Posts Tagged ‘United Nations’
The Cambodian government has deployed troops to Phnom Penh, claiming they are needed in order to deal with any violence in the event of opposition protests over the election result.
Local media reported that security forces, numbering in the hundreds, were ordered to the capital late Thursday. However the government would not comment on numbers.
Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, or CNRP, condemned the decision to send troops. “This is a threat and intimidation to the people that is illegal,” he said.
The government’s decision follows nearly two weeks of disagreement between the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the opposition over a commission to investigate alleged electoral irregularities.
Yim Sovann insisted the opposition did not want violence, and said peaceful protest was the last resort should agreement on the commission not be reached.
“We, the CNRP, are looking for a peaceful solution to the problem – especially our stance to form a special commission to do the investigation and to solve the problem peacefully,” he said.
Cambodian security forces have a long history of partiality towards Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling CPP.
But government spokesman Phay Siphan said Friday that people had nothing to fear. The deployment, he said, came about partly in response to the opposition’s anti-Vietnamese comments, which he said could lead to violence.
During campaigning the opposition was criticized by rights groups and others for employing anti-Vietnamese rhetoric in a bid to appeal to those Cambodians mistrustful of their more powerful neighbour.
“The government has an obligation to make law and order in the city as well on the streets as well as respect the ordinary people, the way of their life. That’s our job, but we wish that all political parties will take care of their business peacefully in the office as well as in the National Assembly rather than urge innocent people onto the street – it doesn’t help,” said the spokesman.
Phay Siphan said security forces would remain in place in the capital until the results of the election were officially confirmed next month.
Both parties claim that they won the July 28 ballot, in which the opposition stunned the ruling party with a strong showing.
The CNRP has since insisted on an independent commission to investigate what it claims was widespread electoral fraud, and says the National Election Committee, which has responsibility for managing the vote, cannot be trusted to act independently of the ruling party.
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who is currently in the United States, has asked the United Nations to get involved in the investigation.
Yim Sovann said a meeting Friday between the ruling party and the opposition had seen some progress.
“The outcome is both delegations from both parties go back to discuss with their top leaders to discuss about the composition of the special committee. And second point that we agree that U.N. should be the observers,” he said.
But he added that it was too early to say whether the opposition’s leaders would accept the deal.
Thailand might lose the deep South if the United Nations intervenes to suppress the violence in the region, deputy army chief Daopong Rattanasuban said on Friday.
“We have not lost our land yet, but if we’re complacent and let the UN intervene and hold a referendum, then we’re finished,” Gen Daopong said.
“We won’t let this happen and we’ll fight it to the death, but our Muslim brothers and sisters have to understand us because we’re fighting against a small percentage of people who are using guerrilla warfare tactics.”
The insurgents wanted to get villagers on their side by telling them that the government and Thai Buddhists are evil, discriminating and unjust and that officials are using excessive force, he said.
However, 90 per cent of the two million Thai Muslims were well aware of the situation.
The problem in the South was sensitive because it involves religion. Officials needed to be patient and have a good understanding. Fortunately, Thai Muslims understand and the army is trying to gain their trust, he said.
The southern militants, after failing to mislead the villagers, tried to instill fear by setting off bombs and murdering security officers at random, he said.
“We know of many people who are involved in the insurgency movement, but we have to stick to the law. We cannot work blindly and arrest people without reasonable grounds,” the deputy army chief said.
The army is not planning to impose a curfew that will affect the people’s religious activities. A curfew would likely be applied on certain roads, he said.
“People have to understand that the situation in the three southern border provinces is not normal, like in Bangkok. If stringent measures are implemented we’ll have to explain, but the people have to cooperate as well,” he said.
Gen Daopong said Their Majesties the King and Queen have visited the southern border region every year to meet the people there.
“I believe there’s not a single day when Their Majesties are not following news about the South and the incidents that affect the Thai Buddhists and Muslims there.
“I believe that if the situation eases or becomes peaceful, Their Majesties will be in better health,” the deputy army chief said.
Renewed violence between Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya has left three people dead in Myanmar, a government official said on Monday, amid growing international concern about the sectarian unrest.
The fighting in western Rakhine state has killed 80 people from both sides since June, official figures show, although authorities say the situation has been generally calm in recent weeks.
The new casualties, who were not identified, died on Sunday in Kyauktaw about 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of the state capital Sittwe, said the official, who did not want to be named. Five others were reported wounded.
“The situation is calm and back to normal already,” the official told AFP. “We do not know why it started again.”
The violence initially broke out in June following the rape and murder of a Rakhine woman and the subsequent lynching of 10 Muslims by a crowd of angry Buddhists.
The bloodshed has cast a shadow over widely praised reforms by President Thein Sein, including the release of hundreds of political prisoners and the election of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament.
Myanmar’s government has rejected accusations of abuse by security forces in Rakhine, after the United Nations raised fears of a crackdown on Muslims.
The entire state has been under emergency rule since early June with a heavy army and police presence.
New York-based Human Rights Watch has accused Myanmar forces of opening fire on Rohingya, as well as committing rape and standing by as rival mobs attacked each other.
The authorities failed to protect both sides and then “unleashed a campaign of violence and mass roundups against the Rohingya,” the group said in a report released last week.
Decades of discrimination have left the Rohingya stateless, and they are viewed by the United Nations as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.
Speaking a Bengali dialect similar to one in neighbouring Bangladesh, the Rohingya are seen as illegal immigrants by the Myanmar government and many Burmese, and many have attempted to flee overseas in rickety boats.
Bridget Di Certo,the PPPost, 30 April 2012Less than a week before Swiss co-investigating judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet is scheduled to depart the Khmer Rouge tribunal and quit the investigations into government-opposed cases 003 and 004, the UN has not yet named a replacement.
When contacted by the Post yesterday, the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General of the UN said there was no new information on the status of the UN’s appointment of the two new international judges required to replace German judge Siegfried Blunk, who quit in October, and Swiss reserve judge Kasper-Ansermet, who leaves the court this Friday.
Both judges alleged political interference in their investigations into cases 003 and 004 against five surviving senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime as the motivation behind their resignations.
On March 30, two weeks after Kasper-Ansermet announced his resignation, Martin Nesirky, spokesperson for the Secretary-General of the UN, said the UN had initiated a process for the selection of a new international co-investigating judge and a new reserve international co-investigating judge.
“The Secretary-General believes … it is essential that the judicial process in relation to cases 003 and 004 be brought back onto a positive course,” Nesirky said at the time.
However, there has been no further information made public about when the UN will appoint two new judges.
When Kasper-Ansermet departs, it will effectively stall investigations into both cases, for which hundreds of people have applied for civil party status.
The UN’s Special Expert at the tribunal, David Scheffer, did not respond to questions yesterday.
Clair Duffy, of tribunal monitor Open Society Justice Initiative, said she believed work was being done to appoint new judges, “but at the same time, I think everyone was hoping that the issue of a new judge would be settled in the lag time between the announcement of Kasper-Ansermet’s resignation, and its actual date of effect”.
“Cases [003 and 004] have been virtually stalled for years now,” she said yesterday.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bridget Di Certo at email@example.com
NAYPYIDAW – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday called for an end to the bloodshed in war-torn northern Myanmar that has marred the new regime’s reformist image.
Continued heavy fighting in Kachin State, in the far north of the country, “is inconsistent with the successful conclusion of the ceasefire agreements with all other major groups”, Ban told lawmakers in a landmark address to parliament.
“The Kachin people should no longer be denied the opportunity that a ceasefire and a political agreement can bring for peace and development,” he added.
Myanmar’s new quasi-civilian government has inked a series of ceasefires with several disparate ethnic rebel groups as part of a range of reforms since it came to power last year.
But violence in Kachin has continued to rage since a 17-year ceasefire was shattered last year.
Tens of thousands of people have been displaced by clashes between government troops and guerrillas with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).
Although the UN recently managed to send aid convoys into hard-to-reach parts of Kachin, many refugees remain in dire need of assistance and with the monsoon looming, conditions are expected to become even more desperate.
“Let me acknowledge the humanitarian access that now we have in Kachin. That access must continue,” Ban told legislators.
Civil war has gripped parts of Myanmar since independence in 1948. An end to the conflicts and alleged rights abuses involving government troops is a key demand of the international community.
Myanmar official media has made rare acknowledgements of the unrest in Kachin in recent days, accusing the rebels of a series of attacks.
On Monday state mouthpiece New Light of Myanmar accused the rebels of firing heavy weapons into a village, killing a five-year-old child and injuring two as well as planting a mine that derailed a passenger train, wounding two men.
On Sunday the newspaper reported that KIA rebels had killed four officials in an assault on a government office in Waingmaw Township, that had also left three people missing.
In a separate incident involving heavy weapons fire in another area, 200 KIA fighters were said to have captured vehicles belonging to a Myanmar construction giant linked to a Chinese company working at one of the dam sites.
The army was “in hot pursuit”, the report added.
22 March 2012,AFP
The United Nations said Thursday it would not tolerate impunity at Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge war crimes court in a worsening row with Phnom Penh about whether to pursue more suspects.
In a major setback to the UN-backed tribunal, a Swiss judge on Monday became the second international judge in six months to resign over difficulties probing two new cases linked to the 1975-1979 regime blamed for the deaths of up to two million people. The government strongly opposes the cases.
The UN is now likely discussing whether to find a replacement for Laurent Kasper-Ansermet from May 4 or possibly pull out of the court altogether, observers say.
“The United Nations, in its dealings with the (court), remains committed to ensuring that impunity for the crimes committed during the period of the Democratic Kampuchea is not tolerated,” UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman Martin Nesirky said in an email to AFP.
The UN had earlier expressed “concern” about the latest resignation, but issued a much stronger statement on Thursday after Kasper-Ansermet published a document detailing how his efforts to investigate the cases were blocked at every turn by his Cambodian colleague.
Kasper-Ansermet alleges that his counterpart made it difficult for him to have access to drivers, translators and even the office’s official seal to validate court filings.
“The United Nations is seriously concerned about these worrying developments,” said Nesirky.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, himself a former cadre before he defected, has long objected to the potential new cases involving five mid-level Khmer Rouge members, telling Ban in 2010 that prosecutions beyond the current second trial were “not allowed”.
Asked whether Cambodia stood by that position, Ek Tha, a government spokesman, told AFP: “Whatever my prime minister says, I respect his decision.”
Kasper-Ansermet’s resignation came after a German judge quit the court in October citing government interference in the controversial cases.
The UN named reserve judge Kasper-Ansermet as his replacement but Phnom Penh refused to recognise the appointment, and the UN reminded Cambodia on Thursday this was “a breach” of the agreement establishing the court.
The tribunal has so far completed just one case, sentencing a former prison chief to life in jail for overseeing the deaths of some 15,000 people.
by Paul Everingham,19 March 2012 publshed by PhnomPenh Post
It help to alleviate my disappointment in, and bewilderment at, the relentless criticism of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia by some of my brothers and sisters in the human-rights movement when I remember that many of them have not had the same experience as I have.
I happen to be of that generation who, throughout their adolescent years in the 1960s and ’70s would turn on the nightly television news to watch the unfolding events in Indochina with an increasing fascination and abhorrence.
Even at that tender age, it was obvious that great crimes against humanity were being committed on a daily basis.
Then, in February of 1980, while sitting in an aeroplane, I opened a news magazine to read with chilling horror about the fate of my friends Stuart Glass and Kerry Hamill.
Glass, a Canadian, Hamill, a New Zealander, and British citizen John Dewhurst had been captured by Khmer Rouge naval forces while sailing past the Cambodian coast in September, 1978.
Glass was probably the lucky one; he was shot and killed at sea.
Hamill and Dewhurst were taken to Tuol Sleng prison, where the last signed portions of their lengthy “confessions” were dated exactly two months after their capture. They were executed soon after.
This perhaps helps explain my acute awareness of the international community’s abysmal record in relation to Cambodia.
Not least in this series of gross betrayals was the United Nations’ insistence on recognising the clearly insane and genocidal Pol Pot forces as the legitimate Cambodian government throughout the 1980s.
This was not mere symbolism; it enabled the Khmer Rouge to rebuild and to wage another decade of devastation. For those of us who cared, it seemed that Cambodia’s agony would be eternal.
When peace and sanity finally arrived in the early 1990s, many of us hoped that some sort of justice would be applied to those most responsible.
These sentiments were tempered by the knowledge that none of the other readily identifiable culprits responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent Cambodians, Vietnamese and Laotians had faced any accountability.
Indeed, when UNTAC came to Cambodia in 1992, it failed to conduct any war-crimes investigations at all.
Fast-forward to February, 2010, and I found myself sitting in the public gallery of a fully constituted combined United Nations and Cambodian war crimes trial.
The man who directed the torture, interrogation and murder of at least 13,000 people at Tuol Sleng, including my friends, was sitting in the dock just 10 metres away.
In the two years since the trials began, I have had the opportunity to closely observe one of the most open, exhaustive and supremely fair trials ever conducted anywhere – and the commencement of a second, even more thorough, exercise in justice.
And all this is occurring right here in Cambodia, in the very midst of the millions of ordinary people whose previous lives had been so comprehensively destroyed.
A population that, for more than 20 years, had been the plaything of a handful of mass murderers – some from within their own country and some from among the world’s most powerful leaders.
A nation that, just 30 short years ago, was a complete wasteland.
For many of us, this is an occurrence of miracle and wonder.
Perhaps, I thought, there was still hope for those who believe in the better side of human nature, for those who strive to advance human consciousness – indeed, for the further development of human civilisation.
Yet it seems this is all a great injustice to some – a transgression that must be vilified and impugned at every opportunity.
I speak, of course, of those preachers of human-rights perfectionism who are insisting that every single aspect of the Khmer Rouge tribunal is consistent with some fantastical, utopian (and, in fact, non-existent) “international standard of justice”.
Lieutenant William Calley served 42 months of home detention for the My Lai massacre in Vietnam in March, 1968.
This, I believe, was the sum total of “international-standard justice” delivered by the rest of the world for one of modern history’s darkest chapters: America’s, and its allies’, war in Indochina.
If the UN and the human-rights NGOs could more fully recognise the Khmer Rouge tribunal as a unique landmark in international justice, then perhaps they might be able to play a more constructive role – at least until the rest of the world catches up with what is going on in Cambodia.
The trials under way at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia are the only formal justice ever applied, and ever likely to be applied, to the whole Indochinese mega-atrocity.
Paul Everingham is accredited by ECCC Public Affairs as an independent researcher.
GENEVA/UNITED NATIONS, March 2 (Xinhua) — The Syrian government was put under further pressure Thursday by the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to allow wider access for humanitarian aid.
Meanwhile, Kofi Annan, the newly appointed special envoy for Syria on behalf of the United Nations and the Arab League (AL), said Thursday he had reached consensus with UN chief Ban Ki-moon and the five permanent members of the Security Council that a mediation process including all political factions in Syria should be started as soon as possible.
Annan will begin his mission on March 7 with a visit to the AL headquarters in Cairo, AL chief Nabil al-Arabi said Thursday.
Annan is seeking a visit to Syria, and will also travel to other countries affecting the Syrian crisis in a bid to find a solution, said al-Arabi.
At a meeting on Thursday in Geneva, the UNHRC adopted a resolution which condemns “the continued widespread and systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities.”
The resolution, voted 37-3 in favor with three abstentions, held the Assad government as the primary cause of Syria’s ongoing crisis.
Russia, China and Cuba voted against the resolution, saying the resolution, which only lopsidedly condemned the authorities, would only fuel fresh violence in the turbulent country.
“Russia believes the resolution does not send constructive signals that are necessary for launching a process of political and diplomatic settlement, nor a call to all sides to stop violence and join the national dialogue,” said the Russian foreign ministry in a statement.
In the debate before
the voting, China also stressed its stance on the issue, saying both the government and all political parties of Syria must end violence immediately before starting a political dialogue to end the months-long crisis.
The Syrian government reported that at least 2,000 security personnel had been killed by rebel forces since the unrest started last March, and the United Nations estimated that over 6,000 people have died in total.
The UN Security Council released a press statement also on Thursday, calling on the Syrian government to allow “immediate, full and unimpeded” humanitarian access to its country.
In the statement delivered by British ambassador to the UN Mark Lyall Grant, the 15-member council expressed its “deep disappointment” that Valerie Amos, UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, was not authorized to visit Syria and called on the authorities to grant her “immediate and unhindered access.”
Amos has been attempting to visit Syria at the request of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to evaluate the humanitarian situation there, but was denied entry by the Syrian government.
But a Syrian foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday that his country was ready to consult with Amos to set a new date for her visit.
Syria is “ready to continue consultations with Amos over the suitable date for both sides,” said the spokesman.
In its Thursday statement, the UN Security Council also deplored “the rapidly deteriorating” humanitarian situation, in particular the growing number of affected civilians, the lack of safe access to adequate medical services and food shortages in the most turbulent regions, including the central city of Homs and northern province of Idlib.
Although a Security Council resolution on Syria was vetoed last month, some diplomats in the council said Thursday that they are pushing for a possible new legal-binding resolution that may serve as a solution to the conflict.
PHNOM PENH, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) — Cambodia will send a group of more than 200 medical personnel and military police to South Sudan sometime in March in order to help the country in humanitarian activities, a senior Cambodian military official said Monday.
“This is the first time and a new mission for Cambodia that we will send medics for overseas humanitarian activities under the United Nations global peacekeeping framework,” Lt. Gen. Sem Sovanny, director-general of the National Center for Peacekeeping Force, Mine and Explosive Remnants of War Clearance at Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, told reporters Monday after he presided over a ceremony to send medical equipment and supplies, light and heavy vehicles and water tanks to South Sudan for medical missions.
“As scheduled, the shipment of all these things will arrive in South Sudan’s Juba within 45 days,” he said, adding “soon after they arrive, we will dispatch more than 200 forces including 76 experienced military medics and military police.”
“This will be a new pride for Cambodia,” he said.
Cambodia has firstly sent its troops to Sudan in April 2006 under the UN umbrella and the demining mission in Sudan was ended in September last year.
Beside this, the country has also sent troops to Chad, Central African and Lebanon for humanitarian missions.
Sem Sovanny said so far, Cambodia has sent 1,074 troops to these countries including 594 in Sudan.
PHNOM PENH, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) — Cambodia dispatched the second batch of 218 engineering forces to Lebanon to join the United Nations Peacekeeping Operation overseas on Tuesday.
The group was seen off at Phnom Penh Airbase by commander-in- chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces four-star general Pol Saroeun.
Speaking at the see-off ceremony, Pol Saroeun advised the troops to behave well during the mission in Lebanon to uplift Cambodia’s reputation and dignity on international arena.
Brig. Gen. Ken Sosavoeun, deputy director of the military’s Peacekeeping Operations Department, said the group will replace the first batch of 219 forces who have fulfilled their one-year mission in Lebanon and are scheduled to return home on Wednesday.
“Their mission in Lebanon includes humanitarian activities, demining, construction of roads, bridges, and hospital,” he told Xinhua.
Cambodia firstly sent troops abroad in April 2006 under the UN umbrella. It has sent troops to Sudan, then to Chad and Central African to contribute to the UN’s efforts in peacekeeping operations.
Cambodian troops started the mission in Lebanon in November last year.