to "Than Shwe" Buddha, Nuclear Post for S. Korean
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, August 17, updated
-- In the wake of U.S. Senator Jim Webb's visit
with Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar's Senior General Than Shwe's
release of John Yettaw, the swimmer who visited her, in New York on
Monday Marie Okabe the Deputy Spokesperson for UN Secretary General
Ban Ki-moon was asked why Ban thinks that a U.S. Senator was granted
access to Ms. Suu Kyi but he was not.
Ms. Okabe said the UN has no
comment on the Senator's visit. Inner City Press asked if Ban had
never expressed any view on the arrest and then seven year sentence
for the swimmer. "No he has not," Ms. Okabe replied. Video here,
from Minute 9:38. [But see later response and update, below.]
in other circumstances, Ban would have issued a statement on Than
Shwe allowing an outside visit to Aung San Suu Kyi, but that since
this time it makes one question why he and the UN were blocked only
last month, no comment was made.
It's not that
Ban didn't try to
please Than Shwe. Below is a picture, not taken by the official UN
photographer who accompanied Ban but by a Myanmar counterpart, of Ban
bowing to a statue of the Buddha to which his Myanmar hosts took
him. Inner City Press' sources say that, especially in person, the
face of this "Buddha" is disturbingly like Than Shwe.
Perhaps this is why no UN photo was taken.
UN's Ban and "Buddha" statue at top, compare face with Than Shwe, below
photo compilation credit and hat tip to Anti-dictatorship
on Word Press
When Ban assumed his
he was asked about his religion, but refused to answer the question.
Note also in the below Ban's envoy Ibrahim Gambari, a Muslim, not
bowing to the "Buddha" statue.
Also at Monday's
noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ms. Okabe about a strange
report in the Korea Times, that
South Korean diplomat has joined a seven-member panel dealing with
the U.N. North Korea sanctions, according to an official of the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Sunday. The panelists
including director-general Song Young-wan were named by U.N.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last Friday. The U.N. chief visited
South Korea last week to participate in the fifth Jeju Peace Forum.
will work in New York for one year from this September when the panel
is scheduled to be officially launched,' the official said, asking
not to be named....It has yet to be unveiled who the six remaining
experts in the group are. But specialists in nuclear weapons, WMDs,
finance, and regional and international laws from the United Nations
Security Council's five permanent members and Japan have reportedly
joined the panel. The screening took more time than expected since
there was controversy over whether or not to include figures from
non-permanent members, the official added."
asked for confirmation, and if any non-Security Council member other
than South Korea has been considered for a post. I don't know the
answer, Ms. Okabe replied. Video here,
from Minute 15:18.
document, showing that South Korea is the only non-Security Council
member with a national on the committee, is here.
Okabe answered Inner City
Press' questions by saying, "follow
up with the panel." When Inner
City Press asked who on the
panel to ask, Ms. Okabe again didn't
know, saying only that if she has more to say, she'll say it. We'll
after the August 17 noon briefing, the Office of the Spokesperson for
the Secretary General issued a one paragraph "Response to
questions on Myanmar announced after briefing," stating that
Secretary- General notes the visit of US Senator Web to Myanmar over
the weekend and welcomes his engagement with Myanmar leaders as well
as Daw Aung San Suu Kyi toward a peaceful, united, democratic Myanmar
with full respect for the human rights of all its people. The
Secretary-General also welcomes the release of Mr. Yettaw on
then is not a
statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary General,
it's something lower, akin to the devolution at the Security Council
from Press Statements to mere "remarks to the press." It
was "squawked" over the UN's archaic system, but not
e-mailed to the press corps. When Inner City Press heard about it
later in the day and went into the Office to get it, it was argued
that only those fewer than a dozen journalists physically present in
the UN briefing room on Monday should be informed of Ban's views. And
on Tuesday August 18, there is no UN noon briefing.
Update -- Update
-- at the August
19 noon briefing, after the publication of the story above, UN
Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe referred Inner City Press to the letter
already linked to above:
Spokesperson Okabe: Actually, I forgot to mention to you, Matthew,
there are two questions that you had yesterday. One, the answer to
General Dostum is actually answered by the Special Representative in
that press conference yesterday. And the other question you had
yesterday about… you had a question about the Democratic People’s
Republic of Korea sanctions panel, and that answer is also in the
letter that the Secretary-General sent to the Security Council.
But the letter doesn't explain if any non-Council
members other than South Korea were considered. Still, here again is
to the letter.
* * *
Myanmar, UN Council's Weak Response Belies Rice's China and Russia
Claim, of Total and UK Banks
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, August 13 -- In a weakened and belated response to Myanmar's
sentencing of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to 18 more months of
house imprisonment, the UN Security Council on Thursday afternoon
"press statement" that touted Myanmar's sovereignty and noted Than
Shwe's reduction of the sentence from three years hard labor to 18
months at home.
Inner City Press asked the Council President for August, UK Ambassador
John Sawers, if there had been any discussion of the credibility of the
2010 elections, even if Suu Kyi were released, given the limitation of
top posts to those with military backgrounds. Sawers answered at length
that the Council supports national reconciliation, that the elections
must be inclusive, that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said that.
Many read the press statement as heavily influenced by China, with its
indirect praise of Than Shwe's mercy and Myanmar's sovereignty.
The weak press statement came less than 20 hours
after U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan
Rice told an audience at New
York University that she is working well with China and Russia,
fielding the latter's ambassador's call on the way to the NYU speech.
The U.S. had proposed a stronger Presidential Statement, but it was
delayed and watered down.
Press wrote in its review yesterday of Rice's speech, for Rice to say
China and Russia are cooperating reflects to some a devaluing of the
importance of such issues as the dictatorships in Myanmar and
Zimbabwe, the slaughter of civilians this year in Sri Lanka, to say
nothing of killings in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, Chechnya
and Ingushetia. Working well
care less about Myanmar than it lets on. While President Sarkozy
speaks of sanctions, France-based oil company Total continues doing
business in the country. The same of true in Sri Lanka of UK-heavy
financial firms such as HSBC and Standard Chartered. So where is the
UK's Sawers and his minister with Ibrahim "Good Offices" Gambari
Press asked Sawers about the additional European Union sanctions which
France, despite and without changing Total's investments, proposed on
August 11. Sawers said, in his national capacity, that the EU continues
operations on this and a decision is expected in a day or two. There
was a ruling earlier on Thursday -- but it does not impact Total or
many other European financial investments.
reporting on Ms.
Rice's speech, Inner City Press has learned that it
was written, at least initially, by speech writer Warren Bass in
Washington. Thus, to be fair, perhaps the omission of Africa in the
lede, which Inner City Press noted, is attributable to Bass and not
Rice. But the lack of focus on reform goes beyond its mention or
non-mention in a speech. And it was Ms. Rice herself who opined she's
working well with China and Russia. If Thursday's outcome on Burma is
any indication, the commitment to human rights is taking a back seat.
Watch this site.
UN's Myanmar Stalling, Exiles Curtailed in Jakarta, Suu Kyi House
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, August 11 -- As in New York the UN Security Council delays
in even issuing a statement about the conviction of Aung San Suu Kyi
in Myanmar, in Jakarta a planned meeting of exiled Burmese democracy
figures was cut back by Indonesian authorities, from two days to less
than one. Three participants spoke to the Press in New York on August
7, in an event organized by Independent Diplomat, promoting their
upcoming Jakarta meeting. When four days later it was curtailed, no
update was given. On background, a media advisory arrived:
to restrictions by Indonesian police, a revised program to discuss
the Burma democracy movement’s transitional / national
reconciliation package with Indonesian parliamentarians, politicians
and Indonesia-based diplomats and NGOs will take place only briefly
tomorrow, Wednesday, August 12. The original two-day program, will
now be shortened to a one-day program where from 9 am -11 am a
briefing will be held for invitees and participants at the Sari Pan
Pacific Hotel and then continued in the afternoon from 2-5pm at the
Indonesian parliament, hosted by the PDI-P caucus at their office.
There are no scheduled events or meetings and NO press conference on
the three exiles
who appeared at the UN in New York on August 7, an Inner City Press
is intriguing about your items on 5 and 8 August is that the 'Trio'
seems to include both Sein Win (NCGUB) and Maung Maung (NCUB). Last
year, against SW's advice, MM tried to "unseat" the Myanmar
delegation. MM knew it was just propaganda, but he is a better
politician than SW. If they have really come together, that is news.
Of the Trio who met you, only Bo Hla-Tint is an elected NLD Member.
Maung Maung is the darling of AFL-CIO, the ITUC an the Italian Trade
Union Confederation, but was not elected in 1990. Sein Win is PND
(Party for National Democracy) and a cousin of Suu Kyi whose brother
Aung San Oo, a US citizen, married Le Le Nwe Thein who must have a
brother I assume to be Sein Win. Suu Kyi and Aung San Oo are fighting
for possession of 54 University Avenue which has supposedly just been
"sold" by family proxies for Aung San Oo, a sale which Suu
Kyi is currently contesting. Sein Win, wisely, keeps well out of this
The Lady, the house, the litigation not shown
they were all good friends:
U Win Sein, Chief Justice U Aung Toe, Attorney-General U Tha Tun and
Auditor-General Brig-Gen. Tin Aye then left the Mausoleum. U Nan Nwe
and family on behalf of U Aung San Oo and wife Daw Le Le Nwe Thein
and Secretary of National League for Democracy U Lwin and party, on
behalf of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi laid wreaths. Afterwards, families of
the Arzanis ["Martyrs"] laid wreaths at the respective
tombs and shared merits.' (New Light of Myanmar 20 July 2001)
Council's deliberations will continue. Watch this site.
UN, Burmese Exile Figures Denounce Nuclear and Constitution Reports,
No Team Ban Meeting
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, August 8 -- Days before the military government in Myanmar
will announce its verdict on democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, three
exiled Burmese leaders came to the UN in New York and told the Press
of a "Proposal for National Reconciliation." Inner City
Press asked "prime minister in exile" Sein Win about the
Constitution that was pushed through in the wake of Cyclone Nargis,
and under which the UN is reportedly considering working with the
regime on a 2010 election.
Sein Win said that the under the
constitution, the Commander in Chief, who must have a military
background, appoints 25% of the seats. Since the Constitution can't
be amended with less than 75% of votes, he said, the military
essentially has a veto over any amendments.
asked about the reports of North Korea assisted tunnels and nuclear
developments in Myanmar. Foreign minster in exile U Bo Hla-Tint said
that the reports are worrying, and that the UN Security Council
should take them seriously. Ban
Ki-moon, when Inner City Press asked
him this week about the reports, replied that he had no information,
no substantial information.
envoy to Myanmar Ibrahim Gambari told Inner City Press that the Rohingya,
Muslims so mistreated in Myanmar they take to the seas,
facing further abuse in Thailand and elsewhere, are not within his
mandate. Inner City Press asked the trio who their proposal deals
with Rohingya. "They are citizens of Burma," said NCUB
General Secretary (in exile) U Maung Maung.
He added that
not need a nuclear reactor, on which he said Russia is helping. We
already sell gas to Thailand, he said. "Burma does not look
forward to being a nuclear state."
UN's Ban with "former armed groups" -- who
refuse to go the government's bidding on the border, per trio
trio was not
able to meet with Ban's envoy, Ibrahim Gambari. Later, several Ban
advisers moaned that "we're going to get demarched on
Monday, why did you not receive, etcetera." The Ban advisers
said of the Burmese trio that they are "nice guys" but
"getting older and older" and "desperate." A wire
service journalist opined that his Asian bureau opined that "the
generals will never listen to them." It was, then, sad. But
heartfelt. We'll have more on this.
The August 7 press conference was organized and promoted by
Independent Diplomat, which also at the UN pushes issues of climate
change and small states and Western Sahara, among others. On the
latter, a UN staffer recently marveled at Polisario's representative
in Australia signing deals with Australian energy companies for some
future date, while the UN and its Office of Legal Affairs has
strikingly declined to comment on complaints that Morocco is illegal
moving to exploit energy and other resources.
The National Coalition
Government of Burma press release, seemingly referring to U.S.
lobbying rules, says that "more information is available at the
Department of Justice." Might DOJ have information or views on
the legality of Morocco's exploitation of Western Sahara? Or might
the War on Terror, even under Obama, still seem more important?
* * *
Myanmar's Nuclear Plans, UN's Ban Declines Comment, Split on
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, August 5 -- Emerging from a meeting
with his Group of Friend
on Myanmar, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was asked by Inner
Press what he makes of reports
that Myanmar is developing a nuclear
reactor or even, in an early stage, nuclear weapons with the
assistance of North Korea and Russia. "I do not have any
information on that," Mr. Ban replied, "therefore I am not
able to comment on that."
a senior Ban advisor told Inner City Press that Mr. Ban had been
prepared to answer the question, and that the planned if-asked
talking point was that the UN does not have an substantial or
verifiable information, but that if it is true, it is a matter of
grave concern as this is precisely the moment the international
community should be driving toward non-proliferation. Oh that Ban had
was also explained to Inner City Press that if it had managed to ask
if Ban favors modification of the country's constitution, pushed
through in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, which devotes 25% of seats to
people with military backgrounds, Ban probably would not have answer.
"The Group of Friends is divided on that," the source
UN's Ban in Yangon, nuclear plans not shown
He argued against the theory
that the timing of
Wednesday's meeting was meant to allow Ban, before he set off on
vacation, to speak his piece Myanmar. Rather, he said, some thing
that Myanmar blinked on July 31 and put off the Aung San Suu Kyi
With another statement, perhaps
they'll think hard about
what verdict to impose. But again, Inner City Press asks, not without
sarcasm, does that mean Ban questions the separation in Myanmar
between the judicial and executive - or military - branches of
government? We're not commenting on that, a UN official answered. Nor
about the Constitution. Watch this site.
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
12 debate on Sri Lanka http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/17772?in=11:33&out=32:56
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.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017
earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.
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