Burmese cops in UN hard drive snatch kerfuffle
UN: It never happened. And we don't know any monks either
Reports suggest that the Burmese military government has attempted to seize computer hard drives from UN offices in an attempt to root out pro-democracy activists.
According to the Times, Burmese police and diplomats entered UN agency premises at the Traders Hotel in Rangoon on Friday and demanded the hard drives from computers there. Officials made similar approaches to the Japan International Cooperation Agency - a Japanese government aid organisation - at the Sakura Tower.
The demands were rebuffed, and the local authorities departed. However, UN staffers in Rangoon were sufficiently worried about a return in force that they spent much of the weekend deleting files.
It is thought the Burmese government suspects foreign diplomats and aid workers of providing communications to the outside world for local dissidents. The government has made strenuous efforts in recent weeks to prevent any news leaking out about pro-democracy protests and the resulting crackdown, even going so far as to cut off the country's main internet links 12 days ago.
However, various foreign organisations in Burma have access to satellite communications which are not under government control, and it is understood that the military oligarchy suspects these have occasionally been placed at the protesters' disposal.
The Times quotes an unidentified Western diplomat in Rangoon: "It's part of this systematic, repressive response to the demonstrations.
"We've seen them focus on people who directly participated in the demonstrations by picking them up through the videos. Then they've arrested people with cameras containing images of the demos. And now they're trying to track down the means that were used to send them out."
When refusing the officials' demands, UN staffers suggested that an official request for information be submitted by the Burmese government. It appears that such a request has now been made, but it asks only to see the licences for the UN's satellite equipment.
It now appears to be the official diplomatic position that no demand was ever made for UN hard drives, only for details of satcomms gear. Similarly, no UN staff have provided communications to Burmese dissenters.
"All they asked was to see the permits for the [satellite telephones]," the UN's Burma co-ordinator told the Times, though this was apparently at odds with what other UN personnel had said.
"We told them that we will provide them through the appropriate channels."
More from the Times here. ®
The UN is weak because ALL of our countries are weak!
Everyone here seems to forget that the UN is not about the UN staffers per se but is governed by the leaders of EVERY country on earth (or at least the vast majority of ones that have joined the UN). The fact that the UN hasnt cracked down on Burma is not the UN people's fault but the fault of China, Russia and India who are all refusing to crackdown on the Burmese government. Why? Money obviously. All 3 nations have shit human rights records and so dont want the UN to be able to do anything about what is in effect an internal Burmese problem. I mean if China did another Tianemen square they dont want the UN having the precedent to make a move do they?
But there are plenty of other cases where the UN should be able to make a difference - big one at the moment - Sudan. The reason nothing is happening in Sudan is because no one wants to commit troops and put themselves in the firing line. It was the same with Liberia, Sierra Leone and god knows how many other countries.
So next time your calling the UN weak and useless just remember its your country thats contributing to that - its ALL of our nations that have made the UN the toothless tiger that it is!
@ Anonymous Coward & John Blackley
Maybe some of us here are Americans, it is the .com site we are visiting after all.
But to the point, the UN is (for the most part) a graft ridden bunch of greedy, nepotistic cronies that TRULY don't use the power they have been given to help the world in a positive manner (Not unlike our current "President" and his cronies) and when a "Damned Yankee" gets frustrated at the UN's impotence and waffling and makes a comment here, almost immediately some knucklehead reads more into the guy's comments and assumes the worst. Notice he did not say "Send in the Marines or anything about US Armed Forces".
I believe that the UN should immediately send "armed peacekeepers" (You know, the blue helmeted, International Peacekeeping Force the UN has?) and start an economic embargo against Burma, the Sudan, etc. Do ANYTHING besides keep silent and play with themselves like usual. But they never do, because in many cases UN officials ARE paid off to "roll over and play dead" or they are so passive agressive that they avoid any conflict in favor of their own careers.
You mention "relief to the population"; HAH! 90% of ANY food aid ends up on the black market bazaar for sale at retail prices shortly after being handed to the "population". The local UN guy is living like a king on his kickbacks while the people starve. What government official do you think is also enjoying his ill gotten gains?
Please prove to me that's not painting a reasonably true picture of reality!
And as far as an American's view of the so called U.N.; I live in New York State and we ALL know what "upstanding citizens" make up the UN because they frequent (anonymously of course) our local newspapers police beat section for whoremongering, kiddie fiddling, hit & run accidents, parking ticket scofflaws, etc.
Here's a real rant for you. Diplomatic immunity my left testicle, the next time NYC's Finest catch one of them En Flagrante Delicto, I say "Let them sleep with the fishes" in the East River. Let France have the "UN", Donald Trump needs the property. At least he'll pay the property taxes.
"They should have spent the weekend flying in armed security forces, and teaching these spineless guys how to say "NO!""
I presume that, by "teaching these spineless guys to say "NO"" you mean using force. I hope you realise that the Burmese government has, at its disposal, a well armed military and police force. So what you'd be talking about is using the UN to wage war on the government of a country.
Okay, let's say - and it's by no means a foregone conclusion - that the UN prevailed. Now let's turn to all of the other countries in which the UN is trying to bring relief to the population. Those countries' governments, fearing that Burma is setting a precedent, mount a quick strike on UN forces and wipe them out. In future, fearing a repeat of 'the Burma affair', governments refuse to allow the UN to enter - thereby denying aid to populations in need.