UN, Indigenous Cite Abuse from Right and Left, Myanmar, U.S. and
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 14 -- A review of indigenous people's rights at the
UN on July 15 found problems with "militarism" in Myanmar
and Colombia, including accusations that indigenous people in active
pursuit of land rights are terrorists, and a failure to respect
indigenous people's rights by governments of both the right and left.
State of the
World's Indigenous People mentions that in Myanmar, for example,
indigenous people were tortured and their community ransacked. Inner
City Press asked about Myanmar, and the chairperson of the UN
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Victoria Tauli-Corpus from the
the support that Asian countries have shown toward Myanmar's military
government. The new ASEAN Commission on Human Rights, she argued,
would take a closer look.
UN, it appears,
is taking even less of a look at Myanmar. On July 8, Inner
City Press asked the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary
General to comment on a dictum by Than Shwe, Burma's strongman, that
voters in the upcoming election had been make the "correct
answer, four days later on January 12 at the noon briefing, Inner
City Press put the same question to Spokesman Martin Neskiry. He
responded that the statement was old, and that the UN would have no
comment. He confirmed that Myanmar is being handled, such as it is,
by UN chief of staff Vijay Nambiar.
Tauli-Corpus' colleague, from Peru, said that entreaties are being made
about American "military bases in Colombia." Ecuador was
mentioned -- a leftist government that, in the name of pursuing
natural resources, has enraged indigenous groups.
Dancers in UN auditorium, defense of
indigenous, in Myanmar and elsewhere, not shown
asked Mr. Corpus about the U.S. still not signing the Declaration on
the Rights of Indigenous People. The first time, the question was not
answered. On a second pass, expanding to the Copenhagen climate
change talks, Ms.Corpus acknowledged that the U.S. negotiators had
opposed the inclusion of pro-indigenous language, before relenting
and "unbracketing" it.
one would have predicted. But, Ms. Corpus said, the struggle
continues. The Permanent Forum will meeting in the UN's new "UN-KIA"
building. And we'll be there.
* * *
Doesn't Count Haitian Staff - But Treats Them Equally, Ban Says
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 14 -- A day after the UN's death
count of its
personnel in Port au Prince at first included a single Haitian staff
member, and then dropped the reference, on Thursday morning
General Ban Ki-moon dropped all reference to nationalities in his
count of the dead.
asked if the UN's national Haitian staff have been included in the
figures the UN has been giving out, not only of casualties but even
of how many people work for the UN.
that national staff are treated "equally," the figure
thrown around - that 11,000 people work for the UN's MINUSTAH mission
-- does not include the UN's national staff.
response to the
question, Ban referred to notes and said that the UN has 1200
national staff in Haiti. This compares to 490 international civilian
Ban left the
stakeout, Inner City Press asked his spokesman Martin Nesirky to
explain the UN's reporting of casualties. Nesirky said that the focus
has been on reporting to those with international interest.
UN's Ban at stakeout, national Haitian staff not in figures
He also said
that national staff who worked in the UN
headquarters in Port of Prince were somehow more likely to have
already have left the building for the day when the earthquake
struck. Video here.
he said, the
UN is going out to the listed home addresses of its national staff to
check on them. But will they now begin reporting the Haitians,
equally, in their public statements? Watch this site.
after Ban and his spokesman left the stakeout, another journalist --
not this one -- marveled that the UN would focus on internationals
and not Haitians, who are the people most impacted, and of most
interest to her as a journalist.
From the UN's January 14 transcript:
City Press: I understand that now you are saying that the nationality
of those killed will be given by the Spokesman. Yesterday it was
mentioned that a Haitian national was among those who were deceased,
and then in what you said yesterday evening, it wasn’t mentioned. Some
questions have arisen whether the numbers the UN is given
actually include the Haitians that are hired, the national staff.
What is the figure, or what are the procedures for checking how the
actual Haitian nationals employed in various functions for the UN are
Ban Ki-moon: In saving lives, there is no difference, no distinction
between international and national staff. We have 1,200 national
staff employed by the United Nations [in Haiti]. There seems to be
very much a difficulty in communicating with all the national staff.
Some of their houses have been affected. It is very difficult to
account for all the national staff. We are doing, on the same
principal: that we will try to save all the lives, without any