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In Central Asia, UN Office Ignores Human Rights While Presiding Over Car Bombs

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 7 -- As the UN bragged of counter terrorism on Tuesday, its envoy to Central Asia Miroslav Jenca dodged questions about use and misuse of the label of terrorist in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, and the first suicide car bombing in Central Asia, last week in Tajikistan.

Inner City Press asked Jenca what he and his Regional Office in Turkmenistan are doing to protect the rights of ethnic Uzbeks chased by pogroms into Uzbekistan, only to be detained by the government of Islam Karimov as terrorists?

Even before Jenca could reply, the UN's helpful director of Counter Terrorism Jean-Paul Laborde cut in to remind that human rights are the domain of High Commissioner Pillay, and Jenca need not answer. He did not. Video here.

But the protection of human rights, on paper, is the Fourth Pillar of the UN's “Counter Terrorism Strategy.” Of course, the UN can't even define terrorism. But they sense a freight or gravy train moving on the concept, and so they get on board (or Laborde, as one wag put it.)

For months the UN had dodged on the question of whether Jenca and his office are involved in the investigation of the causes of the violence in southern Kyrgyzstan. Tuesday Inner City Press asked Jenca himself. He said this is beyond the mandate of his office.

UN's Ban and Jenca,

Since his office is hardly involved in the major issue of water wars between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, what exactly is he doing? Watch this site.

* * *

Kyrgyz Pogrom on Uzbeks Swept Under UN Carpet of Jenca's Boilerplate, Franco-American & P-5 Indifference

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 5, updated -- The UN's and its Security Council's temporary interest in the ethnic cleansing of Uzbeks in southern Kyrgyzstan appears to have dissipated. The UN's Central Asia envoy Miroslav Jenca, only behind closed doors, is briefing the Council this morning.

   A boilerplate Press Statement, little different than the one issued like clockwork every six months, has been circulated, as if nothing happened in Osh and Jalalabad. Never again?

   Some Council members are pushing back, trying to get more substance into the Press Statement. One which held the Council Presidency during some of the violence is particularly interested. But not only this month's Russian presidency, but also the U.S., which has appeared publicly to call for accountability, seem to prefer not using the UN on this issue, leaving the Council's statement vague and “decaffeinated,” as one non Permanent member put it.

  This appears to include France, whose minister called the pogrom a crime against humanity. A French diplomat leaving the Council at 10:45 am predicted the Press Statement will be adopted "as is." What about follow through on the crime against humanity?

  There was already a statement about that, back when it happened, he answered. But what about follow through? And what about such non P-5 speakers on human rights as Austria? Even with the Permanent Representative away, the positions should not change.

One of the questions is what role the UN will play in investigations into the causes of the pogrom. Inner City Press has been asking about this for weeks.

UN's Ban and Jenca, investigation and pogrom follow through not shown

 From the UN noon briefing transcript of July 26:

Inner City Press: On Kyrgyzstan, the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] Parliamentary Assembly Special Representative, Kimo Kiljunen, he said there’s going to be an investigation conducted by his organ… by a commission, international commission, of the violence in southern Kyrgyzstan. And he also said that the United Nations would be involved in the commission. So, I wanted to know, is that the case? What will be the United Nations role in an international investigation of the causes of violence in southern Kyrgyzstan?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Let me find out. Just a general point, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly is not the same thing as the OSCE itself, as I’m sure you understand. So we would need to see precisely what the composition, the intended composition, would be. But the other more general point is that we’ve said already that there should be an independent investigation into the events that took place in Osh and Jalalabad and in the south of Kyrgyzstan. So let me get back to you on that, okay?

Having heard nothing back, Inner City Press asked again on July 30:

Inner City Press: you’d said you would find out, and I wanted to ask whether you have. One is, what is the UN’s role in any possible investigation into the causes of violence in southern Kyrgyzstan?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: As I mentioned to you, that is a work in progress amongst different international organizations. It is being actively looked at, and I know that my colleagues in the Department of Political Affairs are keeping a close eye and talking to their colleagues, as is Mr. Jenca, the Special Representative for Central Asia, Miroslav Jenca. No firm words yet. But, as I’ve said to you before, this is an area where we have been very closely watching. And not just watching, but involved in bringing people together, monitoring and reporting what’s been happening...

   On August 3, Inner City Press asked incoming Council president Vitaly Churkin if the August 5 consultations would include a discussion of UN involvement in an investigation, and if Russia believes that Council blessing would be required for the UN Secretariat to do that, as Russia as argued in the case of Sri Lanka war crimes. Let's see, Churkin answered. Yes, let's see. Watch this site.

Update of 11:09 am -- the US, it seems, is happy with the boilerplate, saying it will "support Jenca" who has "worked hard." Even the main proponent of caffeinating the Press Statement with more substance about human rights and accountability for the Kyrgyz pogrom appears to have given up. They raised it, the P-5 shrugged, they left. If it was an egg attack on P-5 peacekeepers, though, the Council would act. And so it goes.

* * *

To Uzbek Karimov, UN's Ban Does Not Raise Border Closure or Maxim Popov, Omitted from Transcript

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 18 -- With tens of thousands of people seeking to flee attacks in Kyrgyzstan blocked at the Uzbek border, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke on June 16 with Uzbekistan's strongman Islam Karimov. Ban did not, however, ask Karimov to open the border. This was confirmed on June 18, when Inner City Press asked Ban himself if any request had been made to open the border. Ban's two minute answer included no such request. Video here, from Minute 10:14.

  Nor did Ban raise to Karimov, when he visited Tashkent in April, the plight of UN-funded AIDS educator Maxim Popov, who was sentenced to seven years in prison for blasphemy. Inner City Press has twice asked Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of UNAIDS, about Popov.

  On June 9, Sibide told Inner City Press that "I personally tried to be sure the Secretary General during his trip to Uzbekistan was able to raise this issue" of Popov. Video here, from Minute 10:02. Inner City Press then asked Ban's Spokesperson's Office if Ban had raised it, without answer.

  Inner City Press asked Ban directly on June 18, saying "the head of UNAIDS said you were prepared to raise this issue of Maxim Popov, in jail for seven year." Ban did not answer this part of the question, so Inner City Press repeated it. Video here, at 13:06.

  Ban replied, "United Nations relevant agencies will continue to work to address that issue." Not only is the logic circular -- UNAIDS says they prepared Ban to raise the issue, then Ban says "agencies" will be the ones to raise it -- when at 6 p.m. the UN put out their transcript of the press encounter, they omitted Inner City Press' Maxim Popov question, and called the follow up "inaudible." Compare video to UN transcript, below.

UN's Ban and Karimov, border closure and Popov not shown

Compare video to UN transcript--

Inner City Press: You mentioned the people that are waiting to cross the border out of Kyrgyzstan. When you spoke with President [Islam] Karimov of Uzbekistan, did you ask him to open the border? Also, when you were in Uzbekistan, were human rights a part of your conversation with President Karimov of Uzbekistan?

SG: When I had a telephone call with President Karimov just two days ago, I appreciated his willingness to accommodate 80,000 refugees who have crossed the border. I know that there is a serious difficulty in accommodating these 80,000 people and also in feeding them, providing necessary assistance. He told me that their capacity would run out in three to four days. That is why I have immediately spoken with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other United Nations agencies in mobilizing all humanitarian assistance. UNHCR has delivered more than 200 tons of immediate, urgent food assistance. Now it is important that borders are open, but at the same time, I know I know that there is concerns on countries in the region of how to manage this border security when addressing all these tens of thousands of people at one time. I will continue to discuss this matter. [Special Representative] Mr. Miroslav Jenca is on the ground in Bishkek talking to all the neighboring countries and he is closely coordinating with the Special Representatives of the European Union, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation and Shanghai corporation organizations and other individual countries. I understand that you have been briefed by Mr. Jenca, by the way, at this afternoon's noon press briefing. So we will closely monitor what will be the best way to address this humanitarian issue including this border management.

Inner City Press: [inaudible, not into microphone]

SG: Again, United Nations relevant agencies will continue to work to address that issue.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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