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In Cambodia, UN's Ban Silent as Petitioner Beaten, “Undesirables” Jailed with UN Money

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 28 -- In Cambodia, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said through his spokesman Martin Nesirky that he was open to receiving written communications from protesters. But when Suong Sophorn, 23, sought to deliver a petition to Ban, he was beaten unconscious by military police.

Inner City Press, whose question about Thailand banning all political gathering gave rises to Nesirky's statement about receiving petitions in Cambodia, asked on October 28 about the beating.

Nesirky said grandly that “generally” the UN “supports the right to free assembly and protest.”

But it is now reported that the UN system has funded secret detention centers to which “undesirable” including alleged drug addicts have been taken, without charge, to be beaten, raped and even killed.

These violent anti-drugs centers have been raised to Ban Ki-moon, both by the UN's own Special Rapporteur on Health and, twice, by Inner City Press.

Protesters beaten in Cambodia, Ban Ki-moon not shown

 But it appears Ban has not raised the center on any of this stops, in Vietnam or Cambodia. Watch this site.

Footnote: while Ban himself had nothing to say, Nesirky made much of statements by the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights. In other circumstances, the Secretariat argues that the High Commissioner's Office is independent. But while these statements are duly noted, Ban's own silence speaks volumes.

From the UN transcript of October 25, 2010 --

Inner City Press: I want to ask about the Secretary-General’s impending trip to Asia. There is a report to the Third Committee by the Special Rapporteur on the right to health about, among other things, what he sees as the violated practices in anti-drug programmes in many of the countries that Ban Ki-moon is going to be visiting — Cambodia, Viet Nam, Thailand — and he calls very strongly for the UN to move against people who are incarcerated. This is all according to his report. I just wonder: of the many issues obviously on the Secretary-General’s agenda as he visits these countries, is he aware of that? And there is a separate issue in Cambodia, where people has said that they are going to try and rally in front of Ban Ki-moon about evictions, forced evictions, in Cambodia. Are these… Can you sort of… Can we get a run-down of what issues he is planning to raise, and I just wonder whether these two are among them?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Sure. And again, I seem to recall that Farhan gave you a bit of a run-down on the trip last week, sitting here. As the trip progresses, we will be giving details. The Secretary-General and his delegation are en route at the moment to Thailand where, as you know, the visit starts. They then move to Cambodia and on to Viet Nam for this UN-ASEAN [Association of South-East Asian Nations] meeting and then to China, where, as you know, the Secretary-General will be visiting Shanghai, Nanjing and Beijing. On the question of health, the very specific point that you raised, we can find out and probably tell you as the visit progresses. The same goes for the second part that you mentioned.

* * *

With UN Ban in Cambodia, Eviction Protests Banned, Rights Are Internal Matter?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 27 -- After leaving Thailand where political gatherings were banned during his stay, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is now in Cambodia, where people facing mass eviction for the political elite were banned from protesting along Ban's route.

  Inner City Press for the second time asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky if Ban will meet with those threatened with eviction, or just take a letter as he did in Thailand.

  Nesirky said that “if there is some kind of written communication these people who are protesting would like to hand over, I'm sure that would be possible.”

  But the written petition was already delivered, and Ban was aware of it, without impact. It was reported that “Aimee Brown, a spokeswoman for the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Phnom Penh, said Ban knew of the requests, but said his office had not yet decided on whether he would meet them. 'He's definitely aware that there are protestors, and he is aware of the petitions that have been received,' Brown said.” So what's the answer?

UN Ban in Cambodia, those facing eviction not shown

  It's already reported that Cambodian “Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered [Ban] to remove the head of the local UN human rights office, accusing him of acting as a 'spokesman' for opposition groups. During a meeting with Ban at his offices in Phnom Penh this morning, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said the premier had 'proposed' that Christophe Peschoux, head of the local office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, resign his post.”

  Inner City Press asked Nesirky if Peschoux will keep his post. “That's an internal personnel matter,” Nesirky replied. He added that Ban stands behind the office and, by implication, it's staff. Video here from Minute 5:04.

  It does not appear that Ban raised the issue of violent anti-drug programs, highlighted by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health. And Ban's human rights tour goes on.

* * *

With UN Ban in Bangkok, Political Gatherings Banned, Myanmar Voting on Giri Back Burner?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 26 -- The Asian tour of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon began in Thailand, with all political gatherings banned. Ban gave a speech saying that Thai problems are for Thais to solve, reported then as “internal affairs.”

  When Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky for Ban's view the right to assemble for the redress of grievances, Nesirky replied that Ban had received a letter of protest, from the Red Shirt movement. But does that replace the right to assemble? Ban's spokesman wouldn't answer. Video here from Minute 29:12.

  In Nesirky's read out of Ban's time in Thailand, he did not mention the critique by the UN's special rapporteur on the right to health Anand Grover of violent anti-drug programs in the region. (When Inner City Press asked Anand, he said he would raise it with Ban Ki-moon or the Secretariat, video here.)

Myanmar was raised by Ban Ki-moon, but it is not clear how. In New York, the Good Office on Myanmar team, created by the General Assembly, have been reassigned to do other work under the Department of Political Affairs Tamrat Samuel.

  The shift, without GA approval, is not mentioned in the Secretariat's “Special Political Missions” submission to the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions.

Inner City Press asked the UN's humanitarian chief Valerie Amos about media reports that the UN's officer to help Myanmar with Cyclone Giri were rebuffed.

UN's Ban & Thai Abhisit, political gatherings and Myanmar vote not shown

 She said that “joint assessments” -- the same term used by the UN in Sudan -- have begun and indicate that the damage may be much larger than first thought, up to 400,000 people.

  Can a free, fair and transparent election be held among the impacted people, Inner City Press asked Ms. Amos, in Arakan State and elsewhere? She said this couldn't be known until the joint assessment is completed. The election is slated for November 9. Ban Ki-moon's next stops are Vietnam and Cambodia, where violent anti-drug programs are most extreme. Watch this site.

  Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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