Wednesday, December 28, 2016

On Burundi, After UN's Lie to ICP on Mayuyu Picked Up in WashPost, ICP Asks UN Which Won't Answer

By Matthew Russell Lee, Follow Up to Exclusives

UNITED NATIONS, December 27 -- Benjamin Mkapa as Burundi mediator has kept his mind on his money, and his money on his mind. Wel placed sources exclusively tell Inner City Press that Mkapa demanded a raise -- up to $1500 a day -- and was rejected.

Mkapa then took his demand to the East African Community heads of state. Will he get the payday? By declaring Pierre Nkurunziza legitimate because Ambassadors still present their credential to him, Mkapa is working for the money. But $1500 a day?

   There are other of his advisers gunning for up to $500 a day, including one who is said to have previously help arm CNDD-FDD related groups. We'll have more on this.

  Meanwhile the day after the Washington Post story reviewing the UN deployments of Burundi human rights abusers to the Central African Republic, Inner City Press on the morning of December 27 asked three UN spokespeople in writing:

"Yesterday the Washington Post reported among other things:

“The U.N. human rights office “has raised serious concerns about alleged human rights violations committed by the officers during the violent demonstrations which started in Burundi since April 2015,” said a memo obtained by The Post dated Feb. 5, 2016, and issued by Lt. Gen. Maqsood Ahmed of the U.N. peacekeeping office in New York. The memo, which ordered the repatriation of Niyonzima and the two other men, was first disclosed by New York-based Inner City Press.”

Given your Office's response to Inner City Press at a noon briefing on August that Mayuyu has not on any roster, please explain who in the UN was responsible for providing this false information."

  Three hours later, there was no answer at all.

Amid human rights abuses in Burundi and the Central African Republic, on November 23 Inner City Press exclusively reported and documented that the United Nations has told the Burundian government of Pierre Nkurunziza it must replace, and cannot deploy to CAR, nine officers.

Inner City Press exclusively obtained and published the UN's confidential Note Verbale with the nine names, below.  It said the UN would closely review Burundi's cooperation. But is the UN doing that?

On December 21, Inner City Press witnessed PR Albert Shingiro's long talk with France's Alexis Lamek then was told to "be balanced."

In the UN budget process, Burundi not only fought to cut funding even for the small UN presence “mandated” by the UN Security Council -- police and Special Adviser's team -- but proposed over the top language. Inner City Press, Banned from access to the General Assembly by Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach's eviction order, still through sources got a copy of the draft and exclusively tweeted a photo here.

   Burundi proposed that the “residual activities” -- many of which have never begun -- be downgraded to the UNCT (UN Country Team) in September 2017 since, Burundi said, “the political agreement is planned for signature in June 2017.”  It wants a 50% vacancy rate, and “reminds” the UN to stay impartial, an echo of Shingiro's “be balanced.” It praises the EAC (headed by a Nkurunziza loyalist) and the “Inter-Burundian dialogue.”

   The UN Secretariat of Ban Ki-moon, as established, did nothing to fight this. For the US (non) role, and a Periscope video, see here. But it has not for now passed. Still, the budget remained the same as the year before, despite what was supposedly mandated by the Security Council. No follow through by France - nor by US (Samantha) Power. We'll have more on this.

On December 23 at the last noon briefing of Ban's era of ignoring genocide, from Sri Lanka to the current risks, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman, who apparently will stay as UN spokesman, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: there are reports that in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the FARDC engaged with and fired on and killed some Burundian soldiers who had crossed in.  And I’m… since there’s a billion-dollar peacekeeping mission there, does the UN have any information…

Spokesman:  I’m aware that the peacekeeping mission and its cost.  I’ve just not received an update here from them.  It doesn’t mean that they’re not aware or just means I have not been given an update.

  And twenty hours later, no update either. We'll continue on this.

On Burundi 21 Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: 

Inner City Press: on Burundi.  There’s reports that in a place called Kagaragara, some 500 families were… were forcibly and without notice moved out of their homes.  The Government said it’s because there are rebels nearby.  So these people are in tents.  And I’m just wondering, one, is the UN coun… team there aware of that?  And what do they say about it?  And, two, in the Fifth Committee, which is a… you know, going to come to a vote, the Government of Burundi is arguing against any deployment of this Special Adviser’s team beyond the capital, and I’m wondering, is the Secretariat aware of it?  Are they… are they somehow making their views known?  Do they believe that these people should be deployed to places like Kagaragara?

Deputy Spokesman:  Certainly, the Secretary-General believes that the team should be able to go wherever they need to go in terms of carrying out their mandate.  If there are places where we have specific human rights concerns, they need to be able to carry out their responsibilities.  Of course, the Fifth Committee’s proceedings are its own business, and we leave the matter [to] the Member States.  But we are always prepared to clarify questions for Member States on their request. And you had also asked about the incident in Kagaragara.  We don’t have a reaction to it at this point, but certainly, the monitors and our team are able to follow up as needed.  If there’s anything further that they need to say, we’ll let you know on that.

On December 15 in the UN's Fifth (Budget) Committee meeting in basement Conference Room 3, Burundi's representative - once again, not its lead Ambassador Albert Shingiro - said Pierre Nkurunziza opposes any deployment of the UN Special Adviser mission outside of the capital.

While France in the Security Council on the second floor was drafting a resolution to demand deployment of UN observers in Aleppo, Syria, it has done nothing to even seek compliance with Security Council resolution 2303. Call it Upstairs, Downstairs.

  On December 16 while Inner City Press covered an almost-comically glitzy event honoring Ban Ki-moon on Wall Street, including commentary on Burundi, South Sudan, Aleppo and the expensive Italian sports car displayed outside the event, UN thugs grabbed, threw and smashed Inner City Press' Periscope-broadcasting camera phone, with which on December 15 it tweeted this photo of Burundi's representative.

As before, the UN's cynical abuse of Press freedom under Ban Ki-moon and his head of Communication Cristina Gallach emboldens others like the Nkurunziza government. We'll have more on this.

On December 9, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about criticism of the Mkapa “mediation,” Tweeted video here, UN transcript here and below.

Now after the UN made light of the denial, delay and downgrading of visas, Burundi has searched the homes of diplomats and, it's said, UN functionaries. Is this cooperation? It is due to Ban Ki-moon's weakness and/or inattention as he promotes himself in VanityMoon week and for his run for South Korea president.

Many more Burundians get searched this way. But Ban's failure to uphold even his own staff member's rights is a new low for the UN, and enables what is happening in Burundi.

  Ban is untransparent as well - his spokesman Dujarric refused to answer Inner City Press on who paid for Ban's vanity photographer Giles Clarke to travel to Burundi and take photos promoting Ban and Pierre Nkurunziza?

On December 15, Innr City Press asked Dujarric, tweeted video here,UN transcript here: 

Inner City Press: I want to ask you about Burundi.  It’s been… yesterday, you’d said that the… the… under that note verbale, the… the UN is watching the country.  There are reports overnight of search… searches of the homes of diplomats and, at least in one account, it says UN functionaries.  So I wanted to know, is the UN aware of these searches by the Government?  Also of a statement in the Fifth Committee this morning by Burundi that they are opposed to the deployment of any the Special Adviser’s team to any provinces beyond the capital.  Does that fall into the cracks…?

Spokesman:  I have not seen personally the reports that you mention out of Burundi.  I will ask our colleagues on the ground.  And as I said yesterday, we’re obviously monitoring the actions of Burundi, and we’ll… a decision will be taken accordingly.

ICP Question:  But so the flights that were listed on the memo that was leaked have already taken place, the actual…?

Spokesman:  I’m not aware of the memo that was leaked.  I’m just trying to answer your question.

ICP Question:  Okay.  The flights were… can you get an update on the actual…?

Spokesman:  I will try to get as much of an update as I can. 

 On December 14, with Ban still not having answered, Inner City Press asked Ban's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric, tweeted video hereUN transcript here: 

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about Burundi.  On Friday, I'd asked you about the request by the opposition there to the Secretary-General to… that the current mediator should be recused and that the UN should become more involved.  I believe you have some kind of a statement.  I wish you'd released it.  But I also wanted to ask you about the status of the UN; in its note verbale to Burundi said that they would closely watch cooperation by the Burundians with the UN system to do this deployment to the Central African Republic.  And given that it's my understanding that Burundi is denying visas to… to the UN Mission there and putting people on… on one-month tourist visas in order to keep hold over them, are they cooperating?

Spokesman:  I think the letter, from what I understand, states it, that we will be watching the situation.  I don't have an assessment to share with you.  On Burundi, I can't speak to Mr. [Benjamin] Mkapa.  Obviously, from our end, Mr. [Jamal] Benomar is mandated by the Council to support this inclusive dialogue and he will continue to work on those issues.

Inner City Press Question:  But if the note verbale said that we're watching you to have you cooperate, and I guess I'm asking you factually, do you deny that Burundi has denied visas and given one-month visas…?

Spokesman:  I'm not denying it.  What I'm saying is that the situation continues to be assessed.

On December 12, Ban's spokesperson's office canceled its daily noon briefing, and has refused to answer written questions from Inner City Press, including about Burundi. But during a closed door UN Security Council session on The Gambia, which Inner City Press alone staked out, suddenly a half dozen US Mission picked media showed up (including one, US state media Voice of America, which previously “saw Liberians” in Burundi).

   Samantha Power came out, with spokesman and three US-paid bodyguards, and launched a speech about Gambia. Not on UNTV, which global taxpayers including Americans are paying for, but for the handpicked media. Inner City Press' Periscope went dead from covering the UN General Assembly, but it managed an audio recording. Audio here.

  Inner City Press asked Samantha Power, What about Burundi where the mediator now says Pierre Nkurunziza is legitimate? But Power did not answer: no follow through. The UN and even its Security Council have become a circus that you pay for. Drain Turtle Bay.

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you, on Burundi, on Burundi, there's now an open statement by the CNARED or… you know, the main opposition group calling explicitly open… open letter for the replacement of Mr. Mkapa or for the UN to send its own mediator.  And they're tying it to Mr. Mkapa, saying at the Bujumbura Airport, that Pierre Nkurunziza is, of course, legitimate because Ambassadors that arrive in the country present him their credentials; therefore, he's legitimate.  So they say he can't be the mediator on the topic of opposition and legitimacy if he's made such statements.  I wanted to know, is the UN aware of this call by the main opposition group and… and… it's been made before in a letter but… and what's their response to it?  Can somebody be a mediator when they've already given their opinion on the underlying question?

Deputy Spokesman:  Yes, I believe we've received a letter in regards to this particular issue in… in the past week or so.  Regarding President Mkapa, of course, he's not a UN mediator.  He has a status outside of the UN process.  But if… if Jamal Benomar has any particular views on this issue, I'll let you know.

Inner City Press:  But isn't Jamal's office charged with… with providing technical assistance to that mediation?  And if now one of the parties has gone… said public… I think the letter was written before his more recent statements…

Deputy Spokesman:  Yeah.

Inner City Press:  …about the legitimacy of Pierre Nkurunziza.

Deputy Spokesman:  And I believe Mr. Benomar is evaluating the situation.  If he has a response, we'll certainly make you know… we'll make you aware of it.

But before that, on November 14 Inner City Press reported from UN sources that 25 Burundian troops were linked to rapes in Central African Republic; on November 16 it asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about just this number: 25.

  On December 5, Ban's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric read out a canned statement about 16 Gabonese and, yes, 25 Burundi troops identified by OIOS.

Inner City Press asked, how can it be that the UN, led by Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous, decided to bring in 800 more Burundian troops AFTER the finding of the 25? Tweeted video here.

Dujarric replied, Due process. UNreal.

On December 6, Inner City Press asked more, UN transcript here: 

Inner City Press: the way to incentivise is to say no further deployments.  I remember there was a police conference, a UN police conference, that Burundi was disinvited from, that was told not to come.  They didn't come.  They were very upset about it.  A decision was made that, based on human rights issues in the country, they shouldn't come.  What would you say to those who say this… this sexual abuse… 25 cases that OIOS finds cause to believe were sexual abuse is pretty serious and yet the response is less so than was…?

Spokesman:  I think no one here is debating the seriousness of the issue.  There is due process.  That process is being followed.  We're doing all we can to keep you updated in the most transparent way possible.  OIOS has done its investigation in the presence of Gabonese and Burundian national investigative officers.  We await with great interest the report, reporting back from those countries to see what measures have been taken.  There… I think it's important for the process to play out.  There are all sorts of different options.  We, as we've done in the past, repatriate the whole contingent.  We can also… as the resolution says, we can also block all countries from deploying again.  We can bar commanding officers from being deployed if they don't apply the right command responsibilities.  What is important is that the process plays itself out along established lines.

ICP Question:  I just say because it's kind of ironic… there are actually flights that have already been scheduled by Ethiopia Airlines to fly 800 more peacekeepers in right at this time, so I just…

Spokesman:  Well, I think you may see the irony in it.  I don't.

Inner City Press:  Is there a deadline?

Spokesman:  We've asked that they be completed within six months.

From the December 5 UN transcript:

 Inner City Press:  I want to ask you about the… the announcement you made of the sexual abuse in the CAR.  My question is about the Burundian contingent.  In around mid-November, I'd asked, I guess… looked back at it; it was Farhan [Haq] that day, about specifically that number, 25 Burundians charged, because people inside the building knew that that was the number: 25.  They said that there is strong evidence against them.  So I'm wondering, now can you explain how after that date DPKO (Department of Peacekeeping Operations) wrote a letter to Burundi saying we're going to take 800 more peacekeepers; we're watching you closely.  How is it consistent to be watching you closely… if 25 Burundian peacekeepers committed rape, isn't that grounds to not…

Spokesman:  First of all, I think we're looking at accusations., right?  I think… so that's… everyone deserves due process.  We're talking about individuals, right, who may have committed horrible crimes, and if they did, they should face… they should clearly face justice.  Following consultations with relevant offices within the system, the Secretariat has decided to continue with the deployment of Burundian troop battalion in the Central African Republic.  The deployment of the Burundian troops will remain under close review based on the evolving situation in Burundi and cooperation with the UN.  The conduct of Burundian troops in the Central African Republic will also be closely monitored.  Just to give you an example, we reviewed the names of the new incoming Burundian troops.  Nine individuals, for various reasons, were excluded at our request from the rotation.  If you look back at Security Council Resolution 2272 on sexual abuse, it gives the UN the authority to bar troops wholesale from a country.  We will… we've… we're in the middle of a process here.  We… the UN has concluded what it is responsible for.  We've concluded our investigations, and I would stress that, during those investigations, the national investigative officers from Burundi and Gabon were also present.  Once we get the information back from those two countries to see what they have done, the sort of investigations they've done, the accountability they've done for each of these alleged crimes, we'll then consider whether the various provisions of 2272 apply.  And at this point, we can't exclude any option, but we do need to let the process play itself out.

ICP Question:  But I have two… thanks.  I have two follow-ups.  One is that… is that the UN… various parts of the UN system have… has… have been critical of the judiciary process in Burundi.  For example, there are journalists missing.  There are cases… and also, over the weekend, basically, a new… It seems that the… the Arusha Accord and the constitution are being overridden in terms of the makeup between Hutu and Tutsi in the army.  This has been… I was going to ask you that separately from this.  But, given the things that are going on, it seems… I understand due process, but from my understanding, the… I guess what I'm saying is this same number, 25, is what I'd heard three weeks ago.  And so it seems like people in the system… and from what I was told, there's, in some instances, video evidence, cell phone video evidence.  So due process or not, it seems like, how desperate is the UN for peacekeepers in CAR to continue to work with this battalion that has problems at home…

Spokesman:  Whoa, whoa.  We're not… Matthew, all the people that were accused, right, have been rotated out.  They're gone, right?  We're talking… the Burundian troops that are coming in are different units; they're different people.  We've excluded people based on a review.  It's clear that no one who is accused while the process is ongoing would be allowed back.  And we expect the Burundian military to do an investigation and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

ICP Question:  But they can go to AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia), right?  Just one last question.  For example… that's why I've asked you before, about whether the UN is part of its financial support to AMISOM.  Has any human rights review [inaudible]…?

Spokesman:  The UN does not provide; the European Union does.

We'll have more on this - because the UN including its US/UN official Jane Holl Lute claims “zero tolerance,” that's not what this is.

   And even these 25 could redeploy to AMISOM in Somalia tomorrow. This is a joke. Zero credibility. It's impunity day everyday in Ban Ki-moon's UN.

Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokespeople questions about the note verbale in writing on November 25: no answer. On November 28, Ban's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Inner City Press he would “take a look at it.” On November 29, he had nothing - but the paperwork for more deployments by and payment to the Nkurunziza government emerged.

On December 1, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, Twitter video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: in Burundi, there's an attack on the presidential adviser, Willy Nyamitwe.  And it's unclear sort of who did it.  They accused Rwanda.  There are pictures circulating today saying this was an intra-government thing by General Bunyoni's forces.  Is the UN itself looking into who attacked him?

Spokesman:  We have no way of knowing who may have committed the attack, but, obviously, regardless of who may have committed it, is something we condemn, as we condemn all forms of violence, especially political violence.

ICP Question:   I'd asked, I guess, two days ago, there's a widely, at least in Burundi, reported letter by the opposition to the Secretary-General saying that… that the Mkapa/Museveni process has not worked at all.  Today, [Benjamin] Mkapa put out another statement.  I just wanted to make sure that the Secretariat has, in fact, received a request that that process be superseded.  Is that…

Spokesman:  I will check

 And again, six hours later and counting, nothing.