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The Inside Story-Deadly Force TRANSCRIPT


The Inside Story: Deadly Force

Episode 77 – February 2, 2023

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Police face murder charges after beating an unarmed black man in the U.S.

Mass shootings in California seemingly target Asians in America...

A suicide bomber kills dozens in a Pakistan mosque.

And still seeking peace in the Middle East.

Now on the Inside Story: Deadly Force

The Inside Story:

ELIZABETH LEE, VOA Correspondent:

Hi, I’m VOA’s Elizabeth Lee.

There is an adage in the news business that says, “If it bleeds, it leads.” We have tried to avoid bending to that belief through the 76 episodes of The Inside Story.

But the sheer volume of deadly force incidents we’ve experienced in the past few weeks demands attention.

A pair of mass shootings in the California appear to have targeted Asians celebrating the Lunar New Year.

And video of a black man brutally beaten by police in the southern city of Memphis has many calling for police reform as the officers involved face murder charges.

But we are going to start in the Middle East, where deadly clashes between Israelis and Palestinians have the U.S. Secretary of State going back in the region with hopes for peace.

More now from VOA Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine:

CINDY SAINE, VOA Senior Diplomatic Correspondent:

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken shuttled between Israel and the West Bank on Tuesday, amid some of the worst violence the region has seen in decades. Blinken pleaded with both sides to stop the killing.

Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State:

As I discussed with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas, and everyone I met in Israel and the West Bank during this visit, all sides must take steps to prevent further escalation of violence and restore calm. That's the only way that we can create conditions in which people's sense of security will start to improve and fear will start to recede.


Blinken said the immediate priority is to calm things down and restore trust. But he said that over the longer term, President Joe Biden is committed to the goal of preserving and then realizing the vision of an Israeli state and a Palestinian state existing side by side.

Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State:

The United States will continue to oppose anything that puts that goal further from reach, including but not limited to settlement expansion and legalization of illegal outposts, moves towards annexation of the West Bank, disruption to the historic status quo on Jerusalem and its holy sites, demolitions and evictions and incitement and acquiescence to violence.


Palestinians protested Israeli plans to demolish houses Tuesday by blocking roads in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal Mukaber. Blinken, conceding that Palestinians have a “shrinking horizon of hope,” said that he heard constructive suggestions from both Israelis and Palestinians, and that he asked some senior members of his diplomatic team to stay in the region longer to support those ideas.

Cindy Saine, VOA News


Police were the targets in Pakistan, where a suicide bomber managed to slip through several checkpoints to detonate inside a mosque within a highly secured part of Peshawar.

More than 300 people were in the mosque, which is within a police and government compound.

More on the Peshawar blast from our Iftikar Hussein.


Authorities say the police were the target in Monday’s afternoon attack on a mosque inside a police compound located in a high security zone in the city.

Muhammad Ishaq, Survivor:

As usual we prepared for the prayer in the mosque, we did ablution, the moment we stood up in line for the prayer, the prayer leader performed Allah-Akbar (God is great) and we all followed him, I heard the sound of the blast, after that I had no clue, I fell unconscious.


Pakistan’s army chief and the prime minister visited the wounded at the Lady Reading Hospital. It was unclear late Monday who was behind the attack.

Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province borders Afghanistan. Militant groups including the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan, also known as the Pakistan Taliban, have intensified attacks since ending its cease fire with the Pakistani government in November.

Provincial Governor Ghulam Ali in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where Peshawar is the capital, expressed concerns over the security situation Monday.

Gov. Ghulam Ali, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province:

Both the provincial and federal government needs to think over a solution if terrorism is increasing again, both have to find a solution whether to negotiate, once the state decides on the course of action, the government will implement it.


The resurgence of the outlawed Pakistan Taliban in some of its former strongholds has sparked public protests. Thousands of residents have demanded that the authorities restore peace.

Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan said the government must do more.

Sen. Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, Pakistan Lawmaker:

Today, we make two demands from the state, our life is not safe, protect our lives, our freedom is not safe, protect our freedom.


Security experts say the surge in attacks against security forces has put Pakistan’s counterterrorism strategy under scrutiny.

Akhtar Ali Shah, Former KP Police Chief:

Here we have Dae’sh (IS-K), here we have Al-Qaida, they are not local phenomena, and we have the (Pakistan Taliban TTP), the Taliban are here and also in Afghanistan. This is a national issue and it needs a national solution, both the provincial and federal government have to find a solution.


According to the South Asian Terrorism Portal, 630 terrorism incidents were reported in 2022 in Pakistan killing 971 people including 180 attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Most of the attacks were claimed by the TTP.

Iftikhar Hussain for VOA news in Washington.


It is the police and their tactics that are being scrutinized in the United States after the death of an unarmed black man.

Tyre Nichols was beaten by police officers on January 7th in in the southern city of Memphis. He died from his injuries three days later.

Video of the beating was released last week and five police officers face murder charges.

More from VOA White House Correspondent Anita Powell.

ANITA POWELL, VOA White House Correspondent:

Tyre Nichols’ family remembers him as a loving father, an eager skateboarder and a keen photographer – the kind of guy, his brother said, who “never lifted a finger to nobody.”

But after his brutal January 7 beating by five Black police officers, captured on this disturbing video, America remembers him differently: as yet another Black man killed by what some see as an epidemic of violent racism in American policing.

Although Black Americans made up 12 percent of the population in 2022, they made up 26 percent of the victims killed by police that year, according to monitoring group Mapping Police Violence. And statistics show that Black people are three times more likely to die during police encounters than their white counterparts.

On Wednesday, Vice President Kamala Harris attended Nichols’ funeral, in the southern city of Memphis.

Vice President Kamala Harris:

This violent act was not in pursuit of public safety. It was not in the interest of keeping the public safe because one must ask, was not it in the interest of keeping the public safe that Tyre Nichols would be with us here today?


Activists want more than words. They want legal change, and for police to be held legally accountable through laws like the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Harris said the administration wants Congress to revisit the act — and leading civil rights figures agree.

Rev. Al Sharpton, Civil Rights Activist:

It has to be federal law. Let me tell you. Until police know they have skin in the game, which is why you heard them say about the George Floyd Bill, you heard the sister say about the legislation here, you must get rid of qualified immunity. Where, police know that they can lose their house, their car and everything else.


VOA asked White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre what the administration is doing to combat perceptions that systemic racism is a problem in America.

Karine Jean-Pierre, White House Press Secretary:

The president has made it a priority in his administration to make sure that it looks like America, to make sure that we see the diversity in this administration and throughout different committees. And you see that over and over again, when you look at the different agencies, when you look to the White House. And this is, this is historically the most diverse administration in history. And that matters.


Mac questioned the power of representation — after all, she noted, all five officers involved in Nichols’ death were Black. All have been charged with murder.

On Wednesday, Nichols’ family and community mourned the man, the son, the father that he was.

And here’s what his family wants:

Rodney Wells, Tyre Nichols’ stepfather:

We have a long fight ahead of us and we gotta stay strong for it, so justice for Tyre!

Group repeats:

Justice for Tyre!

Rodney Wells, Tyre Nichols’ stepfather:

Justice for Tyre!

Group repeats:

Justice for Tyre!

Rodney Wells, Tyre Nichols’ stepfather:

Justice for Tyre!

Group repeats:

Justice for Tyre!

Anita Powell, VOA News, the White House.


Mass shootings are a too regular occurrence in the United States.

But a pair of recent shootings in California stand out because nearly all the victims were of Asian descent.

11 people were killed January 21st while celebrating the Lunar New Year at a ballroom dance hall in Monterrey Park --- near Los Angeles.

About 36 hours later, seven people were killed at two mushroom farms in Half Moon Bay --- near San Francisco.

Our Michelle Quinn picks up the story there.

MICHELLE QUINN, VOA Correspondent:

Many Asian Americans in California, already on edge over a wave of hate crimes against their communities, are struggling to celebrate the Lunar New Year and mourn people killed in two recent mass shootings.

James Zarsadiaz, Associate Professor of History:

It's hard to really feel fully present and enjoy the festivity when you know that tragedy has hurt and has impacted the community.


James Zarsadiaz, who is Filipino and Chinese, grew up in eastern Los Angeles County, where the first shooting happened at a dance hall, killing 11. All Asian American. The suspect shot and killed himself.

Hundreds of kilometers north in Half Moon Bay, an idyllic small coastal town with nurseries and restaurants, people were grappling with a mass shooting killing seven, five Chinese nationals and two Latinos …

at two Northern California mushroom farms. Police have identified the suspect as a Chinese national, a farmworker at one of those nurseries.

Jian Cai, a Chinese American homemaker, has lived in Half Moon Bay for nearly 18 years.

Jian Cai, Half Moon Bay Resident:

This happened yesterday, a lot of friends said ‘Hey, you should buy a gun.’ I said, 'No, I don’t like gun.' You have the gun, more dangerous, I think.

Phil Ting, California Assembly Member:

To have these incidents happen that are impacting Asian American farmworkers here and then 11 Asian Americans down in Los Angeles is really just the worst kind of news that we can ever have.


About one in six Californians are of Asian descent. In recent years, many of them feel like they’re under threat, said California Governor Gavin Newsom at a press conference at Half Moon Bay this week.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, California:

I grew up in San Francisco. A third of our population is Asian. I live in a state where 27 percent of us are foreign-born. Over a third in San Mateo County. What a gift, a majority-minority state. But I'm also mindful that we saw hate crimes go up 177 percent against Asians last year, a little more modest in some parts of the country, and we have to do more.


But the most recent shootings are different from the anti-Asian American crimes committed by non-Asian Americans. The two suspects in the mass shootings are themselves from the Asian American community.

While their motives are still under investigation, some believe mental health could be a factor. Asian American advocates highlight the fact that life in the U.S. for an immigrant can be challenging.

Russell Jeung, Asian American Studies Professor:

The social and linguistic isolation they may have, the lack of mental health and community support that they need. The easy availability of assault weapons. These trends demonstrate that Asian Americans face a lot of issues as minorities.


For many Asian Americans, this year of the rabbit will be remembered as one that has started with tragedy. Some hope this will lead to deeper discussions about the experience of Asian Americans and immigrants who live in the U.S.

Michelle Quinn, VOA News, Half Moon Bay, California.


The issue of migration to Europe crystalized for many about 10 years ago when a boat carrying migrants from Libya caught fire and capsized hundreds of meters from Italy’s Lampedusa Island.

More than 300 migrants perished.

Nearly a decade later, European nations still struggle with migration issues and policies.

Turkey is investigating the death of a Turkish migrant who made it to Greece, only to be sent back critically injured.

European correspondent Henry Ridgwell has that story:

HENRY RIDGWELL, Reporting for VOA:

Barış Büyüksu thought this was the beginning of a new life. He took these images on the Greek island of Kos in October. A few days later he was dead.

The 30-year-old paid a smuggling gang to take him to Kos. They gave him a fake Bulgarian identity card.

Büyüksu planned to reach Athens — and then take a flight to France.

On October 21, he was waiting to board a ferry. A friend told the family he witnessed Büyüksu being detained by police and then bundled into an unmarked black van.

The following day, back in Büyüksu’s hometown of Izmir, his family received a call from Turkish police — who told them their son was dead and bore signs of torture.

The Turkish coast guard say it found Büyüksu in a boat that had been pushed back into Turkish waters. Several other migrants were on board. Turkey says Büyüksu died from his injuries before a medical team could reach him.

Reyis Büyüksu, Father of Baris:

We picked up the body from the forensic center and brought it here and buried him. My son being killed is not only a problem for Turkey, but it is also a problem [for] humanity.

Saime Büyüksu, Mother of Baris:

He wanted to marry, he had a girlfriend, he had dreams, and he was saying ‘Mother, we should build a house, I will buy gold and I will have a wedding when I come back.’ He went with his dreams to work there. But his dead body came back to me.


The initial Turkish autopsy said Büyüksu had injuries consistent with torture: cuts and bruises covering his face and body, and internal bleeding.

Other migrants on the boat told Turkish police they were detained alongside Büyüksu in Greece — and they heard him being tortured in an adjacent room.

Turkish authorities say they are still investigating.

The full autopsy results have not yet been released.

A Turkish opposition lawmaker raised Büyüksu’s death in parliament.

Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, Lawmaker from HDP Party:

The Greek authorities committed murder. [The family] want this matter to be considered and followed up by the foreign ministry.


Greek police have not responded to repeated VOA requests for comment. The Greek coastguard denies pushing migrant boats back into Turkish waters – despite widespread evidence documented by non-governmental organizations.

The Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum told VOA they had no record of Büyüksu and could not comment. His family say he did not register for asylum as he wanted to leave Greece to reach France.

Umut Büyüksu, Brother of Baris:

I want my brother's killers prosecuted. I want to find out who they are. I don't want this case to be covered up like this.


A bereft family searching for answers. Who killed a beloved son and brother? Who will deliver justice?

It raises other questions too — over the policing of Europe’s borders — over the human rights of those seeking a better life.

Henry Ridgwell, for VOA News, London.


Presidential and legislative elections in Nigeria are on track for the end of the month despite threats of political.

Dozens of attacks across the country marred the 2019 presidential election.

From the capital Abuja, our Timothy Obiezu (oh-bee-A-zoo) is tracking preparations for the election and possible violence.

TIMOTHY OBIEZU, Reporting for VOA:

One by one, presidential candidates, party members and observers arrived for the signing of a National Peace pact ahead of February 25 polls.

It's a measure undertaken to foster fair play among political parties and their supporters before, during and after the elections.

In recent weeks, Nigeria has seen an escalation in clashes during campaign events and attacks on facilities of Nigeria’s Independent National Election Commission or INEC.

Samson Itodo, YIAGA Africa Director:

These attacks on INEC offices impedes on INEC's ability to conduct elections and this is where we have a major source of concern.


The Electoral Commission has reported at least 53 attacks and arsons on its facilities in the last four years.

In December, four INEC offices were burned, setting back preparations for the elections.

But despite the security threats, officials are not deterred.

Festus Okoye, Independent National Election Commission:

The various security agencies have assured us that they have the capacity to secure the country enough to allow us to conduct a very good election.


On INEC's books, there are more than 93 million registered voters, including 12 million new voters registered in the past year.

Festus Okoye, Independent National Election Commission:

We had 14 critical items that we felt we must accomplish before the election. Out of those 14 items, we've already accomplished eleven. So, in terms of our preparations, we're getting ready by the day.


But some citizens say the readiness did not include their centers.

Emmanuel Oke, Abuja Resident:

Seventy percent of the people that are coming here can't find their voter's cards, likewise me. I didn't see my own. They said that my own is not printed, so I don't think I have hope of voting.


In recent years, Nigeria has struggled to halt violence by Islamist militants and armed kidnappers, in addition to the attacks on the electoral system.

Many here say the next president must address these problems for good.

Timothy Obiezu, for VOA News, Abuja Nigeria.


More than seven thousand Ukrainian civilians have been killed and more than 11 thousand have been wounded since Russia began its war on Ukraine last February.

Living through the repeated air raid sirens and bombings is affecting many of Ukraine’s children in ways from managing emotions to being able to communicate.

From Kyiv, our Anna Kosstuchenko shows us how psychologists are helping the children cope with life in a war zone.


Nine-year-old Iryna is playing calmly with her cousins at home in the village of Krasylivka outside Kyiv.

But just a few months ago, she shuddered at the slightest noise, says her mother, Natalia Ladan.

In March, early in the war, the family lived under near-constant Russian shelling.

Natalia Ladan, Iryna’s Mother:

We were in the cellar. There was a loud explosion. The children started screaming and crying inconsolably. The lights went out. We realized the Russians hit somewhere very close.


When a Russian rocket badly damaged the roof of the house, Ladan left for western Ukraine with her two daughters, sister and two nieces. They returned in April, after the Russians retreated. But Ladan noticed her daughters were still under a lot of stress.

Natalia Ladan, Iryna’s Mother:

Every noise makes them shudder. Younger Iryna asks to sleep together with her grandmother, so we even moved the beds together so they would sleep closer to each other and Iryna could let go of her scary thoughts a bit.


The family decided to visit a special toy therapy room set up by Ukrainian psychologists to help children deal with their trauma.

Vita Moskalenko, Psychologist:

The toy therapy room project is a special space where a child and even an adult can receive healing and have the opportunity to relieve tension and stress by giving it all to a toy.


When Iryna visited the room, she picked a zebra out of the many toys available. Psychologists say she transferred all her war fears to the toy and became terrified of the toy itself.

Iryna Ladan, War Survivor:

When I went to bed with her, I had a terrible dream. I asked my mother to take her somewhere so that I would not see it.


Local psychologist Vita Moskalenko says the girl transferred her fears to the toy. Now she can choose a new toy friend. After some hesitation, Iryna chose a snake — as a symbol of her own strength.

Unidentified Woman:

Is this the right one?

Unidentified Girl:

Yes! I am sure!


The first toy therapy room opened in June.

Now there are about 100 such rooms throughout Ukraine that have helped more than

1,600 Ukrainian children.

Vita Moskalenko, Psychologist:

Prior to the war, they had stable, comfortable lives, and now they are used to hiding from shelling and taking care of themselves when there is danger. Our special space helps them find their strength in this new reality.


There are plans to open similar rooms for Ukrainian refugee children outside the country as many are forced to remain abroad as the Russians continue to target critical infrastructure.

Anna Kosstutschenko, for VOA news, Kyiv region, Ukraine.


That’s all we have for now.

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For all of those behind the scenes who brought you today’s show, I’m Elizabeth Lee.

Stay safe and we will see you next week for The Inside Story.