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At UN, Of Raga, Ukraine & Politics, Concert Where War Crimes Were Spun

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 24 -- The UN hosts many cultural events, but few as moving as the concert of Sarod master Amjad Ali Khan and two of his sons on March 24. It was sponsored by India's Mission to the UN and was followed by a reception at the Mission which included the musicians.

  UN officials ranging from former Indian Permanent Representative Vijay Nambiar to Department of Field Support Ameerah Haq were in attendance, along with current Permanent Representative from such countries as Turkey, Angola, Fiji, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Brazil and the European Union.

  Hardly anyone left the Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium during the more than one hour concert. There were ragas and a song by Tagore; there was drumming and call and response. And afterward, there was conversation.

  Secretary General Ban Ki-moon having met in Ukraine, intentionally or not, the head of the Svoboda party was commented on. More than one attendee called it a new low; there was a prediction, again, that Ban will leave the UN to run for president of South Korea. (To Inner City Press, the timing doesn't make sense, but the purveyors were well placed, for the UN.)

   In this scenario, would there immediately be an election for a new, five or ten year SG, from Eastern Europe? Not necessarily: Deputy Jan Eliasson could fill in, or someone like Helen Clark be appointed "ad interim." Such was the discussion.

  On the substance of Ukraine and Crimea, some scoffed at the "Western hype," pointing out the South Sudan, Timor Leste and Kosovo all broke away. Others called the "land grab" a major precedent, with some blaming it on perceived Western weakness. In either view, Russia was not as "isolated" in the UN as it is being made out in Western capitals.

  But back to the inside-UN story: at the end of the concert, Ambassador Sinclair now the deputy chief of staff of General Assembly President John Ashe was called forward, as was a tireless UN events coordinator. The destruction or busting of the UN staff union under Ban Ki-moon was commented on.

Footnote: The concert took place, Inner City Press notes, in the same Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium where the scribes of the old United Nations Correspondents Association not only screened a propaganda film of the Sri Lankan government denying war crimes, but then tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN for writing about the background, click here for that.

  Now the Free UN Coalition for Access opposes all that, defending the right of free press in the UN and beyond. And of free music, with Amjad Ali Khan as a role model. Watch this site.


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