Ban Tells Only Some Media of Myanmar Chance, Bad Press Left Behind?
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, June 28 -- With UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reportedly
still undecided if he will stop in Myanmar on his upcoming trip to
Japan, Ban's press office has nevertheless quietly selected the
journalists who would be allowed to cover his visit with the
country's military rulers.
Until now, the Office of the Spokesperson
for the Secretary General has informed at least all resident
correspondents at the UN of the possibility of a trip, and to apply
if they are interested in going.
This time, Ban's office refused to
confirm when asked by the Press that he would go to Myanmar, while
behind the scenes pre-selecting which journalists would be allowed to
see this is a
reaction to the increasingly negative media coverage Ban has been
Inner City Press asked Ban during his last press
conference, the Economist rated him three out of ten on speaking
truth to power.
raised was his performance in Sri
where, as covered by Inner City Press, Ban smiled as Tamil children
detained by the government were made to sing his name. The goal,
surmise, is to try to avoid that kind of coverage in the future.
television's friendliest interviewer, last week asked Ban about his
failing grades. Ban responded by saying that he had saved 500,000
people in Myanmar. Inner
City Press asked Ban's Spokesperson Michele
Montas where this figure came from. The number of people in need,
said, when Ban last visited Myanmar.
was another side to Ban's
agreement, of course: that Than Shwe's regime took 25% of all aid
money by requiring conversion through Foreign Exchange Certificates
whose value the government controlled, as exposed by
Inner City Press and then others.
UN's Ban and Myanmar's Than Shwe, critical press
coverage not welcome
Aung San Suu
Kyi being tried for the non-consensual visit of a groupie, facing
extended detention, and amid reports that Myanmar is seeking to
illegally import weapons from North Korea, Ban's current Myanmar
envoy Ibrahim Gambari visited Myanmar in order to provide a briefing
Ambassadors to the UN have told Inner City Press that
Ban recent offered by Gambari to replace Rodolphe Adada as envoy in
Sudan, calling into question either Ban's or Gambari's commitment
"insides' game" to pre-select the
journalists who would be allowed to cover Ban in Myanmar may further
call into question this UN's commitment to free press.
informed of the change included not only Inner City Press, but
another of the three media organizations which Ban's management
chief, spokesperson, speechwriter and Under Secretaries General for
public information and legal affairs met about on May 8, with an eye
toward legal action and constructive censorship, click here
for that story. And watch this site.
Footnote: Some claim that the
UN made the list based off those who asked about Myanmar. During Ban's last
visit to Myanmar, his Office allowed the Than Shwe regime to blacklist
media which the UN had already invited to come. This may be a new
stage, in which the UN asks the regime who they would like to come,
rather than making all UN correspondents aware of the opportunity.
25, Inner City Press asked Ban's Spokesperson Montas
City Press:On Myanmar, the Government has said that Mr. [Ibrahim]
Gambari is in the air and will be there. Can you confirm that? And
what is the process, if he is going there... to brief the
Secretary-General? Is it determined that the Secretary-General will
The Secretary-General is going to meet with Mr. Gambari, as soon as
Mr. Gambari comes to New York, and this is before the
Secretary-General takes off for Japan next Monday. So he will be
reporting this weekend to the Secretary-General.
City Press: He was on Charlie Rose last night. Is that correct?
City Press: Among other things, I heard him to say in Myanmar, he
saved 500,000 people. What’s the basis for that number?
The basis is the number of people that were in need at the time when
he obtained the access for humanitarian workers into Myanmar.
* * *
Runs Scared of Sri Lanka, Says National Staff Not Immune -- But
Genocide Suspects Are
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, June 26 -- As the Sri Lankan government locked
astrologer who dared make predictions that President Rahinda
Rajapaksa didn't like, the UN in New York stayed silent. Inner City
Press asked, for the third time, what is being done about the two UN
staff members who were grabbed up by the government using unmarked
Associate Spokesperson Farhan Haq said he was aware of the
question, but that they still have no answer. Inner City Press asked,
isn't it the UN's position that its staff members have immunity? Haq
acknowledged that it normally the position. But why not in Sri Lanka?
fact, the UN
Mission in Kosovo actively invoked immunity on June 26 in favor of a
person changed with genocide. When Agim Ceku was arrested in
Bulgaria, based on an Interpol warrant, it
is reported that a UN
documentary showing was made in order to get Ceku released. Inner
City Press asked Haq about this as well on Friday. Haq said to ask
the UNMIK mission.
City Press immediately put questions to
them, but has received no answer. Immunity for those charged with war
crimes and genocide, but no defense of immunity for UN staff in Sri
Lanka. Why not?
Kosovo's Ceku and UN flag, get out of jail free card
not shown in Sri Lanka
Council on June 26, speeches went on all day about the protection of
civilians. While the UN's top humanitarian John Holmes appeared to
downplay Sri Lanka in his initial testimony, other than saying that
"the weapons have finally -- and thankfully -- fallen silent in
Sri Lanka," the underlying report notes its in 30th paragraph
"repeated use of heavy
weapons by Sri Lankan armed forces in
attacks on area containing large numbers of civilians, including the
so-called 'no-fire zones,' with reports of multiple strikes on
report went on about LTTE refusal to let civilians go, Sri Lanka in
the Security Council debate criticized the report. Holmes in his
rebuttal was conciliatory, but said that the definition of armed
conflict comes from international jurisprudence and applies to Sri
emerged from the Security Council at 6:30 p.m., Inner City Press
waited to ask him a few questions. "You've got to be kidding,"
he began, before to his credit answering four questions.
he or the UN
do anything about the MV Ali ship of humanitarian aid that was
blocked by Sri Lanka? No, Holmes said. But he's heard that it may be
unloaded in India and thence to Sri Lanka. This has yet to happened.
update on the
detained doctors? No, Holmes said.
disbanding of the inquiry into the killing of, among others, the 17
Action Contre La Faim aid workers? Holmes said the UN had yet to
receive formal notification of the disbanding, and might comment if
and when notification is provided.
detained staff? Holmes said the UN is asking. Aren't they immune?
Only international staff are, Holmes said. We will have more on this.
* * *