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On Bahrain Tweeter Imprisoned, UN's Ban Has No Comment: 6 Strikes & Not Out

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 4 -- In Bahrain back on December 17, Sayed Yusuf al-Muhafadha tweeted a photograph of a protester injured with birdshot by the authorities, with the hashtag #Manama.

   He was arrested and charged with "willfully disseminating false news" and "incitement to violence."

   Inner City Press has now six times asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokespeople for Ban's view of this arrest: five times in writing, and Friday in person at the day's noon press briefing.

   Then, spokesman Martin Nesirky said he would check with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

  Back on December 24, Inner City Press asked Nesirky and two other spokespeople "Does the Secretary General have any comment on the jailing in Bahrain of Said Yousif al-Muhafda for his Tweets? Also, on the poet sentenced by Qatar that I asked about (and was told to ask UNESCO), I got nothing back from UNESCO. Is the S-G still following that case? Does he have any comment?"

  While some other questions were answer, this was not. Inner City Press re-submitted the question on December 26, 27, 28 and 31. Still, no answer.

  There has been some delay in getting even OHCHR's explanation of how it selected its contractor Benetech for its recent Syria study from the agency's hard-working spokesman. In any event, the question has been and is for Ban Ki-moon's and his Secretariat's view. Watch this site.

Footnotes: As an aside, Human Rights Watch claims to have good access to Ban Ki-moon, has even refused to provide the Press with any summary of topics it has raised to Ban, in order to maintain its access. But if it has such good access, why has it not been able to get Ban to take an interest in the case of the incarcerated Tweeter?

  And why is its director's tweeting entirely one-way, self-congratulation on getting a travel ban imposed for example on an M23 political leader such that he couldn't attend talks in Kampala with the Congolese government?

  What has HRW done to hold the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and its boss Herve Ladsous accountable for their supposed Human Rights Due Diligence Policy, after the 126 rapes by the Congolese Army in Minova? HRW, director and two staff, have been asked without answer. And so it goes.

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