Myanmar Invited for UN Peacekeeping by Nambiar, UN Silent on Law

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 27 — Even as Myanmar denies the rights of the Rohingya, Karen and Kachin and other people, the UN is inviting it to contribute troops to UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous, it was confirmed to Inner City Press on February 27.

Earlier this month, Inner City Press asked the UN about the exclusion of “Rohingya” from upcoming UN-assisted census. On February 26, Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: I’ve been meaning to ask about Myanmar, there is a report that Vijay Nambiar, when he was there, met with a defence services commander-in-chief and, the quote goes, said that Myanmar could contribute to United Nations peacekeeping operations, if interested. He essentially either solicited or left the door open for Myanmar to contribute UN peacekeepers. Since many people remain concerned, including Mr. [Tomas] Ojea Quintana, about a lack of rule of law and some abuses by the army and there is still [a United States] arms embargo on the country, is it possible to know whether Mr. Nambiar said that or maybe some variation on that and what the UN’s position is on Myanmar contributing troops?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Well, troop contributing is a conversation that would be had with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. So, I would need to check with them, and also with Mr. Nambiar on precisely what was said with that, in that meeting unless, bear in mind, that Mr. Nambiar on his trip had any number of troops with different officials.

Twenty four hours later, Nesirky and DPKO had provided no answer. So, even limited two a mere two questions — no Sri Lanka — by Nesirky, Inner City Press on February 27 asked again about Myanmar.

Along with asking again if Nambiar invited Myanmar “peacekeepers,” Inner City Press asked about president

“Thein Sein expressed his support on Thursday for four controversial laws on religion due to be considered by the country’s parliament, including one that restricts interfaith marriages for Buddhists, a parliamentary official said. In a letter to lawmakers, Thein Sein urged the lower house to pass the bills aimed at protecting Buddhism, the predominant religion among Myanmar’s estimated 60 million population, a lower house spokesman said. The interfaith marriage bill, if enacted, would mean a non-Buddhist man who wants to marry a Buddhist must convert to her faith, or face a 10-year jail sentence. The text would not apply restrictions to marriages between Buddhist men and non-Buddhist women. The draft laws could be presented to parliament for a vote as early as next month, sources said.”

Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson Nesirky said he wouldn’t comment even this law while it is pending. Next month? After peacekeepers?

Later on February 27, Nesirky’s office sent this to Inner City Press:

Subject: On your question on Myanmar.
From: UN Spokesperson – Do Not Reply [at] un.org
Date: Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 2:59 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at] innercitypress.com

“During his recent meeting with the Commander-in-Chief of Myanmar’s Defence Services, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the question of Myanmar’s cooperation with the UN on peacekeeping was discussed. The Special Adviser explained that, like any Member State, Myanmar was invited to discuss its interest in specific terms with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations which would consider such a request in accordance with its regular parameters.”

Under Ban and Ladsous, UN Peacekeeping has been advised by controversial Sri Lanka military figure Shavendra Silva; Ladsous has accepted a child soldier recruiter and user into “his” mission in Mali. Myanmar may be next.

Is the UN still in denial about the exclusionary census it is supporting in Myanmar? Back on January 24, Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Farhan Haq:

Inner City Press: another Myanmar question. There is a census coming up. It seems that the United Nations system is involved in funding and maybe even participating in it. Both Kachin and Rohingya groups have expressed a lot of concerns. One, there is no box in the census thus far to check Rohingya, meaning… implying that they are not citizens. Also, Kachin, they have other complaints. I wanted to know: is UN aware of these? What steps are they taking, and will they fund a census that many groups think makes things worse rather than better?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: Well, we will look into what we are doing on that question. We need some details about that.

It was 19 days later, on February 12, that the UN Spokesperson’s Office finally sent this response:

Subject: In response to your question on the Myanmar census.
From: UN Spokesperson – Do Not Reply [at] un.org
Date: Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 5:02 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at] innercitypress.com

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is the focal UN agency for providing technical and programmatic assistance to the Government for the census. It says that everyone in Myanmar will be counted in the census. UNFPA is supporting the Government to ensure that the census is fully inclusive and conducted according to international standards. Respondents will be asked to identify their ethnicity, with the option of selecting one of the categories used in the 1983 census or selecting “other” and writing in the name of another group. All of the responses will be coded and tabulated.

Compare this belated Pollyanna answer by the UN and UNFPA to what the Myanmar government Minister for Immigration and Population U Khin Yi openly says:

“They say that their race is Rohingya. When a person says that his race is “B”, because he doesn’t want to mention his race as “A”, that means that race “A” no longer exists, but the race “B” is a new race. Since race “B” is a new race, there will be questions, such as “how did the race enter (the country)?” or “are they encroaching here?” When things become radical, I worry that it could harm peace and stability…We will record what the person says. If he says “A” then we will fill the form as “A”. The result will be, like I said before, that even if that term “A” is Rohingya, we will not recognize Rohingya as one of the 135 ethnic groups in Myanmar.”

So this is “fully inclusive and conducted according to international standards”? The UN is at best in denial. Watch this site.

Footnote: It appears that on-again, off-again UN official Charles Petrie is about to set sail from Myanmar. He was quoted earlier this year: “In terms of MPSI we want to make sure whatever we do adds value, and there’s a clear sense that if there isn’t we won’t continue.” Watch this site.

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