Saturday, March 12, 2016

Amid Comfort Women Deal Controversy, Ban Meets & Speaks, Inner City Press Ousted

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 11 -- After UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon praised the low-ball settlement of the issue of comfort women in World War II, there has been criticism; Inner City Press has asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it, without much answer.

 On March 8, iconic "Grandmother" Yongsoo Lee said what she thinks of Ban's praise: he is ill-informed and should have said nothing. As translated (audio available)

"I know UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is a Korean person but what does he know? Do you think he'd say that if he knew what really happened to us? We are the living proof of the history. If he didn't know he should not say anything.. That's what Prime Minister Abe is doing. He wasn't there but he talks like he knows everything what happened to us. He only can do it because he has total disrespect. He ignores us. That is why he is able to do it. But we are the living proof of history."

 After a pause, Grandmother Yongsoo Lee concluded: "I want to say one thing to General Secretary Ban Ki-moon: If you stayed quiet, it would have been better."

  On March 11, Ban held a meeting and then issued this:

The Secretary-General met this afternoon with Ms. Gil Won-ok, one of the victims who were drafted by Japan as so-called “comfort women” during the Second World War. This meeting was requested and arranged by Ms. Yoon Mee-Hyang, Co-Chair and Representative for the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan.

After the meeting, the Secretary General said the following:

'I share my sympathy with Ms. Gil Won-ok about the suffering and pain that she and other victims have experienced. It is crucial that the voices of victims and survivors are heard. I hope that the Agreement between Japan and the Republic of Korea on 28 December 2015 will be faithfully implemented under the guidance of human rights principles.

'Once more, I call on all concerned parties to continue the dialogue towards a comprehensive resolution of this issue in line with human rights principles, with the victims at the center.'"

  While Ban makes claims about defending the press, in his UN on February 19 Inner City Press was physically ousted from the building, and was Banned on February 22.

Then on March 10, less than an hour after speaking with Ban's deputy to reverse the bogus decision(s), Inner City Press was again ordered to leave the UN, by DSS officer Clyde.

This is something smaller and closer to home that Ban could and should figure out.

  For now the UN dissembles that the much reduced access to which it has confined Inner City Press is no problem: it is. And it is done as Inner City Press covers Burundi,YemenSri Lanka - and UN corruption. We'll have more on this.

 The issue of  “comfort women” in World War II was the main topic of the International Parliamentary Coalition for Victims of Sexual Slavery press conference on November 23 at the UN. Inner City Press asked the panel not only if North Korea and China participate in the Coalition, but also about UN Peacekeeper sexual abuse and exploitation in Central African Republic, Haiti and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

  There was an even more troubling connection: the current head of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous linked peacekeepers' raping to “R&R, and said the peacekeepers have no comfort. Video here.

  US Rep. Michael Honda (D-CA) said the UN peacekeeping question raised his awareness -- will the US Congress take it up, including Ladsous' comments? -- and Canadian Senator Yonah Martin said these are issues the Coalition can take up in 2016. (She said the Coalition is of five countries for now, but will grow.)

  Joy Smith of the Advisory Council of Canada said there is not enough coverage of these issues, referring specifically to the peacekeeper sexual abuse and exploitation issue. After the formal press conference ended, she and the other panelists continues speaking, including Rep Honda, who represents Silicon Valley, telling Inner City Press that the US Congress should absolutely take up the issue of UN Peacekeepers' rapes. Periscope video here, near end.

  The South Korean mission, which sponsored the press conference, is well positioned to take action on these peacekeeping / Ladsous issues.