Friday, November 02, 2007
JUNTA EXPELS TOP UN DIPLOMAT
urma's military rulers have ordered the expulsion of the senior UN official in the country, on the eve of UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari's arrival. The UN country chief for what they refer to as Myanmar, Charles Petrie served as the U.N. Development Program coordinator for Burma. The move is an apparent reprisal for a statement Petrie made last month, "drawing attention to deepening poverty, a diplomat said on Friday."
Petrie had been summoned to a meeting in the former Burma's new capital, Naypyitaw, for an official dressing down for the statement he released on October 24, United Nations Day, the Yangon-based diplomat said.Mr. Petrie had merely stated the obvious in his troublesome statement, which noted that the protests began due to the massive increase in fuel prices indicating a dire state in the economy.
Afterwards, he and colleagues were given a letter saying the military government would not support any request by the U.N. to renew Petrie's assignment, due to end "pretty much now", the diplomat said.
"The events clearly demonstrated the everyday struggle to meet basic needs and the urgent necessity to address the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country," it said.The UN has confirmed the expulsion.
Charles Petrie, the world body's country chief, was summoned to the new capital Naypyidaw for a meeting with junta officials, said Aye Win, a UN information officer in Yangon.And it will certainly complicate things for Mr. Gambari, who arrives in Rangoon tomorrow. After weeks of meetings across Asia looking for support for his mission to initiate a national dialogue in Burma, he arrives to a UN snub by the generals. They make it clear that they would silence anyone who tells the truth, including the top UN diplomat in their country.
"I can confirm that the government has expressed its intention not to continue his assignment," Aye Win told AFP.
The government's decision will likely force Petrie, who arrived in Myanmar in 2003, to leave the country.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights (since 2001) in what they call Myanmar , Paulo Sergio Pinheiro will closely follow Mr. Gambari on the road to Rangoon. Er, Nay Pyi Daw, I mean. The junta has really set the stage for its meetings with these two international emissaries.
The authorities have also closed down the internet again, and may be expecting public protest to break out with the two United Nations representatives in the country. Some citizens may feel emboldened to express themselves, hoping the junta will restrain itself during the visits.