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From Myanmar, As UN Lok Leaves, ICP Asks of Cover Ups in Bangladesh, Kenya, No Changes?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 13 – Now that the UN's Renata Lok-Dessalien is belated being moved out of Myanmar, albeit on the story that her job is being upgraded, many UN holdovers' defense of her comes to the fore. In May 2016 Inner City Press asked about her, on camera (here), and cited her previous cover-up in Bangladesh. If, as BBC's Jonah Fisher as he leaves Myanmar says is true, that this represents a new move by new (well, 150+ day) Secretary General Antonio Guterres, then the Resident Coordinator in Kenya, Ban Ki-moon son in law, would also go, as silent on human rights. But Guterres has only vaguely referred to human rights today in Turkmenistan, right after the sentencing of 18 people being tortured. So what explains the "rotation"? We hope to have more on this. The recurrent complicity through silence and inaction of the UN, through its now-outgoing representative in Myanmar, Renata Lok-Dessalien, it has other antecedents, including in Bangladesh. On May 23, 2016, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Lok-Desslien and documents leaked to VICE News, video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: I thought you'd be asked about this VICE News exposé about the UN's reaction to the killing of the Rohingya in Myanmar.  There are a number of leaked documents they've obtained showing some of the... proceedings of this senior action group of the Rights Up Front, including Mr. [Jan] Eliasson, and basically they conclude that the UN has learned and improved little since the Sri Lanka incidents that gave rise to that.  They're taking about the SRSG [Special Representative of the Secretary-General] Renata Lok-Dessallien basically having meetings when the human rights staff couldn't attend so she wouldn't have to hear their views. Have you seen all this?  And what's your response to basically...

Spokesman Dujarric:  I think... as you know we don't...

Inner City Press:  ...what's gone wrong?

Spokesman:  ...really comment on leaked documents.  I think the UN, for quite some time now, has made... done its best to shine a light on the human rights issues we have seen in Rakhine State.  There are also... there are also development... development needs, but this is an issue that the Human Rights Office has been focused on.  This is an issue that the office as a whole has been focused on and one that we've talked about quite a bit from here.

Inner City Press:  Right, but totally outside the leaked documents, do you deny the resident representative, Renata Lok-Dessallien, essentially tried to work around the human rights warnings.  You're saying that the Human Rights Office is giving warnings. This says that she tried to specifically set up meetings...

Spokesman:  That I've no way of knowing what her personal time agenda is.  I'm talking about what the views of the UN are from here.

  Well, here's a sample article from Bangladesh in 2010 about Lok-Dessalien there:

"News analysis: UN Coordinator creates new questions rather than answering old ones

UN Resident Coordinator Renata Lok-Dessallien, who created debates for her reported role in the 1/11 episode in 2007, said in a belated statement on Sunday that the UN did not send to then Bangladesh government any "special letter" that led to the postponement of the elections and declaration of the state of emergency. She claimed that the international community including the UN did not interfere in any way. "Our only concern was to create conditions conducive to holding free and fair elections," she has been quoted to have told the UNB news agency. Her disclosure has created more questions than answering the ones that were already in the minds of the people of Bangladesh about the UN's role."

  On May 23, Inner City Press continued it questioning, cut off by the UN:

Inner City Press:  Is the UN comfortable with its response?

Spokesman:  I'm telling what you the views are from here.

  And then he cut, as usual, to other unrelated questions. But the Press' questioning will continue, despite the UN's related move to oust and evict Inner City Press, give its long time shared office to Egyptian state media Akhbar Elyom and confine Inner City Press, for now, to minders and the edict to not ask diplomats questions. This remains today's UN.


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