UN, Kazakh Official Praises Nazarbaev Authority in Karabakh, Dodges
on Free Press
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, February 5 -- When Kazakhstan's foreign minister Kanat
Saudabayev took three questions from the Press in front of the UN
Security Council stakeout on February 5, lack of media freedom was
unaddressed while the leader Nursultan Nazarbaev was extolled. There
was even an echo of Borat.
requires the Security Council to work with regional organizations.
The OSCE, of which Kazakhstan took from Greece the chairmanship in
January, is one such organization, involved in a number of frozen
conflicts on which the UN cannot act, observing elections as the UN
says it cannot do, most recently in Sri Lanka.
asked Minister Saudabayev two questions, but got only one answered.
Using his February 15 trip to Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia as the
hook, Inner City Press asked what Kazakhstan planned to do about
Nagorno-Karabakh -- and then, to respond to questions raised about
media freedom in Kazakhstan, in connection with its OSCE role. Video
from Minute 9:43.
translator -- more on him in a moment -- Saudabayev said that there
are things in Kazakhstan's favor, in tacking Nagorno Karabakh:
president Nursultan Nazarbaev "has high authority with
participating parties." Saudabayev walked away without
asked his translator the media freedom questions. He didn't answer
that, but spoke about Evgeniy Zhovtis, saying that he's been a human
rights lawyer in Kazakhstan for years without incident, but when he
"ran over a pedestrian," all bets were off.
answer on press freedom not shown
It is not
political, the translator insisted, contrary to Human Rights Watch.
Yesergepov, editor of the newspaper Alma-Ata Info, was sentenced to
three years in prison on August 8, for disclosing state secrets,
after the newspaper published an article making corruption
allegations against local authorities based on classified documents.
In June, the independent Almaty weekly Taszhargan had to cease
publishing after an appellate court upheld a prior decision awarding
Romin Madinov, a member of parliament, 3 million tenge (about
US$20,000) in "moral damages" for an article alleging that
Madinov's business interests benefited from his legislative work. In
September, an Almaty court ordered the weekly Respublika to pay 60
million tenge (about $400,000) in "moral damages" to the
BTA Bank, which had sued the newspaper after a March article
discussing the bank's possible bankruptcy allegedly cost the bank the
equivalent of $45 million in deposits. The appeal is still pending,
but the newspaper is not able to pay the fine and will cease
publishing if the decision is upheld.
government could have easily shown its commitment to freedom of
expression by not adopting the July amendments, which were sharply
criticized by the OSCE. It also could have established a cap on civil
defamation penalties and ensured that investigative journalists like
Yesergepov are not unjustly subject to criminal prosecution."
Roman Vassilenko, previously the spokesman at Kazakhstan's Embassy in
Washington. In that capacity, when comedian Sasha Baron Cohen of
Borat fame came to the embassy, cameras in tow, Vassilenko had to
deal with him. Now he is translating at the UN in New York for the
foreign minister, accompanied by a coterie of pro-government Kazakh
* * *
Lanka Lobbies at UN To Be De-Listed Despite Child Soldiers Recruited,
from School, Lanka's Inside Man
Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive
NATIONS, February 4 -- Two months after the UN sent retired Major
General Patrick Cammaert to Sri Lanka, his report on Children and
Armed Conflict in the country was presented to that sub-committee of
the UN Security Council, in a closed meeting in the UN's basement.
report, a copy
of which Inner City Press obtained and
exclusively puts online here, notes among other things the
re-recruitment of children by a "commander named Iniya Barrathi
who was part of the TMVP breakaway faction under Karuna's
leadership." Cammaert recommends that that government take
in the meeting,
a move was afoot to "de-list" Sri Lanka, from its one
connection to the UN Security Council. During the bloodbath on the
beach in 2009, despite tens of thousands of cilivians killed, Sri
Lanka was never put on the Council's main agenda. A few meetings were
held, informally, in the basement.
Conflict, a committee of the Security Council, retained Sri Lanka on
its list. It was in this context that Cammaert belatedly went to the
country. His report also calls for wider accountability and
investigations. But even the UN's Ban Ki-moon, who visited Sri Lanka
in May for what many called a "victory tour," has not
called for or begun any investigation.
other examples of children still impacted. Cammaert writes of a
"visit to the Poonthotam primary school [in Vavuniya]. Half of
the classrooms are currently being occupied by the Sri Lank Army
(SLA) to host adult surrenderees, disrupting the education of more
than half the student population."
unaddressed, Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the UN Palitha Kohona was seen
on February 4. He spoke to BBC, he was congratulated in the closed
door meeting on Children and Armed Conflict. On February 5, he has
invited UN diplomats and select scribes from countries like China to a
concert at the Rajapaksa-friendly Asia Society. While Kohona has been
missing from the UN in New York for some time, he was still working,
calling Ban Ki-moon's chief of staff Vijay Nambiar to try to get
canceled a press conference on Sri Lanka by UN Special Rapporteur on
Executions Philip Alston.
UN's Ban and Sri Lanka's Kahona, CAAC report and
investigation not shown
distanced himself from Alston and his call that Ban start an
investigation. Why cancel the Children and Armed Conflict meeting, if
it was to be a venue for celebrating the bloodbath on the beach and
lobbying to de-list Sri Lanka from this last UN list? Watch this