UNITES NATIONS, October 6 -- Amid warnings in Burundi of the risk of genocide, when UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on September 24 met with the country's foreign minister Alain Aime Nyamitwe, Inner City Press went to cover it as closely as possible.
The meeting went less than twenty minutes, but took nearly three hours for Ban's office to summarize. Inner City Press live-streamed the handshake and book signing on Periscope, as it did Alain Aime Nyamitwe's speech in the General Assembly hall. But when Ban's office issued a read-out, seemingly negotiated with Burundi, it did not mention the deployment of 228 UN Police, much less the UN's risk of genocide report.
On October 6, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Farhan Haq about the next turn of the screw - dropping out of the International Criminal Court just as Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda begins looking at Burundi. From the UN transcript:
Inner City Press: about Burundi. There was a meeting of the Council of Ministers today, and they did a couple of things. They set up something called the National Volunteer Corps, which people think is going to be a parallel militia, but they also are moving to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the face of a preliminary inquiry by Fatou Bensouda. So I wanted to know, what does the UN think of these two moves, and what steps has DPKO (Department of Peacekeeping Operations) or Mr. [Jamal] Benomar taken in terms of the deployment of the police, and do you see this as a worsening situation?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, to start from the last bit about the deployment of the police: Of course, you've noted the rejection by the Government of Burundi of a police deployment, and following that rejection, the UN made a request to the Government of Burundi to carry out a technical assessment mission on implementation of the resolution. The Government also rejected this request. While the Security Council reviews its options, the Special Advisor, Jamal Benomar, and his team have been consulting with the Government to find a way forward. The Special Advisor will travel to the region ahead of reporting to the Council at the end of the month. In addition, the Security Council has requested the Secretariat to brief on 13 October. The next round of East African Community-led consultations on an inclusive dialogue in Burundi is expected to take place in November. So that's where we stand. And, like I said, Mr. Benomar will go ahead now with his travels and will then brief the Security Council.
ICP Question: On the ICC issue, you might say they've been a member, and now that there's an inquiry and there have been some communications by the ICC about the country, they're moving to withdraw from it. Do you see this as an attempt to get away with international crimes?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, I wouldn't speculate on what they may or may not do with regard to the ICC. What we have asked for is that all the countries who have ratified the Rome Statute continue to abide by the terms of the Rome Statute.
Now it seems that Ban Ki-moon's UN doesn't follow Burundi's statements in Geneva, that it will not cooperate with the new independent inquiry, just as Ban has done nothing to deploy the 228 police mandated by the UN Security Council. Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric on September 30; Dujarric still had nothing on if Nahimana is being deployed by the UN, Vine here.
It seems the UN is deploying another dubious Burundian military figure. Inner City Press on September 28 asked Ban's spokesman Dujarric,Beyond the Vine video here, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: on Burundi, there's another deployment question. There's a guy called Cla… Claver Nahimana, who was widely described as being involved in the recent arrest and assassination of another military figure, Claude Mangera -[sic - it's Nyongera]. And he's being deployed… to the UN African Union mission in Darfur as a military observer. And it seems like these are pretty high-profile human rights cases in Bujumbura. Is there some kind of… I mean, I'm asking you here, and maybe you can ask them. Is there…
Spokesman: I'll find out. Obviously, I don't have those sort of granular details…
Dujarric as is his wont never returned with any details. So Inner City Press had to ask again, to Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq, on October 3 - to be told it is on hold. Vine video here; From the October 3 UN transcript:
Inner City Press: on Burundi, in the past, I've had to ask a number of times, so I wanted to ask again about Mr. [Claver] Nahimana, this Burundian figure, have you checked with UNAMID (African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur) whether he's, in fact, as civil society in the country says, being deployed as an observer?
Deputy Spokesman: I've been told that any deployment of Mr. Nahimana is on hold while we evaluate his record.
We'll see - a similar claim was prematurely made regarding Mr. Mayuyu. This is Ban's UN- and it has to end.
On September 26 Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about the bilateral meeting, Vine here, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: this was a readout that was issued from the meeting of the Foreign Minister of Burundi on Saturday and I read it as closely as I could. I didn't see any reference to the deployment of the police. There's a reference to the UN and the humanitarian partners continuing to scale up their operations to support the populations. Was this… does this mean that the deployment of the police was discussed? And, if so, where does it stand, given that it's been mandated by the Council and DPKO (Department of Peacekeeping Operations) is supposed to be implementing that?
Deputy Spokesman: We do have a Security Council mandate, and we're in the process of trying to carry out that mandate. The readout says what it says, and I don't have anything to add to that.
ICP Question: Was… was Mr. Ladsous in on the meeting? I was up on the 27th floor, but it was… the way it's done there, you can't see who's in the meeting, but I think, since it's… since you can see on 38, it's not a secret. Was DPKO in on the meeting with Burundi?
Deputy Spokesman: I don't have anything to say about the attendance at the meeting. We've provided the readout.
We'll have more on this. Meanwhile in Burundi, a forced rally against the risk of genocide report, here.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's 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.
That was false - as was Dujarric's August 24 answer to Inner City Press, see below. Meanwhile the threat of genocide, according even to the UN, has continued to escalate.
On September 22, Inner City Press asked the UN about the report - even as the Ambassador to Burundi of Kenya (where Ban made his own son in law the head of the UN system), Ken Vitisia, denigrated the warnings of the UN experts. What kind of Ambassador is this? And what is the Ban Ki-moon connection? From the September 22 UN transcript:
Inner City Press: yesterday, the experts that were assigned by the Human Rights Council to look into Burundi came back with a very damning report that said: risk of genocide in the country. And so I'm wondering… I think I'd asked you this in writing, but has the Secretary-General or DPA [Department of Political Affairs] set up any meetings during this General Assembly on this country that the UN itself says stands at risk of genocide?
Spokesman: Yes, the Secretary-General will have a bilateral meeting with the Foreign Minister of Burundi either tomorrow or Saturday.
On September 20 when Francois Hollande the president of France, which “holds the pen” on Burundi in the UN Security Council, came to hold a press conference, Inner City Press went early to ask him about it.
But before the press conference began, one of Hollande's Team not only declared rows of the UN Press Briefing Room “reserved” -- she also announced there would be only four questions, two international, which she pre-selected.
After this staged show, Inner City Press asked, Burundi? What will you do on Burundi, and cited the risk of genocide in the day's UN report. Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault turned and looked -- nothing. Beyond the Vine video, here.
Inner City Press went to formally tell UN Spokesman Dujarric, who has in the past lent out the UN press briefing room to France, and then to others, and got Inner City Press thrown out. Dujarric said curtly, “Thanks.” We'll have more on this.
On September 16, Dujarric told Inner City Press, Vine here, UN transcript here:
"I know, Matthew, you had been asking about Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Mayuyu, and I can tell you that it is my understanding that he was repatriated from MINUSCA (United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic) this morning."
On September 15, Inner City Press asked Dujarric three questions about Burundi, Vine here, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: In Burundi, yesterday, a former member of the army, ex-FAB named Claude Mangera [sic - it's Nyongera] was killed and the police of the Government have said that he committed suicide with a grenade, which people there are viewing with a lot of suspicion, given how did he get it in there? They basically think he was executed. So I wanted to know and I’ve asked you before, this team on the ground, this vaunted team on the ground, what are they doing as these killings continue? Do you have any update on DPKO (Department of Peacekeeping Operations) trying to get UN Police into the country under the resolution? And do you have any update at all on Mr. [Alfred] Mayuyu? I just want to check again since we’ve had…
Spokesman: Backwards, no, I don’t have an update on the individual you mentioned.
ICP Question: That means he’s still in the country?
Spokesman: I don’t have an update from what I last told you, so I would hope that, if he left the country, I would have been told. On your second part, obviously, we’ve seen the comments by the Government of Burundi not welcoming the deployment of UN police, to put it mildly. I think it is also up to the Security Council to ensure that its resolutions are respected. And on your first part, I have not seen those reports, but I’m happy to look into it.
Seven hours later, nothing.
In Washington, Burundi's government has paid lobbyist Scribe Strategies to, among other things, meet with the Atlantic Council, which until protests was poised to give an award to Gabon's Ali Bongo next week. Click here for that.
While Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Dujarric told Inner City Press the UN hasn't seen the reports of largely political prisoners moved from Mpimba prison, now this report:
“On 5 September 2016 the penitentiary authorities transferred twenty (20) prisoners from Mpimba Central prison to several different prisons. Eleven (11) prisoners were transferred to Gitega, fourteen (14) were transferred from Gitega to Rumonge prison. The operation was conducted at night raising concern over the security of prisoners. The majority of the detainees concerned are mostly political activists, supporters of the opposition party, Movement for Solidarity and Development 'MSD.' These political activists were arrested in March 2014 following clashes with the police. Some of the prisoners are former military and police officers arrested on suspicion of supporting the opposition parties and rebel groups.”
With the East African Community dialogue process stalled -- and Kenya's Ambassador to Burundi Ken Vitisia is involved, even as sources tell Inner City Press he owns / runs businesses in Bujumbura. We'll have more on this - and on the role of Ban Ki-moon's son in law Siddharth Chatterjee, who Ban on August 26 made UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya without recusing himself.
As to Ken Vitisia, despite or related to the scandal of child trafficking from Burundi on which we've previously reported, Kenya's Ambassador recently tweeted of Burundi, “great country beautiful girls .need to visit to see.”
This was co-directed to a UN official. Something is very wrong here. We'll have more on this.
Chatterjee tweets thanks to those who spread his military commander's attack on the Press and to other Kenyan ambassadors -what's his view of Vitisia, and of his father in law's failure in Burundi? We can't ask: Chatterjee blocks Inner City Press on Twitter, photo here.
Chatterjee served in the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka, involved in the Jaffna Hospital Massacre. This is today's UN under Ban Ki-moon, and may explain UNconcern with Burundi - or with the truth, for example as regards Mayuyu. Watch this site.
On September 4, Inner City Press asked Dujarric again about Mayuyu and was told he would "effort" an answer on September 6. So Inner City Press asked: From the UN transcript:
Inner City Press: I want to ask about Burundi first... on Mr. Mayuyu, which I’d asked you in writing, I just want to nail this one down…
Spokesman: I’m waiting… Everybody wants to nail everything down. I’m waiting for some information on that case, which I have not yet received.
On September 7, with Dujarric not having sent Inner City Press any update, Inner City Press asked him again - and was told that Mayuyu is fact has NOT been repatriated, there are “discussions ongoing” with the Burundian government. From the UN Transcript:
Inner City Press: on this question of Burundian military figure Mr. Mayuyu that I'd asked you about that you… first you'd said it wasn't on any roster. Then it was said that he had been repatriated. Now some are saying he hasn't been…
Spokesman: No, I didn't… I didn't… I think… I didn't say he had been repatriated.
ICP Question: So what was the meaning of that?
Spokesman: I said we are repatriating him. The discussions are ongoing with the Government of Burundi. As soon as we have a date, I will let you know.
ICP Question: Has he joined the military observing…
Spokesman: I'm not aware of what his specific role is.
So the August 5 statement was mislead, and the August 24 statement of “immediate effect” became inaccurate, unless two weeks can be considered “immediate.”
On September 7 when Inner City Press was asking Dujarric about nepotism and Ban Ki-moon signing the letter to name his own son in law Siddharth Chatterjee to the top UN job in Kenya, Dujarric said “ridiculous accusation” and walked out. This is Ban Ki-moon's UN.Beyond the Vine video here.
Now on August 29, when Ban Ki-moon's report is due on getting access for the African Union observers, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric (in writing since Dujarric canceled the noon briefing for the week)
“On Burundi, please deny or confirm that Ban's Secretariat has met with the Permanent Three members of the UNSC and, separately, provide a copy or link to the SG's report on Burundi due on August 28 (on deployment of AU observers, resolution at para 11).”
To this, Dujarric has replied: “No. Can not confirm.”
So where is the report? Inner City Press is told that, with no movement toward deploying any of the 228 police in the July 29 resolution, the Permanent Five members -- France, US and UK -- met with “the Secretariat.” We'll have more on this.
Back on August 24 Inner City Press asked Dujarric, if the August 5 answer 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.