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UN Won't “Second Guess” on Child Soldiers, Myanmar by December, Knows Little

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 8 -- “We cannot second guess the international community's political decisions,” UN children and armed conflict expert Radhika Coomaraswamy told the Press on Monday.

   Inner City Press had asked about the Obama administration's decision to waive provisions of the Child Soldier Prevention Act of 2008 and keep providing US funding despite child soldier use of the armies of Yemen, South Sudan, Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

On this last, Inner City Press asked Coomaraswamy what she thought of the engagement of the UN Mission in the Congo, renamed MONUSCO, with the Congolese army, which recruits child soldiers.

Despite pictures of child soldier recruiter Bosco Ntaganda with MONUSCO peacekeepers, Coomaraswamy said MONUSCO is doing a good job, supporting child protection. Video here, from Minute 13:37. Alongside not “second guessing,” she repeated some “disappointment” with the Obama administration's decision, but said now they can “become allies with us.” We'll see.

  Coomaraswamy's opening statement concerned her recent trip to Somalia. She touted the UN supported Transitional Federal Government's recent statements on its child soldier use, subject to a media expose not so long ago.

Inner City Press also asked about Myanmar, both the military government of Than Shwe and the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, elements of which are fighting the government along the Thai border.

Coomaraswamy said she is “disappointed” with Myanmar, that it had been expected the regime would sign an action plan last year. Now she said they might sign in December.

   But the government, immediately after the military heavy election, has reportedly imposed a 90 day state of emergency.

Ms. Coomaraswamy and UN's Ban, 2d guessing of [P-5] not shown

  When Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky about this, he said the UN could not confirm the state of emergency, or even the fighting along the Thai border. Video here.

  He said the UN only didn't go on the government's tour of polling sites because it would have required other approvals, apparently by the UN General Assembly. That's the only reason? Watch this site.

* * *

As Myanmar Imposes 90 Day State of Emergency, UN & Ban Have No Comment

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 7 -- After the Myanmar polls closed with light turn out, and the military government imposed a 90 day state of emergency banning political gatherings, Inner City Press the UN spokesman Martin Nesirky and the head of its Good Offices on Myanmar office Vijay Nambiar for the UN's comment on the polls and state of emergency. More that six hours later, there was not comment at all.

  This was odds with Nesirky's response on November 5 at the UN to Inner City Press' request for description of what the UN system would do during the polling. Did the UN observe anything? The UN didn't want to say before the vote, during the vote, or for the hours after.

  Meanwhile, the military government arrested an APF journalist for seeking to cover the voting. “I saw volunteers at a polling station just falling asleep because there was no one to attend to,” said Htaung Ko Htan, a Chin ethnic minority leader who visited between 20 and 25 polling booths in the former capital of Rangoon, now called Yangon. “There are very few people voting,” he said.

The 90 day state of emergency would seem to call for a response from the UN, whose Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he “expects” a transparent and inclusive election. Now, not only the NLD but other political parties are barred from gatherings. But six hours later, no response at all.

UN's Ban & Nambiar in Shanghai, Nov 2010, response to Myanmar 90 state of emergency not shown

At the UN noon briefing on November 5, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky:

Inner City Press: I have some Sudan questions, but I wanted to ask about Myanmar first because of the upcoming election on Sunday. It’s been reported that the Government there is extending an invitation to diplomats and UN representatives to tour polling stations on Sunday. It’s also… that some diplomats have said that they won’t go on the tour, but will make their own arrangements to make some observation. I wanted to know, since the Government there forbid outside election observers, but said it would ask the diplomatic community, including the UN, to do it, what’s the UN intending to do on election day in Myanmar?

Spokesperson: Let me find out.

Question: Maybe hopefully before the day, is that possible?

Spokesperson: It wouldn’t be a bad idea, yeah. Okay?

 More than fifty hours later, still no answer from the UN. So Inner City Press asked Nesirky, his Deputy and VVijay Nambiar:

What is the UN's comment on the 90 day state of emergency imposed on Myanmar after the now completed voting (and, separately, on the voting itself).

Also, while it seemed that a description of UN activity in Myanmar during the voting would be provided by the time the polls opened or at least closed, would still appreciate the description requested (and seemingly promised) on Friday.

   And six hours later, no answer. Watch this site.

Update: 18 hours later, this -- with no mention of the reported 90 day state of emergency, and no description of what the UN did during the polling...

* * *
On Myanmar, Ban Ignores Quintana's Call for Inquiry, Daewoo Win-Win Unanswered

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 21 -- While on Myanmar the UN's own Special Rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana has called for a Commission of Inquiry into crimes against humanity, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on October 12 issued a report on human rights in Myanmar, A/65/367, which did not even mention the Commission of Inquiry idea, or accountability.

  On October 21, Inner City Press asked Quintana to honestly assess the Secretary General's performance on Myanmar. Quintana said “you cannot ask me to tell him what to do,” but also acknowledged the absence of the commission of inquiry idea or accountability from Ban's report.

  Quintana said he had met with Ban's chief of staff Vijay Nambiar -- not with Ban, who will however be in his office in New York on October 22 -- and discussed not only the November 7 election but also “justice and accountability.”

  Since Nambiar has played a role in Ban setting up a purported Panel of Experts into war crimes in Sri Lanka which has no investigative powers, no spokesperson and no presence, Inner City Press asked Quintana is this is what he has in mind for Myanmar.

Quintana said he has in mind the “finding of facts” -- expliclitly NOT what Ban's Sri Lanka panel is about -- but then diplomatically said that perhaps the Sri Lanka panel is a model.

  He also after Inner City Press asked about the plight of the Rohingya diplomatically thanked the Myanmar military government for cooperating and allowing him to “meet political prisoners” -- but not Aung San Suu Kyi.

   Inner City Press asked for Quintana's view on multinational corporations' engagements with the Myanmar junta, including Total, Toyota and South Korea's Daewoo. Quintana said that corporations might become complicit.

Quintana on Oct 21 on accountability, Ban Ki-moon not shown

Ban Ki-moon when he was South Korea's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that a Daewoo pipeline across Myanmar was a “win win” proposition. Inner City Press has asked Ban's Spokesperson's Office to get from Ban whether he still views it this way, without avail. 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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