UNITED NATIONS, December 14 -- 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.
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.
On December 14, with Ban still not having answered, Inner City Press asked Ban's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric, tweeted video here, UN 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.
On November 30, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, YouTube video here, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you on Burundi, on Burundi, you gave the readout of Prince Zeid's statement in Geneva about the pos… the problems in Burundi. And both… I… he and the panel of experts seem to both… to believe that the UN peacekeeping should… should stop using Burundian peacekeepers given the human rights issues both in CAR [Central African Republic] and in Burundi.
So given that I've now seen a deployment order for flights beginning on 10 December to… to, in fact, send more Burundian troops to CAR than are currently there, up to 800, and it's dated 28 November, I'm wondering, either from this podium or sometime today, can you… can the UN explain why the Secretariat and DPKO are… are… are rejecting this human rights recommendation to not take the peacekeepers and how that's consistent with Rights Up Front and consistency of the system?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, regarding that, following consultations with all relevant offices within the UN system, the Secretariat has decided to continue with the deployment of the Burundian 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 the Burundian troops in the Central African Republic will also be closely monitored.
And regarding what, what you've been asking about people's individual records, one thing I can say is that, following a review of the CVs of the proposed incoming battalion, nine individuals were excluded from the rotation.
ICP Question: And I… just one follow-up, because I've seen that letter on the nine and published it. But I wanted to ask you, I've also… since you've gone this far, since the letter, the note verbally, says it's based on cooperation by the Government of Burundi with the UN system, given this week… this past weekend's demonstration against the UN, and allegation by the ruling party that the UN is distributing weapons, and a memo that's come out showing that government employees were required to protest the UN, is that cooperation? And who… who's reviewing it under what time frame, given that they're going to fly 2 December?
Deputy Spokesman: We will evaluate all these developments, but regarding the weekend events, of course, you're aware of what my colleague Stéphane said at the start of this week.
In front of the UN Security Council on November 29 Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Francois Delattre about the protests. midtown Manhattan. He replied that Burundi was one of the topics discussed by new Secretary General Antonio Guterres when he was in Paris. Video here. From the French Mission's transcript, this time included by them:
Inner City Press Q: What about the Burundi protests against the UN? Do you intend to do anything on Burundi, there were major protests against the UN. They said that the UN is trafficking weapons in the country, pretty much ignored the call...
Amb Delattre: We remain completely mobilized on Burundi. This was one of the topics of discussion when Antonio Guterres and then Ban Ki-moon went to Paris a few days ago. Thank you for mentioning it, this remains for us a key priority. And as we speak we work on the implementation of resolution 2303.
This is an attempt by outgoing UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous to protect the Nkurunziza government and his CAR mission accused of sexual abuse from Human Rights recommendations that no more Burundian peacekeepers by used and paid by the UN.
But as even Ladsous' terms -- "full cooperation" with the UN - was immediately rejected by the Nkurunziza goverment with a mandated protest of the UN scheduled for November 26 - Ban Ki-moon's UN stayed silent.
On November 28, after Ban's spokespeople left entirely unanswered the Burundi questions Inner City Press submitted to them on the morning of November 25, a day on which they got paid, Inner City Press at the (next) noon briefing asked Ban's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: I have some questions on Burundi, many of which I sent to your office on Friday and were not answered. One has to do with this note verbale between the UN and the Government of Burundi, where it says that nine officials are not to be deployed, but says that the rest of the things can be deployed but will be subject to the full cooperation of the Government of Burundi with the UN system. And, as you know, on Saturday, there was a protest in Burundi at which it was mandatory to attend the protest if you're a Government official, and the UN has been accused by the chairman of the ruling party of having distributed weapons in connection with what they say is a plot against them. So I wanted to know couple of things. Also… finally, I just want to get your answer to this. There's a French company called OMP Solutions, which is online saying it sold uniforms and provided services for pay in connection with the Burundian deployment. So I wanted to know how many UN Missions this French compay, they're promoting it, and many in Burundi now allege that the fact that the head of peacekeeping is from France and that this company is openly selling services only to Francophone Africa deployments creates a conflict of interest. So those were the questions.
Spokesman: I don't know about the company. We can try to find out. You can look on the procurement website to see if they do any business with the UN. As far as any link between… conflict of interests between the fact that the head of peacekeeping may be… is French and that the company may be French, I think, is completely out of the question.
Inner City Press: My question is…
Spokesman: (cutting in) Mr. [Hervé] Ladsous is an international civil servant. There are a lot of the companies that do business with the UN where its nationals are also there. To me that's a non-issue. On the… we've seen these reports of accusing the UN of participating in weapons trafficking. I can tell you that we, obviously, categorically deny any allegations of weapons trafficking in Burundi, which are untrue, without basis, and extremely dangerous. The UN has been working to support the Burundian people, with extensive humanitarian development efforts, and has also been supporting efforts to find a political solution to the crisis in Burundi.
Inner City Press: One follow-up on that. The reason for the follow-up is… is this, is that the letter… this note verbale, which was never announced from your platform, but we… Inner City Press obtained it and published it on Wednesday, said… it goes against what the Panel of Experts propose, which was to not use Burundian peacekeepers anymore be… due to the human rights issues. And so, clearly, somebody… and I'd like… I think you should be able to announce… to say this. Who overrode the human rights, given Rights Up Front and other things, who made the decision to continue the deployment?
Spokesman: Let me take a look. I haven't seen the note verbale. Let me take a look at it.
By the time Ban's spokesperson's office closed hours later, nothing.
On November 25, a day on which the UN was open and Ban Ki-moon's Spokesperson's office had many people in and getting paid, Inner City Press in the morning submitted this question:
“In Burundi tomorrow Nov 26 there is scheduled to be a demonstration against the UN Panel of Experts, in which government employees are required to participate. (Photo attached). Please before the event provide the UN Secretariat's / Ban Ki-moon's comment - and, separately, how it will be acted on under the Note Verbale about Burundian troops in MINUSCA which Inner City Press obtained and published on November 23.”
Neither that day, nor in the two days since, has Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson's office provide any response. This as UN staff members in Burundi call in, scared of the targeting. Ban Ki-moon, Ladsous and others including UN “Communications” / censorship chief Cristina Gallach, have failed, and are responsible. #BanGenocide.
Even the UN's “Note Verbale” to the Burundian government which Inner City Press exclusively obtained and published said that “the deployment of Burundian troops to MINUSCA will remain under close review, based on the evaluation of the situation in Burundi, the full cooperation of the Government of Burundi with the entire United Nations system” -- click here for exclusive photo.
Not only has the Pierre Nkurunziza government since the Note Verbale openly rejected the three members of the UN Panel of Experts replacing the three it previously declared Persona Non Grata -- now mandatory protests of the UN Panel have been decreed for Saturday, November 26. Letter here.
This is the opposite of the “full cooperation” Ladsous and Ban Ki-moon said is required to continue paying Burundi. So will the UN payments and deployment immediately end?
Neither Ladsous nor Ban Ki-moon have lived up to “Rights Up Front” to date. So incoming Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who should fire and replace Ladsous and Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach who has censored Inner City Press as it reports on human rights, has been written to, by the RDB to demand a new UN mediator. We'll have more on this.
There's more. Inner City Press then reported on the "100% French" firm, OMP Solutions, which makes money selling equipment, uniforms and services to Troop Contributing Countries in UN Peacekeeping operations run by Ladsous.
Now OMP Solutions has responded to Inner City Press with this paragraph, which raises more questions than it answers:
"In 2014, Burundi was selected by the UN to take part in the “Minusca” peacekeeping operation in the Central African Republic. Burundi chose the OMP Solutions group to supply its personnel for the operation carried out on behalf of the UN. The 5-year contract between the Government of the Republic of Burundi and the OMP Solutions group involved the supply of equipment and maintenance in operational condition of this equipment, along with accompaniment for the deployment of one battalion (750 troops) and 2 Police forces (140 men per FPU). This contract covered the equipment with which the troops would be supplied (mobile kitchen, solid toilets, generators, tents, uniforms, logistical vehicles, etc.); under no circumstances were any weapons to be supplied. In July 2016, the UN decided not to relieve the Burundi Police forces present in the CAR. This meant repatriating the equipment and men to Burundi following the UN’s decision. The Buderrundi battalion should be relieved in December 2016. 95% of the equipment specified in the contract was delivered by OMP Solutions to the port of Douala in Cameroon. These goods were then transported to the theatre of operations by the UN (Sibut, Bangui) Each year, the UN dedicates nearly $7.5 billion to Peacekeeping Operations around the world. The States who want to take part in these operations submit their applications to the UN, which then examines the intervention conditions and declares whether or not the States are eligible."
We'll have more on this. The company's website says:
"Through a global and integrated commercial offer, OMP SOLUTIONS has been implemented for African countries seeking to match all requirements set by the United Nations regarding eligibility and reimbursement for Peacekeeping Operations. OMP Solutions is a 100% French Joint-Venture bringing together the “Groupe Marck” and Ineo Support Global, a subsidiary of ENGIE, heightening the associate’s International visibility."
What safeguards are in place to ensure that Ladsous, the fourth French official in a row to head UN Peacekeeping, does not abuse the total discretion he has asserts to keep the Burundians in MINUSCA in CAR, to benefit French business? We'll have more on this.
The UN's own Panel of Experts recommended no further UN use of Burundian peacekeepers; the Nkurunziza government declared the three panel members Persona Non Grata. When three new panel members were named this week, the UN's Dorian Lacombe, a former spokesman to Ladsous, sent it to numerous UN correspondents who do not even cover Burundi, but not to Inner City Press which does.
This is the UN of Ban Ki-moon and his Communications chief Cristina Gallach: try to exclude, even evict and restrict, the Press which reports on human rights, and whose exclusives have been credited, for example earlier this month, by the Associated Press. This retaliation must change, and the officials responsible for it should leave.
Here are nine Burundian officials that, “on the basis of a review of the personal history profiles” of which the UN has told Burundi's government to exclude and name replacements for by December 1:
Maj. Ferdinand NIYONGABO
Capt. Deogratias AHISHAKIYE
Capt. Epitace NDUWAMAHORO
Capt. Medico NZITUNGA
Capt. Diomede SINZUMUNSI
Capt. Jean-Marie NINDAGARITSE
Capt. Richard GATERETSE
Capt. Dieudonne NTUKAMAZIMA
Lt. Prosper NIWRUNZIZA
Separately, Burundian who Ladsous has used in the CAR mission stand accused of sexual abuse and exploitation, as Inner City Press has also exclusively reported, here. We'll have more on this.
The UN of Ban Ki-moon can't even handle attacks on Ban's own envoys correctly, or keep its story straight. Nor will it stand by its own humanitarian staff's finding of famine.
Inner City Press was leaked an email by UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs that specifically cited famine in Kirundo and other prefectures.
But in a UN Peacekeeping Configuration meeting on November 18, OCHA's representative made a point of saying, just before Burundi's Ambassador Albert Shingiro spoke, that there is no famine in Burundi, unlike the Press has reported. The UN presentations, including by UN “resident coordinator” Paolo Lembo, ignored all the things that the UN's own Panel of Experts said make out a risk of genocide.
So much for Ban Ki-moon's supposed “Rights Up Front” -- even Ban's son in law Siddarth Chatterjee, who Ban promoted to resident coordinator in Kenya without recusing himself, doesn't even pretend to follow “Rights Up Front” as South Sudanese are targeted and raided.
The Peacebuilding Configuration on Burundi has, at times, done some good work. But the OCHA presentation on November 18, particularly in light of OCHA's own internal communications about famine, was shameful, and raising questions about who should head OCHA in 2017.
It was said that PBC chief Taranco was briefing the new Secretary General during the meeting. What are Antonio Guterres' views and ideas on Burundi? We'll report what we find. Watch this site.
Burundi's Pierre Nkurunziza government is faced with documented allegations of sexual abuse and the impending repatriation of peacekeepers.
Meanwhile, as reflected in the Council of Ministers November 16 agenda tweeted here by Inner City Press, changes to the constitution are afoot in Burundi, reported to remove term limits. Nkurunziza wants to buy time, paralyzing the outside mediation, until his fraudulent internal process can be used to change the constitution and term limitsand allow him to remain in power.
Inner City Press on November 14 exclusively reported that the UN system says it has documentary evidence of sexual abuse by no fewer than 25 Burundian “peacekeepers.” Separately, six other of Burundi's deployees are failing the human rights vetting that occurs but which can, in Ban's UN, be overriden.
On this basis, those closest to this human rights issue urge, as recommended by the Independent Panel which Burundi has thrown out of the country, that no more Burundian troops be deployed to Central African Republic.
But UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous, the sources tell Inner City Press, wants to ignore this evidence and human rights recommendations and keep paying the Nkurunziza government.
Meanwhile that government has taken to demanding that the UN World Food Program pay it money to pay its own Burundian government staff ostensibly to do UN work.
Not only is WFP staying quiet: now they are using another wire service to deny the famine that was exposed in the OCHA email that Inner City Press exclusively published, below. This is what Ban Ki-moon's UN has come to, despite claims of “Rights Up Front.” We'll have more on this.
On October 20 Pierre Nkurunziza wrote a letter to Ban Ki-moon, trying to paralyze the UN process. Inner City Press asked about the letter at the UN noon briefing on November 11 and November 14. Then a wire service was found to write only about the letter, not about the rapes or repatriations, no context. What does Ban care? He wants to run for office in South Korea - and maybe to get term limits extended.
Inner City Press on November 10 reported from Burundian sources of attempts by the Pierre Nkurunziza government to “PNG” or persona non-grata Ban's Special Adviser on Conflict Prevention Jamal Benomar, who covers Burundi among other countries.
On November 15, for the third time, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq to confirm the letter. This time he claimed he had confirmed the exchange, last week. Video here form 19:30. But here's the November 11 UN transcript:
Deputy Spokesman: I don't have anything to say in particular about diplomatic correspondence. What I do have to say is that Jamal Benomar continues to go about his work as a Special Advisor, including his work on Burundi.
Inner City Press: Did the Secretary-General write farewell letters to Heads of State such as Mr. Nkurunziza? Does that -- seems like a pretty --
Deputy Spokesman: I believe he will be in the process. I don't know whether that's all written, but I believe that as he ends his term, he will be writing letters to the various Heads of State.
That's confirmation? Or cover up? We'll have more on this.
On November 11, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq to confirm the “PNG” was in fact a letter replying to Ban Ki-moon's canned farewell letter as Ban leaves December 31 (seemingly to run for President of South Korea and get term limits there extended, though both dreams may be dying).
But Haq refused to confirm, which would have in context supported Ban's envoy. From the November 11 transcript:
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you on Burundi and I don't know if you addressed this, but there are a lot of reports floating around that Pierre Nkurunziza has written to Ban Ki-moon asking that Jamal Benomar be either -- I guess he couldn't be replaced as Special Advisor on Conflict Prevention but no longer be the interlocutor from the UN system. And I will also, that's what is reported there, that he has been PNGed. I've also heard it may have just been a letter back from Mr. Nkurunziza to Ban Ki-moon responding to a farewell letter saying: and also your Envoy is leaving. Can you clarify this? Because this is wide -- has he been asked to replace him or is it just an off-handed comment in a letter?
Deputy Spokesman: I don't have anything to say in particular about diplomatic correspondence. What I do have to say is that Jamal Benomar continues to go about his work as a Special Advisor, including his work on Burundi.
Inner City Press: Did the Secretary-General write farewell letters to Heads of State such as Mr. Nkurunziza? Does that -- seems like a pretty --
Deputy Spokesman: I believe he will be in the process. I don't know whether that's all written, but I believe that as he ends his term, he will be writing letters to the various Heads of State.
On November 14, Haq called on first on AFP, which asked about possible PNG, with no reference to any letter. Inner City Press when finally called on asked again about the letter and Haq said some farewell letter have begun.
Later on November 14 APF wrote about the letter, quoting none other than Burundi's often-absent Ambassador Albert Shingiro.
Whistleblowers leaked the email below to Inner City Press; Inner City Press has asked the listed author for comment and has still received none. The email is below. On November 8 at noon, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it. The UN internal email says famine. Having asked, the author and Dujarric, we re-publish the email in full, below.
From: Nazzarena Ferraro /OCHA
To: Micaela Malena at unhcr.org
Date: 07/11/2016 10:40
Subject: Mouvements of populations from Kirundu Muyinga, Cankuzo et Ruyigi.
We are trying to follow up at the inter sector level, on the movements of populations across the borders with Tanzania, during the past two weeks.
Such movements would be in connection with the latest phenomena of droughts, insufficient harvest and famine in Kirundu Muyinga, Cankuzo et Ruyigi.
According to governmental and UN agencies, populations are attempting to cross into Tanzania from various border points.
Do you have any information that you can share with the inter-sector on these movements of populations?
Are you aware of any incidents relating to Tanzanian custom authorities refusing entry permission to Burundian individuals or groups? (an incident would have occurred at the entry point in Kasange, pls see the attached Map for easy of reference).
Do you have any information on incidents occurring at the border with Rwanda, involving Burundian Citizens?
What are the legal provisions governing the relationships between Tanzania and Burundi – regarding movements of persons within the territory of the two country?
Aren’t Tanzania and Burundi part of the same regional Treaties or Accords – East African Community and others? Then in this case, shouldn't Burundian citizens allowed entry into Tanzania, regardless of whether or not they are seeking humanitarian protection or asylum ?
Grateful if you could share any information during the inter-sector meeting today
Nazzarena Ferraro, Humanitarian Affairs Officer, OCHA Burundi office |Bujumbura, Burundi |UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
We'll have more on this.
Alain Aime has tweeted celebration of leaving the ICC, as on October 31 Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about mass graves.
In Burundi, with Ban Ki-moon silent except for his planned run for South Korea president, the government arrested journalists Julia Steers, an American, and Gildas Yihundimpundu, a Burundian journalist (CPJ deems his a fixer) whose station Radio Bonesha was burned down and closed by the government -- while Ban praised Nkurunziza for “re-opening” two pro-government stations.
On October 25, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, Video here
On October 24, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: some journalists were arrested, reportedly while investigating mass graves. It was an American journalist, J.C. [Julia] Steers, and a Burundian journalist, Gildas, and their driver. This has gone out all over the world. There's a list that's emerged of enemies of the State put out by the CNDD-FDD.
So what I wonder is, what… if he's there and these things are taking place, how… do these constructive meetings involve talking about journalists being arrested for trying to document [inaudible]…
Spokesman: We're very much aware of the arrests of the journalists, something that's very regrettable to say the least. We understand that both the journalists and the driver, who was also arrested, have now been released. We are in touch with our colleagues at the Human Rights Office in Bujumbura and trying to look into the exact circumstances of what has happened.
It is clear that there is a need for the media and the press to be able to operate freely in Burundi and every other… every other place for that matter.
ICP Question: And what about the lists that emerged? Are there any steps being taken by the UN to make sure the UN itself doesn't target media that are listed on the list?
Spokesman: The UN is not in the business of targeting media.
Really? See this, and today's Swiss Radio and TV, translated into English here.
Separately, there's this list.
On October 13, after the UN Security Council had a closed door meeting about Burundi and Inner City Press just outside the Council asked about leaving the ICC and the Mkapa or Museveni process, a draft Security Council press statement was proposed and put “under silence” until 10 am on October 14.
But, Inner City Press has exclusively just learned, major changes were proposed - and accepted by the drafter and pen holder, France. France's approach to Burundi can be contrasted to the position(s) it took on its recent Syria draft. We have put the marked up draft online, here. We'll have more on this.
On Burundi, Vague UNSC Draft Weakened By Amendments, ICP Puts Online Here by Matthew Russell Lee on ScribdHere's what was accepted and emailed out past noon:And On October 12, Inner City Press asked Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, if the AU vets those whom the Nkurunziza government sends to the AU Mission in Somalia, AMISOM. The answer was no -- although Mwencha did say that Burundi needs an inclusive dialogue.
On October 11, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane 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. So does no one vet?
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.
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 Burundi says 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.
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…
Back on May 31 Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's Dujarric about press freedom in Burundi, video here, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: on Burundi, on press freedom, there was… on 30 May, the Minister of Public Safety put out a statement basically accusing various journalists, some by name, of promoting of crime and violence. And so I wonder whether the Secretary-General’s statements that he made in Korea about free… freedom of expression, etc., apply there and also in Egypt. I’m waiting for a statement there… [inaudible]
Spokesman: They apply across the board. We, obviously, have seen the reports of new charges being brought against the Union of Journalists in Egypt. We remain concerned at the situation. We’re following it closely. Nizar?
So, no answers on Burundi. On May 30 the Minister of Public Security Alain Guillaume Bunyoni issued an order denouncing journalist Esdras Ndikumana and unnamed social media users. And what has the UN of Ban Ki-moon said? Nothing. This even as Ban Ki-moon, campaigning in South Korea, purported to support press freedom. (Korean article here, robo-translation here.) We'll have more on this.
The new Secretary General of the East African Community Liberat Mfumukeko is also, now, an Ambassador of Pierre Nkurunziza's government. It is, even some participants tell Inner City Press, "a joke." But it is no joke.
On April 21, amid published reports of up to 150 people detained in Mugamba, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it. He said he hadn't heard of it but would check.
An hour after the briefing, this was sent to Inner City Press:
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply un.org
Date: Thu, Apr 21, 2016 at 1:46 PM
Subject: Your question on Burundi
To: Matthew.Lee [at] innercitypress.com
Cc: Stephane Dujarric [at] un.org
"Regarding your question at the noon briefing: Our human rights office was informed that on 20 April 2016, following a security incident that occurred in Mugamba commune, Bururi province (an exchange of gunfire between unidentified armed men and military elements, during which two people including a military lost their lives), three persons, including a teacher, were arrested by the police and detained in Mugamba police station. No charges were retained against them and they were finally released on 21 April 2016 following an intervention by the Regional police commissioner."
Is that all that happened?
Dujarric also at the April 21 briefing, when Inner City Press asked why its office has been seized - to be resold, it seems - while that of South South News, named in October 2015 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York as Ng Lan Seng's vehicle to bribe the UN, still has its office, said “You have been afforded quite a lot of courtesies.” Like ouster by eight UN DSS guards? Five boxes of files dumped out onto First Avenue?
In a smaller but similar way, the UN on February 19 told Inner City Press that if it did not move eight years of investigative files out of its UN office, even the offer of a reduced non-Resident Correspondent accreditation would be withdrawn.
Now while threatening to throw or move everything out, the UN is making even more troubling "offers." Perhaps this is why the UN Secretariat cannot criticize Pierre Nkurunziza's Burundi; instead Ban Ki-moon praised Nkurunziza for half re-opening a mere two of four radio stations he closed. New low for the UN.
Ban Ki-moon, his deputy and chief of staff have received this sample letter to reverse Gallach's outrageous decisions, concluding, "Your decision to restore ICP's full accreditation and office will be highly appreciated by many Burundians crying out for peace and protection while promoting the freedom of press in Burundi." As of this writing, still no response from Ban.
On March 25, Inner City Press' sources reported to it that "Around 4 am today, heavily armed police surrounded the zone of Musaga, searched homes without warrants, arrested around five young men and killed an old man by shooting him purposeful on First Avenue Musaga. Among the arrested young men, two are related as a sister and a brother -- the shocking story behind these two is that the old brother Arnaud was shot and killed by the police during the demonstration."
Meanwhile to cut off further protests, the government is regulating SIM cards - and, some say, the French firm SG2 may be engaged in wire tapping in Burundi: "several technicians of local companies have confided that: 'We were obliged to provide SG2 with some 200 free numbers and to authorize their technicians to access our networks. They connected their own systems. We are sure that they have the technology to carry out phone-tapping.' Since the introduction of this system, international calls to Burundi have become very expensive, and Burundians in the diaspora now choose to use Skype or other calling systems (Viber, WhatsApp, etc). Soon people will do this for local calls as well, to avoid being tapped."
Again, no UN comment on surveillance? Well, this is from an Organization which got its favored correspondents to give it their cell phone footage to try to eject the Press on a pretext.
When Burundi was belatedly discussed at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 22, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Christof Heyns urged the government of Pierre Nkurunziza against reprisals on those who talk with the UN Panel of Experts. But how will that be enforced?
The United States for its part said Burundi should "lift all undue restrictions on the media." It's a fine sentiment - but the US Mission to the UN has been asked, by the DC-based Government Accountability Project, to ensure that the UN lifts restrictions on Inner City Press which covers, along with UN corruption, Western Sahara and Burundi. GAP Letter here.
On March 22, Inner City Press was entirely unnecessarily restricted from reaching the UN Security Council stakeout to cover a meeting on Western Sahara, Periscope on YouTube here. What will the US Mission do?
In Geneva, Heyns had to leave; Rwanda and South Africa were added to the speakers' list, but only for the afternoon session. Watch this site.
A week ago Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, about UN (in) action in Burundi. UN transcript here.
A week later from Dujarric, who threw Inner City Press out of the UN Press Briefing Room, there has been no answer, as on so many Press questions to Ban Ki-moon's UN on Burundi. So on March 21, Inner City Press asked Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq, UN transcript here.
As Burundi's Pierre Nkurunziza government stepped up the killing and censorship of opponents, its lobbyists in the U.S. capital, Scribe Strategies, were paid $60,000 to among other things set up interviews with US-government broadcaster Voice of America and the French government's France 24.
Nkurunziza's party the CNDD-FDD paid Scribe Strategies $59,980 on November 10, 2015. Scribes has this month disclosed, for the six month period ending January 31, 2016, that in exchange for this money it arranged for example for Nkurunziza's adviser to be "interviewed" on Voice of America and France 24.
Scribe Strategies also, during the reporting period, was paid to arrange for Sam Kutesa, a former President of the General Assembly who was involved with many of the same donors named in the corruption case against his predecessor John Ashe, to be "interviewed" by Voice of America about his tenure as PGA, during which he was as now foreign minister of Uganda.
Inner City Press has covered not only the John Ashe / Ng Lap Seng / Frank Lorenzo / Sheri Yan corruption case, but also Kutesa's dealings with the highest reaches of Ban Ki-moon's UN Secretariat, for example here and here.
On February 19, Inner City Press was thrown out of the UN on two hours notice. Audio and petition here. On February 22 Inner City Press was told it was Banned from all UN premises. After three days reporting on the UN from the park in front of it, and stories in BuzzFeed and Business Insider, Inner City Press re-entered the UN on a more limited "non-resident correspondent" pass, under which on March 10 UN Security ordered it to leave the UN as it worked in the UN lobby at 8 pm. Video here; UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric's March 11 justification here.
The underlying UN rule only says that non-resident correspondents can only come into the UN up until 7 pm. But the UN's goal, it seems, is to prevent or hinder coverage of UN corruption, which usually doesn't take place in the UN Press Briefing Room. (January 29, 2016 and September 8, 2011 -- Frank Lorenzo, UNdisclosed -- are notably exceptions.)
Lobbying the deciding UN official, Under Secretary General for Public Information Cristina Gallach, were the honchos of the UN Correspondents Association, including France 24 and, as in 2012, Voice of America.
Scribes Strategies' disclosures do not (have to) mention the Nkurunziza government's lobbying in and around the UN. We'll have more on this.
On January 28, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric about a meeting held but not televised on January 27, at which it was urged that mass grave sites in Burundi be preserved as evidence, video here, transcript here.
Obtained by Inner City Press
Ladsous' lack of vetting was criticized in the recently released report into the cover up of peacekeepers' rapes in the Central African Republic. Earlier, Inner City Press exclusive reported on Ladsous in his October 1, 2015 meeting with Burundi's vice president saying that he is "pragmatic" on human rights.
On December 16 Inner City Press was banned from questions to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, but learned from the mission MINUSCA that Baratuza was already in Entebbe. Inner City Press asked several Security Council members, then Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric on December17.
Dujarric told Inner City Press Baratuza's deployment is suspended and he is being repatriated: "based on the information we've received regarding the Lieutenant Colonel, his deployment has been suspended, and he will be repatriated back to Burundi." Video here. Dujarric told Inner City Press this shows the UN system working - on a day when a report on rapes was issued showing UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous not sufficiently vetting for human rights. We'll have more on this.
Amid the escalating killings in Burundi, summary executions in neighborhoods opposed to Pierre Nkurunziza's third term stand out. But Burundi Army spokesman Gaspard Baratuza was quoted on December 12 blaming all of the deaths on attempts to steal weapons to free prisoners.
Inner City Press heard that Mr. Baratuza was already in the process of being deployed to the UN Peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) even when he was giving these quotes, issuing statements and speaking to state-owned radio, and so asked MINUSCA's acting spokesperson, “Is Gaspard Baratuza of Burundi's army getting a MINUSCA job?” Ultimately, after the questioning, he didn't.
But the UN should have to say more. Inner City Press has repeatedly asked the UN how its Department of Peacekeeping Operations under Herve Ladsous vets those who deploy to UN missions; Inner City Press exclusively reported on an October 1, 2015 meeting in which Ladsous told Burundi's Vice President Joseph Butare that he is “pragmatic” on human rights.
Ban Ki-moon and his spokesman declined to take Inner City Press' questions on December 16, as they did on December 14. Vine here. Watch this site.