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Syria Banned from Speaking as Chair of Asia Group by Japan, Cyprus + 3

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 10 -- Syria is the chair of the Asia Pacific Group at the UN for this month. But while every other regional group spoke Tuesday at a Human Rights Day ceremony at the UN, when the turn of the Asia Pacific Group came, the speech took only one minute.

  Syria Permanent Representative Bashar Ja'afari said that there was no consensus for Syria to speak as the group's chair. Afterward he told Inner City Press exclusively that five countries blocked it -- Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Cyprus and Japan -- and that they "didn't want me to speak as chair. But I did."

  Some wonder where this will lead -- will other countries in other groups, when their month to chair the group comes up, be similarly blocked?

  Other precedents that have been allowed to happen include France holding an event inside the UN and declaring Saudi-sponsored rebel Ahmad al Jarba the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. Ban Ki-moon hosted Jarba at his UN-provided residence.

 The United Nations Correspondents Association hosted Jarba for a faux "UN" briefing in the clubhouse Ban gives them, now to be tricked out -- literally -- with Samsung equipment given through the South Korean mission and the UN.

It's worth noting that it was the Asia Pacific Group which, tricked or not, sent Sri Lanka military figure Shavendra Silva to serve on Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations.

  When Inner City Press reported on this, several Permanent Representatives of Asia Pacific Group countries said they were opposed and would get it reversed. But Sri Lanka and allies fought back; Ban told Inner City Press, it is a decision of member states, and UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous, typically, refused to answer any Press questions.

  Now this same Asia Pacific Group has allowed a split where its chair for December was banned from speaking for the Group on the awards given to

Biram Dah Abeid of Mauritania, a son of freed slaves who works to eradicate the practice; Hiljmnijeta Apuk of Kosovo, a campaigner for the rights of people with disproportional restricted growth (short stature); Liisa Kauppinen of Finland, President emeritus of the World Federation of the Deaf; Khadija Ryadi, Former President of the Morocco Association for Human Rights; Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice (the Constitutional Court); and Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban who advocates for education.

And so it goes at the UN. Watch this site.


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