UNITES NATIONS, October 11 -- 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 Presslive-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 11, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Burundi's government's widely circulated letter breaking off contacts with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Dujarric said he was not aware of the letter. Here it is.
Inner City Press asked Dujarric about the reported plan to deploy Nkurunziza guard Ildephone Habarurema to the peacekeeping mission in Somalia, AMISOM, to which the UN provides support. Despite Ban Ki-moon's claims about human rights first and vetting, Dujarric said the UN has no role in vetting to whom it provides support. UN transcript:
Inner City Press: I’d asked you yesterday about Burundi doing a persona non grata statement about three UN officials. I’m wondering if you have some more formal, less generic response to it. And I also… they’ve now issued a letter today saying they suspend all cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights.
Spokesman: I didn’t think my response was that generic. I haven’t seen the letter. I’ve not been aware of the letter. I know, currently, there are about 51 staff members for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Burundi who are monitoring, reporting, protection officers. Obviously, we feel their work is critical in order to shine a light on the situation in the country, and we very much hope that they will be able to continue their work.
ICP Question: And I guess I… I’d wanted to… to… one, I’d just make it an ongoing request on the… the… the individual who is going to be deployed to Darfur. It was said, maybe in your absence, by Farhan [Haq] that it’s on hold and under review, just that if that changes…
ICP Question: But I wanted to ask, there are a number of people in civil society and Burundi raising… there’s the… the… the chief of the security for the President, Idelfon Habaruama [phonetic], who they say is about to be deployed to AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia). And I think… you know, obviously, people have a right to due process, no question, but as the head of security of the President, he’s been listed as… by Radio Publique Africaine as a [inaudible]…
Spokesman: I think that’s a question you should reach out to the African Union.
ICP Question: But does the UN… just to nail the point down, given that the UN provides support, has this support office… does the Human Rights Due Diligence Policy enunciated by the Secretary-General apply to such a deployment?
Spokesman: Our due diligence policy applies specifically to UN Missions.
On October 10, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Burundi declaring “persona non grata” the UN experts Heyns, de Grief and Maya, Vine here. Following asking French foreign minister Jean Marc Ayrault with no response at all on October 8 (Vine here) about Burundi moving to quit the ICC, on October 10 Inner City Press asked France's Ambassador who said he hadn't heard of it but would be back. Vine here. We hope to have more on this.
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.