Protests, UN Dormant, Ban Silent on Emergency Law
January 29 -- Chants of “Mubarak must go” echoed
Saturday against the white metal walls of the UN's temporary North
Lawn building on 1st Avenue in Manhattan. But the UN was empty.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his Deputy, Asha Rose Migiro were
out of town. And the UN system has had little to say or do about the
calls for an end of censorship and repression in Egypt.
in the UN's
noon press briefing, Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky was asked
if Ban thought that Egypt's 30 year old emergency law should go.
Nesirky said that "one of the ground principles of democracy is to
protect and ensure the freedom of speech of the people,"
but refused to directly comment on the emergency censorship law.
little to say about Tunisia. He did not send an envoy to the
country -- a decision taken, Inner City Press is informed by well
placed UN sources, on the advice of Ban's chief of staff and Myanmar
envoy Vijay Nambiar.
Council did not meet on January 27 or 28, and has not scheduled any
meeting for January 31, the last day of Bosnia's quiet presidency.
President Barack Obama called Mubarak and talked to or at the press
for four minutes on Friday, but did not mention the UN, just as he
did not mention it and Darfur in his State of the Union speech
earlier in the week. -- all men -- but not Susan Rice, his Ambassador
to the UN.
On Saturday Obama held a meeting on Egypt with "his national
security team" which included eleven people
for CNN's show GPS with Fareed Zakaria, the prime minister of the
Permanent Security Council member United Kingdom David Cameron called
Mubarak a “friend of Britain... We’ve worked together over many
issues, not least the need to combat Islamic extremism.”
week ago and on
Saturday morning, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Nesirky when
Ban will act on the request by the UK, Mexico and others that he
replace Nambiar with a full time envoy to Myanmar.
time did not answer that, nor a request for UN comment on Myanmar
affirming the disbanding of the political party of Burmese democracy
activist Aung San Suu Kyi.
Sat Jan 29 by empty UN, Ban comment on emergency law
so as people
take risks to oppose repression from Tunisia to Egypt and elsewhere
such as Yemen, the UN is increasingly silent, un-transparent,
marginalized. Saturday's chants echoed off empty UN buildings. How
long can this go on? Watch this site.
January 28 transcript:
Egypt. Does the Secretary-General concur with Ms. Pillay that the
30-year-old emergency law should be lifted and then that
investigations should be conducted into the use of excessive force
and the reported deaths of five civilians participating in the
Well, clearly, it is obvious that where there are reports
of excessive use of force, that those reports should be investigated. I
think that is fairly clear. Yes?
My other question was concerning Ms. Pillay’s call for the end of
the state of emergency that legalizes censorship and enhances police
powers and so forth.
Well, the Secretary-General said very clearly this morning that he
believes that one of the ground principles of democracy is to protect
and ensure the freedom of speech of the people. And he also spoke
about the need for freedom of expression and association to be fully
Thank you. Is the Secretary-General worried of any kind of domino
effect, because of what has happened in Tunisia and what is going on
now in Egypt? Is he worried because the Arab world order is in
He has made very clear… he has spoken today about Egypt, but not
just about Egypt. He spoke about Tunisia and Egypt and indeed
elsewhere. And the key point is that leaders in the region should
understand that it is an opportunity to address legitimate concerns
that the people in those countries have. And it is through dialogue
with the people that the leaders can better understand what the
people of those countries aspire to, what they wish for. And then
they will be better able to address the challenges that they all
face. But the key thing is that this should be done without violence
and through dialogue.
Has the Secretary-General taken note of the incarceration and house
arrest of Mr ElBaradei? Does he have anything to say about that?
I was asked a similar question just earlier, and the
Secretary-General is aware of the reports — and there are differing
reports out there. He is aware of the reports that there are, and if
I have anything further on this topic then I’d let you know a bit
* * *
Tunisia, Pillay Considers Visit But Ban Does Not, Double Standard
-- While in Tunisia Ben Ali's foreign minister
Kamel Morjane, who served for years as deputy to the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees, still remains in his post, in New York on
Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman
Martin Nesirky if there is any discussion of sending a UN team to
“Not to my
knowledge,” Mr. Nesirky said. Video here,
Press that the UN Office of the High Commissioner for
Human Rights contacted Ban Ki-moon's office to say that it is
considering sending a mission to Tunisia and wanted to know if Ban's
Secretariat is also making such plans, in order to coordinate.
sources within it subsequently answered no, no plans for
a mission to Tunisia.
sources describe a background memo to Ban about Tunisia, urging that he
support efforts to override a two month Constitutional period to form a
new government, granting six months so that "Communists and Islamists"
don't have an advantage over "moderate forces."
briefing Nesirky was asked why Ban has been so weak in his response
to Tunisia. While Nesirky contested this, some compare the response
to that in Cote d'Ivoire, where Ban urged the UN General Assembly's
credentials committee to remove recognition for Laurent Gbagbo's UN
President of the General Assembly Joseph Deiss if any similar
move is afoot in the GA's credentials committee regarding Tunisia.
“Not so far,” Deiss answered, explaining that the Ambassador
appointed under Ben Ali had yet to be contested. Video here,
UN's Ban & Mohamed Ghannouchi, still Prime
Minister of Tunisia
Press questioned Tunisia's Ambassador in press conference at the
UN after he bragged about human solidarity and banking in his
country. Inner City Press asked about the youth conference Tunisia
had said that it would hold. The Ambassador blamed other states for
not coming through on financial pledges.
New York over
the weekend, while there was rally in Union Square, Tunisia's elegant
Mission just north of the UN was not targeted. Watch this site.