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As Japan and Clinton Met, Sri Lanka Not Mentioned, Myanmar Only Later, Prisoner Questions

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 21 -- When U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton met Monday one on one with her Japanese counterpart Katsuya Okada, neither Myanmar nor Sri Lanka was discussed, Inner City Press learned Monday night. These are two countries where, as reported, international "crimes have occurred."

   Next to a hotel conference room full of dozens of Japanese reporters, a briefing was given Monday night for two non-Japanese journalists by Yasuhisa Kawamura, the Deputy Press Secretary of Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The invitation to the briefing said that "Kawamura will accept journalist's questions on any topic of interest."

  The operative word, it turned out, was "accept" -- because when Inner City Press asked about Japan's desire for a seat on the UN Security Council, whether the election in Japan has impacted that and what might be accomplished during this week's General Assembly meetings, Mr. Kawamura said, "I don't have that particular answer."

  The briefing focused on or was limited to Minister Okada's "forty five minute" meeting with Hilary Clinton. Inner City Press asked if the talk of "stability" in Afghanistan included any discussion of the contested elections. Mr. Kawamura said that he meant stability "in a general way," adding, "let me repeat, Japan will continue to provide support with reconstruction efforts in civilian areas." He said that refueling in the Indian Ocean did not come up.

  Inner City Press asked either if Myanmar and Sri Lanka had arisen in the meeting with Hilary Clinton, or for Japan's and its new administration's view of these issues. Mr. Kawamura said, "As far as I know, at today's meeting they didn't pick up Myanmar or Sri Lanka." He then said that "Japan is concerned about with others the Myanmar situation."

  Having received not even a no comment about Sri Lanka, Inner City Press asked again, about the visit by Japan's envoy Akashi, and whether Japan would continue funding what some characterize as internment camps. Mr. Kawamura said, "again, today they didn't discuss Sri Lanka. There was a breakthrough in the civilian conflict this summer." He said, "Japan gave [funds] in the hope of internal... mutual understanding among races."

  Mr. Kawamura paused and then added, "I need to confirm with Mister Minister," saying that before the election "we did assist." Might it change?

Mr. Okada and Hilary Clinton, Sri Lanka not shown

  After the briefing was formally declared closed, Mr. Kawamura indicted he wanted to add that at a "trilateral" meeting of Hilary Clinton, Mr. Okada and their Australian counterpart, Myanmar was discussed. Minister "Okada added that it was regrettable that Aung San Suu Kyi is still detained" while welcoming the new of the release of some other prisoners. [See below.]

  After the briefing was finally seemingly over, Inner City Press returned a phone call and Mr. Kawamura said he wanted to "amend" certain of his answers. Where he had said that Japan would "consult" with the U.S., he had meant Japan would "examine internally" and then "cooperate" with the U.S.. Where he had seemed to over-emphasize particular issues, he only meant that they were a "focus." But there was no additional information about Myanmar, and none at all about Sri Lanka.

Footnotes: Considering -- or "focusing on" -- Hilary Clinton, we note that on this same September 21, the U.S. office on war crimes issues was to turn in a report on Sri Lanka to the U.S. Congress. There's a scheduled protest by the UN on September 22 for inaction on Sri Lanka, just as there was a similar protest earlier at the Japanese mission. And then, at 11:30 p.m. on Monday night, another Japanese press conference was called for.

On Myanmar, while the UN is bragging -- along with Myanmar -- that of the more then 7000 prisoners to be released, 250 are "political prisoners," responsible observers count only these 54:

From Insein Prison, Rangoon Division

1. Eik Khaing Oo (Female) (Journalist)

2. U Tin Mya (Chairman, NLD Thingangyun Township)

4. Kyaw Kyaw Thant (Journalist)

5. Monywar Aung Shin (a) U Aye Kyu (NLD and a Poet)

6. U Nine Nine (NLD MP)

7. Tin Tin Myint (Female)

8. Than Than Htay (Female) (NLD)

9. Thin Min Soe (Female)

10. Kyi Kyi Min (Female)

11. Tin Myo Htut (a) Kyaw Oo

12. Win Myint

13. Ashin Sandaw Batha (Monk)

14. Aung Gyi

15. Mi Mi Sein (Female)

16. Ma Htay (a) San San Myint (Female)

From Butheetaung Prison, Rakhine State

17. Nyi Nyi Min

From Oo-Bo Prison, Mandalay

18. Than Than Sint (Female)

From Ka Le Myo Prison, Sagaing Division

19. Zaw Htut Aung

20. U Ba Min (NLD)

21. U Nyo Mya (NLD)

22. Michael Win Kyaw (NLD)

23. Thet Zin (Journalist)

From Myitkyina Prison, Kachin State

24. Kyaw Maung

25. Nay Win

26. Kyi Lin

27. Soe Wai (a) Than Zaw

From Lashio Prison, Shan State

28. Soe Han

From Bago (Pegu) Prison

29. Bo Gyi

30. Khin Khin Lay (Female)

31. Pe Tin

From MawlaMyine Prison, Mon State

32. Tin Myint

33. Zin Mar Htwe (Female)

34. Moe Hlaing

35. Moe Lwin

36. Myo Min Lwin

From Taungoo Prison, Mandalay Division

37. Thet Oo

38. U Pannita (a) Myint Aye (Monk)

39. Zaw Tun

From Myingyan Prison, Mandalay Division

40. Bo Bo

41. Sanda (Female)

From Pa-an Prison, Karen State

42. Pyait Phyo Aung

43. Wunna Soe

From Tharyarwaddy Prison, Pegu (Bago) Division

44. U Ba Chit

45. Aye Min Min

46. Tin Tun

47. Shwe Thar

From Sagaing Prison, Sagaing Division

48. Maw Si

49. Khin Maung Thein

50. Tin Maung Nyunt

51. Aung Swe

From Kut Kai Prison, Shan State

52. Than Tun

From Shwebo Prison, Sagaing Division

53. Aung Myo

From Theinni Prison, Shan State

54. Maung Maung Htwe

Despite this, one of the UN's major Myanmar staffers last week approached Inner City Press to gloat that even publications which call the country Burma say 250 political prisoners are being released. But do that? Are they? Watch this site.

* * *

At UN, ICC's Map of Crimes Includes Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Zimbabwe, Unacted On by Victors' Justice

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 9 -- The talk was of war crimes at the UN on September 9, and those of Sri Lanka came up in discussion and on a color map. The President of the International Criminal Court's Assembly of State Parties noted that the UN Security Council has not referred Sri Lanka to the ICC.

  The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who has acknowledged receiving communications about Sri Lanka, spoke afterwards to the Press. On top of his file folder was a map, depicting by colors which countries have joined the ICC, which countries are being looked at (yellow dots), where prosecutions are ongoing (four red dots, all in Africa) and where Crimes Have Been Committed, noted with a green dot.

  There was a green dot on Sri Lanka, another on Zimbabwe and one on Myanmar.

Map in file of ICC's Ocampo, green dots for crimes, at bottom of India

    What does it mean, if the ICC's prosecutor acknowledges that crimes have been committed in three countries including by their governments but has actually put on trial so far only failed warlords in Africa? Inner City Press asked Ocampo and the prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, who has never charged a member of the RPF government with a crime, to address charges that only losers are put on trial, made most recently by Sri Lanka itself.

   The ICTR Prosecutor, Hassan Jallow, said that his focus has been on genocide and not war crimes, to which the court is now turning. Inner City Press asked if he will bring any prosecution against an RFP defendant before the ICTR's powers lapse. Jallow could not say. Ocampo said he focused on Ituri in the Congo first, but in the Kivus is looking at the government as well, and is still requesting information about acts of the Ugandan Army as well as the Lord's Resistance Army.

   Afterwards, Ocampo told the Press he is looking at nationals of 25 states for their acts in Iraq, which is not a state party of the ICC, and at acts not only of the Taliban but also of NATO forces in Afghanistan, which is a state party. He is traveling to Ecuador, at the invitation of President Correa, to look into allegations that support for the FARC passed from Ecuadorian territory into Colombia next door.

  As he spoke the map of entirely unacted on crimes, in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Zimbabwe, lay on the table next to him. When he was finished, brushing off a question about extraordinary rendition, he put the map back in his file and turned away.

The map in its position on the table

Footnote: the above took place during an event about the Consultative Conference on International Criminal Justice, about which Inner City Press looks to publish more. But as one journalist also present at the event told Inner City Press about the above, unlike most re-telling stories at the UN, it is actual first hand reporting.

* * *

At UN, Rapp Raps on Taylor Trial, Dodges on Johnson Sirleaf and Obama War Crimes Post

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 16 -- Already nominated to become President Obama's Ambassador at Large for War Crimes, Iowan Stephen Rapp came to the UN on July 16 to cautiously discuss the Charles Taylor trial ongoing at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague. In a nine-minute stakeout interview which only Inner City Press attended -- call it an exclusive -- Rapp and the Court's President Renate Winter took five questions and answer three and a half. Video here.

Inner City Press asked about the 227 witnesses that Taylor has called for his defense. Will the prosecution be trying to whittle the list down? Renate Winter said that will be up to the presiding judge. Rapp noted that in the case of the interim leader of the RUF, the defense named 330 possible witnesses and ended up calling 59.

  Inner City Press asked about the missing and perhaps dead indictee Johnny Paul Koroma. Rapp said that either an internationalized court could be set up within the judicial system of Sierra Leone -- but then amnesty might apply -- or that the case could be transferred to other countries which would have jurisdiction. He said that discussion have begun with two such countries, which he would not name.

Stephen Rapp at UN on July 16, 2009, 2 countries not shown

  Since the recent press coverage of the trial has revolved around the skulls Taylor acknowledges authorizing his forces to display at roadblocks, Inner City Press asked what probative value if any this might have, and if Rapp thinks the media is focused on the wrong things at the trial. Rapp said he will not comment on anything under judicial consideration, but that skulls could constitute a "gruesome display of human remains" and have some probative value.

  As it has asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson, the UN envoy to West African Said Djinnet and Congo envoy Alan Doss, Inner City Press asked Rapp to comment on the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission's recommendation that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf be barred from public life for thirty years, in part for providing financial support to Charles Taylor. Rapp said "what happened in Liberia... is up to Liberians," and noted that Liberia's parliament must consider the TRC's recommendations.

  Now that Rapp has been nominated for his new U.S. job, Inner City Press asked Renate Winter what provisions are being made to replace him. She said there will not be a day with out a prosecutor. Rapp added that if he is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, he will begin arranging for a transition, seeing how much notice he should provide.

  Rapp is a lawyer's lawyer, but whether his soft spoken style is best suited for the Obama Administration's Ambassador at Large for War Crimes, as the Administration considers joining the International Criminal Court, remains to be seen. The fact that only one reporter waited to question him even after the nomination speaks either to lameness within the UN press corps, or to a perceived lack of news value. Rapp knows the system, and could well advise a more public face of the fight against impunity. We'll see.

* * *

On the morning of June 5, Inner City Press obtained the draft resolution that, as a must-credit exclusive, it puts online here. 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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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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