Sunday, June 4, 2017

On Myanmar, UN Names Panel Including Coomaraswamy Who Praised Gov't in 2012

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, May 30 – With Myanmar thumbing its nose and rejecting the UN Human Rights Council's planned fact-finding mission, three members were nevertheless named on May 30: Indira Jaising of India, Christopher Dominic Sidoti of Australia and Sri Lanka's Radhika Coomaraswamy - to whom Inner City Press last directed questions in July 2012, when she praised Myanmar for its movement toward an action plan on child soldiers. Will she and her colleagues get into the country to report on the plight of the Rohingya? On May 10, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a London Q&A session was asked about the problem. As tweeted -- the event was not live streamed and five days later the UN has not put the video on its website despite twice telling Inner City Press it would happen "very soon" - Guterres said it is for him a "complex decision when to speak out, citing need to work with government of Myanmar & criticize rights violations of Rohingya." Now on May 15, this: "The Secretary-General met today in Beijing with H. E. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar, on the occasion of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. The Secretary-General and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi discussed the United Nations’ support to the democratic transition in Myanmar, the peace process and the way to a fair solution addressing the root causes of the current crisis in Rakhine State." But what will it mean for the (UNmentioned, at least by name) Rohinga? At the May 10 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric to explain this, but he declined, instead telling Inner City Press that the video was already online on UN Webcast or would be "very soon." Video here from 12:38. A full day and three hours later it was not. From the UN's May 10 transcript: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about the Secretary-General, his London speech.  Maybe I misunderstood.  Just first, when… did you say it’s gonna be put on the webcast?

Spokesman:  Yeah, we’re getting the video, and it’s going to be placed… if it’s not already placed on the UN webcast, it should be there very soon.

Inner City Press:  There’ve been various summaries of… he was asked a question about Myanmar and one… at least one written… since there was not any livestream of it, I’m going off what people have tweeted about it.  They said it’s a complex decision when to speak out, says [António] Guterres, citing need to work with Government of Myanmar and criticize rights violations of Rohingya.  So I wanted to know, what… just can you unpack it a little bit?  What is this balance… does this balance apply to all countries that he’s dealing with?  Has he reached out to Aung San Suu Kyi to try to do quiet diplomacy about getting the UN team in and the Rohingya… [inaudible]

Spokesman:  Yes, there have been contacts with Aung San Suu Kyi, and I think, you know, the balance is in everything we do; we need to stand by our principles, and we also need to work with Governments.  I’ll admit to you I was preparing for the briefing while the speech was going on, so I haven’t had a chance to look at it.  And I think whether you asking about it or me answering about it, I think both of us need to listen to the whole thing.
  Where has Guterres criticized Myanmar's human rights violations? Or, for example, Cameroon's in cutting the Internet to millions of people for 94 days? We'll have more on this. On Myanmar, Inner City Press on May 9 asked Gro Harlem Brundtland and Lakhdar Brahimi of The Elders about the Rohingya and whether Aung San Suu Kyi was or is on the path to becoming an Elder. Gro Harlem Brundtland said Suu Kyi was a form of Elder while imprisoned, but cannot be while involved in politics. And after she retires? If the Rohingya are still treated this way? Brahimi cited co-Elder Kofi Annon's report forthcoming in October. Myanmar does not appear on the list of six issues The Elders were set to discuss in a closed door meeting with the UN Security Council, where the US under Samantha Power agreed in November 2016 to have a closed door meeting on Myanmar on which there was no output, no statement at all. Meanwhile UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, he of quiet diplomacy, has nothing to say. On May 3, Inner City Press asked Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: On Myanmar, yesterday, Aung San Suu Kyi, in a press conference with the EU, said they will not allow in the fact-finding mission agreed to by the Human Rights Council in March.  She said: “We disassociate ourselves from the resolution because it has… it’s not in keeping with what’s happening on the ground.”  I’m wondering, given that there was a lot of work behind that, is the Secretary-General or somebody, the… the remnants of the good offices mission, thinking of contacting Aung San Suu Kyi about this rebuffing of the UN Mission?

Spokesman:  I think that’s a question right now more aimed at the… our colleague at the Human Rights Office.  We, obviously, as a matter of principle, encourage all Member States to cooperate with the various human rights mechanisms.
   Just after the Rakhine Commissioner under Kofi Annan released its report, Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador to the UN Matthew Rycroft, president of the UN Security Council for Match, about it. From the UK transcript: 
Inner City Press: Have you seen the Rakhine Commission report by Kofi Annan about Myanmar-  do you think the recommendations are sufficient and should all be or some be implemented?

Amb Rycroft: So we have a session on Burma, on Myanmar coming up tomorrow and that will be on our agenda.

  An hour later Inner City Press asked UN holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric who long spoke for Vijay Nambiar and Ban Ki-moon whose brother Ki-ho mined in Myanmar, UN transcript here: