Galbraith Not Going Quietly

The senior UN envoy removed from his post in Afghanistan has told the BBC his dismissal sent “a terrible signal” to the world about the organisation. Peter Galbraith said he believed he had been removed because of a dispute with his superior over how to handle fraud allegations in the country’s elections. He said that in not addressing the “extensive” evidence of fraud, the UN had failed its Afghan mandate. The UN said his dismissal had been “in the best interest of the mission”.

Mr Galbraith told BBC’s World Tonight that he had great respect for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, but that he disagreed with his decision to remove him from his post. “Not just on personal ground, but because I think it sends a terrible signal when the UN removes an official because he was concerned about fraud in a UN-sponsored and funded election,” he said. Mr Galbraith said he had seen “very extensive evidence of fraud” in August’s president elections and had had “a sharp disagreement” with his superior, Kai Eide, about how to address it. He wanted to present the evidence to the Afghan Election Complaints Commission for further investigation, he said, but Mr Eide “did not want this information disseminated”.

Mr Galbraith said that when he intervened, President Hamid Karzai complained and Mr Eide “decided he would support Karzai, who would be the beneficiary of the fraudulent ballots”. He said Mr Eide had initially “tended to dismiss the fraud”. “

He didn’t want the UN staff to talk about it, he didn’t want us to discuss issues, for example of turnout, with the ambassadors in Kabul because we knew the turnout was very low in the southern provinces although a very large number of votes were in fact being reported from those areas. “Later, when the evidence of the fraud was inescapable he did talk about it but he’s consistently minimised it,” he said.

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Email David Miliband… Now!

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL Says-

There is a real danger that the best chance for accountability and justice for civilians in Gaza and Israel could be lost in the next few days – we need as many people as possible to email David Miliband right now to prevent this from happening.

An independent UN fact-finding mission into the Gaza conflict has just published its findings. This major report outlines powerful evidence of war crimes and other violations of international law on both sides, consistent with the results of Amnesty’s own investigations. And the UK Government is reviewing it right now.

The UN Human Rights Council will debate the report next Tuesday (29 September), when a vote will be taken on how its recommendations should be acted upon.

Alarmingly, we understand that the UK Government (a member of the council) is not planning to support key recommendations, which Amnesty believe offer the best chance of ensuring justice and accountability, as a well as a deterrent to future conflicts. Instead, they appear to be taking a lead from the US Government in dismissing the findings.

War criminals are literally getting away with murderAct now

There can be no long-term peace and security in the Middle East without an end to impunity – please email David Miliband today and urge him to support the Goldstone Report.

Sincerely,

Kristyan Benedict

Campaign Manager
Crisis Response & Country Priorities

Ban Fail

irrawaddy.org– According to reports from Burma, Ban met with Than Shwe again on Saturday, only to have his request for a chance to speak with Suu Kyi shot down a second time. “I pressed as hard as I could,” Ban told reporters after the meeting. “I had hoped that he would agree to my request, but it is regrettable that he did not,” he said, adding that he was “deeply disappointed” with the situation. Nyan Win, a spokesman for Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), told The Irrawaddy on Saturday that the regime’s refusal to allow a meeting between Ban and Suu Kyi sent the signal that Than Shwe has no interest in genuine political reform or national reconciliation.

Before his trip, Ban said that he hoped to persuade the junta to meet three key demands: the release of Suu Kyi and other political prisoners; the resumption of dialogue between the junta and opposition as a necessary part of a national reconciliation process; and the creation of conditions conducive to credible elections in 2010. A spokeswoman for Ban said that the UN chief had asked to meet with all of the major stakeholders in Burmese politics, including Suu Kyi. His failure to meet with Suu Kyi, who has been an international icon of democracy for more than two decades, underscored the futility of years of diplomatic efforts aimed at breaking the generals’ repressive grip on power.

“Mr Ban Ki-moon is leaving Burma empty-handed, without even meeting Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, much less achieving his goal of securing the release all political prisoners and getting the regime to engage in a dialogue with the opposition,” said Aye Thar Aung, secretary of the Committee Representing the People’s Parliament. The outcome of this visit, he said, only spelled out the hopelessness of the situation. “We do not believe in hopeful diplomacy, and we are not hopeful of political change in our country,” he said.

For the regime, the visit was just another opportunity to showcase its “road map” to a form of democracy more to its liking—one that guarantees the military a key political role and the right to resume full control if it sees fit. Burma’s state media reported on Saturday that the junta had acceded to Ban’s request to meet with other political stakeholders by arranging a meeting with representatives of 10 registered political parties, including the NLD, the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy and the pro-junta National Unity Party, in Naypyidaw on Friday afternoon.

However, NLD sources said that the selection of representatives was made by the regime, not by the parties themselves or by UN officials. They also said that the NLD was treated as one of the less important parties, despite being the overwhelming victors of Burma’s last elections in 1990. Others also noted that Ban was not allowed to meet with the NLD representatives separately.

“When UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari visited Burma in January, he was allowed to hold a separate meeting with NLD leaders, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,” said a senior NLD member, speaking on condition of anonymity. “But this time, the junta did not even allow Ban to meet the NLD members except as part of a group with the other parties.”

Despite all the setbacks, not everyone agreed that the visit was a complete failure. “This is not the end of diplomatic efforts to bring about changes in Burma,” said Chan Tun, a former Burmese ambassador to China and North Korea. “The next step is talks with China and Russia about the Burma issue.”

Ban’s next move will be to report to the UN Security Council about his visit, giving him an opportunity to push for more active international engagement to address Burma’s political impasse. “The junta’s reaction to Ban’s trip will send a strong message to the UN Security Council,” said Chan Tun. “They have to go the next step.”

Meanwhile, Ban’s visit also highlighted a less publicized—and potentially more volatile—issue: the status of Burma’s armed ceasefire groups. On Friday, Ban met with representatives from some ethnic ceasefire groups, according reports in the state-run media. But notably absent were representatives of the United Wa State Army, the Kachin Independence Army and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, or Kokang Army. These three groups have so far refused to meet the junta’s demands to disband and form themselves into border security forces under Burmese military command. Observers say that any effort to force them to fall in line with the regime’s plans could reignite hostilities and lead to a resumption of armed conflict.

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News Of The Massacre

This gets nastier, the LTTE leadership were surrendering when they were shot down, journalist Marie Colvin was involved in the negotiations along with a Tamil MP who has fled Sri Lanka in fear for his life-

A Tamil who was in a group that escaped the killing zone later told an aid worker that Nadesan and Puleedevan walked towards Sri Lankan army lines with a white flag in a group of about a dozen men and women. He said the army fired machineguns at them.

 Nadesan’s wife, a Sinhalese, yelled in Sinhala: “He is trying to surrender and you are shooting him.” She was also shot down.

 The source said all in the group were killed. He is now in hiding. Chandra Nehru has fled the country after being threatened, the MP says, by the President and his brother.

The role the UN is playing looks to be very questionable, firstly-

Over the past few days, [Vijay] Nambiar’s role as UN envoy has come into question. His brother, Satish, has been a paid consultant to the Sri Lankan army since 2002. Satish once wrote that General Sarath Fonseka, commander of the Sri Lankan armed forces, “displayed the qualities of a great military leader”.

Then this-

French newspaper Le Monde published on Friday an article accusing the United Nations (UN) of deliberately hiding facts about civilian killings during the last months of the civil war in Sri Lanka in order to protect their own activities in the country.

According to investigative journalism by Le Monde, The UN did not publish the number of civilians killed until it was finally leaked. According to a UN confidential report, 7,720 people were killed (among them 678 children) and 18,465 were injured (among them 2,384 children) between January 20 and May 13. A UN official declared to Le Monde that his hierarchy tried to suppress these figures to remain in good terms with the government. When these numbers were leaked, Neil Buhne, the UN official coordinator in Sri Lanka, asked to be the only recipient of the figures in the future. Even the secretary general Ban Ki-moon tried to hide the numbers, according to Le Monde.

Le Monde also wrote that the United Nations did not help its people on the ground. Text messages sent by local employees in the war zones asked to “stop the war” and “what is the international community doing”. “Hundreds of people trying to flew where caught by local dictators and beaten, without distinction of age and sex. I hear them crying.” said another one. In April, Vijay Nambiar asked the locals to keep a “low profile” and play an active role in supporting the government.