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Tawakkol Karman Tells ICP Saleh Is Not Clear, Bahrain Must Release Al Kawaja

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, June 12, updated -- As the UN Security Council prepared to adopt another resolution on Yemen, in the General Assembly lobby Yemeni Nobel Prize winner Tawakkol Karman and three colleagues arrived.

  One would think, especially on the so-called Arab Spring countries, that such people could easily come in and speak.

  But in this instance, as in October, they had to be signed in as guests -- both times, by Inner City Press -- and speak at the UN TV stakeout in almost guerrilla style.

  The UN Security took Tawakkol Karman's passport, and asked how to spell her name. Another Security officer took special interest in Inner City Press' UN pass, which has been put at issue for reporting of alleged war criminals and their financial and advisory relationships with "high" UN personalities.

  But once at the stakeout, the press corp there -- mostly non-Japanese reporters for Japanese media interested in the morning's first agenda item, North Korea -- was welcoming, buying Tawakkol Karman and her colleague Bushra cups of tea and coming to the stakeout albeit mostly without questions.

  Inner City Press asked Tawakkol Karman about Ali Saleh's and his family's continuing role in Yemen, and about work she has already told Inner City Press, off camera, she is doing on Syria.

  She replied that the Salehs, particularly Yaya, need to be out of the process; later she told Inner City Press that the immunity deal Ali Saleh got is crumbling.

  On Syria, on UN TV -- if they put the video on archive -- she said that the Security Council should united and engage as they did on Yemen.

Update: Inner City Press at noon asked by the Tawakkol Karman video was not on the UN web site. Later this arrived: "Live UN Webcast was not available this morning, because a cable was inadvertently cut by a construction crew as part of the renovation."

  And so, click here to see video, or see below:

  As Tawakkol Karman spoke, UK Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant waited to the side, a small smile on his face. When he came to the microphone, Inner City Press asked him about getting the Salehs out - and whether the same immunity deal might be offered to Bashar al Assad as an "inducement" to leave Syria, or if things have already gone too far.

Lyall Grant indicated that things have gone too far. He said the Salehs should take the resolution seriously. But why?

UN envoy Jamal Benomar confirmed that he has met with the Houthis; he enunciated clearly what is at least the UN's formal position on impunity: it is against it. But is Ban Ki-moon, for example on Sri Lanka?

After Benomar finished, Tawakkol Karman and her colleagues went back to get their passports. A UN Security officer took notes, as if to file an incident report, and told Inner City Press "everyone is talking about this." What - signing a Nobel Peace Prize winner in a a guest is a crime? Only at the UN.

Tawakkol Karman & the author on 1st Ave, June 12, 2012, UN Pass not shown

  Inner City Press introduced Tawakkol Karman to the head of UNAIDS and the former UN envoy on sport, to a staff member of the outgoing President of the General Assembly, and a diplomat of the post-Gaddafi Libyan mission.

Under a gray sky on First Avenue and 43rd Street, Inner City Press asked her again about Syria -- and about Bahrain, where she said Mr. Al Kawaja must be released. We will have more, including the videos -- watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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