Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg Nigeria, Zim, Georgia, Nepal, Somalia, Azerbaijan, Gambia Click here to contact us     .


Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


Subscribe to RSS feed

Video (new)

Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

Reuters AlertNet 7/14/07

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

On Myanmar, Obama Administration Dodges, Critiques, Resigns Itself to Chinese and Indian Dominance

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, September 26, 2010 -- The Obama administration's less critical stand on the military government in Myanmar has been on display of late.

  In the run up to the September 27 meeting at the UN of the Group of Friends of the Secretary General on Myanmar, Inner City Press has been asking a range of Obama administration officials what the US position in the meeting, and on Myanmar, will be.

First, Inner City Press asked the Myanmar question to a senior US official who gave a briefing to preview the General Debate. The official, who has spoken about Sudan, Iran and a range of other topics, said they hadn't been briefed on Myanmar.

   Then at an on the record session with US State Department spokesman PJ Crowly on September 21, Inner City Press asked about the “meeting of the Group of Friends and the Secretary General on Myanmar – Burma on Monday. With the NLD dissolved, like what’s the U.S. in this UNGA trying to accomplish on Burma?”

   PJ Crowley said, “I’ll take the question of our involvement of that particular meeting and have that for you at our next briefing.”

But two days later, still no answer had been provided. After another US briefing, about President Obama's two speeches at the UN, Inner City Press tried again to get the US position.

  As transcribed below, the State Department spokesman's presentation to Inner City Press of the US position on Myanmar and the meeting initially seems strong, critical of the military government of Than Shwe and other generals, but ultimately uses the support of China and India for Myanmar as a reason not to push for much.

  Some point out that the Obama administration, loudly, does not allow Chinese support for Sudan to stop it from publicly speechifying about Sudan, and being seen to “apply pressure” to the al Bashir government.

  Why has the US, as some see it, given up on Burma? Watch this site.

President Obama at UNGA Sept 23, focus on Myanmar not shown

Here is the transcript of what State Department spokesman PJ Crowley told Inner City Press on September 23:

Inner City Press: Do you remember my Myanmar question. Did I miss a briefing of yours?

Crowley: No. There is a friend of Myanmar meeting on Monday. We will be participating. And we'll go through a full range of issues. Obviously our concerns about the human rights climate are well known. We have been encouraging Myanmar to open up political space. Clearly they have failed to do that. We have been encouraging them to have a serious dialogue with the various ethnic groups which compose their population. They haven't done that. The electoral laws that they've passed for the election later this fall we believe will not lead to a credible result. Just taking generals out of uniform and making them civilians is not enough. Part of the challenge with Burma is also working more collaboratively with other countries some of whom do have strong relations with Burma. To settle on a common approach and then see if we can't together demonstrate to Burma there are definitely things that they have to do.

Inner City Press: You mean India as well as China?

Crowley: yes

Inner City Press: There's this call for an international inquiry into war crimes in Burma which was made by the UN rapporteur. France has just said there's going pursue it in this GA. It was never clear to people if the Obama administration joined that call There were some articles where a senior US official said they supported the call but it was never.. I don't know what that meant. Do you know what I'm referring to?

Crowley Yeah I do. I don't know if that's going to be brought up at this meeting or not. Let's wait and see.

  If the Obama administration were really behind this call for an inquiry into war crimes in Burma, it seems unlikely that the State Department spokesman would say “let's wait and see” if the issue comes up at the September 27 meeting the US is participating in. Watch this site.

* * *

Gambari's Travails with Dictators Shown in UKUN Documents, Myanmar Now Darfur

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive, Must Credit

UNITED NATIONS, September 19 -- The UN's Ibrahim Gambari was humiliated by the military rulers of Myanmar in 2009, internal documents of the UK Mission to the UN obtained by Inner City Press show. For example, of Gambari's 2009 trip the UK Mission wrote:

Gambari's visit on 26-27 June lasted a mere 32 hours. As on previous encounters, his programme was revealed to him on arrival. He was driven directly to the new capital, Naypyitaw, a 4-hour drive from Rangoon. A flight to Naypyitaw would have taken an hour.”

  Earlier more optimistic projections, including from the September 2009 meeting Group of Friends on Myanmar meeting (similar to the forthcoming meeting on the sidelines of this week's UN General Debate) came to very little. In 2010, Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest and her NLD party has been dissolved.

  Beyond showing Gambari's and the UN's subservience to Than Shwe and others in Burma's military regime, the documents will raise more questions about Gambari's questionable engagement with Sudan's Omar al Bashir government, from which Gambari as head of Darfur's UNAMID peacekeeping mission awaits permission before even sending troops to protect civilians.

  The Myanmar documents of the UK Mission to the UN and of the UK Mission in Yangon, which Inner City Press is exclusively putting online here, include

-a document thanking Italy and summarizing Gambari's visit in early 2009 during which a “meeting was attended by the members of the CEC but the Burmese/Myanmar authorities insisted on the exclusion of Win Tin;”

-a 2006 document in which Gambari “did acknowledge that there were now cross-border implications to the issue, as a result of the situation in the Kayin State;” and

-another 2006 document reciting Gambari's claim that “Than Shwe had pointed out the challenges facing the country, including the underdeveloped border areas, and the role of the military. Gambari commented that he thought Than Shwe would like to re-engage with the international community, and to turn a new page in relations with the UN.”

After these claims, and in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, the Than Shwe government took up to 25% of the UN's aid by means of scam foreign exchange conversion which the UN covered up, until exposed by Inner City Press.

UN's Ban & Gambari spin on Myanmar, UK docs and Darfur not shown

  Now with Gambari in Darfur, seeking permission before protecting civilians and reportedly angling to turn over to the government rebels who support Abdel Wahid Nur, the Myanmar documents provide a glimpse some say into the pro dictatorship leanings of a diplomat who formerly represented a military government at the UN.

 Read the Gambari documents here, and imagine what similar internal documents about the (in)actions of Gambari's successor Vijay Nambiar will show. Watch this site.

* * *

On Myanmar in Manhattan, Long Shot ICC Strategy Pitched, UN Ban Meeting & US Quote Followed by Inaction

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 17 -- Myanmar, or UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Group of Friends on Myanmar, have a place in the upcoming UN General Debate week. In the run-up, fifteen blocks from the UN, there was a film screening and panel discussion about the International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women of Burma, held at the glitzy Paley Center for Media on September 16.

  Jody Williams of the Nobel Women's Initiative told an auditorium packed with well dress and well meaning New Yorkers that they should write to US Permanent Representative Susan Rice to thank her for President Obama's belated joining of a call for a international inquiry into war crimes in the country.

Some are dubious of this change in US position, after Obama first changed policy to one of engagement with the Than Shwe military government. It's easy for an unnamed US official to join a call for an international inquiry which will never happen, these skeptics say.

Inner City Press, which reports daily on and from the UN Security Council, can attest that the US these days rarely even tried to raise the issue of Myanmar. A senior US official who met with the Press earlier on September 16 confided not being briefed about the upcoming Group of Friends on Myanmar meeting.

The strategy propounded at the September 16 session was to press for Myanmar to be referred to the International Criminal Court. Since Myanmar is not a member of the ICC, this could only be accomplished by a referral from the UN Security Council.

But it is crystal clear that any referral of Myanmar to the ICC would be vetoed by China, as well as Russia. Strangely in Thursday night's discussion, the word China wasn't once used.

Several attendees found it strange to be promoting a strategy that has no chance of success to such high profile and high income New Yorkers. But perhaps that's not the goal?

UN's Ban, Jody Williams, Thin Thin Aung et al on March 4, 2010, follow up not shown

After the session of the International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women of Burma in March 2010, Jody Williams and several others including Thin Thin Aung of the Women's League of Burma met with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. So far, no read out appears to have been given, nor follow up taken. Watch this site.

Footnote: before the panel discussion the movie “This Is My Witness: Women of Burma Break the Silence” was screened, and afterward Jody Williams urged moderator Pat Mitchell to do what she can to get it screened at Sundance. Also, a portion of “Burma Soldier” by Annie Sundberg was shown, in which a former Burmese military officer described the routine rape of ethnic women in Myanmar.

Reference was made to using UN Security Council resolution 1820, about sexual violence and conflict, which may be more promising that the UNSC to ICC strategy. But will UN sexual violence and conflict official Margot Wallstrom, asleep at the switch during the recent Congo rape scandal, do anything about Burma?

  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

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] -