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On Myanmar, After ASSK Rejected UN Mission, ICP Asks Elders Brundtland & Brahimi

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 9 – With Myanmar thumbing its nose and rejecting a UN fact-finding mission, Inner City Press on May 9 asked Gro Harlem Brundtland and Lakhdar Brahimi of The Elders about the Rohingya and whether Aung San Suu Kyi was or is on the path to becoming an Elder. Gro Harlem Brundtland said Suu Kyi was a form of Elder while imprisoned, but cannot be while involved in politics. And after she retires? If the Rohingya are still treated this way? Brahimi cited co-Elder Kofi Annon's report forthcoming in October. Myanmar does not appear on the list of six issues The Elders were set to discuss in a closed door meeting with the UN Security Council, where the US under Samantha Power agreed in November 2016 to have a closed door meeting on Myanmar on which there was no output, no statement at all. Meanwhile UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, he of quiet diplomacy, has nothing to say. On May 3, Inner City Press asked Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: On Myanmar, yesterday, Aung San Suu Kyi, in a press conference with the EU, said they will not allow in the fact-finding mission agreed to by the Human Rights Council in March.  She said: “We disassociate ourselves from the resolution because it has… it’s not in keeping with what’s happening on the ground.”  I’m wondering, given that there was a lot of work behind that, is the Secretary-General or somebody, the… the remnants of the good offices mission, thinking of contacting Aung San Suu Kyi about this rebuffing of the UN Mission?

Spokesman:  I think that’s a question right now more aimed at the… our colleague at the Human Rights Office.  We, obviously, as a matter of principle, encourage all Member States to cooperate with the various human rights mechanisms.

   Just after the Rakhine Commissioner under Kofi Annan released its report, Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador to the UN Matthew Rycroft, president of the UN Security Council for Match, about it. From the UK transcript:

Inner City Press: Have you seen the Rakhine Commission report by Kofi Annan about Myanmar-  do you think the recommendations are sufficient and should all be or some be implemented?
Amb Rycroft: So we have a session on Burma, on Myanmar coming up tomorrow and that will be on our agenda.

  An hour later Inner City Press asked UN holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric who long spoke for Vijay Nambiar and Ban Ki-moon whose brother Ki-ho mined in Myanmar, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about Myanmar.  There's a new report out by the Rakhine commission by… under Kofi Annan.  I don't know if the Secretariat has… has… has a view on it.  And also, the UK [United Kingdom] Ambassador asked him about it, and he said that there's actually a Security Council session on Myanmar tomorrow.  I wanted to know if the Secretariat is briefing?  Who’s doing it?

Spokesman:  Yes.  Jeff Feltman will brief tomorrow on Myanmar.  We're obviously aware of the… of the report.  I know the Secretary-General spoke to his… not to his immediate, but one of his predecessors, to Kofi Annan recently about the report.  We hope that the recommendations are an opportunity for the Government and the people of Rakhine State to work together on concrete measures to improve the lives of the communities in the state.  And we will continue to encourage Governments to allow full humanitarian access in northern Rakhine State and follow on its promises to establish an independent investigation into allegations of human rights violations.

   Not only have the UN's “Good Offices” on Myanmar been ended - now the former office holder Vijay Nambiar is engaged in genocide denial after leaving the UN, still in New York, in his personal capacity. He did much the same previously on Sri Lanka. See below.

 On the morning of February 22, Inner City Press submitted questions to UN holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric, including "On Myanmar, please state what if anything the UN is doing to protect (Rohingya) Jamalida Begum who 'fears for her life after telling journalists how she and other women had been raped by military personnel.'"

  More than two hours later, having no response at all, Inner City Press posed a (UN cover up of) humanitarian crisis questions to new Secretary General Antonio Guterres, adding audibly that his spokesman Dujarric is not answering basic Press questions. Video here. Two more hours later, still no answer. Seems Dujarric should go the way of Nambiar. Watch this site.

 On February 8, Inner City Press asked the UN's holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Myanmar. UN Transcript here:

Inner City Press: I want to ask you about Myanmar again.  Two UN officials, not giving their names, have said that up to 1,000 people have been killed, Rohingya.  These are described as working for two separate UN agencies in Bangladesh.  So I wanted to know, does the UN actually have a figure?  And if that is the figure, why doesn't the UN come forward in a more formal way with it?  And, again, what does the Secretary-General, given that the Council has yet to take it up, does he think… what number would trigger Article 99 and some kind of action? 

Spokesman:  You know, I don't want to get into how many people need to be killed.  I think the UN has been extremely forthright in reporting what we know.  You saw the reports with the horrific information contained in the report put out by the High Commissioner for Human Rights interviewing people who had… who were in, I think, Cox's Bazar, who had fled Myanmar.  I think anyone who reads it and the detail that are contained in it can only be horrified by the situation.  You know, I can't comment on blind quotes.  People speak.  I think whenever we have information, we've shared it, whether it was on what the UN saw when the humanitarian coordinator went to Rakhine State, and we're as transparent as we possibly can be.

Inner City Press:  Is this an attempt by the UN to sort of off-the-record chide the Government with this 1,000 figure? Is this an unauthorized...

Spokesman:  I don't… again, I don't know who spoke, why they spoke, and so on.  I think the UN has been very clear and transparent in putting forward information that we have on the state of affairs in that area.

  On February 7, Inner City Press also asked Dujarric about Myanmar. UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about Myanmar.  There was that statement yesterday by Adama Dieng saying that the existing commission there is not sufficient to do the investigation, and that commission has since rejected both reports.  So I guess I wanted to know, one, if there's a response.  But, two, this morning, one Security Council member said this Rohingya issue should be taken up by the Council.  Another said he wasn't sure.  And I'm wondering whether the Secretary-General himself… this would seem to be a kind of an Article 99.  Does he believe that, given the split in the Council — there's at least one member that doesn't want any outcome on anything to do with Myanmar — that he should raise it to the Council?

Spokesman:  We would very much hope that the Council agrees on its agenda.  They have heard briefings on Myanmar in the past from the Special Envoy, and we obviously stand ready to brief them should they request so.

Inner City Press:  I guess what I'm say… the last time that a briefing was held, there was an agreement in advance that there would be no outcome.  I think… and so I'm just… I'm wondering…

Spokesman:  If they request such a briefing, we would be happy to supply one.

 On February 3, Inner City Press asked Dujarric about reports of further abuse of the Rohingya, video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about this very detailed report about abuses of the Rohingya in Myanmar, I know that the mandate of the Good Offices expired, but I'm wondering, what is the Secretary-General's thought?  I asked the UK ambassador.  He said there different ways being considered for the UN to deal with this problem.  Is there any proposal by the Secretary-General either to revive that office or a different office or have some increased focus…?

Spokesman:  I don't think there will be a revision of that office, but that is not to say that there will be… there continues to be keen interest in the situation in Myanmar, obviously, on the human rights issue but also what the UN can assist and can do on the development issue through the coordinated work of the UN development agencies in Myanmar and, obviously, on the political front, in which DPA will be in the lead.  But, it will be a coordinated outlook on behalf of the UN system.

Inner City Press:  Right, but when you say the political, do you mean in terms of… does the Secretary-General believe, for example, that the Rohingya are and should be acknowledged as citizens of Myanmar?

Spokesman:  I think we have… this is an ongoing discussion.  I think the Secretary-General, the UN has been very clear on the need to address the needs of the Rohingyas in a way that respects their rights and that is good for country as a whole.

  On January 31, Inner City Press asked the UN's holdover spokesman Dujarric,
From the UN transcript, Periscope here:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask, again, it has to do with the Rohingya, in this case, in Bangladesh.  Maybe you've seen reports that the Government of Bangladesh is considering moving the people that were able to cross the border in camps near the border to an island that's described as being often underwater.  Does the UN or, in particular, António Guterres have any…?

Spokesman:  I haven't seen those reports…

Inner City Press:  It's in the New York Times.

Spokesman:  I'll see what I can find.

  Six hours later and counting, nothing.

On January 17, Inner City Press asked the UN's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about disappearances in Shan State, where just-left Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's brother Ban Ki Ho has been mining. UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: it's a case that involves two individuals, which has become pretty high profile, in Myanmar.  There are these two Baptist leaders, one of whom used to show journalists the effects of airstrikes by the Government in Shan State, and Fortify Rights has called for the Government to… to say where they are.  They've been disappeared.  Is the UN aware of it?  And who's been sort of monitoring the human rights aspects of Myanmar, not just the Special Rapporteur, but is there still a Secretariat function, as used to be carried out by Mr. [Vijay] Nambiar?

Deputy Spokesman:  There still is a Secretariat function that's being carried out now by the Department of Political Affairs, and I'll check with them whether there's anything to say about this particular case.

From the January 12 UN transcript:

Inner City Press: you'd said that Vijay Nambiar had stepped down at the end of December, the office was not funded.  But, I've seen he did an interview on 8 January with a Bangladesh publication, Prothom Alo, where he said he denied that there's genocide of Rohingya and Myanmar or he said that UNHCR had said that and then taken it back.  I wanted to, I guess, ask you, in what capacity… is he speaking for the UN in any way in saying that there's no genocide in the area?

Spokesman:  No, Mr. Nambiar is speaking in his personal capacity.

   Myanmar was the quiet topic of the UN Security Council on the evening of November 17, between meetings on South Sudan and Syria chemical weapons.

 Inner City Press was informed that while the US requested the closed door briefing, the US agreed as a condition that there would be no outcome to the meeting.  And now, Myanmar is not listed in any way, even in the footnotes, of the January Program of Work of the UN Security Council, click here for that.

On November 17 the briefer was Vijay Nambiar, Ban Ki-moon's envoy on Myanmar as he was, disasterously, on Sri Lanka. And sources tell Inner City Press that amid the burning of Rohingyas' homes and rapes and killings in Rakhine State, Nambiar advised the Council to go easy on Myanmar and give them time. This is is disgusting, all around.  The UN has refused to provide a summary of what Nambiar said.

On January 5, Inner City Press asked holdover UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here.

Ban Ki-moon's brother Ban Ki-ho did mining and other business in Myanmar, after being on a “UN delegation.”


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