Tuesday, March 8, 2016

On Ethiopia, Inner City Press Asks UN of Surma Chain Gang, Spox Dujarric Hasn't Seen, Heard

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 8 -- Despite the UN having offices in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, it had nothing to say about the crackdown that has led to the killing, reportedly, of over 140 Oromo people, when Inner City Press on January 11 asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon' spokesman Stephane Dujarric. Video here.

 On January 29, Inner City Press was thrown out of the UN Press Briefing Room on Dujarric's orders; on February 19, Inner City Press was physically ousted from the UN compound, audio herepetition here.

 On March 8, back in with a much restricted pass, Inner City Press asked the UN's spokesman Dujarric, video hereUN transcript here (the UN didn't even look up the name of the tribe, Suri - UNreal) Vine here.

Inner City Press: I've asked before about the Oromo protest, but I'm asking now, there are photos and it may or may not be, you know, somehow doctored.  But, there's a pretty troubling evidence, pictures, circulating about in Ethiopia these tribesmen, [inaudible] tribesmen, also being part of this displacement, basically chained up, in a chain gang situation.  Given that the UN has a big office in Ethiopia and given some outcry about the actions of the Government of late, is the UN aware of this?  And what follow-up has been done since… since the Secretary-General went through there on trying to either defuse tensions or make sure that people are not chained up…

Spokesman Dujarric:  I think the Secretary-General had expressed his wish to see people being able to express themselves and demonstrate peacefully in a respectful manner, respect to their rights.  I will… on the particular case you mentioned, I haven't seen it...  No, I haven't seen it.

 When Ban was in Ethiopia for the African Union Summit, he gave a number of speeches but said NOTHING about the Oromo protests. On February 1 Inner City Press asked Dujarric about this silence, transcript here:

Inner City Press: When he was in Addis Ababa, I combed over the statements that the Secretary-General made, but I wanted to know whether he said, did anything or had any meetings about these Oromo protests in which more than 140 people have been killed as… you know, you've answered sort of within… with some statements here in the briefing room, but while he was there, did the issue come up?  Did he do anything on it?

Spokesman:  I would refer you to the readouts we've put out.

 In which there was NOTHING about the Oromo protests and deaths. This is Ban's UN. And this: Ban's spokesman Dujarric made an implicit threat to Inner City Press on February 1, see here.

 On January 18, Inner City Press asked Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq,video:

Inner City Press: on Friday I'd asked Stéphane [Dujarric] about this protest outside by Oromo people.  And he'd said… he had something, I guess, he read, saying the UN hopes for dialogue.  But, in hearing more about it, it seems… there were 140 people killed, according to Human Rights Watch, and there are many people still detained from those protests, and there's been an attempt to close down communications from some of the areas that were subject to the protests.  Since the UN has this office in Addis, is there anything… do you have anything beyond asking for dialogue, is there any request that those detained be released, that there be an investigation of the deaths or a stopping of what people call censorship there? 

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  Well, what I have to say is simply that the Secretary-General calls on the Government of Ethiopia and protesters to engage in a constructive dialogue to address the issues at hand, and the Secretary-General continues to stress the importance of respect for peaceful protest and freedom of assembly.  Have a good afternoon, everyone.

 On January 15, there was a large Oromo demonstration across First Avenue from the UN. Inner City Press broadcast it live on Periscope, with interviews, putting it on YouTube, here.

  Then Inner City Press went in and asked UN Spokesman Dujarric,video heretranscript here:

Inner City Press: it seems inevitable to ask you.  There's a big protest in front of the building by Oromo people saying that more than 140 of them have been killed by Ethiopia.  So I'd asked you about it on Monday.  You said you don't have anything but you'd check.  What does the UN know given that it has an office in Addis about these killings?

Spokesman Dujarric:  On the protests, we're obviously very much aware of the protests not only going on outside but in Ethiopia itself.  I think the Secretary-General would call on the Government and the groups concerned to hold a constructive and peaceful dialogue and also to ensure that all those who want to protest are able to express themselves freely and free of harassment as it is their right.

Inner City Press: You just announced an Ethiopian general heading UNISFA-

Spokesman Dujarric: soldiers from any nationality, as you know, for serving in DPKO, in peacekeeping missions, they go through a screening policy to ensure that the individuals and the units themselves are free of any human rights violations.

  We'll have more on this. For now, note that the UNSC's upcoming trip, from which Inner City Press was Banned, goes through Addis Ababa. Will anything be said about Oromo?

The UN report on rapes in the Central African Republic, released on December 17, found that UN Peacekeeping's Under Secretary General Herve Ladsous “illustrate[s] the UN's failure to respond to allegations of serious human rights violations in the meaningful way.”

 Ladsous has yet to take any questions about the report.  Now the Office of the UN Spokesperson refuses Press questions on reports that "peacekeepers" from Burundi, France, Gabon and Morocco paid fifty cents for sex with children in CAR. On the morning of January 12, Inner City Press asked three separate UN spokespeople, in writing:

"In light of the Jan 11-12 Washington Post report that “ in interviews, U.N. officials said the peacekeepers were from Gabon, Morocco, Burundi and France. The prostitution ring they allegedly used was run by boys and young men who offered up girls 'for anywhere from 50 cents to three dollars,' according to one official,” please state the current status of these 'peacekeepers' from Morocco, Gabon, France and Burundi - and the status of the waiver USG Ladsous gave to the Burundian contingent.

 By the morning of January 15, no answer, nothing...