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Amid Kyrgyz Ethnic Cleansing of Uzbeks, UN Deals Only with Its Former Staffer Otunbayeva, IMF to Seek Donors for Her

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 17 -- With at least 400,000 ethnic Uzbeks fleeing violence, allegedly allowed by or participated in by Kyrgyz government forces, the UN has yet to call on Uzbekistan's Islam Karimov to open the border to those flees, and the UN still blithely deals only or primarily with the Kyrgyz interim government of Roza Otunbayeva, a former UN staffer.

  Meanwhile, when asked by Inner City Press about Karimov's border closing and his crackdown in Andijan, which caused some of the Uzbeks to flee to Osh in Kyrgyzstan, UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky called that historic human rights background "secondary." One wonders with the UN in fact has learned.

Or the International Monetary Fund. On June 17, IMF spokesperson Caroline Atkinson after by rote calling "the violence... deplorable," said that while the IMF's Exogenous Shock Facility expired last week, the IMF is part of a donor mission, and would like to convene a donor's conference. For the government?

Destruction in Osh, Uzbek crackdown in Andijan not shown

On June 17, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky a series of questions:

Inner City Press: On Kyrgyzstan, there are these reports of ethnic Uzbeks saying that there were attacked by, at a minimum, people in Kyrgyz army uniforms riding on Kyrgyz army tanks. And being on the tank seems to say that’s a soldier unless there is somebody keen and somehow commandeered the tank. I wonder when, in the Secretary-General’s communications with the Government of Kyrgyzstan, does he have any concerns? How is the UN going to look into the allegations that, in fact, the Government and its forces may be responsible for some of the killing of ethnic Uzbeks? And in his conversation with [President] Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan, did Ban Ki-moon ask that the border be opened? What about these 300,000 internally displaced people? Do they have a right to cross the border if they feel they’re under fear or must they remain in Kyrgyzstan under this threat?

Spokesperson: On the first point, clearly the Secretary-General has been speaking to a wide range of people. You already know that that he spoke to Ms. [Roza] Otunbaeva, who is chairing the Interim Government. And he has expressed his concern quite publicly and clearly about the need for restraint on all sides, and ensure that there is an end to the violence. The specific case that you’re referring to, we’re aware of various reports of what may or may not have happened in Osh, in Jalalabad and other places. And that will take some untangling, I think, to fully understand precisely what has happened. And we have Miroslav Jenc(a on the ground there, and he obviously will be seeking to find out more details of precisely this kind of thing. But the key point has to be that there needs to be restraint on all sides, and vulnerable people need to be protected and not placed under further threat in the way that you’re suggesting.

The second point about displaced people, internally displaced people, ethnic Uzbeks and others too, the Secretary-General, in his telephone conversation with President Karimov of Uzbekistan, was appreciative of the Uzbek Government’s approach in allowing refugees to cross into Uzbekistan and also then to take care of them with the limited resources that they have. And he was also appreciative, and remains appreciative, that the Uzbek authorities are liaising with UN agencies to ensure that aid can be brought in to supplement the limited supplies that they themselves have in that particular area.

Inner City Press: Some have raised the concern that some of the ethnic Uzbeks in and around Osh were actually people that fled after the Andijan, what’s called the massacre, earlier carried out by the Uzbek Government, and that that may be one of the reasons that they closed the border, they did not allow them back in. Is that something that the Secretary-General, he is aware of the Andijan, I am sure, but what role does that play in this cross-border?

Spokesperson: Well, I think you’d have to ask the Uzbeks what role that plays. Our primary concern is, regardless of where people have come from, if they are in need, they should be helped. And if people have fled their homes, however long they have been in those homes and wherever they originated from, they need help. If people are desperate because they feel that they’re under threat, then they need assistance. And it’s secondary, I think, at this moment to address the kind of points that you’ve mentioned.

Great idea -- leave WHY it happened until later, when it will be forgotten. Watch this site.

In Wake of Ethnic Cleansing, Dubious Kyrgyz Referendum Supported by UN -- and U.S.?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 16 -- Despite over 100,000 ethnic Uzbeks having been forced by violence out of Kyrgyzstan, the UN's man in Turkmenistan Miroslav Jenca has said the UN supports still holding the country's post-coup referendum on June 27.

Inner City Press asked UN Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq on June 16 is this might not be rewarding ethnic cleansing, and whether the UN believed that those who had to flee Kyrgyzstan should be allowed to vote in the referendum:

Inner City Press: with this number of people displaced and shooting still going on, what would the UN say to those who say that an ethnic minority that’s being targeted here won’t be able to vote in the referendum, thereby rendering it less than legitimate?

Associate Spokesperson: As far as that goes, yes, Mr. Jenca does believe that the referendum needs to go ahead. Our Electoral Affairs Division also is supportive of this. We realize the challenges, given the level of displacement, but the Electoral Division is in touch with the relevant electoral bodies in Kyrgyzstan and we’re trying to see what alternatives can be done to make sure that people exercise their right to vote.

Inner City Press: Do you believe that the 100,000 Kyrgyz citizens now in Uzbekistani camps should be allowed to vote in the election?

Associate Spokesperson: We believe that all steps should be taken to make sure that all of the Kyrgyz population can vote. The question, you’re right, there is a very strong logistical challenge at this stage, and we’ll have to see how that can be resolved. But our electoral people are in touch with the relevant authorities in Kyrgyzstan on this.

Inner City Press: Mr. Jenca, from his statement that it must go forward, it seems like he thought that it’s been resolved, or is he saying that it should go forward if it’s resolved or…?

Associate Spokesperson: He believes that, at this current stage, there is a series of options, all which have their difficulties and their problems. And the best way forward is to continue with the referendum, and try to address all the various challenges that have been caused by this displacement.

  The referendum would install Roza Otunbayeva -- a former UN staffer -- in power through 2011, and approve Constitutional changes. To do so weeks after ethnic cleansing raises questions. What is the position of the United States, whose Robert Blake is headed to Bishkek this week? As Uzbeks call it ethnic cleansing or "attempted genocide," what does the US war crimes off, or Samantha Power, have to say?

UN's Ban, Jenca, and Central Asian dips: ethnic cleansing not shown

  More from the rest of the UN transcript:

Inner City Press: on this readout of the Secretary-General’s call with Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan. Am I misreading it? Did he ask that the border be opened so that people there that still are facing violence are able to cross or did he not?

Associate Spokesperson: Just to read back the readout, which we just got, he said that he highly appreciated Uzbekistan’s constructive efforts in addressing the alarming humanitarian situation in Kyrgyzstan, particularly in opening the border for refugees and providing for their care despite limited resources.

Inner City Press: Why did they report that it was open at first and then it was closed? Is it open or closed?

Associate Spokesperson: As we’ve said in the last couple of days, there were contradictory reports on this. We’ve been getting information on UNHCR, and like I said, the Secretary-General just earlier today spoke with President Karimov and this is the readout that I have.

Question: [inaudible] what about this report that this crisis was deliberately triggered off, that report by the United Nations?

Associate Spokesperson: This is from comments that were made by my counterpart at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville. I’d just refer you back to Mr. Colville’s remarks, where he talked about identifying five specific incidents of attacks a few days ago. And that’s part of the public record that we have in our briefing notes from there.

How can the UN say that an attempted genocide or ethnic cleansing was planned, without saying who planned it? Watch this site.

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Ban and UNICEF Quiet on Uzbek Human Rights, Popov, as Karimov Closes Border

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 15, updated -- As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says he's trying to get assistance to Uzbekistan leader Islam Karimov, who has closed his border to the ethnic Uzbeks fleeing violence in Kyrgyzstan, it has emerged that Ban never pushed Karimov on human rights, the incarceration of AIDS education activist Maxim Popov, much less on border closing.

  Only last week, the chief of UNAIDS told Inner City Press that Ban had been slated to raise to Karimov, during his trip through Central Asia, the incarceration of Popov based on his UN system funded AIDS education pamphlet. [Note: UNICEF says it was not the funder, but has apparently not sought corrections from AFP, CPJ or IFEX; there are indications that UNDP was the funder.]

  Inner City Press asked Ban's Associate spokesman Farhan Haq if Ban had, in fact, ever raised this issue to Karimov. Haq did not say then, nor since.

  On June 14, Inner City Press asked Ban's top political adviser Lynn Pascoe, who has asked Uzbekistan to open its border? Our focus is on getting humanitarian supplies into Kyrgyzstan, said Pascoe, on his way to Sri Lanka, viewed as another low point in the Ban Ki-moon human rights regime.

UN's Ban dines with Karimovs, Popov and fleeing Uzbeks not invited

  Inner City Press asked UNICEF what it has done for Popov, and to respond to reports that it has let itself be intimidated by Karimov's move to problematic its Tashkent location(s). Days later, UNICEF provided these terse responses:

"'UNICEF's office in Tashkent is being relocated due to a major urban redevelopment. Another site has been identified and UNICEF is finalizing the move with representatives of the Government of Uzbekistan.'

'Here is the answer we received from the UN Country Team on Popov:

"The UN has approached the government to seek clarification about the Popov case. The United Nations Human Rights Council – through its Special Rapporteurs – has engaged with the Government of Uzbekistan in this matter. With a view to ongoing proceedings, the United Nations will refrain from providing any further comments.'"

But Popov's AIDS education brochure was funded by UNICEF. And on the office "relocation," it has been reported that

UNICEF executives, mainly foreigners, will temporarily relocate to other UN offices in Tashkent, but local personnel who were already said to be crowded into inadequate quarters before the order are apparently being sent on a forced vacation for an undetermined period....

Last month during a visit to Central Asia, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon visited the UNICEF building together with Uzbek Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev, but only for five minutes, and the staff was unable to alert him to the issue of the move... independent observers in Tashkent are concerned that the UN agency could be under some pressure, as other international organizations have been in the past, as they operate in some sensitive areas of human rights and humanitarian affairs.

UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) are in the midst of a massive innoculation campaign of some 3 million children against polio, and the Uzbek government has closed the border to Tajikistan as 32 polio cases have been confirmed by WHO there. UNICEF has been careful to avoid critical statements of the government, and the state-controlled Uzbek media is not mentioning the campaign.

When a UNICEF grant recipient, HIV/AIDS campaigner Maxim Popov, was sentenced last year in part on allegations of mismanaging donor funds and "corrupting youth" with a sex education book, UNICEF remained silent about his case, despite repeated pleas by human rights groups to speak out. UNICEF, together with PSI (Population Services International) Central Asia, had supported a book Popov distributed on prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and the use of birth control.

To be sure, Tashkent has been undergoing a general reconstruction which has sparked public controversy with the removal of century-old sycamore trees from the center of Tashkent and the creation of parks and walkways that some activists have seen as deliberately designed to prevent the gathering of large demonstrations in the public squares. The current UNICEF office building is slated to be replaced by a park

Inner City Press specifically asked UNICEF to respond to the report above, but received in return only two platitudes. Meanwhile, Ban Ki-moon has yet to offer anything but "help" to Islam Karimov, even after he closed the borders to ethnic Uzbeks fleeing Kyrgyz violence.

  Again, why would Uzbekistan's Islam Karimov close "his" country's border to fleeing ethnic Uzbeks? Well, some of the Uzbeks in and around Osh fled there after Karimov's crackdown on protesters in Andijon. To ensure that none of them return to Uzbekistan, Karimov is willing to block tens of thousands of ethnic Uzbeks and leave them in harm's way. And the UN says... nothing. Watch this site.

* * *

As Uzbeks Plead for Safety, UNSC Perm Reps Leave Briefing, No Help on the Way

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 14, updated -- With over 120 killed in Kyrgyzstan and the border to Uzbekistan now closed to those fleeing the violence, the UN Security Council met for a briefing late Monday afternoon. The ethnic Uzbeks, alleging that Kyrgyzstan's government is allowing or assisting in their slaughter, had asked for outside peacekeepers.

But even as the UN briefing started before 6:30 pm, Susan Rice of the US and Gerard Araud of France left the meeting room. Their focus, it was clear, was on the briefing by South Korea, that North Korea sunk its ship Cheonan earlier this year, killing 46 sailors. But what about the more than 120 Uzbeks killing only this weekend?

At 6:45 pm, a departing Council Permanent Representative told Inner City Press "they are just getting started on Kyrgyzstan but I have to leave."

Why would Uzbekistan's Islam Karimov close "his" country's border to fleeing ethnic Uzbeks? Well, some of the Uzbeks in and around Osh fled there after Karimov's crackdown on protesters in Andijon.

UN's Ban dines with Islam Karimov, fleeing ethnic Uzbeks not shown

 To ensure that none of them return to Uzbekistan, Karimov is willing to block tens of thousands of ethnic Uzbeks and leave them in harms way.

"Never again," the UN and Western Council members often say. But when examples come up, or ever fire drills, the warning are rarely heeded. Watch this site.

Update of 7:18 p.m. -- As Kyrgyzstan meeting lets out, Pascoe rushes out. Inner City Press asks, has anyone asked the Uzbeks to open their border? Pascoe commends Uzbekistan for initial opening, says will try to get them assistance. But what about the border closing? Pascoe leaves.

Update of 7:33 p.m. -- Council President Heller said the members condemn violence. Inner City Press asked, what about the closing of the Uzbek border? Heller: concerned about internationalization, countering on regional organizations. But CSTO will send no peacekeepers. Does the closing of the border KEEP it from being an international issue? Who does that benefit? To be continued.

Update: from the Mexican Mission to the UN's transcription:

Inner City Press: ... Uzbekistan has closed its border and people have tried to flee the violence…

CHeller: There’s an expression I made, I expressed my concern and of other members of the Security Council about the risk of internationalization of the crisis, if there is a border situation with Uzbekistan. That’s why we think it is very important that the UN and other regional organizations have a follow up on this.

Inner City Press But CS[T]O says they’re not sending any troops, they’re only sending logistical support. So is anyone gonna send anyone to that specific region?

CH: I don’t have any information on this.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

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

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