in Crisis, UN Dodges Questions of Destroyed Village and Arrests,
Clooney DC Follies
October 13, updated Oct 14 -- While the UN speaks about how important
is to it, it refuses to answer basic questions, both in its New York
headquarters and in Sudan.
having returned from the Security Council trip to Sudan during which,
among other things, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Georg Charpentier
neglected to tell the Council about the village of Sora in Darfur
being entirely destroyed the previously week, and the internally
displaced people who spoke with the Council were subsequently
interrogated and intimidated by Sudanese authorities, Inner City
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky
about both of these issues.
both issues on
October 11, Nesirky said “let's find out.” When asked
about Sora at the UN noon briefing on October 12, Nesirky said “I
can assure you that something is in the works. I don’t have
anything for you right now. Something is in the works.”
that, 54 hours after the Sora question was asked, nothing, no
response at all.
so early on
October 13, Inner City Press directed three questions to the
Spokesperson for the UN Mission in Sudan... which were only responded
too evasively 24 hours later, here.]
the UN Spokesman is transcribed below. But in Washington DC George
Clooney, with whom the UN Security Council met with for longer than
they met with IDPs, was reported
to be asking for Congressional
action. What action?
he was raising issues of
Darfur, which he didn't visit. How seriously is South Sudan, much
less Darfur, being taken?
11 then October 12 noon briefings:
Press: On Sudan, following the Council’s visit to the Abu
Shouk internally displaced persons camp, I guess that was on Friday,
there have been reports that the people they spoke with had been
interrogated by Sudanese authorities, and in some cases, arrested. I
am wondering if UNAMID is aware of that or the UN, I mean the UN
system more broadly, and what they intend to do about it?
Nesirky: Let’s find out.
Protest in Khartoum, UN
and Clooney not shown (c) MRLee
Press: The other, as we left there, some, Mr. [Georg]
Charpentier had provided a document that seems to indicate that, in
the week before the Council’s visit, a village called Sora in
eastern Jebel Marra was “entirely, completely burned down”. I
know that Mr. Charpentier briefed the Council members, but none of
them on the way back seemed to… this wasn’t mentioned to them. I
am wondering... what does UNAMID and Mr. Charpentier do when a
village is entirely destroyed? Is it an important thing? Is it the
kind of thing that they should brief the Council about?
you roll back and tell me again, because it is sort of confusing.
Press: Okay. Among documents that Mr. Charpentier provided at
the end of the trip…
Press: He gave it into the press bus, saying that this would
just verify things that he’d said about things not being a problem
in Jebel Marra. But deep in the document, it says that a village
named Sora was completely burned down. It doesn’t say whether it
was by ground fighting or an aerial attack. But if it’s aerial, it
seems it would be the Government. None of the Security Council
ambassadors on the way back had been aware of this or had been
briefed on this. So, I guess my question, it’s a twofold one,
factually it would be is it possible to discover from Mr.
Charpentier, whose document this is, whether the village of Sora was
destroyed from the air or by ground? And maybe some statement on
why, in the briefing that he gave to the Council, this destruction
was not raised?
I am assuming you didn’t raise it with him yourself, because it
was passed into the bus, and then you read it after the bus pulled
Press: I read it actually on the way back, yes, yes.
Right. Okay, well let’s relay that back whence you just came.
full 24 hours
briefing of October 12:
Press: I wanted to ask a couple of questions about Sudan. One
is, there has been, I guess in the last 24 hours, there have been a
couple of developments. One is a quote by President [Omer Hassan]
al-Bashir that he will not accept any alternative to unity, which
many people say is basically a threat not to accept the “yes”
vote if the vote is in fact held 9 January. So I am wondering, there
was a statement made on 24 September, but this statement by al-Bashir
seems to be totally contradictory to it. So, I am just wondering,
what’s the process for either UNMIS [United Nations Mission in
Sudan] or the Secretariat to… What did they think of that
statement? And also there was an arrest made on Saturday, as it
turns out, of these pro-secession people in Khartoum as part of the
demonstration. They were not only beaten, but it turns out they were
arrested. So the SPLM [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement] has
said that’s a bad move and violates the CPA [Comprehensive Peace
Agreement] that they are not allowed to campaign for secession. Does
the UN have any response to that?
On that second question, I’ll see what we can get you on
that. I don’t have anything right now. On the first question, I
would indeed refer back to the statement, the communiqué, that
issued. I don’t think we will be commenting on every twist and
turn. The basic principles of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement are
well-known, and the communiqué speaks very clearly about the
stay on track.
Press: Did you get anything back on this issue of this village
of Sora that was listed as being…?
I can assure you that something is in the works. I don’t have
anything for you right now. Something is in the works.
30 hours later,
nothing. Watch this site.
Nesirky held a noon briefing on October 13, he had only just begun to
take questions when he stopped, to present guests who had spent three
hours working toward a future report. When they were done, so was
Nesirky: he didn't ask if there were many more questions. But there
* * *
Ban Meeting with Sudan Archbishop Excludes Press, No Answers on
October 11 -- The UN says that the situation in Sudan is of
much import to it. But then the UN refuses to answer questions, and
refuses to let the Press cover what the UN is doing about Sudan.
schedule of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon included a 4:30 meeting
with “Sudanese Church Leaders.” Every other appointment continued
the name of the counter-party.
meetings begin with a
photo opportunity. This one was no different -- except only UN Photo
and not the Press was allowed to photograph the meeting.
asked the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit if it could
photograph beginning of the meeting. It was confirmed that UN Photo
was going; the staged handshake would take place. But “Farhan” --
on information and belief, acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq -- said
no, Inner City Press could not attend the already scheduled
photo op. No reason was given.
City Press went to the North Lawn building, two stories below
Ban Ki-moon's office. Francis Deng, the Sudanese advisor to the
Secretary General on Genocide, went up, stopping to confirm to Inner
City Press that he was attending the meeting. Then a UN Photo staffer
went up. But Inner City Press was not allowed.
the meeting, Inner City Press waited and spoke with the Episcopal
Archbishop of Sudan, Daniel
Bul. He told Inner City Press that everything must be done to
ensure an on time and peace referendum, that was the only way to
protect the churches in North Sudan.
He told Inner City Press: "they have to push
to have a peaceful Sudan, the referendum [in time] - once done, you've
brought a peaceful country."
But few whom Inner City Press spoke while
covering the Security
Council's four day trip to Sudan were hopeful for an on-time much
less peaceful referendum. And the demonstrators in Khartoum on October
9 were saying that only unity could bring peace.
Inner City Press asked about resource
sharing, Abyei and oil. The Archbishop said the CPA contains the
mechanism: 50 / 50. But even now the mechanishm is hardly working.
Salva Kiir of South Sudan and Archbishop, Ban
and UN protection not shown
Archbishop Bull and his delegation -- Inner
City Press also spoke with Caritas' Permanent Delegate to the UN --
have other meetings set up. Let's hope those are more transparent,
and that those met with can bring more to the table. Watch this site.
Footnote: also at the UN on Monday, Inner City
Press directed a
question about Sudan's external debt to Eckhard Deutscher, Chair of
the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for
Economic Co-operation and Development: would OECD countries be
willing to forgive some of Sudan's $37 billion in debt, as a way to
sweeten the pot, or make the loss of oil revenue more palatable?
Deutsche responded with platitudes, about the IMF's good programs.
But a Permanent Five ambassador on the Sudan trip told Inner City
Press that Sudan (and South Sudan) are not eligible for the HIPC
program. So what is being done?
* * *
Inner City Press on Video,
sent to Darfur after reports of a
brutal campaign by the government of Omar al Bashir against opponents
of his regime and civilians perceived as supporting them.
as shown by documents
Inner City Press, is near to turning over five supporters of rebel
Abdel Wahid Nur to that same Bashir regime, in exchange for a promise
by Bashir to commute any death sentence his courts impose.
Security Council, which ostensibly oversees Gambari's actions
along with the African Union, expressed surprise to Inner City Press
once they saw the leaked documents, consisting of a draft letter and
“Additional Terms” from Gambari to Bashir's foreign minister Ali
to El Fasher from South Sudan, US Ambassador Susan Rice told
Inner City Press that she intends to inquire into Gambari's offers
about the Kalma Camp Five while in Darfur. This echoed a statement of
intention previously issued by another Permanent Member of the
with the visiting Security Council members, Gambari
of his military officials, in uniform, came to see the Press.
called Inner City Press' publication of his draft documents
“reprehensible” and told Inner City Press to “be careful...
lives are at stake.” Transcription below.
Yeah, a witness to
Gambari's statements later said, the
lives of the Kalma Camp Five are
at risk if the UN turns them over to a strongman already
genocide and war crimes. “Is this what the UN should be doing?”
Gambari, Lyall Grant, Susan Rice, Churkin- oversight
not seen? (c) MRLee
Press were caught on video and will soon be
published online as such. For now, here is a transcription, prepared
late Thursday night at a guest house in El Fasher outside of
Gambari's UNAMID compound:
“What's happen with the Kalma
Camp Five that you are considering turning over to the government...
or that documents indicate you are considering turning over?”
We have these five sheikhs who
have been accused of some very serious offenses. We have no means as
UNAMID to try them... Down the line if ever there was a death
sentence, the President has the prerogative of mercy. All has been
discussed confidentially. I want to say how reprehensible it was
that somebody leaked the confidential communication of the government
of Sudan...endangering the lives of those in the camps. The recipient
of such a leak I think should also think twice about what they do
considering that they are endangering the lives.. We've lost 27
peacekeepers between UNAMID and UNMIS, I mean AMIS.”
Wahid Nur saying that if the Five are
turned over, it will make UNAMID complicit in genocide, and that his
group would not cooperate with the UN any more.
Wahid was supposed to have
said... I met Khalil Ibrahim yesterday, asked how about how someone
said JEM wants Gambari to resign for Tarabat Market. [He
said he] ever said that, never authorized this... I want to hear from
Abdel Wahid. I've been to Paris twice, I went to Tripoli...What
happened in New York I condemn it. Matthew I have known you a long
time, you should be careful... You are a recipient of a leaked
document... Journalism also is a responsibility. I regard you as a
friend, I used to, I regard you as a friend, I am admitting that.”
Gambari said: “He wants all issues resolved almost
before he comes.”
you , what are we supposed to do, keep people
Council members, when they saw
the leaked documents, said they were not aware that you or UNAMID
were in such discussions, and some expressed worry. How much is this
Mission overseen by the Security Council?”
S-G. I am responsible to two masters. You
have the AU and you have the UN. The unity of the international
community is key to finding a solution.”
backed out the door toward his vehicle,
“Transparency you can always say is dangerous, but I think it's
probably a good thing.”
lives are at stake.”
a witness to Gambari's statements later said, adding that the lives
of the Kalma Camp Five are at risk if the UN turns them over to a
strongman already indicted for genocide and war crimes. Among other
lives put at risk, without oversight, transparency or explanation.
“Is this what the UN should be doing?”
before Inner City Press obtained and
published Gambari's draft letter to Sudan's Ali Karti, Gambari had
already expressed anger at Inner City Press' publication
his time as UN envoy to Myanmar.
24 high level meeting on Sudan, Gambari didn't
argue about lives being at risk. He claimed the documents were “old”
(2009) and not newsworthy. “Just leave me alone,” he said, having
in the past declined to respond to questions sentto his UN e-mail
address by Inner City Press. Now, the claim that lives are put at
risk. Is it just opposition to transparency?
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
Click here for Inner City Press' Jan.
16, 2009 debate about Gaza
Click here for Inner City Press'
review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate
Click here for Inner
City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger
Click here from Inner City Press'
December 12 debate on UN double standards
Click here for Inner
City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.