By Matthew Russell Lee, Follow Up On Exclusives
UNITED NATIONS, August 24 -- UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Inner City Press on August 24 that Burundian Lt. Col. Alfred Mayuyu was deployed to the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) in July but is being repatriated to Burundi effective immediately. Vine I here.
This followed Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq on August 5 telling Inner City Press that Mayuyu was not on “any roster” of MINUSCA, video here.
Inner City Press asked Dujarric, if that was not intentional misrepresentation, what does it say about UN Peacekeeping's “vetting” under chief Herve Ladsous if they can't even find the name of a high profile human rights abuser. Vine II here.
This, Dujarric did not explain. Beyond the Vine here. He said not to “extrapolate from this one incident” - ironic, in that he, USG Cristina Gallach and SG Ban used a simple event Inner City Press wanted to cover as a pretext to evict it. We'll have more on this Inner City Press will continue on this.
On August 24, it also asked about new mass graves found in Burundi.UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about Burundi, the one about Mr. Mayuyu, which I've asked about…
Spokesman: I have an answer for you.
ICP Question: You do? Good. Also, there's been a report also in Radio Publique Africaine about mass graves. The group APRODH, run by Mr. Mbonimpa, said they found mass graves, including of people who dug the graves buried to eliminate witnesses. So, I wanted to, I guess, get that one in the hopper. But, on Mr. Mayuyu…
Spokesman: I can confirm from our colleagues in peacekeeping that Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Mayuyu from Burundi, who was deployed to UN peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic as a military observer in July this year is to be repatriated with immediate effect. The Permanent Mission of Burundi has been notified of the Secretariat's decision.
ICP Question: This is not to be mean-spirited, but, on 5 August, standing where you are, Farhan said, Mayuyu is not on any roster. And so, I'm left wondering… I don't believe necessarily that there's any kind of misrepresentation, but how can the mission not know who's…?
Spokesman: I can only give you the information I have… I have now. I'm not sure if those were Farhan's exact words. I'm sure he was speaking with the information that he had at the time. The point is that we looked into the matter, and I can confirm that information to you this morning.
ICP Question: f the mission is not able to actually even run a name… run a name through its roster…?
Spokesman: I think you're extrapolating from this one incident.
Again, ironic, in that he, USG Cristina Gallach and SG Ban used a simple event Inner City Press wanted to cover as a pretext to evict it. We'll have more on this.But Inner City Press will continue on this. Watch this site.
Shouldn't the UN Spokesperson be expected to provide an explanation why his Office told the Press a controversial Burundian colonel was NOT with UN Peacekeeping when a respected radio station in Burundisays the colonel was repatriated? It would seem so. But it's not the case in today's UN.
On August 22, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric for just such an answer:
To: Stephane Dujarric [at] un.org
From: Inner City Press
Date: Mon, Aug 22, 2016 at 3:13 PM
Cc: Farhan Haq [at] un.org, FUNCA [at] funca.info
Subject: Press Q again about Burundi's Mayuyu - I was told "not on roster," now RPA says he's repatriated: confirm/deny, explain
"I have asked your Office repeatedly about Burundian Lieutenant-colonel Alfred Mayuyu being deployed to MINUSCA in the Central African Republic despite his human rights record in Burundi, including in connection with Dec 12, 2015.
I was told, by Farhan Haq, that Mayuyu was not on any MINUSCA roster.
Last week I heard Mayuyu was in fact being repatriated (with the flight paid for the UN, not Burundi) and aimed to ask at today's abruptly-ended briefing.
Now the below has been published by Radio Publique Africaine, that Mayayu IS being repatriated.
Please immediately confirm or deny, and if confirm, please explain why I was told, after repeated questions, that Mayuyu was not on any roster."
No explanation given; no answer at all for more than a day, from this spokesperson who worked to get the investigative Press thrown out -“aide memoire" to Senate Foreign Relations Committee here,Paragraphs 9 and 10, some video of Q-no-A here. Is this acceptable for the UN?
With no email response, even just to confirm receipt, from Dujarric Inner City Press at the August 23 noon briefing asked again, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about this Burundian Lieutenant Colonel Mr. Mayuyu. I’d asked a couple of times here and was told he’s not on any roster, and now Radio Publique Africaine in Burundi has reported that he was deployed and has been repatriated. So what is the… what are the facts? And if he was there, why was it said from this podium that he wasn’t there?
Spokesman: I hope to have something on that a bit later today or tomorrow.
Inner City Press: How can the mission not be able to say? He’s a commanding officer…
Spokesman: As I said, I’m trying to harvest facts.
Since Dujarric has a history of rushing out of the briefing room with questions unanswered, Inner City Press began a Periscope video. Dujarric said, gesturing at Inner City Press' Periscoping phone, “You know it’s also live on the web.”
Inner City Press: I understand. But I have to be ready…
Spokesman: Of course.
Inner City Press: to…[inaudible]
Spokesman: And I want people to see that I am the lazy Spokesman that you say I am.
Inner City Press: All right. I did email about Mayuyu…
Spokesman: I’m lazy. That’s what I can tell you.
The reference was to a hashtag, #LazySpox a/k/a (in French) #DroleDePorteParole. And eight hours later and counting, still no answer of any kind.
On July 29 the UN Security Council adopted a resolution to send up to 228 UN Police to Burundi, with four abstentions: China, Egypt, Venezuela and Egypt. Surprisingly, Russia voted yes. Here is the French text; English is below.
Minute before the UN Security Council was to vote on the draft resolution to send up to 228 police to Burundi, French ambassador Francois Delattre spoke with his Chinese counterpart, tweeted photo here, while Angola's ambassador spoke with US Ambassador Samantha Power and her deputy, David Pressman. (Blurrier photo tweeted here.)
But what has been done on the resolution so far? Alexis Lamek, deputy ambassador of its author, France, first declined to answer Inner City Press' question, said he would revert, Vine here, and see below.
On August 22, Inner City Press asked again and Lamek said, “We are speaking with the different stakeholders,”(Vine here) saying after Inner City Press followed up that includes the government.
Ban Ki-moon's Spokesperson's Office under Stephane Dujarric told Inner City Press, after repeated requests about Ban's head of peacekeeping Herve Ladsous taking Lt. Col Alfred Mayuyu into the UN mission in the Central African Republic MINUSCA despite human rights abuses that Mayuyu was not on any roster of the UN. That said publicly on August 5 and never supplemented. Vine here; Video here,UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask on Burundi, I'd asked you about Lieutenant Colonel Mayuyu, deployment… people continue to say that he's actually being deployed to CAR (Central African Republic), and they've linked him to a unit that was involved in… in… in torture and other abuse in December 2015. So what… is that, in fact, being re… I don't know if you looked into it, but I did ask it here. Go ahead.
Deputy Spokesman: Yes. I did look into that. As far as I'm aware from our colleagues in MINUSCA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic), they're not aware that this person is on any of their rosters. They're continuing to check to see whether it was under a different name or something, but no. At this point, we don't have that.
Last week Inner City Press heard that Mayuyu was, in fact, repatriated from CAR, with the UN and not Burundi paying for the flight. Since Dujarric's office, beyond participating in evicting Inner City Press from the UN, and refusing questions on restrictions since, didn't even acknowledge its last round of written questions, Inner City Press intended to ask in-person at the August 22 noon briefing. But Dujarric left abuptly.
Now, RPA reports Mayuyu has been repatriated. Inner City Press has asked Dujarric and his deputy Farhan Haq, who gave the August 5 answer, in writing for an explanation. Watch this site.
On August 19, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq what if anything the UN has done about the abduction by government security of another journalist. Haq said the UN hopes he “found” - so the UN didn't even contact the government? Vine here; UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: on Burundi, I wanted to ask you, there's now a call… there was obviously Jean Bigirimana. There's another journalist, Gisa Steve Irakoze, of a radio station, one of the few independent radio stations in the country, has been abducted, the word RSF uses, by the National Security Agency. And I wanted to know… it's kind of a pressing case… is the team on the ground, rather than just a later report, are they in any way involved in trying to ask the Government to release this journalist who's also diabetic and hasn't eaten in two days by some accounts?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, we're aware of the latest reports, and we are concerned about any efforts that would harm the right of Burundians to the freedom of expression and any crackdowns on the media. So, of course, we hope that this will be resolved and that the person will be found and found safely soon.
On August 18, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Farhan Haq, Vine here and here, UN transcript:
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about Burundi. There have been… first, there's some… there are various Tutsi members of the army, some who are out of the country, who are basically trying to… saying they don't want to go back because they face imprisonment or killing. There's… there's… some nine have gone missing. Six have been killed. So, I wanted to know whether this is something that the Special Adviser or the team on the ground is concerned about, a seemingly ethnic split in the army, and how this also impacts the impending deployment of 800 Burundian troops to the Central African Republic.
Deputy Spokesman: Well, as for the deployment of troops, that's a process that is under way, and we'll see how that is carried out, but it will follow the normal guidelines for vetting. Regarding the situation on the ground in Burundi, the Special Adviser does continue to be in touch with the Government and other sides. We are trying to work with the various communities to make sure that the country continues to deal with its problems in an inclusive manner.
So far, here have been two economic responses. On August 16, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Farhan Haq, Vine here, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: it's widely reported that the Burundian Government has closed the border with Rwanda and stopped all trade between the two. So, I wanted to know if there's a… any response by the UN and its Special Adviser. And also, what's been done since the… since in mid-July the Security Council passed the resolution to deploy 220 police, what exactly has DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] and the Secretariat done to implement or begin implementing that resolution?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, we are in touch with potential police-contributing countries, and what we're trying to do is see whether we can construct a police presence in accordance with the mandate provided by the Security Council.
ICP Question: Has the Secretariat communicated with the Pierre Nkurunziza Government? Because they've said publicly that they're not going to take the police.
Deputy Spokesman: We are in touch with the Nkurunziza Government, including through the Special Adviser.
ICP Question: And what about the trade? What about the cutoff of trade? Is the UN taking note of that?
Deputy Spokesman: I am aware of the media reports. I'm not aware of any particular reaction we have. As you know, for most of these sorts of matters, we encourage countries to deal with any differences with each other through bilateral means. If there's anything more to say, I'll let you know.
ICP Question: Sure. I'm only asking because isn't there also a guy working on Great Lakes? It seems to be the problem in Burundi is becoming a regional issue, so I'm wondering whether the UN sees it as such.
Deputy Spokesman: Well, I haven't seen any comment from that particular Adviser on this, just so far.
Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Farhan Haq on August 10 about bodies found in Burundi's rivers, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: on Burundi, I’d asked you about the journalist that’s been missing and that his publication Iwacu says that he’s been killed. But in investigating a body found in a river, something called the National Committee on Human Rights of Burundi went and they found more bodies in the river. So it gives me… I guess I wanted to know, since the UN has people, including, supposedly, human rights observers, on the ground, do they accompany the Government commission when they go to investigate bodies in a river? Some people are saying 11 bodies have been found. Certainly, two have been found. One is supposed to be a journalist. Given that the Government is accused in some of these cases of being the killer, what’s the UN’s role with its team on the ground?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, the human rights monitors in Burundi follow up on any allegations of human rights atrocities, and then they report back on them, and as you know, those reports are available.
ICP Question: Right, but specifically, I guess, do they… are they in Bujumbura reading about this, or do they accompany the Government to go to the site of bodies?
Deputy Spokesman: You can see the reports. They give details about the work that they do in their periodic reports.
ICP Question: Right but in this instance, I guess I’m just asking you now, since there’s a dead journalist, when would they report on it?
Deputy Spokesman: We would have to see. Obviously, every so often, they have the periodic reports in which they describe the work that they’re doing.
On August 9, Inner City Press asked French Deputy Ambassador Alexis Lamek, now that the government of Burundi has said it rejects the deployment of UN Police, what next? He said, “I will come back to you.” Vine here. He didn't.
At the August 9 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Farhan Haq what the UN Secretariat is doing, to get the police deployed. His answer cited Burundi's sovereignty and cooperating with the government. Vine here.
On August 8, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: I'd asked before about this journalist from Iwacu called Jean Bigirimana, and now his publication, Iwacu, seems to indicate that his body has been found. And there are number of press freedom organizations, human rights organizations saying that it has to be investigated. With the UN's presence there, what steps has it taken since he was disappeared and the publication went public with his disappearance? Has anything been done by the UN on this case?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, we do monitor the situation of human rights in the country. We don't have any particular report on this case to share at this point. But they are looking into the circumstances of all of the potential human rights violations in the country. Obviously, any harassment, let alone killing, of any journalist merits a strong reaction and would need to be fully investigated by the authorities on the ground.
On August 5, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, video here, UN transcript here:
I wanted to ask on Burundi, something new and then one as a follow-up question. There's reports there of a mass grave of 12 bodies being unearthed in Ngozi, and so I wanted to know if it's something that has reached your office or if the UN's going to have any role in examining that. And also, I'd asked you about Lieutenant Colonel Mayuyu, deployment… people continue to say that he's actually being deployed to CAR (Central African Republic), and they've linked him to a unit that was involved in… in… in torture and other abuse in December 2015. So what… is that, in fact, being re… I don't know if you looked into it, but I did ask it here. Go ahead.
Deputy Spokesman: Yes. I did look into that. As far as I'm aware from our colleagues in MINUSCA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic), they're not aware that this person is on any of their rosters. They're continuing to check to see whether it was under a different name or something, but no. At this point, we don't have that. Regarding a mass grave in Ngozi, of course, we're concerned about any reports of mass graves, and I'll look and see whether we have anything further about this particular…
On August 4, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, video here, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you, in Burundi, among the various things happening is a move by the Government to either disbar or arrest a number of human rights lawyers that have… have both advocated for victims of torture and other abuse and have been pretty high profile internationally, sending out reports, including Vidal Nshimirimana. So, I wanted to know, since you have a team on the ground there and there seems to be a feeling that human rights defenders and lawyers that work on that should be defended, what has the UN done in this public announcement by the Government that they should all be disbarred?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, certainly, we believe that all human rights defenders everywhere should be able to go about their work, and we would have concerns if there's any effort to prevent human rights lawyers or other human rights activists from going about their work, and that is to be avoided. And, yes, we do have team on the ground to monitor any problems with human rights that are recorded.
Threats have been made against any UN Police who deploy - including threats by pro Nkurunziza officials who were invited to the talks in Arusha supported by the UN. From the UN, the silence has been... deafening. Meanwhile, here is the Nkurunziza government's belated justification for breaking off UN Committee Against Torture dialogue,put online by Inner City Press here.
On July 30 in Bujumbura, the CNDD-FDD rally at the French embassy which Inner City Press had reported in advance on July 29 featured French Ambassador Gerrit Van Rossum engaging with the CNDD-FDD crowd and their signs about Rwanda. Inner City Press tweeted photo here.
On August 1, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about Burundi. Following the resolution on Friday, which authorizes up to 228 police, I wanted to know what the Secretariat is thinking in terms of actually deploying and seeking consent, in light of… over the weekend, there were a number of protests in Bujumbura and a number of people including some invited to the Arusha talks have issued threats that anyone deployed will be killed, so what is the Secretariat going to do now?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, we are aware of that. At the same time, of course, the Security Council has spoken. They have made clear what their wishes are and we will follow up on that. And, of course, from our standpoint, the next thing to do will be to reach out to potential police-contributing countries and see what… how quickly we can get a police force that will comply with the request for the Security Council.
ICP Question: Sure, without actually asking what was said at the stakeout by Ambassador [François] Delattre that consent is absolutely needed, so what is the process for… for the UN seeking consent? And also just on these threats, including death threats, since the UN supports these Arusha talks, does it seem inconsistent to you that people invited and participating in the talks would be publicly issuing death threats to UN police?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, regarding that, I'll leave it to the facilitators of the Arusha talks to discuss the Arusha talks, but, from our standpoint, what we want to do is make sure that any mandate… Security Council-mandated force is able to go about its work. And as with every other country, we then deal with the host Government to make sure that will happen.
The UN of Ban Ki-moon and Herve Ladsous plans to accept 800 more soldiers from Burundi for "service" in the Central African Republic, Inner City Press was exclusively informed and got the UN to confirm on June 23. But why?
Especially now that the UN has belatedly acknowledged that the new rape charges in CAR are against Burundi? And now that Burundi has “discontinued its interactive dialogue” with the UN Committee Against Torture? On July 29 Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about this; the generic response indicated to some that Ban's office is not even aware of it.
After breaking off interactive dialogue with the UN Committee on Torture, Burundi and its “keeper of the seals” turned in a written response that many find less than credible. Inner City Press is putting it online here on Scribd. En francais. Watch this site.
As if in a parallel universe, on July 28 the French mission to the UN circulated and put “in blue” its belated draft resolution on Burundi, which as obtained by Inner City Press would among other things “authorize a ceiling of 228 United Nations individual police officers for the United Nations police component as referred to in paragraph 13 of this resolution, headed by a United Nations senior police adviser, to be deployed in Bujumbura and throughout Burundi, and requests the Secretary-General to ensure their progressive deployment.”
Inner City Press has obtained the draft - not from the French mission - and exclusively puts it online here. During this process, amazingly, Burundi's Permanent Representative to the UN Albert Shingiro has been on vacation. Sources tell Inner City Press his goal is to be able to say he wasn't here, it wasn't his fault. But will that work?
And if Pierre Nkurunziza, who is slated to come to the UN General Assembly high week in September, does not accept the 228 police? Inner City Press is told of splits in the CNDD-FDD party. We'll have more on this.