UN Secretary-General Urges Myanmar To Pardon Reuters Reporters

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Photo: Jewel SAMAD / AFP

 

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday said he hoped that Myanmar’s government will pardon two Reuters journalists who were sentenced to seven years in jail after they reported on massacres in Rakhine state.

Guterres said it was “not acceptable” for Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, to be jailed “for what they were doing” as journalists in Myanmar.

“It is my deep belief that that should not happen, and I hope that the government will be able to provide a pardon to release them as quickly as possible,” he told a press conference at UN headquarters in New York.

Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi last week said that the two journalists were not convicted because of their work but because they broke the law.

“They were not jailed because they were journalists” but because “the court has decided that they had broken the Official Secrets Act,” she said in her first direct comments on the issue.

Myanmar journalist Wa Lone (C) is escorted by police after being sentenced by a court to jail in Yangon on September 3, 2018. Photo: Ye Aung THU / AFP

 

The Reuters reporters had denied the charges, insisting they were set up while exposing the extrajudicial killing of 10 Rohingya Muslims in the village of Inn Din in September last year.

The case has sparked an international outcry and is seen as an attempt to muzzle reporting on last year’s crackdown by Myanmar’s security forces on the Muslim Rohingya minority in Rakhine state.

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet has said the jailing of the pair “sends a message to all journalists in Myanmar that they cannot operate fearlessly, but must rather make a choice to either self-censor or risk prosecution.”

Reuters journalist Wa Lone (front) followed by Kyaw Soe Oo (C-back) arriving in court in Yangon on August 27, 2018. Photo: YE AUNG THU / AFP

AFP

UN Secretary-General Defends Iran Deal After Trump Demands Changes

This file photo taken on September 18, 2017, shows UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, US President Donald Trump and other participants wait for a meeting on United Nations Reform at the UN headquarters in New York City.  Photo: Brendan Smialowski / AFP

 

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday warned that any bid to address concerns about Iran should not jeopardise the hard-won nuclear deal after US President Donald Trump demanded changes to the accord.

The United States is concerned the deal, thrashed out over 12 years of talks, does nothing to punish Iran over its ballistic missile programme, interference in regional conflicts or human rights abuses at home.

In a statement, Guterres said “issues not directly related to the JCPOA should be addressed without prejudice to preserving the agreement and its accomplishments.”

The 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is a “major achievement of nuclear non-proliferation and diplomacy, and has contributed to regional and international peace and security,” he said.

Trump on Friday agreed to waive US nuclear-related sanctions but warned it was the “last chance” to fix the Iran deal, demanding that US lawmakers and European allies fix the “disastrous flaws” of the accord.

Iran has ruled out any change to the deal, which was signed with the US, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia.

Concerns regarding the implementation of the nuclear deal should be addressed “through the mechanisms established by the agreement”, Guterres said in the statement marking two years since the accord went into force.

He noted that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly confirmed that Iran is fulfilling its nuclear-related commitments under the deal.

AFP

UN Chief Urges Myanmar To Halt Military Campaign Against Rohingya

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on September 19, 2017. TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday urged Myanmar to halt its military campaign against Rohingya Muslims, just hours after Aung San Suu Kyi failed to quell an international outcry in a much-anticipated address.

Addressing the opening of the UN General Assembly, Guterres said he “took note” of Suu Kyi’s pledge to abide by the recommendations of a report by former UN chief Kofi Annan that has advocated citizenship for the Rohingyas.

“But let me be clear,” Guterres said. “The authorities in Myanmar must end the military operations, and allow unhindered humanitarian access.”

More than 420,000 Rohingya have been forced to flee violence in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state in what the United Nations has described as “ethnic cleansing.”

In her nationwide address, Suu Kyi insisted that army “clearance operations” in response to attacks by Rohingya militants had finished on September 5 and denied that Rakhine was in flames.

“More than 50 percent of the villages of Muslims are intact,” she said.

The Nobel laureate called for patience and understanding of the unfurling crisis in her “fragile democracy” and pledged to resettle some refugees, but she did not speak out against the military campaign.

“We are all shocked by the dramatic escalation of sectarian tensions in Myanmar’s Rakhine state,” Guterres told world leaders.

In an interview earlier this week, Guterres described the address by Suu Kyi as “a last chance” to speak out and put in motion an end to the mass exodus.

The 1.1-million strong Rohingya have suffered years of discrimination in Myanmar, where they are denied citizenship even though many have longstanding roots in the country.

Myanmar’s second Vice President, Henry van Thio, is to take the podium at the assembly on Wednesday after Suu Kyi decided against attending this year’s world gathering.

AFP

Trump’s Warning To Syria “Should Be Heard”, Says UN Secretary-General Guterres

UN Secretary-General-antonio-guterres-trump-Syria
UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres

The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres has called U.S. President Donald Trump’s warning to the Syrian Government of President Bashar al-Assad on its reported planned chemical weapons attack a “serious warning” that “should be heard.”

Guterres took the question from a reporter during a visit to the U.S. Department of State in Washington on Wednesday, after he was welcomed by the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson.

U.S officials said the Syrian Government appeared to heed the warning.

The White House had said President Assad and his forces would “pay a heavy price” if it followed through with a chemical weapons attack.

Reuters

UN Secretary-General, Others Mourn Babatunde Osotimehin

The death of the Executive Director of the United Nations Populations Fund, Babatunde Osotimehin is not only a loss to Nigeria alone, but also to the UN community.

The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres and the UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed have taken to Twitter to mourn the loss of the former Minister of Health who died in the early hours of Monday.

Others who paid tributes to the UNPF boss include the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibe and President of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly, Peter Thomson.

Amina Mohammed To Resume Duty As UN Deputy Secretary-General

Amina Mohammed, United Nations, UN Deputy Secretary-GeneralNigeria’s Amina Mohammed will resume duty as Deputy Secretary-General at the United Nations this week.

Her appointment was announced on December 15, 2016 shortly after the new UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, resumed office.

Before her new appointment, she had served in a number of high profile roles in Nigeria, making it no surprise that will be chosen for the top job.

Ms. Mohammed served as Special Adviser on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

She is also an adjunct Professor in Development Practice at New York’s Columbia University, and serves on numerous international advisory boards and panels.

Born in 1961, and educated in Nigeria and the UK, the former Minister of Environment is married with six children.

South Africa Set To Leave International Criminal Court

Zuma, al-Bashir
The failure of South Africa to arrest the Sudanese President has been a knotty issue in African politics.

South Africa has begun the legal process of formally withdrawing from the Roman Statute setting up the International Criminal Court.

If it formally withdraws from the statute, it means the country would no longer be bound to the International Criminal Court.

In the ‘Instrument of Withdrawal’ signed South Africa’s Foreign Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, states that South Africa “has found that its obligations with respect to the peaceful resolution of conflicts at times are incompatible with the interpretation given by the International Criminal Court of obligations contained in the Rome Statute.”

Under that statute, South Africa is obligated to arrest anyone sought by the tribunal.

The United Nations spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, is however yet to confirm if  the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon has received the notice of withdrawal from South Africa.

al-Bashir Brouhaha

South Africa is exiting the ICC after a controversial visit by Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, who was wanted by the tribunal over allegations of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

President al-Bashir in June 2015 was in Johannesburg to attend an African Union summit but the South African government refused to arrest him.

During the visit, provincial court has ruled that the Sudanese president remains in the country while judges considered whether he should be arrested on the ICC warrants.

President al-Bashir left for Khartoum before the court ruled that he should be arrested.

South Afica’s Supreme Court of Appeal later ruled that the government’s refusal o arrest President al-Bashir was a “disgraceful conduct”.

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda insists President al-Bashir as a sitting president, directed a campaign of mass killing, rape, and looting against civilians in Darfur.

The charges against the Sudanese president follow the unrest in the Darfur region which started in 2003.

The United Nations said 300,000 people died in the conflict while 2.7 million people were displaced.

US, China Ratify Paris Climate Agreement

Barack-Obama-Xi-JinpingThe United States and China have officially ratified the Paris agreement to curb climate-warming discharges.

The world’s two biggest economies confirmed this on Saturday, saying the ratification could help put the pact into force before the end of the year.

UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, who is in China to witness the declaration, received the plan to join the agreement from American President, Mr Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping.

A senior adviser to President Obama, Brian Deese, observed that the joint announcement should push other countries to formally join the deal.

“The signal of the two large emitters taking this step together and taking it early, far earlier than people had anticipated a year ago, should give confidence to the global communities and to other countries that are working on their climate change plans, that they too can move quickly and will be part of a global effort,” Reuters quoted Deese as saying.

Obama’s aide hinted that the US President was expected to meet the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, on the sidelines of a Group of 20 nations meeting in Hangzhou, China, this weekend.

UN Approves Police Force For Burundi

United nationsThe United Nations (UN) Security Council is making moves to prevent the Burundi crisis from getting worse.

In order to ensure that, the council has approved a resolution to pave the way for a UN police force to be deployed in Burundi.

The resolution, drafted by France, calls on UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon to draw up a list of options for the proposed presence within 15 days.

The resolution welcomed the consent of Burundi’s authorities to increase the number of African Union human rights observers from 100 to 200 and allow 100 AU military experts.

It notes that 30 human rights observers and 15 military observers have been deployed so far.

The final draft was changed to overcome an objection from the United States.

The United States had been concerned about linking the United Nations efforts to broker peace in Burundi with the country’s security forces, who have been accused of human rights abuses, one council diplomat said.

The United Nations said in January it has documented cases of Burundi’s security forces gang-raping women during searches of opposition supporters’ houses and heard witness testimony of mass graves.

The East African country has been hit by unrest since April 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his decision to seek a third term. He went on to win his third term bid in an election in July.

Netanyahu Accuses Ban Of Encouraging Terror

Benjamin NetanyahuIsraeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has accused UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon of “encouraging terror”.

This came after Mr Ban said it is human nature for oppressed people to react to occupation.

While speaking at the UN Security Council, Mr Ban also condemned recent stabbings of Israelis by Palestinians.

More than 155 Palestinians, 28 Israelis, an American and an Eritrean had died in violence since October.

Mr Ban told the security council that the wave of attacks were driven by a “profound sense of alienation and despair” among some Palestinians, particularly the young.

He condemned the attacks, but said ‘Israel’s settlement-building programme casts doubt on its commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state’.

But Mr Netanyahu said that the Palestinians were working against the creation of a state.

The BBC reported that on Monday, a 24-year-old Israeli woman was fatally stabbed in a West Bank settlement – the third such attack in 10 days. The two Palestinian assailants were shot dead by a security guard.

Most of the Palestinians killed had been attackers, Israel said, while others had been shot dead by Israeli forces during protests and clashes.

We Have Driven Boko Haram Into Fall-Back Positions – Buhari

BuhariNigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, says Nigeria has made very significant progress towards ending Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast since his assumption of office on May 29, 2015.

The President made the statement in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), during a meeting with the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), Mr Ban Ki-moon, on the sidelines of the World Future Energy Summit.

Buhari said that in collaboration with the Multinational Joint Task Force, the Nigerian Armed Forces have driven the terrorist group from Nigerian territory into “fall-back positions”.

“They are currently not holding any territory today as we speak, ” President Buhari told the UN Secretary-General.

According to a statement from the Media Adviser to the President, Femi Adesina, President Buhari also told Ban Ki-moon that Nigeria would persistently pursue global action to reverse the drying up of Lake Chad and save the lives of those who depend on it for survival.

“With all due respect to our neighbours, Nigeria has been worst hit by the drying up of the Lake Chad and we are hoping that the global community will support the process of halting the drying up of the lake.”

In response, Mr Ban Ki-moon commended the President for his courage in fighting terrorism and corruption.

The Secretary-General said that Nigeria had made amazing progress against terrorism since President Buhari assumed office, while the President’s war against corruption had also boosted global confidence in the Nigerian economy.

He urged President Buhari to integrate the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals into Nigeria’s economic and environmental vision.

UN Condemns Saudi-Iran Dispute

SaudiThe UN Security Council has strongly condemned an attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran by protesters angered by the execution of a Shia cleric.

Saudi Arabia has broken off diplomatic relations with Iran and is cutting trade and air links.

On Monday, some of Riyadh’s allies also joined diplomatic action against Iran.

Meanwhile, the Turkish government had urged both sides to calm their diplomatic row, saying the dispute will only worsen regional tensions.

Deputy Prime Minister, Numan Kurtulmus, said that the Middle East is “already a powder keg”.

He criticised attacks on Saudi missions in Iran and he also criticized Saudi Arabia’s execution of a Shia Muslim cleric, which triggered the dispute.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are respectively the key Sunni Muslim and Shia powers in the region and back opposing sides in Syria and Yemen.

Saudi Arabia had earlier criticised UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, who had spoken of his “dismay” at the executions, however, Mr Mouallimi described Mr Ban’s comments as “misinformed”.

Following the attacks on the missions, Saudi authorities announced late on Sunday that they were severing diplomatic relations with Iran. They said that all commercial and air traffic links were being cut and that Saudi citizens were banned from travelling to Iran.