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Afghan Disputes One Hour Kabul Delay, Taliban Critique Ignored by UN

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 5, updated -- After five UN staff were killed in a Kabul guest house, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that it had take an hour for the Afghan police and international ISAF forces to respond. On November 4, Afghanistan's Ambassador to the UN told Inner City Press that his government disagrees -- the time lapse given is four minutes -- and that he had written a letter to Mr. Ban to this effect.

  On November 5, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesperson Michele Montas if the Secretary General still has his same initial position on how long it took. Video here, from Minute 16:34. We "have the same position," Ms. Montas said, adding that that UN is "still investigating... the first task was to ensure the security of those left behind." But if the truth couldn't be known until later, why did the UN say it took an hour to respond?

UN's Ban and Karzai and Afghan forces, 1 hour delay not shown

   Ms. Montas was asked to respond to the critique, by the Taliban but others as well, that the UN took sides in Afghanistan, seeking to see Hamid Karzai stay in power. "I am not going to comment on what the Taliban are saying," Montas replied. Video here, from Minute 37:50.

  But is that the best approach? As one wag said after the briefing, the UN only responds to Taliban actions -- by removing 600 staff -- but not to Taliban comments. And on the same day on the Congo, Ms. Montas said that the UN does not comment on statements by governments, click here for that.

Update of November 5 -- the UN added to its transcript its position that no protest from the Afghans has been registered, or at least, no letter received. But see below.  First, the transcript:

Inner City Press: The Minister of Interior in Afghanistan has taken issue with the Secretary-General saying that it took an hour for the Afghan police to arrive. Yesterday, the Afghan Ambassador told me he has written a letter to the Secretary-General protesting that comment. What’s the UN’s current position on how long it took the Afghan police to respond?

Spokesperson Montas: We have the same position. They are still trying to investigate what happened. I don’t have the final results of that investigation, our own investigation of what happened. The most evident thing for us to do was first to ensure the security of those left behind. But this is a question that is still being [inaudible].

Inner City Press: Can you confirm the receipt of the letter from the Afghan Ambassador?

Spokesperson: No, I can’t, I will try to find out for you when it was received, but at this point I don’t have any information.

[The Spokesperson later added that the letter has not been received.]

But see, reproduced here in full given the circumstances:

Pajhwok Afghan News

November 1, 2009 Sunday

Police quickly respond to UN guesthouse attack: MoI


LENGTH: 252 words

DATELINE: Muhammad Jawad Sharifzada

Nov 1, 2009 - 18:13

KABUL (PAN): The Ministry of Interior (MoI) on Sunday rejected the reports that police were slow to respond to Wednesday's terrorist attack on a UN guesthouse in Shahr-i-Naw downtown.

The United Nations on Friday demanded to know why it took an hour for Afghan police and NATO troops to respond to the Taliban attack on the guest house filled with UN staff.

Three militants laced with guns and suicide vests stormed the UN residence in the 10th police district of the capital city around dawn, sparking a fierce gun-battle with UN security officers for at least an hour before NATO troops and Afghan police showed up.

The assault killed six foreign UN employees and at least two Afghan guards. The three attackers also were killed.

Taliban have accepted responsibility for the attack that left nine UN staffers wounded.

A spokesman for the ministry Zamray Bashari said UN chief Ban Ki Moon had received repots in which it was mentioned that police were arrived an hour late at the site.

He said the reports were inaccurate. "Police arrived four minutes after the first shoot and started rescue operations," added the spokesman.

He claimed the police response was very quick and showed bravery.

"Such reports will have a bad impact on the police morale," he said.

Bashari said a joint commission of UN representatives and the ministry will investigate the incident and will send an accurate report to the UN secretary General.

He added there were 1000 police in Kabul responsible for security of UN offices.

* * *

UN's Af-Pak Contradictions, on Threat Levels and No Bashardost Run-Off

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 2 -- As in Kabul UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon assured Hamid Karzai that UN staff will stay in Afghanistan, the UN announced that it is pulling its international staff out of Northwest Pakistan, declaring the area at the UN's "Phase IV" security threat level. Is it safer in Afghanistan, where five UN staff as well as at least two others were killed last week before the second round of voting was canceled?

  Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Michele Montas, who declined to provide the UN's threat level for Afghanistan. The UN press office in New York routinely refuses to discuss issues it deems about security. Why then did the UN in Pakistan, in a press release, declare the rise to Phase IV?

  The press release, by Isharat Rizvi of UNIC Islamabad, says that Mr. Ban "has declared Phase IV (Emergency Operations) in NWFP and FATA." When Inner City Press asked about it, Ms. Montas replied, "That should not have happened." Video here, from Minute 17:27.

  But again, why not? The UN has been criticized in Algeria for giving in to the government's desire that the threat level be kept low, in the run-up to the bombing of the UN in Algiers. So does the UN withhold its threat assessment levels to placate governments? The U.S. State Department, for example, issues public travel advisories for certain countries. But the UN is "owned" by its member states. Did Pakistan complain about the public raising to Phase IV?

  Inner City Press also asked, for the second time, if the UN had contacted the third place finisher in the first round of Afghan elections.

UN's Ban and Eide on tarmac in Kabul, threat level and
Bashardost not shown

 Back on October 22, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe

Inner City Press: the number three candidate in Afghanistan, I know you’ve said we may get this hook up, so I wanted to ask you this now. The candidate who came in number three, Mr. Bashardost, has said that he may tell those who voted for him -- 10 per cent of the voters -- to boycott the second round due to continuing concerns of fraud. I wanted to know, in all this, in the UN’s engagement both with Abdullah Abdullah and President Karzai, is the UN speaking to this number three candidate and what do they make of his critique of the second round in advance?

Deputy Spokesperson Okabe: I’m sure that the UN is supporting all efforts by the Afghan authorities in ensuring that a successful second round takes place.

  Now the second round has been canceled, after Abdullah Abdullah withdrew, and the UN apparently never contacted the number three candidate, Ramazan Bashardost. Inner City Press asked Ms. Montas on November 2; she replied that the decision to cancel was up to the Independent Electoral Commission, which most see as dominated by Hamid Karzai.

  But even before the IEC announced its decision, the UN's Kai Eide called for a "timely" conclusion. Inner City Press asked Ms. Montas to respond to those who see Eide's comment as indicating a preference, shared by the U.S., that the second round be canceled, not least for security of their people. No, Ms Montas seemed to claim. The UN had no preference. Video here, from Minute 17:27. Watch this site.

* * *

As Fraud Throws Afghan Poll Into Chaos, UN Spins "Legal and Timely" Outcome

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 1 -- In Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai's main challenger Abdullah Abdullah has followed through on his threat to withdraw from the fraud triggered run off election set for November 7. The decision followed the Karzai dominated Independent Elections Commission announcing it would open even more phantom polling stations for the second round, virtually ensuring similar or greater fraud.

  What did the UN's top envoy in Kabul Kai Eide have to say? "The next step must be to bring this electoral process to a conclusion in a legal and timely manner."

  What does this mean? Cancel the second round, which was required by fraud for Karzai, and simply deem Karzai the winner by default? Hold a phantom run off, Karzai against no one? Recontact the third place finisher? On this, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson Michele Montas who in the UN system was in touch with him. An answer was promised by never given. And now it appears too late.

But despite the appearance of chaos in Afghanistan, and in the UN's policy, on the UN Mission's website, Kai Eide is sitting pretty.

Eide in Council, for in repose see here

* * *

At UN, Ban Asks $86 Million for Security, No Answers on Budget in Kabul's Wake

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 30 -- In the wake of the killing of five UN staff members in Kabul, in New York Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday told the General Assembly he will ask for at least $86 million on top of the budget he presented earlier this week. The requests include a new $25 million emergency fund for security, and $50 million for a second Access Control Project -- which it is not clear would have covered the attacked Kabul guest house or facilities like it.

  Ban's prepared remarks asked for "expanded authority to undertake new financial commitments in time of crisis. The current level of authority -- $1 million -- is simply not enough."

  Earlier, when Inner City Press asked whether Ban would be funding his new three person investigation panel for Guinea from a $8 million fund for "unforeseen" expenses, Ban's spokesperson Michele Montas said she didn't know. A UN budget official said that the Secretary General can use this fund and simply report on its use at year's end. Inner City Press has asked for previous reports.

  Meanwhile at press time in Afghanistan, Karzai's main rival Abdullah Abdullah is reportedly prepared to announce a boycott of the second round. Inner City Press has asked Ms. Montas, without answer, if the UN was in touch with the candidate -- not Ashraf Ghani -- who came in third. Would his name now be entered in the run off?

UN's Ban and widows, budget proposals not shown

  At what was billed a a "town hall" meeting with UN staff about the killing of their colleagues, Ban and the two other speakers, Ann Veneman of UNICEF and the elusive Helen Clark of UNDP, did not take any questions from staff.
  Afterwards, some staff stopped and told Inner City Press the budget request smacked of opportunism. One argued that the deaths in Algiers and now Kabul were more the product of UN staff being put in places their shouldn't be, rather than a lack of money.

  In Algiers, a UN security official has recommended beefing up security and raising the threat level, but the UN didn't, in deference to the government. In Kabul, UN staff ere in a guest house, to which ISAF didn't respond for an hour.

  More resources may be needed, but there are not sufficient if UN leadership does not have the will, including the willingness to stand up to host countries, to protect its staff. But as with the USA Patriot Act, who will dare to vote against these requests, in the wake of a bombing?

  While to some this skepticism seems harsh, it is significant - and newsworthy - that is circulating in the UN, and at a not-low level. One wonders when the Secretariat will come forward with the specifics of its DSS budget, particularly the items aluded to on Friday, and if it will forthrightly ties or compare  the requests to what happened at the Kabul guesthouse, or Algiers before that. Watch this site.

* * *

UN's Ban To Ask For Money for Afghan Security, of PMCs and Phantom Polling Stations

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 29 -- In the aftermath of the Taliban's attack on UN staff in Kabul, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon briefing the Security Council and the Press about a plan to allocate and spend more money on security. Mr. Ban arranged with General Assembly President Ali Treki to brief the Assembly on October 30. His Office said that a dollar figure will be released then and only then.

  Earlier on Thursday, Ban's Spokesperson declined to respond to an accusation by the developing countries in the Group of 77 that Ban has been making budget moves impermissibly without General Assembly approval. Inner City Press asked about G-77 testimony that morning in the Fifth (Budget) Committee, but Spokesperson Michele Montas said no response would be given, she "will not intervene in this." Video here, from Minute 13:48.

  Does the subsequently arranged General Assembly appearance by Ban imply a recognition that Assembly approval must be sought and obtained? Inner City Press on Thursday asked the spokesman for President Ali Treki if it is Mr. Treki's view that Ban needs General Assembly approval, and has been told an answer will be given. Video here, from Minute 20:37.

  Speaking to the Press after the Council, Ban was asked if the increased security might include private military contractors. To many of the assembly reporters, Ban appeared to say yes, and then to smile when the name "Blackwater" was shouted. There are issues with the UN using mercenaries -- as Inner City Press was the first to report, the UN used them in Iraq, but borrowed them from the UK and left it on the UK's budget, not the UN's.

UN's Ban on October 28, financial proposal to GA not shown

  Ban was also asked for the UN's response to the announcement by the Hamid Karzai-dominated Independent Elections Commission that it will open 155 more of the phantom polling stations that resulted in findings of fraud in the first round.

  While Ban has said that polling stations that cannot be monitored should not be opened, the IEC now reportedly intends to increase the number of stations from 6167 to 6322, in an atmosphere less secure and harder to monitor than before.

  And if the second round, too, is fraudulent, will there be a third round? Watch this site.

* * *

If Karzai's IEC Wants Phantom Polling, UN Will Support It and Its Relevance

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 27 -- After struggling to assert its relevance in Afghanistan, the UN on October 26 said that it will play no role in how the run-off election triggered by fraud in the first round will be run. The spokesperson for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that decisions on which remote polling stations in Taliban controlled areas to keep open, and who to fired, will be entirely up to the so-called Independent Electoral Commission, who members are appointed by Hamid Karzai.

This new answer appeared at odds with what Mr. Ban had said in response to Inner City Press' questions about closing the phantom polling stations which had been criticized by the deputy Afghan envoy fired by Ban, Peter Galbraith. Then, Ban said he and the UN favored keeping these polling stations open, and that he had fired Galbraith for pushing to have them closed. In a later interview with CNN, Ban seemed to veer and say that some of them should be closed. Now, his spokesperson Michele Montas says it is entirely up to Karzai's ICC. From the October 26 UN transcript:

Inner City Press: in Afghanistan, there’s this call by Abdullah Abdullah that the head of the IEC should be, be removed for bias, and that 500 polling stations, which is similar to the number that Mr. Galbraith had given, should not be opened in the second round. What’s, I mean, I know that, that at the stakeout, the Secretary-General had said as many should be open as possible to keep people voting, and then I think that he may have said something differently later on CNN. But what’s the current thinking of the Secretary-General on these 500 stations or whatever number he, he is looking…

Spokesperson Montas: As you know, the decision is not ours. It is the decision of the electoral, existing electoral Afghan commissions. We are not hiring or firing any staff. However, we are… we were told that we have received assurances from the independent election commission that you know, they will not reopen places where fraud took place. So that’s all really we know.

UN's Ban, spokesperson and DPKO chief, phantom polling stations not shown

Inner City Press: And does the UN have any idea what, you know, either what standard is going to be applied or how many polling stations that would be?

Spokesperson Montas: Well, we don’t have the exact number, but we can tell you that they want to make sure that what happened in the first round will not happen again, or that at least if there is any fraud, there are specific ways of dealing with that fraud. But we are trying to keep as many places open, as the Secretary-General said. However, you know, if the decision of the Independent Electoral Commission… to open a number of those polling places, we’ll try to support that effort.

How exactly would the UN "try to support" polling stations in areas entirely controlled by the Taliban? By giving member states' money to the Karzai controlled IEC? Watch this site.

IMF Plays Ukraine, Zim and Pakistan As "Technical" Questions, Pushes Tax Hikes in Serbia

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 22 -- Are the International Monetary Fund's negotiations with countries about the level of taxes and salaries for public sector employees, the pricing of electricity and the privatization of social services political, or merely "economic and technical"? The questions arose Thursday in connection with Ukraine, Zimbabwe and Pakistan, among others, in the IMF's first press briefing since its annual meeting in Turkey.

  IMF spokesperson Caroline Atkinson fielded questions for half an hour, leaving unanswered one submitted by Inner City Press about Serbia, where the IMF's Paul Thompson has been quoted that "if the Serbian delegation has a concrete pan for decreasing expenses, we will support it, if not, they will have to agree with us and think about increasing taxes." Left unanswered: how is raising taxes merely "technical"?

  Ms. Atkinson did respond to Inner City Press' questions about Ukraine, Zimbabwe and Pakistan. While a full transcript is available online here, and video here, in sum the Q & A went as follows:

 Inner City Press asked, In Ukraine, the opposition party is critical of the IMF as funding the campaign of Tymoshenko. What is the IMF's response to the opposition's criticism? Ms. Atkinson replied that IMF funds go to the central bank, and that the IMF has a team on the ground in Kiev for a third review.

  The opposition was not, it seems, saying that money from the IMF is being used by Tymoshenko for advertisements or to pay poll workers, but rather "MP and opposition government's finance minister, Mykola Azarov, said this at a meeting with delegates of an IMF mission, 'We must say that the program of cooperation with the IMF has turned out to be ineffective, and nothing is left but to consider the IMF's assistance as politically motivated, as funding of one of the candidates running for the presidency.'"

  When another reporter asked a follow up question about Ukraine, wondering if with the IMF mission on the ground, the upcoming election "is an issue," Ms. Atkinson said the IMF does not comment while a mission is in the field, negotiating a program, but that information -- and one hopes some questions and answers -- will be provided once the mission is completed

IMF points the way, in budgets... and politics?

  On Zimbabwe, Inner City Press asked, "NGOs are critical of the IMF for, they say, pushing Zimbabwe to privatize its social services system. Has the IMF pushed for that, and how does it respond to the criticism?" Ms. Aktinson, while saying she can get back to Inner City Press with more information, argued that the IMF does not favor or disfavor particular privatizations, but must be pushing to strengthen the social service sector to help the poor.

  But speaking just ahead of civil society's consultative meeting with an IMF team under Article IV of the Fund's Articles of Agreement, NANGO said "'we are opposed to some IMF polices such as privatization of basic social services. We know it from the past that some IMF policies have worked against people in this country. They have affected the social services sector and their polices are anti-people and negative'... [NANGO] said some of the IMF instigated polices which had brought suffering to the people were the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) and Zimbabwe Programme for Economic and Social Transformation (ZIMPREST)." It's a pretty specific critique, and we'll publish the IMF's response upon receipt.

  Following up on Inner City Press' questions and article from August 2009, it asked "in Pakistan, the IMF in August extended for a year the country's time to eliminate electricity subsidies. Now, while the IMF says 2 price increases will be implemented, others say this is not possible politically. What is the IMF's thinking on consumer power pricing in Pakistan?"

Ms. Aktinson replied that "as I believe you know, the issue of issue of electric subsidy is typically done by the World Bank and Asian Development Bank," that IMF gets involved due to the budget."we will be having another review of the Pakistan program in early November." We'll be there....

* * *

On Food Speculation, UN's Expert Says Nothing's Being Done, S. Korean Land Grabs from Madagascar to Sudan, Brazil on Ethanol

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 21 -- After many speeches at the UN about the need to crack down on financial speculation in food, nothing has been done, the UN's expert on the right to food told Inner City Press on Wednesday.

  Olivier de Schutter, a Belgian law professor just back from a visit to Brazil about, among other things, the loss of land for food to ethanol, replied that "nothing is moving at the inter-governmental level." This despite a statement by the G-20 in April favoring the regulation of hedge funds which present systemic risk. The argument is that commodities index funds which speculate in food present systemic risk to net food importing countries. But nothing has been done.

   De Schutter spoke about the monopolization of the seed industry, and made a slew of recommendations for governments. The three top monopolizers -- Monsanto, Dupont and the Swiss-based Syngenta -- are all members of the UN Global Compact, and claim to comply with human rights. De Schutter pointed out the antitrust law is directed as national and not global or subnational markets. It is all very heady but one wonders what effect it has.

  Brazil might be one of de Schutter's claims to impact. He spoke glowingly of President Lula, saying that Brazil has said that only 19% of land can be used for sugar cane for ethanol, and has committed to monitor labor rights. But what about, for example, Indonesia and Malaysia?

De Schutter, action on food speculation not shown

  After De Schutter's briefing, Inner City Press asked his staffer for an update on the proposed land grab in Madagascar by South Korea based Daewoo, which was reputed after the coup in that country. De Schutter had been scheduled to visit, but it was put off by the coup. The same thing happened in Honduras. So perhaps De Schutter does have an effect after all, mused one wag.

Footnote: immediately after De Schutter's briefing, the UN's Haile Menkerios was scheduled to speak to the Press about Madagascar. While the UN usually compartmentalizes its work such that a rapporteur looks at land grabs, while the Secretariat remains on "political affairs" narrowly defined, this land grab played a role in the change of government. Now it's said the South Korean deal is being pursued from India, while South Korea appears to have moved on to 690,000 hectares in Sudan. Watch this site.

* * *

UN's Indigenous Expert Stymied in Russia, Does Not Engage in Myanmar, Will Visit Ecuador

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 19 -- Russia blocked the UN's expert on the rights of indigenous people from visiting the site slated for the Evenki dam in Krasnoyarsk Territory, it emerged at the UN on Monday.

  Inner City Press asked James Anaya, the UN's Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedom of indigenous people, if he had in fact been allowed to visit the site. The Russian press had quoted Igor Kurtushin, deputy head of the territorial administration’s department for external relations that "it would not be easy to visit the Evenki sites due to peculiar weather patterns."

  Inner City Press asked if Anaya had visit the contested site, from which indigenous people would be evicted. No, he said, it wasn't in the agenda we were able to negotiate. Video here, from Minute 30:53.

  Was this, in fact, due to the weather, Inner City Press followed up. "The weather was good was I was there," Anaya answered, describing two flights in Krasnoyarsk and an outdoor meal of reindeer parts. Video here, from Minute 36:29.

  This can be contrasted to Panama, where the government allowed Anaya to visit the site of a proposed dam. When Inner City Press asked about Ecuador and conflicts there, Anaya said he is going in December, invited by the government.

  To some, Anaya seems too accommodating of governments. When Inner City Press asked about Canada's refusal to sign on to the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People, Anaya said Canada is moving in the right direction, that he doesn't criticize countries if there is the "possibility" of movement.

  Likewise, when Inner City Press asked about the position of Botswana that nearly all people there are indigenous, Anaya responded that he hadn't seen a need to contest this position during his recent visit there. Given that the position almost derailed the Declaration, it seems strange to some to be so accommodative of it now.

Reindeer, UN's Anaya and Russia permit to visit not shown

  But it is to and within the UN system that Anaya is most accommodative. Inner City Press asked about the UN's REDD program, which was protested earlier this month. Anaya said that the UN agencies want to address indigenous issues. When Inner City Press asked about indigenous people in Myanmar, Anaya responded that since there is another rapporteur on Myanmar, he does not engage in Myanmar. Video here, from Minute 49:22.

  First, this deference is not required: for example, the UN's expert on children and armed conflict engages with Myanmar, rather than deferring. Particularly given the issues that have arisen about the UN's special rapporteur on Myanmar, for Anaya to say he'll do nothing in or about the country ill-served indigenous people. Watch this site.

* * *

As France is Asked about Evictions in Calais and Chad, UN Cuts Off Questions, Jumps for Kouchner

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 19 -- In his first media availability at the UN, new French Ambassador Gerard Araud marked the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty with a press conference on October 19.

  Inner City Press asked Ambassador Araud about his country's eviction of immigrants from a camp near Calais last month, about the drowning of residents of the Comoros trying to get to the French island of Mayotte, and about mass evictions in the capital of Chad, where the Idriss Deby government receives substantial French support. Video here, from Minute 25:32.

  Ambassador Araud said immigration is an issues throughout the developed world, quickly equating the drowning of those seeking to get to Mayotte with deaths of African in the Mediterranean.

  He said that the "dismantling" of the camp was because immigration should be restricted to that which is legal, so that Europeans don't "become violent." He said it was fair to be critical, he has seen such criticism of U.S. policies as well, but these countries are democracies.

  Araud said that "answering about Chad is the easiest," and then proceeded to say that his Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, the moment he got the post, took in the lead is setting up peacekeeping mission in Eastern Chad, first through the European Union and then the UN.

  A follow-up question was cut off by the UN's moderator, Rachel Mayanja. She said, "before we proceed... I am surprised none of you want to take advantage" of the boy on the panel, from Dominica, to "expose his journey." Video here, from Minute 31:55. But she had begun by saying that the youth would be accompanied by a chaperrone from ChildFund Caribbean, who was not on the podium.

  After a more compliant correspondent dutifully asked the boy about photography -- ChildFund saved him from being a criminal, he equally dutifully said -- Inner City Press asked Ambassador Araud about the evictions done by French ally Idriss Deby, did he have any answer? He shook his head no. And the press conference was over. Video here, from Minute 34:49.

  Afterwards, one of the French journalists opined that Ms. Mayanja may have been trying to protect or please France, a Permanent Five member of the Security Council, by shifting from questions about France's record to what she wanted journalists to ask and write about. This has become more prevalent at the UN.

France's Gerard Araud at the UN on Monday, Chad eviction answers not shown

We note that Ms. Mayanja's cutting off of questions cannot necessarily be ascribed to Araud. The UN may offer protection where none is even requested. If Ms. Mayanja wanted to play up the boy's story, why have him appear at the French Ambassador's first press conference?

Another reporter told Inner City Press that Bernard Kouchner called Ban Ki-moon recently and told him the UN should launch an investigation of the recent killing of some 150 protesters in Guinea Conakry. Ban did just that; when Inner City Press asked, his spokesman said that it was at the request of ECOWAS. But why didn't the UN launch any inquiry into the tens of thousands of civilians killed in Sri Lanka earlier this year?

Just as the UN on Monday sought to limit questions to the right kind of poverty, it will only investigate the killings of the right victims: it all depends on who the perpetrator is, and who provides protection.

Footnote: also on the Chad evictions, Inner City Press asked this question last week to Habitat's New York representative, and for an update on what if anything Habitat did to follow up on supposed commitments by Angola not to continue evictions. Video here. A response was promised, but has not been received. What was that again, about eradicating poverty?

* * *

At UN, Iran's Mottaki Says Protesters Are Dealt With, Nuclear Sites All Reported

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 1 -- In Iran "there are some people, a limited number of people, who look for trouble and want to create unreal," Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki told the Press on Thursday. "It is very clear how they should be dealt with." Video here, from Minute 31:55.

  During a Q&A session at the UN in New York, nearly all of which dealt with nuclear issues, Inner City Press asked Mottaki about a story of post-election torture, rape and exile, which Inner City Press heard from Ebrahim Sharifi by cell phone on September 21. Sharifi states that he joined the non violent street protests then was picked up, blindfolded and held for a week.

  Inner City Press asked Mottaki if he acknowledged the veracity of any such charges, if people can file complaints in Iran and what he thinks of the call for a UN General Assembly special envoy to Iran on human rights issues. Video here, from Minute 25:43, Mottaki's reponse here from Minute 27:08.

  Mottaki's more then five minute answer became with calling the June elections "the most glorious presidential elections in the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran." Mottaki claimed the skeptics, once they received an explanation, were convinced. This left a few trouble makers -- "it is very clear how they should be dealt with."

UN's Ban, Ahmadinejad, Motakki and Zarif, pre election violence

  Mottaki said that Iran has vibrant NGOs, which rather than complain in Geneva to the Human Rights Council come to the UN in New York to participate in workshops about the rights on women.

  On Iran's nuclear program, Mottaki said that other than Qom, there are no other sites not reported to the IAEA. The press conference ended with a report for a newspaper in Israel calling for the floor, without receiving it. He was told by the UN's spokesperson that the UN is an "inter-governmental body... we cannot do anything about what member states do." Apparently not.

Footnote: Mottaki, before traveling to DC, wiled away the evening of September 29 at Indonesia's Independence Day celebration in the UN Delegates' Dining Room. There were satays, rice and noodles. One attending, chewing, snarked that at such receptions, the quality of the food is in inverse proportion to the amount of democracy in the hosting nation.

   Inner City Press has previously written about, and sampled, Iran's kebab diplomacy, click here for that. Seven thousand years of culture...

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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