Conflicted on Drone Deaths, Unaware of Karzai Censorship, Cambodia
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, March 1 -- Despite its asserted importance in Afghanistan,
the UN was not aware Monday of the Hamid Karzai government's
outlawing and censoring of media coverage of Taliban attacks.
City Press asked the spokesman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon,
who was on Monday in Hollywood, what Mr. Ban or the UN thought of the
restrictions. "I'll need to look into it," Mr. Nesirky
said. Video here,
from Minute 45:55.
unilaterally struck down the UN's role in the Electoral Complaints
Commission, and when Inner City Press asked, Mr. Nesirky referred
only to some mirky UNAMA statements. Perhaps Karzai was thus
emboldened to censor the media.
UN's expert on
children and armed conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, on Monday praised
U.S. and ISAF forces for imcreasing their safeguards against killing
civilians, including children.
Press asked Ms.
Coomaraswamy how this assessment squares with the killing by the U.S.
on February 21 of 27 civilians in Uruzgan Province. Video here,
nodded and said she had met with General McCrystal the very next
morning. She said the U.S. has good better at announcing
investigations and apologies, but that the next steps will be
remediation and accountability. But when will that be?
UN's Ban and di Mistura and Karzai, censorship not
shown (or UN covered)
as the UN
paid lip service to freedom of the press, but had nothing to say as
that freedom was eliminated by its "partner" Hamid Karzai,
so Mr. Nesirky also on Monday said that the purpose of tribunals with
the UN-affiliated one in Cambodia is to ensure accountability. Video
from Minute 44:14.
But in light
of government interference,
there is a call
for Mr. Ban to appoint an Assistant Secretary General
to try to "save" the Cambodian court.
is already a
UN Under Secretary General, Patricia O'Brien, ostensibly responsible
for the UN's interface with the Cambodian tribunal. At a rare press
conference by Ms. O'Brien, Inner City Press sought to ask about the
Cambodia court, but Ms. O'Brien declined to answer.
Press asked that she come and provide a briefing not only about
Cambodia, about also the UN's Hariri tribunal, and certain other
matters. We'll see.
Across from UN headquarters on Monday morning, protesters held signs
begging the UN to make the Bangadesh miilitary end Operation Uttaran,
which has resulted in the death of civilians in the Chittagong Hill
At Monday's noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Mr. Nesirky
about the protest, which also called for the UN
to suspend a program in the area. Mr. Nesirky said he was not
from Minute 43:35. We'll be waiting to see what the UN
says -- and does. Watch this site.
after preparation of the above, five hours after the question was
raised, the UN provided this answer:
reference to your question on Bangladesh from today's Noon Briefing,
to which Martin said he'd look in to... The United Nations system in
Bangladesh is closely monitoring the situation in the Chittagong Hill
Tracts and hopes that all will unite to help the recovery from this
tragedy in a spirit of peace for the greater good of the nation.
Also, the United Nations stands ready to provide targeted assistance
to those in need, in close collaboration with the Government.
But isn't that the problem? Watch this site.
* * *
"Looter" Killed in Chile, Others Tear Gassed, UN Official Barcena
Claims There's "No Violence"
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, March 1 -- In the aftermath of the earthquake in Chile,
authorities fired tear gas and water cannons at people seeking to
enter stores and supermarkets. According to the BBC, one
was shot dead and 160 arrested; the items being taken were not only
food but "plasma TVs and other electrical appliances."
does not imply mass criminality, or systematic government repression.
But when long time UN official Alicia Barcena briefed the Press at UN
headquarters by phone at noon on March 1, and Inner City Press asked
her about the government's use of tear gas and water cannons, she
answered, "What is looting?" Video here,
from Minute 15:20.
explained, when people go inside broken open stores, and in this case
get shot at with tear gas and water cannons. Oh no, Ms. Barcena said,
"there has not been any violence... no violence between the army
and the people, none at all."
that to the
man shot and killed, or those fired on with tear gas. It would be one
thing for the UN to say that the level of violence, other than the
death, has been minimal in their view, or proportional. But hours
after a person was shot and killed to providing a briefing that
"there has not been any violence" is something else.
UN has taken
on the role of criticizing the media for reporting on looting, in
Haiti and now Chile. The UN wants the images to be more positive, and
so, in this case, its officials misspeak. This undermine the UN's
duty of reporting on human rights, which include the rights of
alleged looters, killed or gassed by the government.
this case involves ignoring the shooting -- summary execution? -- of a
single "looter," the principle of denying what takes place extends to
the UN in the Congo, in the person of scandal plagued envoy Alan Doss,
denying that civilians are killed by UN-supported troops of the
Armed Chilean soldier patroling, shot "looter" not shown
UN wants and in
some sense needs to get along with governments where it works. But
this can contradict with its role and goal of being a credible human
rights reporter, or being credible more generally.
asked Ms. Barcena about rumors the President Bachelet might stay on
past March 11. Barcena said no, only her emergency coordinator Carmen
Fernandez would stay on.
while still the sitting Chilean
president, Ms. Bachelet has been listed as a UN (or UNIFEM)
representative in Haiti. No matter how much one may like or respect
Ms. Bachelet, it would seem that the UN should not be giving
positions to sitting heads of state. But what do we know?
fact, now Ms.
Bachelet is being tipped for the newly created Under Secretary General
women's affairs post. Could this explain the counter-factual claim
that there's been "no violence" by the Army against
civilians, even "looters," under her watch?