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Ban Flips on Italian Sailors Detained in India, Not Sri Lankan Tamils

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 13 -- What does it take to get UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, some have asked, to change his position? Apparently a call from Italy's foreign minister Emma Bonino, they say, and an impending meeting with the European Union's Cathy Ashton.

  Earlier this week the UN characterized as a "bilateral issue" the detention of two Italian marines in India, for shooting two fishermen they mistook for pirates.

   This gave rise to a flurry of outrage and activity in Italy. In New York, Italy's Mission to the UN tweeted on February 12 that at the EU coordination meeting, Italy got support.

  At the February 13 UN noon briefing, three separate Italian correspondents asked about the issue. (One wondered if one of them had also raised the issue in Ban's "secret" Q&A session with insider scribes, click here for that.)

   Ban's spokesperson Martin Nesirky had a written statement, now expressing concern and saying the issue could have wider import: no longer bilateral. So that is what it takes.

  (By contrast, on February 12 a demonstration of Tamils protested Ban Ki-moon's (in) action on killings in Sri Lanka. Inner City Press tweeted photo here. UN security officers, one a Sinhalese Sri Lankan, stared across First Avenue at them. There was no meeting, no change of position. Inner City Press continues and will continue to cover the UN's post Sri Lanka failure "Rights Up Front" initiative.
  Some also note that the UN stayed away from the issue of the Indian diplomat Khobragade whom the US arrested, strip searched and says it will re-arrest is she returns, on a dispute about payment to her housekeeper. Did India make enough calls to the UN? There are other comparisons.

 There's also this Italy - UN - US Digital Millennium Copyright Act censorship related news, with old Sri Lanka related photo, here, in Italian.

    In other Italian news, alongside foreign minister Bonino's calls, prime minister Letta is reportedly set to resign. Back in September, as reported by Inner City Press, Letta gallivanted around New York. From Media Alerts sent out by the Italian Mission to the UN:

September 24: "We are pleased to confirm that the Italian Prime Minister, Enrico Letta, will hold a stakeout in the UN Rose Garden, TODAY, Tuesday September 24, following the address of the President of the United States of America."

The connection to Obama's speech was unclear. Also September 24:

"We are glad to inform that the Italian Prime Minister, Enrico Letta, will meet the press TODAY AT 12:15 PM outside the New York Times building located at 242 West 41st between 7th and 8th Avenues."

The next day, Letta was back in the UN Rose Garden, apparently looking through rose-colored glasses:

"Please be advised that the Italian Prime Minister, Enrico Letta, will hold a possible stakeout in the Rose Garden of the UN, tomorrow, Wednesday, September 25, following his address to the UN General Assembly, at approximately 1 pm."

Also on September 25 Letta Occupied Wall Street, in his way, with the so-called (and once self-described) Money Honey:

"8.20-10.15 Meeting at the New York Stock Exchange with NYSE delegation headed by CEO Niederaurer (Statement, Opening Bell, visit to the trading floor, interview with Ms. Maria Bartiromo for 'Closing Bell' show) (2 Broad Street)"

And then it all wrapped up:

"The concluding press conference of Prime Minister, Hon. Enrico Letta will be held, as scheduled, tomorrow Thursday 26 September at 1:20 pm at the Italian Academy, Columbia University (1161 Amsterdam Avenue)."

While Letta was up to this in New York, also meeting with Hassan Rouhani, his support at home was falling apart even then. And now, he's about to resign. What about the sailors? Watch this site.


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