Ban Ki Moon,s Spokesperson’s Noon Briefing

unlogo_blue_sml_en Spokesperson’s Noon Briefing

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Michèle Montas, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Enrique Yeves, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.

Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Good afternoon, all.

**Secretary-General in Myanmar

Over the weekend, the Secretary-General paid a two-day visit to Myanmar. He met twice with Senior General Than Shwe and had discussions with other Government officials, including Prime Minister Thein Sein. He also met with leaders of Myanmar’s registered political parties and with the former armed groups that have chosen to observe a ceasefire.

Before leaving the country, he spoke to diplomatic missions, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations in Yangon, saying that neither peace nor development can thrive without democracy and respect for human rights. Myanmar is no exception.

He asked, “How much longer can Myanmar afford to wait for national reconciliation, democratic transition and full respect for human rights?” The cost of delay, he warned, will be counted in wasted lives, lost opportunities and prolonged isolation from the international community.

Speaking to the press in Bangkok after he left Myanmar, the Secretary-General said that he was deeply disappointed that Senior General Than Shwe had refused his request to see Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Allowing a visit, he said, would have been an important symbol of the Government’s willingness to embark on the kind of meaningful engagement that will be essential if the elections in 2010 are to be seen as credible.

He said, “I believe the Government of Myanmar failed to take a unique opportunity to show its commitment to a new era of political openness.” Nonetheless, the Secretary-General added, his visit enabled him to convey the concerns of the international community very frankly and directly to the Government, and he outlined his proposals for progress while he was there. Among those proposals are the release without delay of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners, so that they can be allowed to participate freely in the political process. We have his statement in Yangon and his press remarks upstairs.

UNITED NATIONS, July 6, updated — As the UN Security Council mechanically convened days after North Korea fired seven missiles into the Sea of Japan, the mystery grew around the Kang Nam 1 ship with its reputed cargo of weapons for Myanmar, and the unnamed Malaysian bank reportedly pegged to process Burmese payments.

The place of a middleman between the regimes in North Korea and Myanmar is called by some the vortex of evil. Others apparently call it good business.

Reports — and photos — emerged Monday of tunnels in Myanmar designed by North Korean advisers. DVB reports that

“five Burmese companies – Htoo Trading, Kambawza, Asia World, Aden and Shwe Thanlwin – are known however to have provided machinery for the digging of the tunnels… A secret visit by General Thura Shwe Mann, the Burmese regime’s third-in-command, along with 18 other high ranking military officials to North Korea in November 2008, is another indicator of how the two countries have been cooperating. During the visit, Shwe Mann and North Korean Army Chief General Kim Gyok-sik signed an Memorandum of Understanding on further cooperation plans. The Burmese delegation also visited an underground military hardware factory near Pyongyang.”

But it is Pyongyang’s threats to Japan and Seoul which trigger UN action. Myanmar gets a free pass.
In front of the Security Council late Monday afternoon, Japanese media converged as they did after the last launch by Pyongyang. South Korea’s Ambassador came and said they expect the Council to react. Inner City Press asked a Council diplomat when Ban Ki-moon’s envoy to Myanmar Ibrahim Gambari is slated to brief the so-called Group of Friends on Myanmar.
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Temple classes give hope by teaching about Thai nationality and residence

Published: 23/06/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: Outlook
The large hall at Wat Thaton in Chiang Mai’s Mae Ai district has been turned into a makeshift classroom for the past few months. The mainly young students gathering here come from several different villages in Mae Ai district, but they all have one thing in common: Statelessness.

Every other Sunday since last September, about 100 people have come to the temple to study laws related to civil registration and legal status – a subject they knew little about before, but which is crucial to their future. Their teachers – law experts from universities and non-governmental organisations – guide them on how to apply for Thai nationality and other legal entitlements, such as permanent or temporary residence.

Their homework is to gather as many documents as possible to help prove that they qualify for Thai nationality or residence status in Thailand. By the end of the three-day course, they will have learned how to write an application to the local district office and how to follow up with local officials on securing their entitlements.

Statelessness – the lack of nationality – remains a major problem in many parts of Thailand, especially in the northern provinces. An estimated two million stateless people live in Thailand, including some 400,000 indigenous and hilltribe people. Continue reading “THE STATELESS CLASSROOM”

Htoo Chit, executive director of Grassroots-HRE, was interviewed on 29 June about his recent trip to Europe in May and June of 2009.

Interview with Htoo Chit after his return from Europe

Htoo Chit, executive director of Grassroots-HRE, was interviewed on 29 June about his recent trip to Europe in May and June of 2009. Htoo Chit was awarded an Ashoka Fellowship by the Ashoka Foundation in 2008 for his commitment for the rights of migrant workers and grassroots development efforts. What follows is a transcript of that interview.
Q. How long did your European trip last?
A. One and a half months.
Q. Which countries did you visit on your trip?
A. Mainly, I visited France and was in the Netherlands twice. I also visited Brussels, Belgium.
Q. Which organizations did you meet with in those countries?
A. I had meetings with Comité Catholique Contre La Faim et Pour Le Développement (CCFD), Ashoka Foundation in France, TDH (France), several Belgium-based organizations such as the Euro Burma Office (EBO), European Commission, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, International Trade Union Confederation, Info Burma, Novib Holland, the Dublin-based Front Line Defenders (working for human rights defenders), and the Holland-based Burma Centrum Nederland.

Q. Since you’re an Ashoka fellow, what did you talk about with Ashoka Foundation?
A. I met other Ashoka fellows and tried to create a network of activists. We Ashoka fellows, working in developing countries, often face great difficulties. I brainstormed ideas for fundraising so that other Ashoka fellows in more developed countries can help coordinate with us.
Q. What did you talk about with other organizations?
A. Mainly, I discussed the latest situation in Burma the situation of migrant workers, refugees in the border areas, and internally displaced people.
Q. What type of feedback did you receive from those organizations? Continue reading “Htoo Chit, executive director of Grassroots-HRE, was interviewed on 29 June about his recent trip to Europe in May and June of 2009.”