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Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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With UN Peacekeepers Charged With Sexual Abuse in Haiti, Ban Ki-moon Silent, Watching Whistleblower Movie of Past

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 17 -- In Haiti, UN peacekeepers from Uruguay are accused of having sex with children in their base, and taking nude photos of the children to show other soldiers, according to the Comité de recherches pour le développement et l’organisation de Port-salut.

These allegations were published in the Haitian press six days ago -- ironically the day that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sent a letter to the director of The Whistleblower, about sex trafficking by UN peacekeepers in Bosnia.

This was described as Ban confronting a sordid chapter of the UN's history, but Ban has apparently not confronted alleged misdeed under his watch and responsibility. The UN in New York, in the six days after the allegations were made in Haiti, said nothing about them.

Inner City Press on August 17, the day after the UN had canceled its normal noon briefing, asked Ban's acting deputy spokesman about the allegations against the Uruguayan UN peacekeepers in Port-Salut.

Haq said, "MINUSTAH is in fact looking into this allegation, to see if there is any credibility to it. If there are any facts... we will share them."

While some doubt that the UN would "share facts" about wrongdoing by its peacekeepers, given for example that the UN just airbrushed out from its final report allegations of inaction by Egyptian peacekeepers in Southern Kordofan. But even if the UN did report back on the allegations in Haiti, the UN does not state what happens to individual peacekeepers, by name or even nationality. The statement "any facts... we will share them" must be seen in that light.

Footnote: Speaking of seeing, Ban's August 11 letter says he watched The Whistleblower with his senior advisers. Meanwhile, he has received but not watched the film Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, which along with addressing rape as a tool of war critiques Ban's UN's performance.

It's worth nothing that dozens of Sri Lankan soldiers were repatriated from the UN mission in Haiti charged with sexual abuse, but the UN has never reported any accountability in Sri Lanka. Ban, Haq said, is "working from his home" this week; this was offered as a reason to cancel regular noon briefings, on August 16 and prospectively August 18 and beyond. And so it goes at (Ban's) UN.

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At UN, Ban Prefers Attack on Kofi Annan in The Whistleblower to Critique of His UN's Sri Lanka Act in Killing Fields

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 16 -- Two months after the premiere of the film "Killing Fields" about Sri Lanka including a critique of the UN's weak performance under Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Inner City Press asked Ban's acting deputy spokesman "Yes or no: has Ban Ki-moon watched 'Killing Fields of Sri Lanka'?"

  Weeks ago, the UN told Inner City Press that a DVD of the film had been given to Ban Ki-moon and that he would watch it when he had time. When Ban returned from his native South Korea, he went on vacation (or, "intends to have some time off this week," as Haq described it).

  On August 16, Haq having canceled the day's UN noon briefing told Inner City Press by e-mail: "He has received a copy of the film from Channel 4."

  Given the way the question was asked, we read this answer as "No," Ban has not watched it.

  This stands in clear contrast to Ban's August 11 letter to the director of the film "The Whistleblower," also criticizing the UN but for a time period before Ban Ki-moon took over, as noted under the heading "Ban confronts a sordid chapter in UN's history" in Foreign Policy which received the letter.

  Why has Ban watched The Whistleblower -- with his senior advisers, no less -- and not "Killing Fields of Sri Lanka"? The latter's critique of the UN, in 2009, Ban is in fact responsible for. The other he can lay off to another time, and claim he is fixing the problem.

Ban & his Special Adviser Nambiar, Killing Fields not seen

  Ban's letter doesn't say if his chief of staff Vijay Nambiar was one of the senior advisers with whom Ban watched The Whistleblower. More than one source has suggested that Nambiar might be behind Ban not commenting on, or even apparently watching, Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, given among other things Nambiar's involvement in the so-called white flag killings depicted in the movie.

 While Ban on August 11 wrote that he is asking the President of the General Assembly to sponsor a screening in the UN of The Whistleblower, he has not even transmitted the Panel of Experts' report on Sri Lanka to the UN Human Rights Council.  Haq on August 15 said that still might happen in the future. Maybe after Ban finds the time, with or without Nambiar, to watch a movie that critiques his UN's performance? We'll see.

to a lack of commitment? One Ban administration representative told Inner City Press, on condition of anonymity due to fear of retaliation and firing, that if Ban has any leverage, he would use it for "more pressing" topics than Sri Lanka.

  Meanwhile Ban's Office of the Spokesman is reducing question and answers by 40% by canceling noon briefings; lead spokesman Martin Nesirky will only return on August 29, if then. Ban has returned from South Korea, but will try to take this week off.

 An article in the Canadian press about the cut back in question and answer time quoted Inner City Press asking Haq "How did you decide to say that journalists here want less information rather than more?" and an unnamed UN official that the "coming week looks to be pretty calm." Watch this site.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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

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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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