UN Criticizes Media in Liberia, No Answers on Somalia or Afghan
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, March 5 -- The UN has reacted angrily to
reports that its
peacekeepers in Liberia's Lufa County "acted partially in favor
of Mandingoes when they (peacekeepers) mounted their tanks in front
of the mosque to prevent angry Lormas from attacking it."
UN's top envoy in Monrovia Ellen Loj told a reporter that he should
go to Lofa County before asking any question.
the March 5
noon briefing in New York, Inner City Press asked spokesman Martin
Nesirky about the reports and about the envoy's response to the
media. Of this Special Representative of the Secretary
General,Nesirky said he wouldn't second guess "him, who is on
the ground." But what about the UN trying to discourage
questions about its operations?
Press asked Nesirky if the UN has any response to Afghan President
Hamid Karzai's new prohibition on the media covering attacks by the
Taliban. At first Nesirky said he hadn't heard about it, but that
"generally" the UN favors free press coverage.
when the UN's
top envoy to Somalia Ahmedou Ould Abdallah criticized journalists who
reported on the killings of civilians by peacekeepers in Mogadishu,
and said there should be a one more moratorium on such reporting, the
UN did nothing to discipline him. How then could it speak against
UN's Ban and Peacekeepers in Liberia: no questions please
March 4, Inner
City Press asked Nesirky to explain Ould Abdallah's recent call for
UN agencies to return to Somalia when he himself can't or won't move
to Mogadishu, but rather works out of Nairobi. Nesirky acknowledged
it look contradictory and said he would get an answer. But thirty
hours later, there was no answer.
Nesirky's first non response and deference to an SRSG of the wrong
gender, a note was brought into it him. He read it out, and this
summary was placed in the UN's own "highlights"
MISSION IN LIBERIA STRESSES IMPARTIALITY IN LOFA COUNTY VIOLENCE
questions, the Spokesperson noted that the United Nations Mission in
Liberia (UNMIL) has refuted claims that its forces were partial in
last weekend’s violent incident in Lofa County.
UNMIL, Ellen Margrethe Løj, said UNMIL troops acted promptly and
supported no side in the violence, he noted.
heard about a violent demonstration in Konia Town, a batch of UNMIL
Formed Police unit was quickly deployed in the Town. On the morning
of the violence in Voinjama, both military and police forces
intervened to restore calm.
the incident as unfortunate and said it was based on what she called
unfounded rumours that spread from Konia to Voinjama. Løj said
Lofa incident, which has ethnic undertones, shows that more
challenges still remain despite the progress made so far in
maintaining peace and security in Liberia.
the United Nations is in Liberia to keep the peace, it is up to
Liberians themselves, regardless of religious and ethnic affiliation,
to decide whether they want peace.
that UNMIL has confirmed that shotguns and firearms were actually
used in the violence by the mob, resulting in four deaths.
that all UN peacekeeping mission work impartially to serve all the
people in the countries where they are deployed.
should not even be raised about their impartiality, apparently...
* * *
Ban Heads to Chile, UN Praises Chile Despite Protests, MassiveGood
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, March 4 -- With the UN's Ban Ki-moon now flying off to
Chile, his officials' slavish praising of the government of President
Michelle Bachelet has become more and more questionable.
Barcena, head of the UN office in Santiago, told Inner City Press
that no looting was occurring, contrary to TV images on BBC and
France24. This UN official, who served for years in New York, asked
looting?" She said there was no violence or
problems between the government and the people.
deputy humanitarian chief Catherine Bragg told a press conference
that Chile is a strong government that is doing a good job. But when
Bachelet traveled near Concepcion on March 4, she didn't go into the
downtown due to protests of her performance.
asked Bragg, why was the UN going out of its way to praise Chile's
government? Why was there such a stigma on receiving UN aid? Bragg
said she was just telling it like it is. This is how the world
appears to the UN: governments good, critics invisible.
Chile's President Bachelet in Haiti Feb. 20 - for UNIFEM?
with only seven other people -- two of them guards -- on a commercial
flight. He learned of the available seat on Thursday morning. He also
publicly clicked a two dollar donation to MassiveGood, along with
Bill Clinton. What is Clinton doing these days for Haiti? Bachelet
was serving as UNIFEM spokesperson for Haiti until her own
earthquake hit. And now?
On MassiveGood, after Ban's clicking, UN official Philippe Douste
Blazy appeared to describe the program. Inner City Press asked Douste
Blazy how transparency in how the money is spend will be ensured, and
about his earlier idea of a UN Lottery to raise money.
not say much about transparency -- a French observer described high
costs, that is, MassiveOverhead -- but he again praised the lottery
idea. Inner City Press asked, but doesn't that take money from the
poor? We're not doing it yet, Douste Blazy answered. Oh, good.
* * *
"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?