UN, Ban Stands By as Ali Treki Stands Behind Anti-Gay Comments, U.S.
Yet to React
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, October 2 -- Despite a vote in the UN last December
supporting the decriminalization of homosexuality, not only the
Libyan President of the General Assembly Ali Treki, but now also
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, refuse to follow through on that vote.
September 18 in
the UN briefing room, Ali Treki said homosexuality is "not
acceptable." Inner City Press wrote the first,
and for a time
only, story about his comments, online with video links here. Soon,
however, the quotes were picked
up and denounced in the U.S. Congress, not only by Barney Frank of
Massachusetts but also Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, and by
newspapers as far away as Australia.
Treki held his next press conference, and Inner City Press twice
asked him to respond to the criticism of his remarked. "I answered
before," Treki replied, I have no need to answer again. Video here.
Then, speaking of the Goldstone
report, he said that "a violation of human rights in any country
concerns the whole of humanity."
As Inner City Press told Treki, this is
(for) news. Disparities between human rights pronouncements and their
application to particular situations or groups of people seem
Associate Spokesperson Farhan Haq took questions later on October 2,
Inner City Press asked if the Secretariat had anything to say about
homosexuality and human rights, whether there is a UN position on gay
rights, and whether Ban Ki-moon thinks Treki's comments reflect well on
the UN system. Video here,
from Minute 18:52.
UN has no specific position expressed by member states, Mr. Haq said.
And he and the Secretary General will
have no comment on the President of the General Assembly's publicly
stated position. Haq added that Ban supports the human rights of
explained to Inner City Press that the Secretariat's Office of Legal
Affairs had provided Ban with a memo that last December's meeting on
the decriminalization of homosexuality, sponsored in the first
instance by France and the Netherlands but supported by Argentina and
others, is just "a declaration by a member state in a formal
meeting" and does not have the legal status of a resolution of
the General Assembly.
accepts this legal(istic) argument, nothing precluded or precludes
the UN Secretariat from taking a position of principle. Nothing has
been said for two weeks. And now?
UN's Ban and Treki open GA, gays and human rights
some, the UN
Secretariat's dodging of the issue is reminiscent of Ban Ki-moon's
first day as Secretary General, when in response to a question about
the execution of Saddam Hussein, Ban said that the UN has no position
on the death penalty. He later amended that answer. It is noted that Ban
travels the globe, city after city, including those with significant
for example, not only the French but also U.S. Missions to the UN
have had no response to Treki's public comments two weeks ago. One
wonders if, from the left and right, Frank and Ros-Lehtinen are
asking the U.S. Mission to the UN to say or do anything. Watch this
* * *
UN, Gays Called Touchy by Assembly Chief, Dodging on Swiss and
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, September 19 -- In a surreal press conference on September
18, the new Libyan president of the UN General Assembly Ali
Abdussalam Treki veered from refusing to answer a question about his
country's recent proposal to cut Switzerland into three parts because
it is not on the Assembly's agenda to favoring the criminalization of
homosexuality despite a General Assembly vote to the contrary only
last year. Video here,
from Minute 29:53.
asked Treki, twice, about Libyan President Qaddafi's letter to the UN
proposing the dismemberment of Switzerland, reportedly due to
Qaddafi's son being arrested in the country for abusing domestic
workers. Video here,
from Minute 7:20.
answered that "I am
not going to answer questions out of my capacity as chairman of the
General Assembly's Sixth Forth session." Video here
when Treki was
asked about the vote in the General Assembly last year urging the
decriminalization of homosexuality, he was not as restrained or
diplomatic. He said "that matter is very sensitive, very touchy.
As a Muslim, I am not in favor of that... it is not accepted by the
majority of countries." This last would seem to contradict the
vote in the General Assembly last year.
that some countries allow homosexuality, "thinking it a kind of
democracy... I think it is not." While basing his statement on
Islam -- he said there are "two billion" Muslim in the
world -- he also said that "probably Jewish and Buddhist and
Hindu" communities are against it. Video here,
29:53. Of course if it is raised in the 64th session, he conceded,
the Assembly members will have to decide.
hours after Treki's statements, in a not badly attended press
conference at the UN, captured by UN TV, not a single article yet in
Google News -- until this one -- mentioned Treki and gay or homosexual.
positions are to be expected, at the UN. [The UN's
write up of the press conference omitted the Switzerland question
entirely, and sanitized the gay answer to one line, here.] Perhaps
news editors are
already looking to what they hope will be freakish events, statements
and meetings in next week's General Assembly meeting. But it has
Inner City Press has asked Treki's spokesman Jean-Victor Nkolo how
many people in Treki's Office of the President of the General
Assembly will be paid by the Libyan government. Mr. Nkolo returned
the next day to say that none would be paid by Libya. Inner City
Press asked if Treki will be paid by Libya this year. Nkolo repeated
again and again that past practice will be followed, without
answering the question. He has committed to answer it going forward.
From the UN's
September 16 transcript:
City Press: Mr. Treki himself, will he be compensated by Libya during
this year or will he receive no compensation? How is he actually
going to be paid this year?
The work and the treatment of the President of the sixty-fourth
session of the General Assembly will not be different from past
practice and ongoing procedures in the United Nations.
City Press: Does that mean that his native country will be paying
him? That’s all I am asking.
It only means that what Mr. Treki will be doing and the context into
which he will be working will not be different from what has been
going on and from what is in line with the budgetary and United
Nations practices as we know them.
Not everybody knows them.
City Press: Yeah. And there have been differences…
Then I’ll come back to you and provide them to you.
this site. Click here
for story on Treki from June 2009.
* * *
Sri Lanka, UN Has No Comment on Prison Labor, New GA President Will
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, June 12 -- The UN at all levels demonstrates blindness with
respect to Sri Lanka, from the use of prison labor in the now emptied
out north to even recognizing the name of the country. Incoming
General Assembly president Ali Abdussalam Treki of Libya on Friday
took questions from the Press.
Inner City Press asked him about two
countries, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. To the latter, Libya agreed to a
$500 million loan, to make up for the $1.9 billion loan from the
International Monetary Fund delayed by reports of mistreatment of
civilians. Inner City Press asked Treki, since Libya was among those
blocking Security Council action, if he could imagine Sri Lanka being
taken up in the General Assembly, as Myanmar has been. Video here,
from Minute 17:46.
Treki latched on to the Myanmar part of the question, praising the
UN's envoy to that country Ibrahim Gambari, whom he said he knew when
Gambari was the foreign minister of the Sani Abacha administration in
Nigeria. He said he would meet with Gambari on Friday afternoon to
get a report about Myanmar. About Sri Lanka, Treki said nothing,
then moved on to another questioner.
City Press followed up, asking why Libya didn't view the conflict in
Sri Lanka as impacting international peace and security. Treki said
it "interests the world, the human rights aspect," but that
what "Asia says is very important, they tell us if what goes on
in Myanmar" effects peace and security. Video here,
had Treki simply refused to answer about Sri Lanka? He will be
president of the UN General Assembly from September 2009 through
UN's Ban and Libya's Ali Treki, action on Sri
Lanka and prison labor not shown
at the UN's noon media briefing on June 12, asked Ban Ki-moon's
Spokesperson Michele Montas had read out a statement that access to
the camps in Vavuniya in northern Sri Lanka is getting better and new
camps are being built -- internment camps, with UN money -- Inner
City Press asked for the UN's response to Sri Lankan authorities'
statement that they will use prison labor in the north.
said "no comment at this point, maybe later we will see how the
issue is being discussed." Video here,
from Minute 18:39.
Ms Montas' office sent Inner City Press the following response:
Response from OCHA on your question at the noon briefing
unspokesperson-donotreply [at] un.org
Inner City Press
6/12/2009 12:43:56 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
use of prison labour in reconstruction in Sri Lanka, we have not
heard these allegations and have no information.
the UN's "close monitoring" of Sri Lanka doesn't even read
from Colombo, with quotes from government officials:
inmates to be deployed for the redevelopment process in Sri Lanka's
Jun 11, 2009, 11:51 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.
11, Colombo: Sri Lanka government is planning to deploy prison
inmates for the redevelopment process in the liberated areas of the
Commissioner General, Major General V.R Silva told the media that
this would be an appropriate decision to develop the liberated areas
to statistics there are nearly 30,000 inmates are in the prisons at
the moment. Most of them are able bodied people with various skills,
the skills of those in jail, including for violent crime, are those
the Sri Lankan government is unleashing in the north. And the
They "have not heard these allegations and have no information." Watch