UN, Hillary Clinton Dodges on Polanski as Galbraith's Name is Screamed
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, September 30 -- Moments after the UN fired American diplomat
Peter Galbraith as its deputy envoy to Afghanistan, Hillary Clinton
took four questions from the Press at the UN. The first,
surprisingly, concerned a letter from France's Bernard Kouchner about
the request to extradite Roman Polanski from Switzerland to Los
Angeles on decades old pedophilia charges. Secretary Clinton said
this was a matter for law enforcement.
many in the
press corps including Inner City Press began to mutter or chant
"Galbraith," Ms. Clinton took a question about the
Goldstone Report on Gaza -- she called it "one sided" --
then about Colombia. The last question she took was about Iran and
upcoming nuclear talks. She answered and pulled away from the
Hillary Clinton at a stakeout, Galbraith not seen
reporters shouted. She turned back. That's a matter from the UN, she
said, and then continued down the hall. There was applause -- from
staff members, someone said -- and she was gone. Galbraith, we
hardly knew ye.
Afghan Karzai Imposes Blackout, UN Silent on Dostum, Issues Embargoed
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, August 19, updated
-- The Afghan government of Hamid Karzai,
embracing warlords and war criminals, has imposed a media blackout in
the run-up to elections. The UN has said nothing. In
New York on
August 17, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe
City Press: there is some
controversy about the return of General
Dostum, widely viewed as a “warlord” or “war criminal”, to
campaign for Hamid Karzai. It’s reported that the UN has some
concern, but has the UN expressed any concern about this?
Spokesperson Montas: We have not seen anything on that.
July dodged questions about its seeming failure to follow up on a
mass grave of Dostum's victims, click here for
Press' story at the time. While no answer has been given to the
question about even 36 hours later, the UN put out an embargoed
statement, which we are publishing below the moment that we can.
UN's Ban and Karzai, "General" Dostum not shown
UNTIL 19 AUGUST 2009
12.01 A.M. NEW YORK TIME [8.31 A.M. KABUL TIME]
attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
Secretary-General encourages all Afghan women and men eligible to
vote to cast their ballot in the upcoming Presidential and Provincial
Council elections on 20 August 2009. He notes that, by participating
in these elections, the Afghan people will help Afghanistan
strengthen its democratic institutions, bring fresh vigour to the
country’s political life, and ultimately reaffirm their commitment
to contribute to the peace and prosperity of their nation.
Secretary-General also calls on all candidates, their supporters,
political party agents, and domestic and international observers to
continue to cooperate with the Independent Election Commission, other
relevant Afghan institutions and international stakeholders
supporting electoral preparations, to ensure a smooth and successful
Update -- at the August
19 noon briefing, after the publication of the story above, UN
Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe referred Inner City Press to a press
conference given by the UN envoy in Kabul, Kai Eide:
City Press: On Afghanistan and something else. The UN Spokesperson
AleemSiddique was quoted there as saying that Afghanistan “needs
more competent politicians and fewer warlords”. So the question
is: does that refer to General Dostum or not?
Spokesperson Okabe: Actually, I forgot to mention to you, Matthew,
there are two questions that you had yesterday. One, the answer to
General Dostum is actually answered by the Special Representative in
that press conference yesterday.
In trying to find the Kai Eide press conference, Inner
City Pres surfed to UNAMA.org, only to
a French furniture trade association, Union Nationale de l'Artisanat
des Métiers de l'Ameublement. But then, in
the transcript --
Speaking at the end of the campaign I would like to know your opinion
regarding the return of General Dostum?
First, it's the right of every Afghan to return to his own country. I
would like to answer that question in a slightly more general way.
It's more useful and it's a repetition of what I said at an occasion
a few months ago, when I expressed my views with regard to a
believe that with all the challenges that this country is facing, the
leaders of this country must be those who will and are able to look
toward the future and not keep us in the past.
believe that we have seen over the last few months a government which
has improved in competence with new reform oriented politicians. I
expect that when the future government is shaped that we must see and
will see more of these competent and reform oriented politicians that
can bring Afghanistan forward and prevent these institutions from
being tainted with the past.
have spoken to several candidates about this: The dimensions of the
problems that we are facing and that we have to address and the
tremendous need for competence in the team that is going to lead this
country forward. I believe and expect that they are all fully aware
Note, for now, the increasing rare UN Secretariat
reference to a right of return...
* * *
Dodges Dostum Mass Grave Question as Council Pep Talks Afghan
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, July 15 -- With the UN Security Council set to meet together
on Afghanistan and churn out another statement of hope about the elections,
the UN Secretariat and Mission in Afghanistan are dodging
straightforward questions about the UN's role in not acting on mass
graves of victims of Hamid Karzai ally General Abdul Rashid Dostum.
It has been reported
that "in 2008, a medical forensics team
working with the United Nations discovered excavations that suggest
the mass grave had been moved."
July 14, Inner
City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe
I also wanted to ask you... about the U.S. role in not investigating
a mass grave created by General [Abdul Rashid] Dostum in Afghanistan,
who was a major player there. In the middle of the article,
in 2008, a medical forensic team working with the United Nations
discovered excavations that a mass grave had been moved. I guess I
wanted to know -- and you may not know it off-hand -- what did you,
the UN, do when it reportedly found this evidence of a mass grave? The
article is very much alleging a U.S. cover-up. But I want to
know, what did the UN do?
Spokesperson Okabe: We’ll check on that for you.
on July 15,
minutes before the Security Council started meeting, the UN
Spokesperson's office sent an answer which entirely avoided the
question of the UN's 2008 forensic team finding.
UN funded digging in Afghanistan, Dostum's mass
grave not shown
your question on Afghanistan
unspokesperson-donotreply [at] un.org
Inner City Press
7/15/2009 9:57:11 A.M. Eastern Standard Time
UNAMA has repeatedly called for all alleged crimes and past abuses to
be investigated (not just individual cases) as part of Afghanistan's
own transitional justice action plan on Peace, Reconciliation and
We welcome indications from US authorities that they will investigate
this incident. The Special Representative, Kai Eide only recently
made clear that "if we fail to address the crimes of the past
then we face serious problems for the future"
UNAMA's mandate is to assist the Afghan authorities with these
efforts and as part of this the mission facilitated several forensic
missions by the NGO Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) to the site in
2002. Since then we have also asked for the Government to protect the
site for future investigations and offered to support the Government
with their investigations.
In a briefing to the UN Security Council the then SRSG, Lakdar
Brahimi referring to this specific incident stated that it was fairly
certain that "a large number of people died in, to say the
least, suspicious circumstances"
Lakhdar Brahimi spoke about it, some time ago, and the UN facilitated
an NGO's forensic mission -- in 2002. But what did the UN do when "in
2008, a medical forensics team working with the United
discovered excavations that suggest the mass grave had been moved"?
Watch this site.
* * *
Karzai Wants Warlords in His Tent, UN Ambassador Says, Rejects
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, July 1 -- While Paddy Ashdown, who had been slated to be the
UN's "Super-envoy" to Afghanistan until President Hamid
Karzai shot down the idea, says
that the war against the Taliban is
being lost, Karzai's Ambassador to the UN Zahir Tanin on June 30
told the Press that "people have different views." He
became more expansive when Inner City Press asked, "Some are
saying that President Karzai is assembling a war
lord ticket, Mr.
Fahim in particular, and that ministries have to promised to
supporters." Video here, from Minute 501.
said, "This is what we read. There are political players in
Afghanistan... Whether you call them warlords or not... Any
candidates including President Karzai try to have their support... if
not with Karzai, other candidates will try to have them with him."
Karzai, Kouchner and UN's Ban, warlord Fahim not shown
"they have "influence.... if they support one or another
incl President Karzai, it is very different than the idea of warlords
on one side and non warlords on other."
the stake out after this statement, it seems fair to summarize it as
a preference by the Karzai administration to have the warlords inside
his tent rather than outside. But how far does this go?
UN's envoy to
Afghanistan Kai Eide briefed the Security Council, but walked by
without stopping at the stakeout microphone where Tanin was to speak.
Part of a UN envoy's job is to speak and explain his positions. His deputy
Peter Galbraith has also yet to speak to the press. Watch this
* * *
UN Dodges on
Afghan Crimes and Galbraith Delay, Kosovo Corruption
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Muse
May 10 -- As civilians are killed in attacks on the Taliban in
Afghanistan and Pakistan, the UN in New York last week dodged
questions on the former. Inner City Press asked, did the UN's Kai
Eide urge Hamid Karzai not to appoint an alleged war criminal as his
running mate? The UN would not answer.
Why hasn't Eide's new
American-suggested deputy deployed yet? The UN claimed that he'd
begun on a delay: but that's not what
his appointment press release
said. The UN dodged on Congo, too, where it works with an indicted
war criminal, and on the blocking of cash into Gaza. Same on the
cancellation of investigations in Kosovo. It was just another week at
4, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe:
City Press: On Afghanistan, there are these reports that Kai Eide met
with Hamid Karzai and asked him not to appoint Mohammed Farhim as his
running mate, given human rights concerns against him. Can you
confirm that that Kai Eide did that? It quotes a UN, a diplomatic
source near Eide as saying that.
Spokesperson Okabe: I have seen the press reports, but I don’t
have anything on that.
rest of the week, nothing else was said. See below on the
non-appearance of Eide's deputy Peter Galbraith.
UN's Kai Eide, war criminals and deputy Galbraith not shown
On Wednesday, May
City Press asked Spokesperson Michele Montas:
City Press: On UNRWA as well, in his meeting, did the issue... UNRWA
has said that Israel doesn’t allow cash to UNRWA to pay its own
staff members and to give small grants to Palestinians in Gaza Strips
and also imposes, I think a tax; does not allow them to bring in
materials as they do elsewhere in the world. I’ve been told that
the Secretary-General has raised this issue with Israel. Did this
issue come up, and what was Israel’s response?
Montas: Not in this meeting, no. Not that I know of.
City Press: And can we find out, from UNRWA I guess, whether this is
still, this remains the case; the difficulty of getting...
Spokesperson: Of course,
we can try to get that information for you.
But nothing, in
fact, was ever provided. Also on May
6, Inner City Press asked closer
City Press: a letter has emerged from Mr. Adlerstein of the Capital
Master Plan confirming something that had been earlier, I think,
denied by the Secretariat that these security risk assessments that
were supposed to be produced for the swing spaces and for this
building, in fact have not been produced. But now they claim they
will be done by the end of June. What’s the explanation of the
earlier statement that these were either done or were not necessary?
And there is a reference to the CEB meeting of 4 April in one of the
letters. Can you confirm that this issue came up and how does this
Montas: I cannot confirm it at this point. I can ask, of course,
Mr. Adlerstein to answer your question.
City Press later, by waiting for an hour outside a meeting closed to
the Press, managed to ask Adlerstein some questions, he said that the
Spokesperson's Office had never passed the question along. On
7, Inner City Press asked Associate Spokesperson Farhan
City Press: There are these reports that the UN has decided to drop
any investigation of irregularities in privatizations in Kosovo
during UNMIK’s [United Nations Mission in Kosovo] time. I am sure
you’ve seen these reports. I wonder, the reports said that the UN
investigators had recommended criminal investigation, but now it’s
all being dropped without anything. And I wanted also, related to
that, to know whether the UN is tracking the involvement in
privatizations of its former envoys to Kosovo such as Steven Schook
and others. Or is that part of the UN’s...(inaudible)?
Spokesperson Haq: Well, first of all there were a certain number of
investigations that took place by a group, the Investigative Task
Force, which was established through UNMIK regulations and was
comprised of representatives of the UN, through the Office of
Internal Oversight Services, the European Anti-Fraud Office, and the
Financial Investigation Unit.
Special Representative of the Secretary-General acted appropriately
on all of the recommendations of the Task Force, which issued its
last report in June 2008. The actions taken by the Special
Representative included referring cases to the Department of Justice
and forwarding recommendations to Pillar IV of UNMIK. As a result of
the Investigative Task Force’s recommendations, criminal
investigations were conducted and proceedings were initiated against
personnel who were found to have committed criminal offenses. The
Department of Justice ceased operations and all of the Department’s
case files have been handed over to the European Union Mission in
Kosovo. Any further criminal sanctions would have to be pursued by
that mission's investigators and prosecutors.
but there's nothing on the UN's own involvement. Inner
asked again about Afghanistan
City Press: I also wanted to know, you mentioned Kai Eide. It’s a
small thing, but Mr. [Peter] Galbraith, who was named his Deputy, is
speaking at some commencement on 16 May in New England. When is he
going to actually deploy to Afghanistan? When is his beginning day? Is
he already a UN staff, and if so, why isn’t he in Afghanistan at
Spokesperson Haq: I believe when we mentioned the announcement we
mentioned when he would start his duties. He’s already
participated in preparation for taking up his duties; he almost
immediately participated in some of the meetings on Afghanistan that
took place about a month ago. So he’s already taken up some of his
duties in that regard.
City Press: I guess what I am saying is, has he already made the
transition? Does he have a UN pass, privileges and immunities,
Laissez-Passer, is he being paid?
Spokesperson: I believe we mentioned his starting time at the
announcement, so you’d have to go back to our announcement and that
would let you know. And with that, I wish you a good afternoon.
But the press
release at the time of Galbraith's appointment didn't mention any
delayed start time. On Friday, May
8 Inner City Press asked
City Press: Marie, on this issue of whether the UN and its Mission in
the Congo, MONUC, are aware of indicted war criminal Bosco Ntaganda
working with the Congolese Army, the minutes have come out of an 4
April meeting of the Congolese Army in which it is said that Bosco
Ntaganda participated in the meeting, took the floor as adjunct
coordinator of this operation, and spoke. And so I am wondering, is…
earlier, I think on 29 April, Farhan Haq had said “well, we haven’t
seen the document, but we have been given assurances…” Now that
these minutes… Does the UN dispute that minutes from the Congolese
Army show that Bosco Ntaganda is the adjunct coordinator of the
Spokesperson: I don’t have anything beyond what was already said
on the subject.
correspondent was later reminded that he had already been given the
following guidance last week: “The United Nations Organization
Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) has not seen
the documents referenced in the media report allegedly showing that
Jean-Bosco Ntanganda is a part of the joint operation. On the
contrary, the Democratic Republic of the Congo authorities have shown
MONUC relevant documents defining the operation’s command
structure, which does not make any mention of Mr. Ntanganda.
has clearly stated that it will not conduct or support joint
operations in which Mr. Ntaganda plays a part. This has been
communicated directly to the DRC Minister of Defence and the Chief of
the Defence Staff, who in turn have assured MONUC that Mr. Ntanganda
is not a part of any joint operation’s command structure. MONUC
leadership continues to engage with our Congolese interlocutors on
that story, and here
for Sri Lanka. And so it goes at the UN...
Sri Lanka, Channel
4 allegations of rape and
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
12 debate on Sri Lanka http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/17772?in=11:33&out=32:56
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.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017
earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.
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