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Amid Killing in Sabha in Libya, UN Does Nothing & Sells Out Sudan Opposition

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 28 -- When the UN sent a mission to Libya under Ian Martin it claimed it would also work on human rights. But amid the killing in Sabha, the UN has had nothing to say, much less do. Wednesday at the UN Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey:

Inner City Press: there has been this reported fighting in Libya, Sabha, the death count is reported up to 50, some people have different numbers. And I wonder, since there is a UN Mission there, what does UNSMIL have to say about this fighting? Has it tried to play any role in bringing it to a close? What’s the death count and how does UNSMIL’s team and mandate relate to things like this taking place in the country? What does UNSMIL do?

Deputy Spokesperson Del Buey: Well, UNSMIL is not a peacekeeping mission as such; there are no peacekeepers there. It is up to the Libyan Government to negotiate with the militias and to disarm them. UNSMIL is there to assist the Libyan authorities in developing its policies and strengthening its institutions. But it is up to the Libyan authorities to bring the militias to the table, integrate them into the mainstream of the security forces and disarm them.

Inner City Press: But doesn’t UNSMIL have some kind of a human rights component? I have heard Mr. Martin talk about the plight of detainees and arrestees; these are people being killed, so I am just wondering, does UNSMIL --

Deputy Spokesperson: Well, there is a human rights component, but again, the Libyan authorities are the authorities who are tasked with maintaining peace and security in the country.

Inner City Press: I understand that UNSMIL is not able to jump in with a gun and stop the fighting, but I just wonder, do they now send some team to find out how many people died?

Deputy Spokesperson: We’ll have to check; we’ll have to check on that and find out for you.

Eight hours later, there was no information. It is perhaps not surprising: when Ian Martin was last at the Security Council, Inner City Press asked him a simple question about the filmed abuse of Africans in cages in Libya. He refused to answer, claiming it was Keib's day -- ironic now, or worse.

Del Buey proceeded to proclaim that the UN supported the rebels in Libya because Gaddafi killed civilians: "we don’t talk about the intervention. This was a popular uprising by the Libyan people against a regime that was autocratic, dictatorial and did not have any fundamental respect for human or political rights. The people of Libya rose up against this regime, and they began looking for, and calling on the Government to give them the basic political and humanitarian and democratic rights they wanted."

So Inner City Press asked, not now about Sri Lanka but Sudan:

Inner City Press: in light of what you’ve just said, I wanted to sort of ask you, in a country like Sudan that people have risen up, that there are not only armed rebel groups but student groups and others that have said that there should be a democratization and a change in the country, but it doesn’t seem that the UN is saying they should continue going until they change the Government. In fact, if anything, the UN’s message to the rebels seems to be “disarm”, and to the people seems to be “don’t go for regime change”. So I am just wondering, how does the UN decide in which circumstances to declare dissatisfaction by the populace to be legitimate and to be encouraged or in another case, of Sudan currently to be discouraged and told to sort of get with the program. What’s the distinction?

Deputy Spokesperson Del Buey: Well, the distinction is that what the Secretary-General has called for is for all Governments to listen to their people and to permit and respect their right to peaceful demonstrations. The people of Libya were demonstrating peacefully. The Government decided to attack them with armed force. In the Sudan, there is a peace process currently under way that the United Nations is working on. The objective is to have this peace process work, and it is not helpful for people to be carrying out violent acts when there is a mechanism there for achieving a dialogue between the parties.

Inner City Press: Thanks a lot.

At least for the clarity. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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