Friday, June 2, 2017

At Cameroon "National" Day, UN DSG & CdC, French Delattre, Toasts to Biya's Wife, No Internet

By Matthew Russell Lee, New Platform
UNITED NATIONS, May 24 – While the UN Security Council visited Cameroon during the 94 day Internet cut off and said nothing publicly about it (but see below), Inner City Press has obtained and has exclusively published on Patreon and now Scribd, here Cameroon's "Urgent and Confidential" letter to the UN Security Council, about weapons. On May 23, Inner City Press went to the New York event for Cameroon's "National" Day, which was boycotted in the Anglophone regions of the country. In New York, however, UN Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammad and Antonio Guterres' Chef de Cabinet Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti attended, along with French Permanent Representative to the UN Francois Delattre, Burundi's Albert Shingiro and others. Video here.

 Periscope inside was not possible due, ironically, to a lack of Internet. There were toasts in French for Chantalle Biya and for the UN officials; on the way out UN staffers told Inner City Press it was sure to criticize them. What matters, as always, is what happens going forward. Italy is a member of the Security Council this year, and on the morning of May 18 including in light of Italian President Mattarella's meetings this year with Cameroon's 34 year president Paul Biya, Inner City Press asked Italy's Mission to the UN: "your Mission was part of the Security Council's trip including to Cameroon earlier this year, during the country's 94-day Internet shut off to millions of people in the Northwest and Southwest (or Anglophone) regions. The IMF, for what it's worth, told Inner City Press the government's Internet cut off is among other things a financial risk in 2017. Could you comment on your Mission's aware of the issue, during the Security Council visit to Cameroon and since, and on whether you believe the Secretary General and DPA, as a matter of prevention of conflict, may have a greater role to play in this long-standing, UN-related conflict or dispute?" Eight hours later, the Italian Mission's spokesperson Giovanni Davoli replied on Cameroon that "the situation you are mentioning was not in the agenda of the UNSC visit." To his credit, Swedish diplomat Carl Skau tells Inner City Press, "I can confirm that the issue was raised by the delegation in meetings." Now Italy's spokesman insists, "I confirm: it was not in the agenda of the visit. Whether it was raised, it is another matter on which I have no elements." Meanwhile, party in interest France has yet to respond, while Emmanuel Macron is in Mali. We'll have more on this. On May 17, Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujuarric what if anything Guterres is doing about Cameroon. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: there are people saying that António Guterres' strategy of being Secretary-General is to sort of downplay the peacemaking powers of it and engage in quiet diplomacy.  And I guess the reason I'm asking you is just objectively speaking, compared to the previous administration, there are many fewer readouts, there's less… there's less being said.  Maybe it's to the good.  But, does he believe that… that this approach is bearing fruit, and if so, what fruit can you point to?

Spokesman:  I think the Secretary-General is a believer in the need for discreet contacts to be had in order to resolve crisis.  And I think it's something I… well, I think we've all observed since he's come into office.  And I think it's an important tool and not the only tool, but it's an important tool in the tools available to the world's top diplomat.

Inner City Press:  I want to ask this very specifically because I've asked you this a couple of times.  I keep hearing from people at various high floors that, in fact, the UN is concerned about Cameroon and not just the Internet, but what seems to be a case of preventive diplomacy.  So, I wanted to ask you, is there anything actually being done?  Am I missing some secret work that the UN…?

Spokesman:  I think if… well, if it's secret, it's secret.  Mr. [Francois Lonceny] Fall has been following and is the point person for the UN on this issue. 
  Fall is failing. Or, Fall is the fall guy for Guterres. Now there is the use of what residents call another weapon: the devaluation and even destruction of the GCE education system, by purporting to administer the test after a period where no instruction or learning took place. UNESCO has said nothing, just as the UN stayed quiet during the Internet cut off. On May 15, Inner City Press asked the UN's holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: In hearing UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization], I've been meaning to ask you this.  There's a controversy in Cameroon where a school… a test is being administered today in the areas that didn't have internet for 94 days and the schools were closed.  And a lot of people are saying the test… it's basically to destroy the Anglophone education system, and people are taking a test at gunpoint.  And many people there said UNESCO said nothing.  I don't know whose role it is.  Is it [Francois] Loncény Fall?  Is there anyone in the UN system that's looking at what's taking place there…?

Spokesman:  I'll take a look that report.  Okay. Thank you.
  We'll see. Some in UN headquarters approach Inner City Press where they can, since the UN Department of Public Information still restricts the Press, and say there's concern "upstairs" about events in Cameroon. But despite the claimed focus on preventative diplomacy, where is there UN action on this? Despite the restrictions, Inner City Press will be pushing forward with the story. Watch this site and this one, where it is reported that France blocked any European Union action on Cameroon and Paul Biya's 94-day cut off of the Internet in the Anglophone regions, in part to keep its hand in to compete economically with China in "its" FrancAfrique. When the EU's Federica Mogherini came to the UN Security Council stakeout on May 9 for questions, no Press questions on Cameroon were allowed, similar to Antonio Guterres' spokesman disallowing the question three times at the recent joint African Union stakeout. Nor was the Cameroon question Inner City Press submitted to Guterres' paid-entrance, not livestreamed London Q&A posed. We'll have more on this. 

This comes amid reports that armaments Cameroon got ostensibly to fight Boko Haram have been spotted in the Anglophone regions. On May 2 when Inner City Press told the UN's spokesman Stephane Dujarric that it had a question on Cameroon, he walked off the podium, as he has done before. He and the UN Department of Public Information, whose Cameroon mis-information is profiled below, worked together to evict and still restrict Inner City Press. 
 Dujarric repeatedly refused to tell Inner City Press the name of the acting Resident Coordinator in Cameroon after failed Najat Rochdi was promoted and said to ask UNICEF, Inner City Press did. Inner City Press submitted these questions to two UNICEF spokespeople on April 20: "Please state who are UNICEF is the acting Resident Coordinator in Cameroon and what if anything they have said and done about the 92 day Internet cut off in two regions, including to schools, and on the current doctors strikes. What is UNICEF's position on the 92 Internet cut off in Cameroon, as impacts children and otherwise?" UNICEF's Najwa Mekki, Officer in Charge of the Media Section, replied "received, we'll get back to you as soon as we can." Five days later, nothing - not even the name of who's the head of UNICEF in Cameroon, despite a second question to Dujarric (who has declared Press criticism of the UN's performance to be harassment, and threw Inner City Press out of the Press Briefing Room and has it still restricted after 14 months). 
  Troublingly, UN official Francois Lonseny Fall has not only overly-praised the Biya government, but also admonished that the Internet not be used to "incite hatred or violence" - precisely the pretext Biya used to cut it off. Today's UN is disgusting - we'll have more on this.

Meanwhile when Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Monthe's comments, the UN had no response, wouldn't even after weeks tell Inner City Press who is in charge of the UN in Cameroon, following Guterres' promotion of Najat Rochdi who said nothing about the Internet and blocke on Twitter Inner City Press which is pursuing the issue. This is today's UN - and today's Cameroon. Watch this platform.
 Earlier at the April 21 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked the UN's holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it. UN transcript here. Inner City Press: On Cameroon the… after 94 days, the internet was turned on in the regions but the Government has said if there is any further use of the Internet for they say is hate speech, other people say it’s in opposition to the Government, so I wanted to know what is the UN’s comment on how, going forward, the right to Internet in those areas?  You also asked me to ask UNICEF who the resident acting, resident coordinator is and I have and they confirmed receipt but have not stated it.  So I’m wondering shouldn’t there be an online site saying who is in charge of the UN system?

Spokesman:  I’m sure they will get back to you.  You can check with UNDP (United Nations Development Program) as well, but I just don’t have the name in front of me.

Inner City Press:  My other question, there are many people who were arrested during these 94 days who are still in jail in Yaoundé, and I’m wondering who in the UN system is going to follow-up on ensuring that…

Spokesman:  I would refer you back to Mr. [François] Louncény Fall and he said he would be back in Cameroon
   This is UNacceptable and shows why the UN's shameful silence, from Resident Coordinator Najat Rochdi to the UN 38th floor which promoted her and won't answer simple questions from Inner City Press but prefers to keep it restricted to minders, may portend badly, and empower or embolden Biya to do it again. So too with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: Prince Zeid and his spokesman Rupert Colville never answered the Press on the topic, choosing late in the process to send Ahowanou Agbessi and his deputy, quietly - so as not to upset Paul Biya? We'll have more on this.
The UN's shameful role in Cameroon and censorship should not be forgotten. UN Resident Coordinator to Cameroon Najat Rochdi never raised the issues, and on Twitter blocked Inner City Press which did raise it. Then UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric called Inner City Press' criticism of the UN's performance "harassment," and banned Inner City Press from asking Guterres about the issue at a rare Guterres question and answer stakeout on April 19. Still the question was asked and asked again. Now more questions must be asked. On April 19 when UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had a rare Q&A session, with the African Union's Moussa Faki Mahamat, Inner City Press went early, with a UN minder, to stand in the front and ask about Cameroon. But Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric had pre-arranged questions, several not on Africa at all. Inner City Press waited and then three times audibly asked, "Cameroon Internet cut?" Video here. Guterres looked, twice, but did not answer. His Deputy has been asked in writing about it. She has headed, for what it's worth, to the IMF and World Bank meetings in Washington, with Guterres to follow on April 20. Meanwhile on April 19 at the UN noon briefing, their holdover spokesman Dujarric dissembled. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: My next question has to do with Cameroon.  In Cameroon, there’s a doctors’ strike, which has left many, many people without any health-care at all.  So I wanted to know if the UN has any response and also, again, back to this question, where does it stand in choosing a new Resident Coordinator, who might address these type of issues?

Spokesman:  Replacement for Resident Coordinators is an ongoing process.  When one is… has been chosen and agreed to by the Government, we’ll announce it, as we do with every country.  In the meantime, the country team is headed by, I believe, the UNICEF representative.

Inner City Press:  I know, and I’ve never… I’ve gone to their website, and it doesn’t list who the person is.  So you say reach them, but it’s not as easy as you seem to say.  I wanted to know whether you think that between the internet still being turned off and this doctor strike and the President having been in power for 35 years and being out of the country, does the UN see this as as these issues as somewhat related, as sort of a prevention of conflict issue given…

Spokesman:  I think the… the… as Mr. [François] Louncény Fall said, he would encourage both the Government and the other communities to engage in a constructive manner.
  The Ban Ki-moon era of the UN, culminating in two separate corruption indictments in the US District Court for the South District of NY, seems to be continuing, along with the restrictions imposed on Inner City Press for covering the corruption cases and their links to the UN Department of Public Information and Dujarric's office and friends. Most recently, on Cameroon, the UN's Dujarric characterized Press criticism of its officials' cover ups to be "harassment" after the Department of Public Information evicted and continues to restrict Inner City Press, petition here, update here. On April 18 when the US Mission convened a rare UN Security Council meeting about human rights, Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft if the UK views the cut off of the Internet to millions of people in Cameroon as a human rights issues. Video here. Rycroft said he had nothing to add to what he'd previously told Inner City Press: that the situation in the Anglophone areas is not a threat to peace and security (although the UN keeps it under review). So what would be required, to make the UK and UNSC take note of it? And what about France, whose Francois Delattre also spoke in front of the Council, but didn't mention Cameroon? We'll have more on this- watch this platform.