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As Uzbekistan Bars Refugees from Krygyz Vote Banning Ethnic Parties, UN and US Support

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 21 -- The inability to vote in the June 27 Kyrgyz referendum will be added to the impacts of ethnic cleaning on the more than 80,000 people who fled to camps in Uzbekistan, Inner City Press is informed by well placed diplomatic sources.

  Uzbekistan's longtime strongman Islam Karimov has told the UN and Kyrgyz electoral officials that he will not allow anyone who crossed into his country to vote in the Constitutional referendum. Those who fled are ethnic Uzbeks, who are justifiably afraid to return home, much less by this Sunday.

  If they do not recross the border is six days, however, they will not be allowed to vote. This disenfranchisement is being supported not only by the UN, but also the United States and others.

  The draft Constitution that will be voted on and presumably approved, with ethnic Uzbeks disenfranchised, has a provision which would outlaw ethnicity based parties. Shades of Rwanda.

  The UN's story, here as there, is that this is the best that can be done, that the interim government of former UN staff member Rosa Otunbayeva is losing power by the day.

  While it seems common sense to delay the referendum, with 100,000 people just chased out of the country and 300,000 internally displaced, the UN argues that any long delay would send the message that further violence could result in the cancellation of the referendum.

Fleeing Osh, ability to vote in Kyrgyz referendum not shown

  While the UN is aware of, and apparently not even contesting, Islam Karimov's decision that no one in his country can vote, it argues that mobile polling stations will be available at some of the rag tag IDP camps on the Kyrgyz side of the border - while acknowledging that it will be difficult if not impossible to vote.

  How will a Constitution which outlaws organizing on an ethnic basis be legitimate, if jammed through while the disfavored and targeted ethnic minority has just be chased from the country, or into IDP camps where they can't vote? And why are the US and others, and the UN, supporting this? Watch this site.

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Amid Uzbek Arrests, UN Silent, Turkey Vs Turkic, PGA to Condemn Acts But Not Actor Like Flotilla and Soon Cheonan

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 21 -- The more the targeting of ethnic Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan looks like planned ethnic cleansing, the less the UN does or says about it. An Uzbek human rights activist, Azimzhan Askarov who filmed some of the killings and reported Kyrgyz government involvement was arrested for "inciting hatred." Inner City Press asked, days later, what the UN had said or done about it. Nothing, apparently. Video here.

  Likewise, on the Uzbekistan side of the border, two journalists have been arrested for covering the plight of refugees: Alesky Volosevich then Vasily Markov. Has the UN said anything? No.

  In fact, the UN's Ban Ki-moon has offered nothing but praise for Uzbek strongman Islam Karimov. While Karimov has a friend in Ban Ki-moon, he has enemies in Turkey. Back in 1994 there were Turkey-based plots against Karimov. His regime demanded that thousands of Uzbeks studying in Turkey return to Uzbekistan. Some say this explains Turkey's striking failure to stand up for the ethnic Uzbeks, who are called "more Turkic" than the Kyrgyz.

Uzbeks, barbed wire, UN and Turkey not shown

  A year ago, Turkey called events in China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region "genocide." Now, faced with ethnic cleansing and killing of Turkic Uzbeks, Turkey instead throws its weight behind a Constitutional referendum to be held with Uzbeks out of the country and out of their homes. What explains the double standard?

   In what passes for news at the UN, President of the General Assembly told Inner City Press that his Office will be issuing a statement tonight "deploring" the violence in southern Kyrgyzstan. As with the Security Council's statement on the Gaza flotilla (and soon on the sinking of the Cheonon), deplore the act without naming the actor....

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To Uzbek Karimov, UN's Ban Does Not Raise Border Closure or Maxim Popov, Omitted from Transcript

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 18 -- With tens of thousands of people seeking to flee attacks in Kyrgyzstan blocked at the Uzbek border, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke on June 16 with Uzbekistan's strongman Islam Karimov. Ban did not, however, ask Karimov to open the border. This was confirmed on June 18, when Inner City Press asked Ban himself if any request had been made to open the border. Ban's two minute answer included no such request. Video here, from Minute 10:14.

  Nor did Ban raise to Karimov, when he visited Tashkent in April, the plight of UN-funded AIDS educator Maxim Popov, who was sentenced to seven years in prison for blasphemy. Inner City Press has twice asked Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of UNAIDS, about Popov.

  On June 9, Sibide told Inner City Press that "I personally tried to be sure the Secretary General during his trip to Uzbekistan was able to raise this issue" of Popov. Video here, from Minute 10:02. Inner City Press then asked Ban's Spokesperson's Office if Ban had raised it, without answer.

  Inner City Press asked Ban directly on June 18, saying "the head of UNAIDS said you were prepared to raise this issue of Maxim Popov, in jail for seven year." Ban did not answer this part of the question, so Inner City Press repeated it. Video here, at 13:06.

  Ban replied, "United Nations relevant agencies will continue to work to address that issue." Not only is the logic circular -- UNAIDS says they prepared Ban to raise the issue, then Ban says "agencies" will be the ones to raise it -- when at 6 p.m. the UN put out their transcript of the press encounter, they omitted Inner City Press' Maxim Popov question, and called the follow up "inaudible." Compare video to UN transcript, below.

UN's Ban and Karimov, border closure and Popov not shown

Compare video to UN transcript--

Inner City Press: You mentioned the people that are waiting to cross the border out of Kyrgyzstan. When you spoke with President [Islam] Karimov of Uzbekistan, did you ask him to open the border? Also, when you were in Uzbekistan, were human rights a part of your conversation with President Karimov of Uzbekistan?

SG: When I had a telephone call with President Karimov just two days ago, I appreciated his willingness to accommodate 80,000 refugees who have crossed the border. I know that there is a serious difficulty in accommodating these 80,000 people and also in feeding them, providing necessary assistance. He told me that their capacity would run out in three to four days. That is why I have immediately spoken with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other United Nations agencies in mobilizing all humanitarian assistance. UNHCR has delivered more than 200 tons of immediate, urgent food assistance. Now it is important that borders are open, but at the same time, I know I know that there is concerns on countries in the region of how to manage this border security when addressing all these tens of thousands of people at one time. I will continue to discuss this matter. [Special Representative] Mr. Miroslav Jenca is on the ground in Bishkek talking to all the neighboring countries and he is closely coordinating with the Special Representatives of the European Union, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation and Shanghai corporation organizations and other individual countries. I understand that you have been briefed by Mr. Jenca, by the way, at this afternoon's noon press briefing. So we will closely monitor what will be the best way to address this humanitarian issue including this border management.

Inner City Press: [inaudible, not into microphone]

SG: Again, United Nations relevant agencies will continue to work to address that issue.

* * *

Ban and UNICEF Quiet on Uzbek Human Rights, Popov, as Karimov Closes Border

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 15, updated -- As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says he's trying to get assistance to Uzbekistan leader Islam Karimov, who has closed his border to the ethnic Uzbeks fleeing violence in Kyrgyzstan, it has emerged that Ban never pushed Karimov on human rights, the incarceration of AIDS education activist Maxim Popov, much less on border closing.

  Only last week, the chief of UNAIDS told Inner City Press that Ban had been slated to raise to Karimov, during his trip through Central Asia, the incarceration of Popov based on his UN system funded AIDS education pamphlet. [Note: UNICEF says it was not the funder, but has apparently not sought corrections from AFP, CPJ or IFEX; there are indications that UNDP was the funder.]

  Inner City Press asked Ban's Associate spokesman Farhan Haq if Ban had, in fact, ever raised this issue to Karimov. Haq did not say then, nor since.

  On June 14, Inner City Press asked Ban's top political adviser Lynn Pascoe, who has asked Uzbekistan to open its border? Our focus is on getting humanitarian supplies into Kyrgyzstan, said Pascoe, on his way to Sri Lanka, viewed as another low point in the Ban Ki-moon human rights regime.

UN's Ban dines with Karimovs, Popov and fleeing Uzbeks not invited

  Inner City Press asked UNICEF what it has done for Popov, and to respond to reports that it has let itself be intimidated by Karimov's move to problematic its Tashkent location(s). Days later, UNICEF provided these terse responses:

"'UNICEF's office in Tashkent is being relocated due to a major urban redevelopment. Another site has been identified and UNICEF is finalizing the move with representatives of the Government of Uzbekistan.'

'Here is the answer we received from the UN Country Team on Popov:

"The UN has approached the government to seek clarification about the Popov case. The United Nations Human Rights Council – through its Special Rapporteurs – has engaged with the Government of Uzbekistan in this matter. With a view to ongoing proceedings, the United Nations will refrain from providing any further comments.'"

But Popov's AIDS education brochure was funded by UNICEF. And on the office "relocation," it has been reported that

UNICEF executives, mainly foreigners, will temporarily relocate to other UN offices in Tashkent, but local personnel who were already said to be crowded into inadequate quarters before the order are apparently being sent on a forced vacation for an undetermined period....

Last month during a visit to Central Asia, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon visited the UNICEF building together with Uzbek Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev, but only for five minutes, and the staff was unable to alert him to the issue of the move... independent observers in Tashkent are concerned that the UN agency could be under some pressure, as other international organizations have been in the past, as they operate in some sensitive areas of human rights and humanitarian affairs.

UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) are in the midst of a massive innoculation campaign of some 3 million children against polio, and the Uzbek government has closed the border to Tajikistan as 32 polio cases have been confirmed by WHO there. UNICEF has been careful to avoid critical statements of the government, and the state-controlled Uzbek media is not mentioning the campaign.

When a UNICEF grant recipient, HIV/AIDS campaigner Maxim Popov, was sentenced last year in part on allegations of mismanaging donor funds and "corrupting youth" with a sex education book, UNICEF remained silent about his case, despite repeated pleas by human rights groups to speak out. UNICEF, together with PSI (Population Services International) Central Asia, had supported a book Popov distributed on prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and the use of birth control.

To be sure, Tashkent has been undergoing a general reconstruction which has sparked public controversy with the removal of century-old sycamore trees from the center of Tashkent and the creation of parks and walkways that some activists have seen as deliberately designed to prevent the gathering of large demonstrations in the public squares. The current UNICEF office building is slated to be replaced by a park

Inner City Press specifically asked UNICEF to respond to the report above, but received in return only two platitudes. Meanwhile, Ban Ki-moon has yet to offer anything but "help" to Islam Karimov, even after he closed the borders to ethnic Uzbeks fleeing Kyrgyz violence.

  Again, why would Uzbekistan's Islam Karimov close "his" country's border to fleeing ethnic Uzbeks? Well, some of the Uzbeks in and around Osh fled there after Karimov's crackdown on protesters in Andijon. To ensure that none of them return to Uzbekistan, Karimov is willing to block tens of thousands of ethnic Uzbeks and leave them in harm's way. And the UN says... nothing. Watch this site.

* * *

As Uzbeks Plead for Safety, UNSC Perm Reps Leave Briefing, No Help on the Way

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 14, updated -- With over 120 killed in Kyrgyzstan and the border to Uzbekistan now closed to those fleeing the violence, the UN Security Council met for a briefing late Monday afternoon. The ethnic Uzbeks, alleging that Kyrgyzstan's government is allowing or assisting in their slaughter, had asked for outside peacekeepers.

But even as the UN briefing started before 6:30 pm, Susan Rice of the US and Gerard Araud of France left the meeting room. Their focus, it was clear, was on the briefing by South Korea, that North Korea sunk its ship Cheonan earlier this year, killing 46 sailors. But what about the more than 120 Uzbeks killing only this weekend?

At 6:45 pm, a departing Council Permanent Representative told Inner City Press "they are just getting started on Kyrgyzstan but I have to leave."

Why would Uzbekistan's Islam Karimov close "his" country's border to fleeing ethnic Uzbeks? Well, some of the Uzbeks in and around Osh fled there after Karimov's crackdown on protesters in Andijon.

UN's Ban dines with Islam Karimov, fleeing ethnic Uzbeks not shown

 To ensure that none of them return to Uzbekistan, Karimov is willing to block tens of thousands of ethnic Uzbeks and leave them in harms way.

"Never again," the UN and Western Council members often say. But when examples come up, or ever fire drills, the warning are rarely heeded. Watch this site.

Update of 7:18 p.m. -- As Kyrgyzstan meeting lets out, Pascoe rushes out. Inner City Press asks, has anyone asked the Uzbeks to open their border? Pascoe commends Uzbekistan for initial opening, says will try to get them assistance. But what about the border closing? Pascoe leaves.

Update of 7:33 p.m. -- Council President Heller said the members condemn violence. Inner City Press asked, what about the closing of the Uzbek border? Heller: concerned about internationalization, countering on regional organizations. But CSTO will send no peacekeepers. Does the closing of the border KEEP it from being an international issue? Who does that benefit? To be continued.

Update: from the Mexican Mission to the UN's transcription:

Inner City Press: ... Uzbekistan has closed its border and people have tried to flee the violence…

CHeller: There’s an expression I made, I expressed my concern and of other members of the Security Council about the risk of internationalization of the crisis, if there is a border situation with Uzbekistan. That’s why we think it is very important that the UN and other regional organizations have a follow up on this.

Inner City Press But CS[T]O says they’re not sending any troops, they’re only sending logistical support. So is anyone gonna send anyone to that specific region?

CH: I don’t have any information on this.

 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.

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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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