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On Myanmar Pro UN Groups Whisper of Rosenthal Report While Fleming of Guterres Pimps Out Refugees and Censors

By Matthew Russell Lee

UN GATE, September 7 – The UN's own report on its systemic failure in protecting civilians in Myanmar, as in Cameroon, typically stopped short of naming who was in charge and who is responsible: Antonio Guterres, Secretary General since January 2017. And now Guterres' new head of communications has pimped out refugees by publishing personal identifying information, while banning the Press from covering UNGA week.

  Now from a group of NGOs, some of them sincere, some of them mostly seeking access at the UN and silent on Guterres' censorship, this: "September 3, 2019 António Guterres Secretary-General United Nations New York, NY Re: Rosenthal Report Dear Secretary-General, We write to you regarding the recent report by Gert Rosenthal, “A Brief and Independent Inquiry into the Involvement of the United Nations in Myanmar from 2010 to 2018.” The Rosenthal report describes the UN’s failure to stop, mitigate, or even draw attention to violence that the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission found amounted to crimes under international law including crimes against humanity, and warrants an investigation of the crime of genocide against Rohingya. We note that the mandated scope of Mr. Rosenthal’s inquiry was extremely limited, was undertaken by one individual, did not include field visits, and excluded individual accountability... we also note that the UN made similar commitments after the publication of the 2012 “Report of the Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka,” written by Charles Petrie. [Note: And now Guterres censors the Press that most asked and asks about Sri Lanka and the UN's failure. These groups are fooling themselves - some, intentionally and in collusion with Guterres.] It is vital that your office act once again and quickly. Specifically, we call on you to set a clear, unifying strategy for the UN Country Team in Myanmar that places human rights concerns at the center of its strategy. With elections scheduled in Myanmar in 2020, there is a real and serious risk of more violence against the Rohingya, other Muslim communities, and other vulnerable groups; heightened repression against critics of the military and government; and increased violations of international humanitarian law in the country’s internal armed conflicts with ethnic armed groups....  Yours sincerely, ALTSEAN-Burma Amnesty International Article 19 ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) Burma Campaign UK Burma Human Rights Network Fortify Rights Global Justice Center" - and a few more, led by a total fraud. That Myanmar abuses Rohingya, we agree. That the UN has any credibility calling for due process when it ousts and bans the Press without a single hearing or right to appeal, while itself pimping out refugees, is truly disgusting.

  Inner City Press reported how Guterres rejected warning from his own senior staff about the impending slaughter, so caught up in outmoded infatuation with Aung San Suu Kyi.  Inner City Press was in mid 2018 roughed up by Guterres' Security and banned from the UN since, 426 days and counting. Its written questions on Myanmar have been ignored by Guterres and his spokespeople, now including Melissa Fleming, even while still spokesperson for UNHCR. It is shameful. Inner City Press applied to all of them to cover the upcoming UNGA week, which it covered for a decade. Then on Friday August 30, her MALU issued a one-line denial of access: "Greetings Matthew Lee from Inner City Press,  Your media accreditation request, with reference no: M5413398, has been declined for the following reason: Media accreditation was withdrawn on 17 August 2018."   

  Inner City Press asked Guterres, and this directly to Melissa Fleming on August 21: "On the repatriation of Rohingya from Bangladesh to Myanmar set to start on August 22, what is the UN system's role? Why is it going forward with a system that will give returnees non citizen, "Bengali" ID cards? National Verification Cards (NVCs), which do not confer rights nor citizenship and, through an NVC application process, effectively identify Rohingya as “Bengali” or more generally as “foreigners.” What has been the UN system's, specifically UNHCR's, role in this in the past?  the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar and the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees forcibly repatriated an estimated 250,000 Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh to northern Rakhine State, and Myanmar began issuing Temporary Resident Cards (“White Cards”) to Rohingya, which, like NVCs, did not confer rights.  What did Guterres do on this while at UNHCR?"

  Three full days later, no answer at all from Fleming, even as she virtue-signal tweets. The clock is ticking.

  Now the too diplomatic Gert Rosenthal writes for example that "Those that advocated for outspoken advocacy to prevent further atrocities were reproached for favoring perhaps well-intentioned but misguided proposals that would only have adverse unintended consequence or make the human-rights situation even worse in the long-run.63 In fact, there appears to be some basis for each of these differing perceptions, and without question serious errors were committed and opportunities were lost in the UN system following a fragmented strategy rather than a common plan of action.64 It goes beyond the scope of this review to try and adjudicate responsibilities to entities or personalities (they are, after all, accountable for their actions)" - that would be Guterres. And he is, at least so far, not accountable. But that should change. #Dump Guterres.

Amid the killing and displacement of Rohingya from and in Myanmar's Rakhine State, on November 10 UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres citing a resolution pending in the General Assembly's Third Committee which would request him "to appoint a special envoy on Myanmar." On December 26, after it was finally approved on Christmas Eve, Inner City Press asked the UN when Guterres will act. In due course, whatever that means. As of April 24, he had done nothing, and Inner City Press asked the President of the General Assembly about it. Now it's said at the UN that Guterres chose an envoy: Christine Schraner Burgener. But she was hauled in by the Germany foreign ministry to explain Swiss spying on German tax agents looking into murky tax evasion bank accounts in her native Switzerland, here. Only at the UN.  On April 24 Inner City Press asked the President of the UN General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak, as transcribed by his Office: Inner City Press: on Myanmar, the General Assembly voted that the Secretary-General should appoint an envoy. That was in December. Now it’s April. There’s still no envoy… What do you say to the lack of an envoy?

PGA Lajcak: It’s not for me to answer this question. I’m sure that procedures are taking place in the Secretariat, but I am not familiar with the details."  Procedures? For sixteen weeks? On April 20, Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq two questions about Myanmar, the Kachin and press freedom. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press:  I wanted to ask about Myanmar.  There's… not in Rakhine State, but the Kachin minority has put out a call saying that, basically in… in… in light of the increased fighting, there are about 2,000 people that are… have fled their villages and are without any health care or anything, and I'm wondering, what… what… is the UN aware of this?  And what are they doing about it?

Deputy Spokesman:  Yeah, I just read out at the top of the briefing a note by Knut Ostby.  I don't know if you heard what he said about his concerns about the Kachin State, but I would refer you back to that.  In addition to that, our humanitarian colleagues say that more than 160,000 people are currently targeted for humanitarian assistance in Kachin and Shan States, including around 107,000 internally displaced people who have been displaced by the continuing violence.  Many people in those areas have been displaced multiple times in a continued cycle of violence, and access to many of those in need, and particularly those in non-Government-controlled areas remains extremely limited.  The escalation and fighting since earlier this month is deeply concerning.  It's the responsibility of all parties to the conflict to ensure that civilians are protected at all times and reports of fighting close to civilian areas, including villages and existing camps for the displaced, are unacceptable.

Inner City Press: And I also wanted to ask… also in Myanmar, in the case of the two journalists… Reuters journalists that were locked up, there's been a development in which a… a police officer has testified that he was part of a plot to… essentially to set them up, that he was threatened with arrest himself if he didn't get Wa Lone.  And so, my question is, is the UN following this and what do they think of this new development?

Deputy Spokesman:  Yes, we are following and are aware of this.  As you know, we have called for all media to be treated fairly in Myanmar and the Secretary-General in particular has called for the release of these journalists." On April 17, Inner City Press asked Guterres' Assistant SG Ursula Mueller if during her five day trip to Myanmar the issue of the mandated envoy was even broached. She said it was not. (Her full briefing is archived on UNTV, including Inner City Press' question to her on the UN's mis-handling of the crackdown in Cameroon on Anglophones). While Mueller was briefing, Inner City Press received this from the UN: "Hi, Matthew.
Your request to join the Council delegation to Bangladesh and Myanmar was unfortunately not accepted." So who was accepted, and why? We may have more on this. At the day's noon briefing a correspondent - not this one - asked "The Security Council has set a date for its trip to Myanmar, Bangladesh and Iraq.  I'm wondering what the Secretary-General hopes to see from that trip and if you have a status update about the selection process for a Special Representative to the country.

Spokesman:  No, no update on the process to find a Special Envoy for Myanmar from the Secretary-General.  What we hope is that the Council will show unity on the trip.  It will help improve the situation in Myanmar, in terms of helping the Government implement the Annan… the conclusions of the [Kofi] Annan panel.  And we also very much hope that it will help refocus the attention of the international community on the plight of those Rohingya refugees who have fled to Bangladesh and the need… the continuous need to fund the humanitarian operations.  As you know, we're coming up to the monsoon season, which will create even newer and more challenges to them." Inner City Press has timely asked to go, specifically to Rakhine State; it is noted that a spokesperson said there will be three spots and "it is not Gospel" that Security Council Report will be one of them. Receipt of Inner City Press' request has been confirmed. We'll have more on this. On March 21 at the UN noon briefing Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: on Myanmar, the President, as you may have seen, has resigned for… reportedly due to health reasons, Mr. Htin… H-t-i-n K-y-a-w.  And I wanted to know whether this… who is the UN's interlocutor on… it seems like it's been a long time on the envoy, so it probably seem… would indicate that the… on the Government side, there's some thoughts of what the name should be.  Does this change at the very… at the top or at least the titular top of the Government in Myanmar have any impact on the process?

Spokesman:  Well, the process is ongoing, and we consult with various parties.  Obviously, as with the dispatch of any envoy, country-specific envoy, there are discussions that are had with the Government… the Government in place, whatever Government that is, and I have no reason to believe that that's not going on there.

Inner City Press: And I… I’ve seen that the Secretary-General met twice pretty recently with Kevin Rudd, including one quite recently.  And I wanted to know, is there any readout on that?  His name was at one point floated.  I don't know if he would take this job or I don't know if he's being considered for it, but what's the… especially with two meetings so close to each other…

Spokesman:  No, I'm aware of the meetings…

Inner City Press: …[inaudible] request of Mr.  Rudd?

Spokesman:  I'm aware of the… of the rumours, which are… which are exactly that.  Mr. Rudd, I think, has an appointment here at the Japan Society, if I'm not…

Inner City Press: Asia.

Spokesman:  …mis… the Asia Society, my mistake.  But there is no specific readout of that meeting." Why not? Meanwhile, o
n Myanmar, Japan's Abe government's ambiguous position was highlighted back in October 2017 when UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar Yanghee Lee urged the country, still then on the UN Security Council, not to block a Council resolution, here. Now, after pro-Abe media Sankei Shimbun claimed breathlessly from Singapore via Hideki Yoshimura that its Myanmar sources assured it Rohingya would begin returning from Bangladesh on March 16, the government has in fact built chain link fences to prevent such returns. As initially with an Okinawa do-gooder story, until now no retraction.
Instead, opting for now instead like Mayu Uetsuka of Sankei Shimsun, here, to jump on the U.S. gun control bandwagon, while having ignored the UN itself promoting and advertising automatic weapons, tanks and even rocket launchers in its 1-B basement. (Inner City Press exclusive series, here, video here.) Are these glaring omissions known to correspondents Hiroyuki Kano, Krose Etsuia and even, in London, Okabe Shinbun? To say nothing of actually detained Tatsuya Kato who at least then defended press freedom, with Jun Kurosawa UNdeclared? On March 19, Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujrric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press:  I wanted to ask yoy about a Myanmar-proposed law and international NGOs [non-governmental organizations] which would regulate, it purports not only international NGOs but at the UN, to the degree that it's separate from that.  I know that OCHA [Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs] sometimes coordinates with NGOs that have these concerns, but it would regulate the UN, as well.  Is the UN aware of this law?  Do they believe it would apply to them?  And what's the status — and I'm sorry to ask you this again, but — of the envoy that was discussed in September and fully mandated in December? Spokesman:  There's no update on the envoy.  The discussions are ongoing.  I mean no updates to announce.  The discussions are obviously very much ongoing.  We're aware of the law.  You know, the presence of the UN is regulated through the Charter and through international obligations that Member States have.  But, obviously, I've… we've seen the law as being debated, but I will leave it at that principled response." Yeah, principled. On March 8, Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: if you have any comment.  The US Holocaust Memorial Museum stripped a human rights award from Aung San Suu Kyi based on her response or… or lack of response in the Rohingya.  I wanted to know if you have any kind of, I guess, comment on… on that and also what the status of the envoy… many Member States now, whenever the issue comes up, are saying they urge António Guterres to move forward? Spokesman:  Consultations are being had.  And I have no particular comment on the decision… the, as we say, the sovereign decision of the US Holocaust Museum." For envoy a name in circulation, rightly or wrongly, is Kevin Rudd of Australia. It would be quite a come-down, since as Inner City Press reported (as picked up in Australia), Rudd tried for UN Secretary General in 2016. But hope springs eternal, and Rudd always tries to show a sympathy to China's position. What might he think of the China Energy Fund Committee bribery scandal which Inner City Press, alone among the UN press corps, is covering? This week Rudd met with Guterres, but there has been no read-out (we've asked). We'll have more on this.  In DC, Senator Ed Markey said passage of his amendment to the Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act (S.2060) that strengthens accountability measures for sexual and gender-based violence perpetrated against the Rohingya by Burma’s military. More than 600,000 Rohingya civilians, mostly women and children, have fled Burma into Bangladesh to escape violence. “We need to bridge the impunity gap that re-victimizes Rohingya survivors and fails to hold Burma’s military officers accountable,” said Senator Markey. “Widespread sexual violence suggests that these crimes were not incidental but a calculated tool of terror. The international community must send a strong signal that militaries cannot use sexual violence as a tool of war.” A copy of Senator Markey’s amendment can be found here." On February 1, new Security Council president Kuwait said there will be no Council trip there this month. From Washington, US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) said, "The depravity in Burma today is absolutely gut-wrenching. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are known by many as brave and decent reporters. They remain in jail on absurd charges for one reason only: they were doing their jobs. And just this morning, we learned that at least five new mass graves have been uncovered near a former Rohingya village in Rakhine State. The village itself appears to have been totally destroyed. This is just one of countless atrocities that have been carried out by Burma’s military and security services against the Rohingya Muslims in recent months. The ethnic cleansing must stop. The U.S. House has called for action against those responsible and is looking for the administration to follow through.” Back on January 11, Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press:  In Myanmar, you may have seen that the… the commander-in-chief of the military has basically admitted that… that these bodies that were found in something called Indin were, in fact, killed by the army and… and Buddhist villagers, he described it as.  So, it's a rare admission.  So, I wanted to know, one, what's the UN's reaction to it?  And, two, if… what steps the Secretary-General has taken on the GA's [General Assembly], you know, mandate, I guess, to have…? Spokesman:  On the… when we have something to announce on the envoy, we will.  We've heard and understood the instructions in the General Assembly.  I think what is important is that those individuals who are responsible for perpetrating these heinous acts be brought to justice." Yeah - like the UN has been brought to justice in Haiti and elsewhere.


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