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On Burma US Concerned At Chin and Rakhine Internet Cut Like One Guterres in Cameroon Complicit With

By Matthew Russell Lee

UN GATE, April 1 – 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 on April 1 from US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus, this: "The United States is deeply troubled by escalating violence in northern Rakhine State and Chin State, where dozens have been killed and thousands have been displaced in recent months. We express our deepest sympathies for all those affected by the violence, including the hundreds of families whose homes were recently destroyed. We call on all parties to cease fighting, take necessary precautions to protect local communities, and pursue peaceful dialogue.  For decades, the United States has partnered with those in Burma in support of their democratic aspirations and their pursuit of peace and prosperity. Since 2012, we have funded large-scale efforts at decreasing violence, promoting human rights, and finding peace for all in Rakhine State. After the onset of the Rakhine State crisis in 2017, the people of the United States have given more than $820 million to ease humanitarian suffering of all affected by the crisis and find a way to resolve the ongoing emergency.  The current situation is exacerbated by ongoing restrictions on humanitarian and media access, and the prolonged internet blackout, which cut communities off from lifesaving assistance and vital information. Access to humanitarian assistance and information are all the more important during the COVID-19 pandemic. We call on the Government of Burma to allow unhindered humanitarian access and to restore internet access. We also call on others to provide additional assistance and avoid actions that would further destabilize the region."

  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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