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On Myanmar Pro UN Groups Oppose Internet Cut Like One Guterres in Cameroon Complicit With

By Matthew Russell Lee

UN GATE, Feb 13 – 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. Then Guterres' head of communications pimped out refugees by publishing personal identifying information, while banning the Press from covering the September 2019 UNGA week.

  Now from a group of NGOs, some of them sincere, mostly the local groups, some of them mostly seeking access at the UN and silent on Guterres' censorship, this: "On February 3, the Government of Myanmar ordered the reinstatement of internet restrictions in Rakhine and Chin states.  On June 21, 2019, the government first imposed restrictions on mobile internet communications in nine townships: Buthidaung, Kyauktaw, Maungdaw, Minbya, Mrauk-U, Myebo, Ponnangyun, and Rathedaun townships in Rakhine State and Paletwa Township in Chin State. On September 1, the government lifted restrictions in Buthidaung, Maungdaw, Myebon, Paletwa, and Rathedaung townships. On February 3, the government ordered the reinstatement of the restrictions in those five townships. In the joint statement published today, organizations—including Human Rights Watch, Article 19, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, FIDH - International Federation for Human Rights and Amnesty International - called on the Myanmar government to “restore internet access” and “repeal Section 77 of the Telecommunications Law.”    The Myanmar military and Arakan Army (AA) have engaged in armed conflict in Rakhine State since 2015  On February 3, the AA published a statement online declaring that it would release evidence of mass graves of Muslims killed and buried by Myanmar armed forces in Rakhine State. The same day, the government cut internet access" - 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.

  Meanwhile on Cameroon, where Paul Biya cut the Internet then gave Guterres a golden statue and UN Budget Committee favors as chair in exchange for Guterres' silence, some of these groups let Guterres and the UN off the hook, focus on the underdogs' fight back and even block on the Internet those who question that (that would be Human Rights Watch).

 On Myanmar 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, 590 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 September 2019 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?"

  Still, no answer at all from Fleming, even as she virtue-signal tweets. We will not relent.

   On April 20, 2019, two months before Guterres had Inner City Press targeted and then banned 590 days since, 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?" The answer was laughable, and Farhan Haq now covers up UN peacekeepers' rapes just as Stephane Dujarric has been doing.

On April 17, 2019, 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). More here.


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