Remembered at UN, Kyrgystan Forgotten, Sri Lanka Lobbying
July 12 -- The UN commemorated the 15th anniversary of the
Srebrenica massacre on Monday, as above Srebrenica itself a memorial
points the finger at the UN's role in the genocide.
“The UN has to
accept responsibility for not doing enough,” said President of the
General Assembly Ali Treki, in a memorial ceremony featuring
Permanent Representatives of countries ranging from Georgia through
Ghana, India and Kazakhstan to Sri Lanka.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon put it differently, saying that the UN
made “errors of judgment.” One wondered what he would say about
Ban Ki-moon spoke of accountability. Earlier on
Monday, the International Criminal Court issued a supplemental
indictment of Sudan's Omar al Bashir, for genocide. Mr. Ban sent both
of his two top envoys to Sudan to Bashir's re-inauguration ceremony
earlier this year.
ceremony, Inner City Press and a long time Balkan reporter called out
to Mr. Ban, wanting to ask about the UN's invocation of immunity
against lawsuits by the mothers of Srebrenica.
Mr. Ban said, politely it must be and was said. In his wake, the
Permanent Representative of
Sri Lanka, facing accusations of war crimes, lobbied a UN Under
Secretary General. There was no discussion of UN action and inaction
on the case
of the ethnics Uzbeks.
UN's Ban and a USG commemorating a genocide, Q&A
Back on July 2, Inner City Press
Press: can I ask about Kyrgyzstan? The French Minister for
Human Rights, Mr. [inaudible], has said that he believes that what
happened in southern Kyrgyzstan was a crime against humanity and
should be investigated. I just wonder, obviously the
Secretary-General has various forms of inquiries and proposals for
inquiries outstanding. What’s the UN’s actual estimate of how
many people were killed in southern Kyrgyzstan? And also, is there a
move by the Secretariat to do anything beyond that in what seems to
be at least 200, maybe, Rosa Otunbayeva has said 2,000 killings that
were part of ethnic cleansing? What’s the UN’s follow-through on
Farhan Haq: In terms of our follow-through, we’ve
been detailing what we’ve been doing both at the humanitarian level
through efforts of UNHCR, OCHA [Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs] and various others, and at the diplomatic level
through the efforts, among others, of Mr. Miroslav Jenca. And that
work on the ground is going on and we’re trying to do what we can
to bring the communities of Kyrgyzstan together again, and to
encourage community solidarity. As for the death toll — no, we,
the UN, do not have any death toll of our own that we would confirm.
Press: What I want to say is it seems like in many of these
conflicts the UN says all these things are all to the good, about
building solidarity or humanitarian response, but this word like
“accountability” has been used in a number of contexts by the
Secretariat. Is there any thought of, whatever the number is,
accountability for what took place? Whether it’s through Mr.
Jenca’s office or through the Secretariat, or is that not a part of
Farhan Haq: Well, I don’t have anything specific to
say about that at this point. Obviously, this is something that we
would study. The needs on the ground at this stage are very great,
and we’ve been focusing primarily on the needs of all the people
who have been displaced by the fighting that occurred. In terms of
the initial incidents, I believe my colleagues at the Office of the
High Commissioner for Human Rights have already made some remarks
about this. Whether there will be any further investigation, some of
that will depend on the attitudes of the parties on the ground. And
of course, this will also be something that we ourselves will
continue to look into, to see whether anything further is needed
Watch this site.
* * *
Russian After Failing to Speak Up for Ethnic Uzbeks on Kyrgyz
29 -- With the UN slavishly supporting
Constitutional referendum from which the Uzbek minority was
disproportionately excluded due to ethnic cleansing, it has chosen to
hide behind Russian. Not the Russian government, which like the US
backed the flawed referendum to defend its Kyrgyz base, but the
Press twice asked the UN to confirm that the constitution
would outlaw the formation of ethnicity based parties: that is, any
Uzbek party. Only after a third request on June 28 did the UN
respond, with this:
to your exchange with Martin at the Noon Briefing, just wanted to
help point you to the relevant part of what you'd asked about...
The reference you
is under Article 4., point 4.3:
политических партий на религиозной,
этнической основе, преследование
религиозными объединениями политических
is in Russian but am sending in case it's of any help to
strange that the UN, sometimes called translation central, could or
would not provide an English version of this single line of Russian,
requested three times in a week. In fact, the UN provided Inner City
Press with a translation of other material it had not requested. But
when Inner City Press sought among its network a translation of what
the UN provided only in Russian, this was the result:
Kyrgyz Republic it is forbidden:
political parties on the basis of religion or ethnicity, or
on any attempt to, by religious gatherings or parties, achieve
the answer was
and is yes, the UN backed a referendum from which the Uzbek
minority was disproportionately excluded on a constitution which will
now bar the Uzbeks from organizing to defend themselves.
UN's Ban on April 8, ethnic and Constitutional cleansing not shown
City Press also asked:
I heard the statement both by Mr. [Miroslav] Jenca and
then reiterated by the Secretary-General this morning about the
referendum in Kyrgyzstan. I was wanting to ask: what is the UN’s
estimate of the turnout of ethnic Uzbeks? There are some reports
that, for example in the border town of Suretash, only a hundred to
4,000 people were able to vote. So, I’m just wondering, what does
the UN statement mean when compared to such low turnout numbers
reported for ethnic Uzbeks?
reported by whom?
Well, there are a number of things here. First of all, the
UN is not observing, and the UN is not counting votes or voters.
Then why are they praising?
me finish, first of all, to try to answer your question. First
of all, there is the Central Election Commission. That’s the body
which is compiling the figures. So, the figures on turnout will be
coming from the Central Election Commission. And I checked their
website before I came here; it’s in Kyrgyz and Russian, and there
are very detailed figures by each province or district showing the
turnout and absolute figures in each case. And of course, overall
figures. And that’s the first thing. So I would encourage you to
take a look at that. And the second thing is, perhaps more helpfully
for you in English, as well as Kyrgyz and Russian; the OSCE’s
[Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s] office for
democratic institutions and human rights has put out a fairly
detailed overview in a statement of its preliminary findings and
conclusions. This is, as I said, this is preliminary findings, as
you might expect, given this is less than 24 hours after the vote
itself. But they are quite detailed, and as Mr. Jenca and the
Secretary-General have said, they have taken note, and the Special
Representative of the Secretary-General has taken note of this
preliminary assessment by the OSCE and others where it’s clear that
there were some shortcomings. That’s clear. That’s obvious. But what
they believe is, and this is the assessment that this was
largely transparent. And the turnout; again, it’s for the Central
Election Commission, firstly, to give those figures. The turnout
that seems to be evident, not only from the Central Election
Commission in concrete numbers, but also from the more anecdotal
evidence, if you like, of the international observer, that there were
long-term observers that would tend to suggest that this was a
sizeable turnout. And most importantly, that it was peaceful. There
weren’t any violent incidents.
Just a quick follow-up. If these were the two bases for
the UN’s praise of the election, does the Central Election
Commission — apparently you’ve read them in Russian — are these
turnout numbers done by ethnicity or simply by geography?
by ethnicity. It’s done by geography; by the region. Yeah.
Does the UN have a particular concern or, I don’t know,
maybe “duty” is the wrong word, to the ethnic Uzbeks who were
being targeted by violence, left the country, many of them had their
ID cards ripped up — is that something, does this statement today
mean that they feel, that the UN feels, that the turnout and the
ability to vote of the ethnic Uzbeks of southern Kyrgyzstan was
sufficient, from the UN’s point of view?
we’ve said is that it really does demonstrate the aspiration
of the people of Kyrgyzstan for peace and stability and democracy.
That’s what we’ve said. That’s the first thing. The second
thing is that we’re not suggesting that this is the end of the
story, and that somehow this is perfect. It was not. There is work
to be done, and the United Nations will continue to provide the
technical support that’s required, not least by the Central
Election Commission, so that they can improve further and not least
so that when we get to the parliamentary elections at the end of this
year, they will be in better shape to ensure that it’s as inclusive
One last one on this, and thanks a lot. I think I had
asked last week whether you could confirm what a UN official had told
me — which is that the Constitution that was voted on and approved
over the weekend on Sunday outlaws political parties based on
ethnicity. And if so, that’s why I guess I’d be concerned, I’m
wondering if the UN sees any connection between a group being
targeted by violence, probably if the Associated Press can be
believed, having a lower turnout than other groups and, therefore, in
the future being prohibited from organizing around, I guess to
protect their rights on the basis of their minority status. Were you
able to confirm that that is in the Constitution?
personally. But I am sure that my colleagues in DPA [Department
for Political Affairs] can help me with that, and also my colleagues
then they gave
it only in Russian...
* * *
Returned as Props for Kyrgyz Voting, UN Speaks of
NATIONS, June 25 -- Ethnic Uzbeks
chased out of Kyrgyzstan by
targeted violence are now being forced to return from Uzbekistan,
that the Kyrgyz de facto government can claim they had a chance to
vote in Sunday's referendum purportedly legitimizing that government
and its new constitution.
UN, which despite the disenfranchisement of Uzbeks is supporting
Sunday's referendum, coyly reports that many of those who fled are
returning “with mixed feelings.” Inner City Press on Friday asked
UN spokesman Martin Nesirky to square this with reports of people
being forced onto a bus in Uzbekistan, at the request of the Kyrgyz
government. Video here,
said “we are aware of those report.” Ok, but is UNHCR present in
Uzbekistan to see if people are being forced to return?
is not in a position to monitor all.. including from the Uzbek side
of the border.” So, no. UNHCR is not looking at the returns, but is
bragging about the numbers going back.
As Uzbeks cry of violence, Kyrgyz gov't is eying
vote, legitimacy not shown
forcibly bussed to an election in an area just the scene of ethnic
cleansing is not the same as voting. The interim Government dropped
the minimum turn out percentage for the referendum from 50% to 30%.
Inner City Press asked what is the UN's number, below which even the
UN will admit there a legitimacy problem?
not playing a numbers game,” Nesirky said of the election. What
other game is there to play? Watch this site.
* * *
UN Still Supports June 27 Kyrgyz Referendum: Security
23 -- In the run up to the Kyrgyz constitutional
referendum still scheduled for June 27, the intentional
ethnic Uzbeks becomes ever more clear.
those who fled the country not be able to vote -- many of those
remaining have had their passports and other identity documents
burned or otherwise destroyed.
not be allowed to vote, on a
constitution which would outlaw any ethnic Uzbek based political
has not retracted its envoy Miroslav Jenca's statement that the
referendum “must” go forward on June 27.
That the US
both of which have bases in Kyrgyzstan, would want to push through
anything to make the de facto
government there appear more legitimate
is not surprising.
But isn't the
UN supposed to stand against ethnic
cleansing, and disenfranchisement based on ethnic cleansing?
Uzbeks flee Osh on bus, ability to vote June 27 not shown
June 22, Inner
asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky:
you said in one of your readouts about the difficulty of
delivering humanitarian aid because of the barricades. But some are
saying that in fact, I mean, the Uzbek community put up barricades
because people were coming into the community and burning their
houses and killing them, and committing other atrocities. What’s
been the UN’s position on the involuntary dismantling of the
barricades, particularly in light of a report today that troops,
Kyrgyz troops, beat and arrested ethnic Uzbek men in a neighbourhood
of Osh. Is that something the UN is concerned about — the removal
of barricades and increased violence?
remain concerned about the tensions that there are in
Osh, particularly in Osh, and elsewhere in the south of Kyrgyzstan. And
we’re obviously concerned, and the Secretary-General himself is
following closely the reports of some renewed violence and bloodshed.
On the barricades, Miroslav Jenc(a, the Special Representative of
the Secretary-General, has been in Osh, and has been speaking to
security officials and other local officials and also to local
people. And he’s fully aware of the sensitivities that there are
amongst the ethnic Uzbek population, and about the concerns that they
have. And I know that he’s been speaking to the authorities there
precisely because of those concerns.
Also on Kyrgyzstan, yesterday I was informed by a
well-placed person that the President of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov,
has informed the UN and Kyrgyz authorities that there can be no
polling in the refugee camps that have been established for people
that fled across the border. I wonder, one, if you can just, I mean,
I think this is true, but whether you can either now, or later today,
confirm the UN’s understanding. And then if you do confirm it,
explain how the UN can support an election that will, will you know,
absolutely, or formally disenfranchise at least 80,000 people based
on what many people see as ethnic cleansing.
of all, Mr. Jenc(a made clear in that audio briefing on Friday
that the question of holding the referendum is one for the
authorities of Kyrgyzstan. That’s the first thing. The second is
that there are obvious concerns about people who are not in a
position to vote. And I know that UN officials and others, including
from the OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe]
and the European Union, are talking to the authorities of the interim
government of Kyrgyzstan about how one handles that. I will come
back to you with some more details particularly on that, the part of
the question about the Uzbek President having communicated with the
UN about polling on his territory.
And just one follow up on that, because I think there is
a Bloomberg or Business Week story in which Mr. Jenc(a is quoted as
saying the referendum must go forward. Has there been a change in
his position since he said that, or was he misquoted when he said
you heard what Mr. Jenc(a said here, or in this, by audio here
on Friday. It’s for the Kyrgyz authorities to decide on that. There are
many factors that are involved; the balance of legitimacy
For now, Security 1, Legitimacy 0...
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
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.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.
reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]