in solitary confinement, yet he remembered two years later the exact date this occurred. the most disturbing thing about this video you can't even see. the fact when this happens
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kaliefas now been inaifor 862 days without being convicted of a crime. he is been trapped on rikers island for that long by the time this happens, and about nine months in solitary confinement at this point, barely ever leaving his cell. amy: how old was he at the time? >> 19 years old in this video. he was arrested at 16. amy: why was he never tried over that three-year time frame? >> that is something i wrote about our linkedin "the new yorker last fall and it has to do it congestion in the courts. if you're rested in the bronx the courts are slower than the other boroughs. it dragged on for three years, which is unusual but not the only time this happened to new york city. he insisted on a trial. he said he was not going to
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plead guilty to something he believed he had not done. he wanted his trial. he did not think it would take three years to get a trial, he just wanted his day in court. they kept doing delays over and over. my feeling is, the court system which decides how long he will be locked up for trial has no idea what is happening in rikers island. there are two systems that are highly dysfunctional. and here is kalief bouncing between the two. it is completely -- amy: jennifer, you just described the video that we saw. by the way, how did you get this video? >> i can't really get into that, but to say it is the city footage. they shot it with surveillance cameras in their own facility. amy: have these -- was it regards, the first one and then the other two that joined in have they been disciplined? >> i don't know. the city has had this footage
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for more than a day now but i don't know if there is in any discipline. i know they said they were looking into it. amy: presumably, they've always had it. >> of course, but having it and scrutinizing it -- amy: let's go to the second video. the video that was two years earlier in 2010. it is -- this gravity force as we play it. again, it is silent 04/24/15 04/24/15 this video, here you go. started where you can't see kalief and the screen because he is being,, kicked, and beaten by a don't know, eight or 10 different inmates, but he is in housing unit in the adolescent jail, locked up for six months, 17 years old in this video. the housing unit is run by a gang. and in earlier incident, he tells me he was spit in the face -- a gang leader spit in his face. he was so angry about this that he later punched the gang leader, knowing full well what would happen.
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the entire housing unit starts to jump on him. right now on the video, the officers have pulled most of the teenagers off of kalief. many are trying to get extra punches in as you see right there. the officers are pulling them back trying to protect kalief as best they can, although they are completely outmatched. they put them in a safe room. the other inmates have burst in and are beating them up once again. it is like one against 10 or one against eight and the officers are clearly trying to do the best they can -- i think, but there's not much they can do when they are so outmatched. i think you can see in this video the officer is a can of the upper strata get -- pepper spray to get them off of kalief. here is kalief alone looking, as one would, after one seriously -- amy: jennifer, it is astounding that kalief browder as a 16 uruguay through this for three years.
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-- 16-year-old went through this with three years. here he is speaking on huff poist live, saying while he was there, guards often refused to give him his meals. >> if you say anything that can take them off, some of them which is a lot of them, what they do is they starve you and they won't feed you. it is really hard because these three traits you get everyday, you're still hungry. i guess that is part of the punishment. if they starve you one try, that can make an impact on you. >> how much were you starved? >> i can't even count. amy: kalief browder went on to say he was once starved four times in a row -- no breakfast lunch, dinner or breakfast again. as we begin to wrap up jennifer, can you talk about how he is doing today?
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>> he's been out for two years now. i guess he is doing as well as one could possibly do considering what is been through. the psychological and emotional damage i wrote about last fall in "the new yorker." it continues after the story comes out and goes on and on. it is on clear this point what it is going to mean down the road. he is doing ok. he is in college. he is trying to gain back the education he missed because he missed two years of high school while he was locked up on rikers island. a i want to thank you for being with us, staff writer for "the new yorker," and we will link to all of your stories. this is democracy now!, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. when we come back, today is the hundreds anniversary of the armenian genocide. m ♪♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we are on the road in denver colorado. this week marks the 100th anniversary of the armenian genocide. on april 24, 1915, the young turk government of the ottoman empire began a systematic premeditated genocide of the armenian people -- and unarmed christian minority living under turkish rule. more than one million armenians were exterminated through direct killing, starvation, torture and forced death marches. another million fled into permanent exile. an ancient civilization was expunged from its homeland of 2,500 years.
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today, the turkish government continues to deny this genocide. books about the genocide are banned in turkey and its government lobbies heavily in the united states as well, against congressional genital -- resolutions against genocide. i want to turn to a recording of armenian broadcaster and writer david barsamian's mother recalling her experience during the armenian genocide as a young girl. araxi barsamian survived, but her parents and brothers did not. in 1986, she told her story to a history class at the university of denver. she is introduced by the well-known broadcaster of alternative radio, her son. hear eyewitness testimony from my mother. she survived the turkish genocide of the armenians. her parents, four brothers and members of her extended family, or not so fortunate.
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araxi was born in the north. her parents and her younger brothers -- unaware of the looming calamity about to envelop her, she remembers an omen. early in 1915, the village was covered with grasshoppers. elders said it was a bad sign. a few months later the route was right and about to be harvested when the end came. the turks came to the village took all the men and young boys, marched them outside of town and shot them. the remaining women and children were told to assemble at the church. there were going to be "resettled" which was the
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euphemism. promises they would be protected are quickly broken. the defenseless caravans were waylaid and attacked throughout the deportation march. girls were kidnapped and raped. starvation and disease took care of many of those the turks did not kill. walked as farce the city where she was separated from her mother, brothers, and other relatives. she eventually found her way into an orphanage in aleppo in northern syria. an august 1921, she married my father in beirut. three months later, they were living in a tenement walk up on horatio street. the following year at 17, she had the first of her four children.
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in 1986, just a few months before her death, araxi spoke to history class at the university of colorado at denver. i was there with her. she begins by describing what happened to her father. >> when we left, my family was 25 in the family. they took all of the men folks. they asked my father, where is your --? he said i sold it. he says, go get it. when he went into town to get it, they beat him and took all his close. -- clothes. my mother tells me the story. when he came back, he went to jail. they cut his arms. they said, where is it? he said, they didn't give me.
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he was put in jail. all of the mens, they took all the mens in the field and tied their hands and shoot them. tilt them. every one of them. i remember only 15-year-old boys left. just like they were sitting and their hands are tied back. they took in the fields and shoot them too. nothing left only women and small children. we deported in some city. nothing to eat. they took everything from us.
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they said, when you come back we will give you back, which is not true. we went to some city. my aunt gave birth. she left the baby over there. then we walked the walk walk. i remember my mother had a handkerchief and, excuse me what our mouth -- what our mouth. we were so dry. i forgot. lots of things. if i remember things day and night, i tell and not finished. amy: that was araxi barsamian, mother of radio broadcaster and writer david barsamian, and a
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survivor of the armenian genocide. david lives in boulder, colorado, where he hosts alternative radio. he is overseas today commemorating the 100th anniversary. for me we are joined by three , guests. here in denver, anahid katchian's father was a survivor of the 1915 armenian genocide. she has interviewed 44 survivors in the united states. simon maghakyan is a lecturer in political science at the university of colorado and activist with armenians of colorado. in new york, peter balakian joins us, professor and author of "the burning tigris." his new books include, "ozone journal" about trauma, memory and art, and "vise and shadow," a collection of profiles of armenian poets and artists who were killed or affected by the genocide. his op-ed in "the los angeles times" is headlined, "on armenian genocide, go ahead and offend turkey." we welcome you all to democracy now!
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peter, i want to begin with you. why is the armenian genocide so difficult for many in the united states to get accurate information on? >> i really think there's been an amazing kind of development of scholarship of the last 25 years. i think right now the bibliography is impressive. amazing works of scholarship from scholars around the world from different archives and different cultures. i do think there is been an enormous recovery of this history, which had been more obscured from a more lost, i suppose, in the 1970's and 1980's. but now i think the frequency of teaching the armenian genocide in the curriculum around the country at high school and university level is on its way to becoming almost standard in
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certain's kinds of courses especially courses that deal with world war i europe or genocide and human rights issues in studies. amy: what does the turkish government say today? >> the turkish government's debt nihilism has been consistent policy from really the time of the event. even at the time, the minister of the interior was engaged in wholesale denial of the mass killings as it were happening on the spot. he was trying to bury skeletons and bones from european inspectors and turkey has persisted in a deeply misguided kind of nationalist project in which they are incapable of dealing with this enormous crime that is launched at the very cornerstone of their history and continue to have a state mandated education system in which there is no critical analysis allowed or permitted in the curriculum.
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and for the most part, the genocide of the armenians is ignored or it is given two or three sentences in which the armenians are vilified and blamed for their own fate. i do think behind -- amy: how does turkey, peter -- how does turkey affect academia, people learning this in the united states? >> i'm happy to say we are seen an amazing shift. 20, 25 years ago, there were still what i would call a pernicious kind of turkish nationalism that infested the teaching of middle eastern studies. an ottoman studies was really under the tight control of ankara. that has passed. there's a new generation of young talented ottoman scholarshs and many, many other scholars in different fields. at the breakthrough in the ottoman studies world has been really noticeable. i think what was once a more pernicious situation is less so.
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nevertheless, there are still official kind of state involved turkish deniers out there, and they exist in a few pockets around the nation. i think slowly that willie road because they remain on the wrong side of truth -- will erode because the remain on the wrong side of truth, angry, and history. amy: simon maghakyan, talk about what is happening at the state capitol in denver. >> governor hickenlooper and the armenian community will unveil a monument in memory of all crimes against humanity. amy: how did this happen? >> starting three years ago when the armenian community was offered a donation by men from armenia, and we already had a guard installed by armenians of colorado in 1982, so building on
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that project, we were able to work with the statement that the general simply's and the governor before it to bring this beautiful monument to colorado. amy: what does it look like? >> it is intricately carved with different symbols on it. it is actually a replica of a monument that was destroyed only 20 years ago. amy: can you talk about your own family history? >> my family is taken where they were taken on the march. it is a magical place, the home of abraham and my ancestors. a soldier in the ottoman army. when he returned home in 1918, no one welcome tim are thanked him for his service. you know i did the armenian genocide have been going on. his entire family had been wiped out were driven out except for his wife, who is hiding and
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living secretly with the kind turkish widow. my would be great grandmother was rescued and the two men years later and that is what my grandfather and his three brothers were born. amy: anahid katchian, can you talk about your family? >> my father was six at the time of the genocide, the beginning. they lived in the northern black sea coast. when they realized they must flee, they went to the port and were told the last boat that allowed armenians left this morning and would not -- they missed the boat by half a day. and from that, he was taken with his sisters, six years old and four years old, to a place that did take children. we do not know exactly where this place was.
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they were left at a place that took children. and from that place, eventually, he was with other children his age, put on a march. he was told, we're going out on a picnic. they started out in the march began. he was put on the march as a child for several years through the mountains, walking, walking, walking, like araxi was saying. more than hunger was the thirst. the walking, blistering his feet. he had scars on his foot through the end of his life. but he survived. he survived. he was taken by the different arab families, even turkish families. he always recognized there was helped from certain turks -- certain turks did help him, than he was put back on the march
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until the end of world war i. when americans helped him get on his feet. helped him and thousands of other orphans who had survived, but bedraggled. but americans helped him get back on his feet. he was taken to an orphanage in beirut where dr. stanley kerr and his wife elsa raised him all the way, educating him in beirut all the way through medical school at the american university of beirut. amy: peter balakian, you are a poet as well as an author. i was wondering if you could share a poem about the armenian genocide? >> i'm happy to. in light of the beautiful and moving stories of survivors that you have brought together today i would like to read a short column of mine called "after the survivors are gone."
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i tried to imagine to see persimmon treat after the flash but not the sake because my own tree had been hacked, i tried to kiss the lips of armenia at the table and the altar, we said some words written ages ago and we settled for just the line -- one and breadth for candles lit and snuffed let us remember the law has failed us let us remember the child naked waiting to be shot on a bright day with tulips blooming around the ditch we shall not forget the earth the artifact, the particular song, the dirt of an idiom things that stick in the ear. >> beautiful. amy: your thoughts, simon, when
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you listen to peter? >> peter so well connect the history of what happened to us, to the suffering, and many more around the world. it is very important to understand the armenian genocide is what defines the international laws of crimes against humanity and genocide. and it is important to recognize all these atrocities that have been committed by governments against the very people they were supposed to protect. amy: the pope's statement on the median genocide, what did that mean to you? >> it was a light. it was a spotlight that was so very very energizing. my father would have been absolutely -- buy at. all the wonder was recognition but the powers in turkey now. the pope gave voice to it in a
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public arena. amy: what, simon, do you want americans and people around the world to understand on this 100th anniversary of the beginning of the armenian genocide? >> i want everyone to understand that the cycle of genocide will continue unless we recognize the injustices of the past. hitler is famously quoted as saying, who after our members the armenians? before he launched the attack on poland. we have to recognize the history and the trauma the armenian people faced to this day. amy: i want to thank you all for being with this. anahid katchian, will you be at the state capital? >> very much. amy: is there a large armenian community here in denver? >> yes. amy: thank you, peter balakian professor and author of "the burning tigris" and anahid
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katchian, thank you for joining us. her father was a survivor of the 1915 armenian genocide. she is interviewed scores of survivors in the u.s. and simon maghakyan, lecturer in political science at the university of colorado and activist with armenians of colorado. that doesn't for our broadcast. monday through wednesday, we will be broadcasting from the hague. tune in. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]
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