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On Myanmar, ICP Asks UN If It Proposed UNDP's Martínez-Soliman As ASG, Dodge

By Matthew Russell Lee, photos; video

UNITED NATIONS, October 17 -- The UN's failure and duplicity in Myanmar is now fully on display. Just after Secretary General Antonio Guterres for the second time defended long discredited UN Resident Coordinator Renata Lok-Dessallien, who is accused on the record of retaliating against UN staff for raising the plight of the Rohingya, the UN with less fanfare has said she will belatedly leave the country by the end of October. Inner City Press addressed this on Canadian TV on October 12, here, then asked UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here and below. On October 17, Inner City Press asked the lead UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about any progress in replacing Lok Dessallien, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I'm reading the note to correspondents.  Did you address this idea of the replacement, either Resident Coordinator or an Assistant Secretary-General?  And, on that, I wanted to ask whether you would confirm or deny that the UN proposed Mr. Magdy Martínez-Soliman of UNDP [United Nations Development Program] as Assistant Secretary-General, Myanmar and, if so, what the Government's response was. Spokesman:  No.  As you know, we will… we announce replacements when they're official, whether it's senior appointments, RCs [Resident Coordinators], whatever.  There are always rumours and things flying around, so I'm not going to start commenting on names that may or may not have been floated.  As we mentioned, Ms. [Renata] Lok-Dessallien will be leaving at the end of the month.  When we have a replacement to announce, we shall do so. Inner City Press: But in… I mean, in this long note to correspondents, is it fair to say that this was one of the topics?  And, if so, what was… where does it stand?  It's a question. Spokesman:  As I said, we will announce a replacement when we're ready to announce.  As with every Resident Coordinator, not just in Myanmar, in every country there's a Resident Coordinator, there needs to be an agreement, an agreement, with the Government for that person.  So when we're ready to announce, we will do so." On October 13, penned in staking out the UN Security Council's closed Arria formula meeting on Myanmar, Inner City Press asked one of the origins of the problem, Ban Ki-moon, if there should be a UN Assistant Secretary General in Myanmar, replacing Ban's Vijay Nambiar (who covered up killings there as he did in Sri Lanka). Ban just waved, video here. Ban's brother Ban Ki Ho has done business in Myanmar. After the meeting, which despite being closed at least one hand-picked "super NGO" attended and tweets photos from, Kofi Annan appeared for a stakeout (photos here) - accompanied by former (and disgraced) UN official Alan Doss, still famous for the nepotism Inner City Press exposed, before being evicted and now restricted. He's with the Kofi Annan Foundation which, like The Elders with Ban Ki-moon, has been silent on the killings in Cameroon. We'll write the Doss story separately. Here's Annan's statement at the stakeout, before his and Ban's and now Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric hand-picked questions (Annan did not answer Inner City Press' quite audible question about the UN's own performance) - "I’ve had a very good discussion with the Council on the situation in Rakhine, and I focused mainly on the report of the Rakhine Commission, which I had the privilege of chairing. There were 9 of us: six from Myanmar, and three internationals. But we managed to produce the report. We think it’s a strong report, constructive and honest. At the meeting this afternoon, it’s clear that everybody agrees on what needs to be done in the short term: stopping the violence; getting humanitarian assistance to those in need; and eventually for the dignified and voluntary return of those who have left and are in Bangladesh. This is not going to be easy. They will only go back if they have a sense of security and confidence that their lives will be better. We, in the recommendation indicated that they should not be put in camps, they should be allowed to go back to their villages, and they should be helped to rebuild and reconstruct. The report covers a wide range of activities, as I’m sure you’ve seen, from economic and social development to inter-communal dialogue, to education, health, freedom of movement and above all, on the key question of citizenship and verification which has been a real problem for the Muslim community. As you know the State Councilor accepted the report and indicated they will implement it. She set up an inter-ministerial committee to work on the implementation. Just before I left Geneva I met with the minister chairing the inter-ministerial group leading the implementation of the report. She also intends to set up an expert group to help advise the implementation of the recommendations and this would also include international experts and hopefully that would also give the possibility for dialogue between the international community and Myanmar." From the October 12 transcript: Inner City Press: now it's said that… that Renata Lok-Dessallien is leaving by the end of October.  Having… since the Secretary-General so recently said he fully supports her, what's the connection between that and what seemed to be a… has a replacement been named?  What explains her leaving at this time?  Is it Mr. Feltman's mandate to… to get the Government to… to accept a particular replacement, to accept an Assistant Secretary-General?  And… and what changed between the… the announcement by the Secretary-General that he fully supported her and her decision now to leave by the end of the month? Deputy Spokesman:  Well, first of all, we had announced, even as early as the spring at this very briefing, that we expected to rotate Ms. Lok-Dessallien over the course of this year, and we've been trying to make the appropriate arrangements.  We are now closer to that stage.  She has been there for 3 years and 10 months, which is actually a fairly long time for her to be in one position. And the Secretary-General, of course, continues to support her fully while she goes about her job.  But, at some point, she will be back at a different posting, and so her time is ending. And the regular rotation of that position will go on. Inner City Press: But when you… when you say… when you say you're closer to it, has… has… does the UN have a candidate that… that Mr. Feltman will be arguing for?  And also, I guess it just seems like, if the reason to not have moved her out in June was that there was no replacement in place, there's still not a replacement in place.  So, what changed? Deputy Spokesman:  Well, there are times when we announce our replacements.  We'll… you'll know it when we announce it, and we should announce it at some point." Then Inner City Press:  I understand you don't have a name yet on that, but does the Secretary-General believe that it should be at the Assistant Secretary-General level… General level as proposed?  And does he have any view whether, in retrospect, the ending of the mandate of… was… was then Mr. [Vijay] Nambiar… was well timed in terms of the UN system?  I understand that was a Member State decision, but given what's happened since, what is… what has he learned in terms of UN reform about that decision? Deputy Spokesman:  Well, regarding that, as you yourself pointed out, this was a decision taken by Member States.  We respect that decision.  We're going to continue to do our work on Myanmar.  And, as you see, we raised it up at high levels regardless.  The Secretary-General himself, as you know, has taken this up, including directly with the Security Council.  So, we're continuing to express what our concerns are, even without that position in place.  And of course, regarding Ms. Lok-Dessallien, this is, like I said, an effort that's been under way for some time now." Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Francois Delattre if France things there should be a UN ASG in Myanmar, without answer, video here. The UK hasn't addressed the questions. We'll have more on this. As if to cover up this failure, Guterres' spokesman in New York Stephane Dujarric late on October 11 announced that lame duck Department of Political Affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman will visit Myanmar for five days starting October 13. The goal it seems is to get Myanmar's government to agree to an Assistant Secretary General replacing Lok-Dessalien, or at least to agree to a new Resident Coordinator. Inner City Press opines, maybe Myanmar can get Sid Chatterjee from Kenya, where Sid was given the Resident Coordinator job by his own father in law Ban Ki-moon and has supported the government even as it stole an election, and interfered in South Sudanese politics. We'll have more on this. The UN's failure amid Myanmar's murder and displacement of the Rohingya, on display today, was also pronounced under 2007-2016 Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his “Special Advisor” on Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar. (Guterres' holdover spokesman Dujarric, we note, defended all of this failure.) Once Ban Ki-moon, whose brother Ban Ki-Ho's mining in Myanmar Inner City Press exposed while getting evicted from the UN under Ban, gave the Myanmar post to Nambiar, Ban refused to listen to anyone else on the issue. And Nambiar, in turn, allowed his eyes and ears on the ground to be one Marianne Hagen. She failed totally on the Rohingya issue, obsessed for example with the Kachin Independence Army. But there has been no accountability. [Inside UN headquarters, this is similar in structure to the lack of accountability of Ban Ki-moon for corruption, and smaller scale but related his head of DPI Cristina Gallach for censorship, and DPI long termers like Darren Farrant, Hua Jiang and Maher Nasser - except that they're still here, controlling access.] We'll have more on this.When belatedly the UN Security Council heard of Myanmar and the Rohingya, before the meeting Inner City Press asked the representatives of the UK, Sweden and France about the UN Country Team's performance, or under-performance, under Renata Lok-Dessalien. Video here. On October 5, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric more about Dessalien. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: again about Ms. [Renata] Lok-Dessallien, in this case, saying that she suppressed a report about the UN's role in Rakhine State.  And it has, again, quotes from people that work for the UN, saying that…  that the…  the Human Rights Up Front, which was announced with some fanfare by your previous Secretary-General you spoke for, has not been implemented.  So I wanted to ask, just factually, does the report exist?  Did she suppress it?  and his statement that he, the SG, stood behind her, while…  while, obviously, a good thing to stand behind your officials, seems to have sent a message to staff that, even if you speak up and say my supervisor retaliated against me for raising human rights in an internal UN meeting, that the Secretary-General will, out of hand, reject your claims and side with your boss.  How would you respond to that? Spokesman:  Okay.  So, let's take the granular first.  I don't agree at all with your analysis.  If people have grievances, there are all sorts of internal systems they can go through.  They can also…  there's a very strong whistleblower protection that's available to every staff member of this organisation.  The Secretary-General does stand by Renata Lok-Dessallien, the Resident Coordinator and the team that she leads in Myanmar.  There was a report.  It was not spiked in any way.  It was presented to the UN country team in April, and I think, far from suppressing information or censoring ourselves, I think, in our dialogues with the Myanmar authorities, the UN system has consistently urged the leaders of Myanmar, whether the military or civilian leadership, to uphold their responsibilities.  I think, if you look at the public statements from the Secretary-General, if you look at the public statements earlier this year from the Resident Coordinator, and from the team, I think they have been clear and to the point.  We engage with the authorities of Myanmar as we engage with the authorities in any country.  We engage constructively with them.  Engagement does not mean that we lose our principles.  On the contrary, I think we stand strong on our principles.  I think the Secretary-General, in his statement to the Security Council, whether by letter or in present to the security…  excuse me, in his statement that he did in person to the Security Council, was extremely clear about his message to the Myanmar authorities.  And we will continue to be clear both in our public statements and in our private conversations with the authorities. Inner City Press:  So just…  thanks.  The Guardian quotes a UN official in Yangon, quote, “Human Rights Up Front isn't being implemented.  It just isn't.  They can say that they are ticking some boxes, but, in terms of actions that lead to results, we're seeing nothing.”  And the other…  I just wanted to…  because there is a perception.  You're saying that, if staff go internally, then the Secretary-General won't automatically side with their supervisor.  But, if they go public…? Spokesman:  This is not…  this is…  the statements that I'm making I've…  have to do with the attacks that the Resident Coordinator has been subject to, the attacks that the UN team in Myanmar has been subject to.  Let's not forget where responsibility lies in terms of protecting people.  It lies with the Government. That's where the responsibility lies.  Any assessment of our public statements in the last year, in the last few months, have been clear in us raising our concern about the situation, the human rights situation, in Rakhine State, about the lack of humanitarian access.  I think we have been very clear.  Now, current, past staff members, people talk to the press.  That's their business.  I think we've said what we have to say." On September 29, after a BBC report which featured Lok-Dessalien's former chief of staff saying staff were retaliated against for raising human rights, Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' spokesman if these allegations of retaliation will be investigated. Apparently not - the spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, insisted that Guterres stands behind Lok-Dessalien. This is NOT whistleblower protection, and discourages people from coming forward. (As does the UN Security surveillance camera above the UN media bullpen area, which Inner City Press asked about and Dujarric reformed to answer on, video here). After the briefing, Dujarric's office mailed out: "The United Nations strongly disagrees with allegations against the UN Resident Coordinator in Myanmar, Renata Lok-Dessallien. The Secretary-General has full confidence in the Resident Coordinator and her Team. The UN has consistently and strongly focused on protection of human rights and inclusive development on behalf of all the people of Myanmar, irrespective of ethnicity, religion or citizenship status. The Resident Coordinator has been a tireless advocate for human rights, conflict prevention, and humanitarian and development assistance in Rakhine State. She has drawn attention to rights abuses and called for credible investigations; advocated against incitement to violence; and supported efforts to promote inter-communal harmony. The UN in Myanmar, led by the Resident Coordinator, works with a wide array of government and non-government partners to help enhance Myanmar’s capacities to tackle root causes of conflict, to strengthen democratic institutions, to expand access to justice and to reduce poverty. Human rights stand at the center of everything the UN does, and this includes the rollout of the Human Right Up Front by her team." Right.  Senior UN officials exclusively tell Inner City Press that in the prior months, Guterres repeatedly rejected detailed recommendations made directly to him by some of his officials to become more active on the crisis. The officials tell Inner City Press that Guterres responded that for the UN to become more active might create problems for "The Lady," Aung San Suu Kyi, and the military. So the UN stood by, as it did in Sri Lanka in 2008-2009 and in Rwanda before that, always with an excuse. There was even a ten point plan presented early on to Guterres, on which he never acted. On September 25, UK Deputy Ambassador Jonathan Allen in the Council said, "Burma needs to allow in humanitarian aid from the UN... The humanitarian needs inside Rakhine vastly exceed the Red Cross’s activities. Only the UN and its partners can provide life-saving aid.... There needs to be a process so that those who fled can register as refugees and return home safely, even if they don’t have documents. Burmese authorities should participate with the UN fact-finding mission. The situation in Burma strikes many of us around the table with particular poignancy… We want to see further progress to democracy, and we want Burma to thrive…this crisis now casts a deep shadow over Burma and its international reputation…Should they fail to do so, they will find themselves on the wrong side of history, and this Council will be ready to take further action." After Allen, Nikki Haley said: "We have seen images of acts no person should ever have to endure. We have seen women and children fleeing their homes with only the clothes on their backs…we’ve heard reports of men, women and children rounded up, detained, and some brutally killed…a baby who died fleeing violence in Rakhine States. I’ve also met with Burma’s national security advisor. We’ve supported regional efforts to de-escalate the violence….and still, the exodus out of Burma continues while the government refuses to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation. I condemn violence against other minority communities in Rakhine. We cannot be afraid to call the actions of the Burmese authority what they appear to be: a campaign to cleanse the country of an ethnic minority. The Burmese government claims it is battling terrorists. If this is true, let them allow media and humanitarian aid in to back up their claims.... The government has a responsibility to restore the rule of law and prevent attacks by citizens in its name. An already dire situation has been made even worse by some rhetoric coming from official channels. The time for diplomatic words has passed. We must now consider action against Burmese military figures. The Burmese military must respect human rights. Those accused should be removed from command and prosecuted. I’d like to appeal to the goodness and hope for the future that exists in the hearts of the majority of you. I know you’re sickened by the images of violence. The goal of an open, democratic Burma is still possible. Hold fast to that vision. Don’t give up on it. Every Burmese man, woman and child is a child of God." On September 18, Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: In Myanmar, I heard from some people that work in the Department of Political Affairs [DPA], and I wanted to get you to respond to this, the idea being that the Secretary-General has been urged for some time, in fact months, to be more vocal or be more active on the issue of the plight of the Rohingya and that, at least at an earlier stage, his analysis was that this might put Aung San Suu Kyi in a difficult decision with the military.  Is that an accurate depiction?  And, if so, has the plight changed so much, or does he think he might have gotten involved earlier? Spokesman:  I would say it's an accurate description.  I think anyone who would have read or seen the Secretary-General's statements on the situation in Myanmar over the last two weeks could only say that he's being vocal and being extremely vocal on the situation.  There is a time for diplomatic engagement. There's a time for speaking out more loudly.  There's a time for speaking out loudly and remaining engaged diplomatically.  The Secretary-General has a number of tools in his kit, and he uses them as he sees fit. Inner City Press:  And has he spoken to Aung San Suu Kyi since…Spokesman:  Not since about ten days ago.  We, obviously, very much are looking forward to hearing what she will have to say in the speech she's scheduled to deliver, I think it's about Tuesday in Myanmar, and I think late tonight here in New York." On September 15 Guterres spokesman arranged a background briefing for his favored correspondents, with senior UN officials we will leave UNnamed - but did not inform or invite Inner City Press, who asks him many questions, including about Myanmar. To this has the UN descended. The UN Security Council's September 13 meeting on Myanmar was a closed affair, after which the President of the Council, Ethiopia, read a statement that "acknowledg[ed] the attack on the Myanmar security forces on August 25," as if the problem began then. It goes back decades. And even in April of this year, this memo was sent to Secretary General Guterres: "The United Nations in-country presence in Myanmar continues to be glaringly dysfunctional. Strong tensions exist within the UN country team, the humanitarian parts of the UN system find itself having to confront the hostility of the development arm, while the human rights pillar is seen as complicating both. The impact of this dysfunctionality is a growing irrelevance of the UN in guiding and defining the international community’s efforts to address the challenges confronting Myanmar." After that, the UN in June 2017 said that Resident Coordinator Lok-Dessallien was being rotated out and the position advertised. But this week Inner City Press asked and found that she is still there; on September 14 Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric why didn't happen and he said she it does, he'll say. The UN's hands are not clean, either, some say. To the Ethiopian ambassador on September 13, Inner City Press asked if there was talk of UN envoy, without answer. Periscope video here. In terms of the UN Secretariat, while it said in June that dubious UN Resident Coordinator Renata Lok-Dessallien was being rotated out and the position advertised, when Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric on September 12 who the Resident Coordinator in Myanmar is, he first said he didn't know, then after the briefing his Office e-mailed this: "Regarding your question on Myanmar at today's noon briefing, the Resident Coordinator is Renata Lok-Dessalien." So despite saying she was being rotated out and the post advertised, and despite Guterres saying how concerned he is about Myanmar and the Rohingya, three months and thousands of dead later, she's still in. And the Spokesman, Dujarric, didn't even insert this answer into "his" transcript. On September 13 Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft about criticism of Lok-Dessallein and the country team. From the UK transcript: Inner City Press: There is talk of the country team at the UN being too close to the Government over time. There was criticism of the resident co-ordinator. Does the UK feel comfortable that the country team has been on top of this issue, even prior to this August “terrorist attack” that was referenced in press elements? Amb Rycroft: Well one of the points I made was that several of us around the table, including the UN, have very good and close relationships with various parts of the establishment in Myanmar. Some of us with Aung San Suu Kyi, others with the military, and my point is that it’s time now to be using those relationships to get action and to get an end to this deterioration, rather than allowing those relationships to become an end in themselves and to prevent us from taking action. Periscope video here. We'll have more on this. Rycroft on September 11 said, on Myanmar "we have asked for a formal discussion in the Security Council on Wednesday and that is a next step, which I hope will lead to a public outcome in some way. And I think it’s a sign of the significant worry that Security Council members have that the situation is continuing to deteriorate for many Rohingya who are seeking to flee Rakhine state in Burma and move into Bangladesh. It’s up to the Presidency to work out if it’s an AOB or a consultations. I think it will be a private meeting but with a public outcome of some form." On September 7 Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who has refused to answer on Coomaraswamy, this about his new boss and Myanmar, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: on Myanmar.  I know that the Secretary-General made the statement that he made, but since then, there are reports of villages that people have been chased out of being burned to the ground, and there are also some reports of landmines placed by the Myanmar military on the border with Bangladesh.  So, I wanted to know if the UN is aware of these reports and also has the Secretary-General actually placed any phone call to Aung San Suu Kyi?  And if he has… Spokesman:  As I said yesterday, he has been, over the last few months, in touch with Aung San Suu Kyi, both by phone and through correspondence.  We've seen the reports.  We're obviously extremely concerned about the reports of continuing violence, especially violence that targets civilians.  The reports of land mines is not one we can confirm, but, obviously, if they were to be true, those would be extremely troubling if they were to be confirmed. Inner City Press:  If you don't… when… when's the last time, since this is kind of a… it's a fast deteriorating situation.  When's the last time that he spoke to her? Spokesman:  "I have no… at this point, I have no further details to share with you." On September 4 before a UN Security Council meeting about North Korea, Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft about the recent upsurge of killings and ethnic "cleansing" of the Rohingya in Myanmar. Video here; from the UK transcript: Inner City Press: Will there be another meeting on Myanmar? Given what’s happening? Amb Rycroft: "We are following the situation in Burma very closely as well. If it continues to deteriorate then one of the things that we can do is to hold further meetings to shine a spotlight on the situation there. We call on Aung San Suu Kyi to use all of her many qualities to unite the country, to stop the violence, and to bring everyone together in a way that respects the right of all people in Burma." On August 30, after a closed door  Security Council "any other business" meeting about Myanmar, Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, video here, UK transcript here: Inner City Press: Is there any discussion of the people caught in this no man’s land between Myanmar and Bangladesh? Is there any message to Bangladesh in terms of opening the border? Amb Rycroft: "Yes, several of us raised that issue, a lot of us talked about the responsibilities of Bangladesh as a good neighbour and indeed praised them for what they have been doing so far and encouraged them to continue to do so." Before the meeting, Inner City Press asked Rycroft, video here (with Sweden's deputy Skau's answer too), UK transcript below. On August 31, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said, "“The United States supports democracy for the Burmese people, and we condemn attacks by militant groups in Rakhine State. However, as Burmese security forces act to prevent further violence, they have a responsibility to adhere to international humanitarian law, which includes refraining from attacking innocent civilians and humanitarian workers and ensuring assistance reaches those in need. We call on all members of the Security Council to support the Burmese government in ensuring the rights and dignity of all communities in Rakhine State and throughout Burma." From the UK's August 30 transcript: Inner City Press: Aung San Suu Kyi has said that international aid groups are somehow assisting terrorists. Do you think those comments are helpful? What do you think? Amb Rycroft: "Well as I said I think it’s important that all of the parties de-escalate now to reduce tensions and look to the long-term, including through Kofi Annan’s recommendations." On August 28, Inner City Press asked the top three UN spokespeople - they had canceled the noon briefing - the following: "In Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi has said that international aid NGOs are somehow helping “terrorists.” What is the Secretary General's statement and action on this?"  Lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who ignored Inner City Press' other questions after evicting and still restricting it, replied, "We expect a statement shortly." An hour later, this - which does not address ASSK's comments: "The Secretary-General is deeply concerned at the reports of civilians being killed during security operations in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. This latest round of violence comes after the attacks on Myanmar security forces on 25 August. The Secretary-General, who condemned those attacks, reiterates the importance of addressing the root causes of the violence and the responsibility of the Government of Myanmar to provide security and assistance to those in need. The Secretary-General fully supports the recommendations of the report by Kofi Annan and urges the Government to effectively implement them. Recognizing that Bangladesh has hosted generously refugees from Myanmar for decades, the Secretary-General appeals for the authorities to continue to allow the Rohingya fleeing violence to seek safety in Bangladesh. Many of those fleeing are women and children, some of whom are wounded. He calls for humanitarian agencies to be granted unfettered and free access to affected communities in need of assistance and protection.  The United Nations stands ready to provide all necessary support to both Myanmar and Bangladesh in that regard." On August 14, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: India had announced that it intends to deport Rohingyas from Myanmar regardless of whether they're registered as UN refugees or not.  It's a pretty high-profile announcement, and I'm wondering, given António Guterres's interest in this issue, what's his statement on it? Deputy Spokesman:  Obviously, we have our concerns about the treatment of refugees.  Once refugees are registered, they are not to be returned back to countries where they fear persecution.  You're aware of our principles of non-refoulement, and that's what applies in this case. Inner City Press: And who will convey that to India given that they've said at the level of a minister that this is exactly what they intend to do? Deputy Spokesman:  "Well, I believe the first point of contact will be through UNHCR [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees].  Have a good afternoon, everyone." On August 10, Inner City Press asked the UN's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: over the weekend, the Government's own investigative commission on Rakhine State said that there's no evidence of war crimes and was very dismissive of reports, including UN reports, saying there are problems there.  But then there's also some, there's a report of a UN precautionary security notification to its own staff in western Myanmar saying that there's a possibility of, I guess, Buddhist extremists.  And so I just, can you confirm that the UN views this as a danger?  How serious a danger is it? Spokesman:  Well, I think that, our colleagues said they're aware of planned protests in Rakhine State, and, obviously, for us, it's important that we call for peaceful and respectful demonstrations.  We routinely issue precautionary safety and security notifications from the perspective of staff safety and security of our assets and field activities.  The UN underscores that all the people of Myanmar, regardless of ethnicity or background, should be able to live in equality and harmony.  As far as the, as the human rights report, our, the Government report, and situation in Rakhine State, we understand from our human rights colleagues that the full report has not yet been made public.  They look forward to seeing it and studying it.  On the executive summary that was released, the High Commissioner's office said that, noted that many, the commission recommended many allegations of human rights violations must be further investigated.  And I think, given the scale and nature of the human rights violations documented by the UN's own office for human rights earlier this year, it continues to urge the Government of Myanmar to fully cooperate with the Fact Finding Mission mandated by the UN Human Rights Council, including giving it full access.

  In its typically murky fashion and without explanation, the UN has said "The President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Joaquín Alexander Maza Martelli (El Salvador), has decided to establish a new composition of the Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar and appoint Mr. Marzuki Darusman (Indonesia) to serve as a member and its Chair." Indira Jaising is gone, replaced by Darusman who, as Inner City Press has reported, previously went soft on Buddhist extremism in Sri Lanka, against the Tamils. See previous report here. We'll have more on this. On July 21 Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq about Department of Political Affairs official Miroslav Jenca being snubbed while in the country. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: when Mr. Jenca, Miroslav Jenca, went to Myanmar he was, quote, snubbed, unable to meet with any high officials.  Do you deny that?  Who did he meet with there? Deputy Spokesman:  Well, Mr. Jenca, actually the report was inaccurate in a number of ways — Mr. Jenca told us, in fact, he was there as you know for the Panglong conference and as part of that, in the evening at the dinner to the Panglong conference, he did, in fact, meet with Aung San Suu Kyi somewhat briefly, but he also had longer meetings with several other minister-level officials, so the idea they didn't meet with him is simply not true.

  We'll see. While the UN has remained silent in the face of Inner City Press questions on June 30 and before other than the generic statement that countries should cooperate, on July 10 US Ambassador Nikki Haley said, "No one should face discrimination or violence because of their ethnic background or religious beliefs. It is important that the Burmese government allow this fact-finding mission to do its job. The international community cannot overlook what is happening in Burma – we must stand together and call on the government to fully cooperate with this fact-finding mission." On June 30, Inner City Press asked  UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press:  I'm sure you've seen that Myanmar has announced officially that they are not… they are going to ban visas for the three UN investigators and any of their subordinates.  And so I'm wondering, combined with the… the… the arrests of three journalists that were, you know, speaking to groups that now are themselves negotiating with the Government, the Secretary-General, what does he think of this? Is this…

Spokesman:  I think… we think it's obviously important for every country to cooperate with the UN's human rights mechanism, whether they be Special Rapporteurs or investigations put forward by the Human Rights Council.

Inner City Press:  What communications has the Secretariat, either through its new or the existing Resident Coordinator otherwise, had with the Government, given this open statement of…

Spokesman:  I'm not aware of anything that I'm able to share with you at this point.   

On June 28 Inner City Press asked Dujarric if Guterres is ready to speak up for press freedom in Myanmar, even as Duajrric continues to restrict it in New York. UN transcript here: Inner City Press: in Myanmar, in a pretty high-profile case, the Government has arrested three journalists for reporting on the conflict in Shan State and actually didn't… turned them over to the police.  So, they were held by the army.  A number of Governments around the world have spoken out on it.  And I'm wondering, is the UN aware of it? Has Ms. [Renata Lok] Dessallien left?  Is there anything whoever is in charge now of the country team?

Spokesman:  I will look.  I have personally not seen these reports, but I will check with our colleagues.

   On May 31, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the panel, and a video on the New York Times site showing Myanmar military abuse (in Shan State). From the UN transcript: Inner City Press:  I wanted to ask you about a video that's emerged in Myanmar of Government soldiers kicking a person on the ground.  It's something that they say took place in Shan State.  So I wanted to… and the Government of Aung San Suu Kyi said they have no time to explain it.  They're too busy, whatever else they're doing.  So I wanted to know, has the UN system taken note of it?  Now that three panelists have been named for the Human Rights Council's supposed visit to check in on the Rohingya, is it… is this something… did the Secretary-General get any commitment from Aung San Suu Kyi?  Did he raise this issue in particular given that it's now… there are now individuals, including Radhika Coomaraswamy, who are supposed to go and the Government has said they can't go?

Spokesman:  We think it's important that Myanmar cooperate with the human rights mechanism.  As for the video, we'll take a look at it.  I don't know if maybe our colleagues on ground have said something.  I haven't seen it. 

   Hours later, even after Inner City Press tweeted a link to the video to Dujarric, nothing. On May 10, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a London Q&A session was asked about the problem. As tweeted -- the event was not live streamed and five days later the UN has not put the video on its website despite twice telling Inner City Press it would happen "very soon" - Guterres said it is for him a "complex decision when to speak out, citing need to work with government of Myanmar & criticize rights violations of Rohingya." Now on May 15, this: "The Secretary-General met today in Beijing with H. E. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar, on the occasion of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. The Secretary-General and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi discussed the United Nations’ support to the democratic transition in Myanmar, the peace process and the way to a fair solution addressing the root causes of the current crisis in Rakhine State." But what will it mean for the (UNmentioned, at least by name) Rohinga? At the May 10 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric to explain this, but he declined, instead telling Inner City Press that the video was already online on UN Webcast or would be "very soon." Video here from 12:38. A full day and three hours later it was not. From the UN's May 10 transcript: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about the Secretary-General, his London speech.  Maybe I misunderstood.  Just first, when… did you say it’s gonna be put on the webcast?

Spokesman:  Yeah, we’re getting the video, and it’s going to be placed… if it’s not already placed on the UN webcast, it should be there very soon.

Inner City Press:  There’ve been various summaries of… he was asked a question about Myanmar and one… at least one written… since there was not any livestream of it, I’m going off what people have tweeted about it.  They said it’s a complex decision when to speak out, says [António] Guterres, citing need to work with Government of Myanmar and criticize rights violations of Rohingya.  So I wanted to know, what… just can you unpack it a little bit?  What is this balance… does this balance apply to all countries that he’s dealing with?  Has he reached out to Aung San Suu Kyi to try to do quiet diplomacy about getting the UN team in and the Rohingya… [inaudible]

Spokesman:  Yes, there have been contacts with Aung San Suu Kyi, and I think, you know, the balance is in everything we do; we need to stand by our principles, and we also need to work with Governments.  I’ll admit to you I was preparing for the briefing while the speech was going on, so I haven’t had a chance to look at it.  And I think whether you asking about it or me answering about it, I think both of us need to listen to the whole thing.

  Where has Guterres criticized Myanmar's human rights violations? Or, for example, Cameroon's in cutting the Internet to millions of people for 94 days? We'll have more on this. On Myanmar, 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.

  And now Guterres head of Communications comes from, and reflexively tweets, the Times. But the above, is the history - and for now, the future. Watch this site.


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