Inner City Press



These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYT Azerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .

,



Share |   

Follow on TWITTER

More: InnerCityPro

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

CONTRIBUTE

(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube

BloggingHeads.tv
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka

VoA: NYCLU

FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"
 

 

 


Community
Reinvestment

Bank Beat

Freedom of Information
 

How to Contact Us



On Burundi, ICP Exclusively Published DRC Report, Asked of Tanzania

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive publication

UNITED NATIONS, February 5 -- After UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on New Year's Eve issued a statement surreally praising the Burundi “talks” held in Entebbe, Uganda, multiple sources told Inner City Press these not really talks but rather a photo op. The January 6 session announced for Arusha did not happen.  Inner City Press requested to cover the UNSC's trip to Burundi, but was UNtransparently rejected.

Transparently, Inner City Press published the DR Congo Group of Experts Update Report including about 18 Burundian combatants, here and see below.

At the February 5 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban's Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq, video here, transcript here:

Inner City Press: Yesterday, you were asked about and made some responses on this DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo) Group of Experts report.  I wanted to ask you something in it, but also about what it’s in, as what the UN response is.  It describes the Tanzanian battalion of the Force Intervention Brigade as being quite possibly providing supplies to and working with the ADF armed group.  But then at the bottom it says, although the group is not in a position to explain why Tanzbatt would meet with ADF (Alliance of Democratic Forces), it can conclude that the Tanzanian peacekeepers who were present during the attack provided untruthful testimonies to both the group and to MONUSCO (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo).  So what I’m wondering is, what happens when a group such as the UN Group of Experts finds that a peacekeeping contingent or its members lied, dissembled, to both the mission and to sanctions a Group of Experts?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  Well, regarding that, we are aware of the new elements presented by the Group of Experts in its January 2016 progress update.  The UN Mission in the Congo, MONUSCO, has conducted an investigation at the time of the incident, which had led to a different conclusion.  UN peacekeeping is now in contact with the Group of Experts concerning the circumstances surrounding this tragic incident.

Inner City Press:  I have a related question, and it has to do with Tanzania…

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, hold… all right.  You do that and then Oleg.  Yes?

Inner City Press:  Okay.  My question is this, is that in its report… and you probably have seen this in reading the newspapers or seeing reports that… that Burundian refugees in Tanzania, in camps, were apparently told by UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) that they’re not allowed to talk to the press.  And so this gave rise to a report on Al Jazeera that, in fact, Burundian Government militias were sent into the camps to lure people that would want to oppose Pierre Nkurunziza out and in some cases kill them.  My question is, as a UN matter, is it the case that UNHCR, any UN body, prohibits those that it’s ostensibly protecting from speaking to the media about what’s happening to them?

Deputy Spokesman:  No, we allow for freedom of expression and freedom of the media and its activities in all activities and all places, including in refugee centres.  So the UNHCR…

Inner City Press:  So Al Jazeera is wrong?

Deputy Spokesman:  UNHCR, as policy, does not seek to constrain the freedoms of those whom it is protecting.

Inner City Press:  They show the Al Jazeera journalists having to call them after they left the camp because they weren’t allowed to speak to them in the camp.  So is this staged or some misunderstanding?

Deputy Spokesman:  I’m not aware of the circumstances of that particular incident, but you’d have to check with UNHCR on that.  

  Handpicked to go and memorialize the trip was Reuters, which barely reported what happened. There is a history, of Reuters UN bureau here and here; on February 3, Reuters correspondent Michelle Nichols went so far as to cut off Inner City Press' questions to the UN, Vine here.

  On February 3 Reuters' UN bureau chief Lou Charbonneau, a censor,  channeled a UN (DRC) report -- note not only the former Reuters official turned Eritrea sanctions “experts” exposed by Inner City Press here, but also that this same now discredited Reuters / UN individual was previously ON the DR Congo panel. Typically, Reuters did not actually put the report online.

  Inner City Press in the spirit of transparency is publishing the (update) report, dated January 15, 2016, signed by Coordinator Gaston Gramajo, and its two paragraphs about 18 Burundian combatants, here.

DR Congo "Group of Experts" Progress Report Including on Burundi by Matthew Russell Lee



Readers can draw their own conclusions, including about the mandate and motivation, and if these 18 is really the way it would go.

 At the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ban Ki-moon barely if at all pushed for peacekeepers for Burundi; his or France's head of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous had largely undercut the idea with a memo than Inner City Press published in full.

(Inner City Press has reported the UN Peacebuilding Configuration will visit February 15-19, click here for that.)

Inner City Press on February 3 asked Ban's Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq, transcript here.

On February 2, Inner City Press similarly asked the UN's Haq, transcript here.

  Meanwhile, on January 29, the UN Spokesman threw Inner City Press out of the UN Press Briefing Room then on February 1 made this threat, here. This was echoed on February 2.


 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.

On January 29, Inner City Press asked Dujarric again, transcript here.


  So it's all on Zeid, nothing from Ban Ki-moon, who appears to be playing this like he did Sri Lanka...

 On January 27, Inner City Press put questions to the UN and US Ambassador Power about the UN's continued use of Burundian troops as “peacekeepers,” for which the UN's Herve Ladsous gave the country a waiver to continue to get paid for under-equipped troops in the Central African Republic, where they have been accused of rape.

  The UN Spokesperson answered

Inner City Press: On Burundi, given that the government has not responded to, or has blocked, the human rights experts from Geneva, and given the other things said on this podium, what sense does it make for UN peacekeeping to continue to use, and give waivers to Burundian peacekeepers in CAR? Is there a connection between a country’s compliance with the UN’s demands, requests, and in fact paying money, which some say doesn’t even go to the troops, for service in peacekeeping missions?
 
UN Spokesman Dujarric: Peacekeeping troops, units that serve in peacekeeping missions, undergo various vetting processes that involve the UN and the host country. ?? in cases we have not accepted certain individuals, we’ve also returned battalions in other cases. This will be continued to be looked at on a rolling basis.
 
Inner City press: Will you confirm that they have a waiver to serve in CAR until April, by Mr. Ladsous, granted on October 1?

UN Spokesman: No.

 At the UN Security Council stakeout, Inner City Press waited -- including through two North Korea questions, and softballs -- then asked if this UN use of Burundian troops makes sense. There has yet to be an answer, although there are indications one might be forthcoming. (More than 24 hours later, no).  Here for now is about the US training Burundian troops. Watch this site.

Inner City Press asked Ban's spokespeople about the trip on January 20, 21 and 22 - including asking why the UN was not providing a video or at least audio stream of the January 22 press encounters, says it has a  "UN Information Center" in Bujumbura, which produced a smiling photo of the French deputy ambassador Alexis Lamek on the tarmac. The UN said it couldn't.

  Local media in Burundi put online a video in which Lamek spoke at length; afterward a pro-government Burundian media quoted Lamek that "we" take seriously the question of interference by Rwanda to destabilize Burundi and will be working on it.

  But the four scribes handpicked to accompany the Security Council trip, inlcuding Agence France Presse, it seems, for some reasons didn't cover it. Why? We'll have more on this. Instead, AFP, Reuters and Voice of America (which saw "Liberians" then cited auto-correct) filed near-identical stories with no quotes from opposition figures or attacked journalists. None of the three even tweeted on January 23, other than Reuters as a robot: talk about Old Media.

  How could "Agence France Presse," handpicked to publicize the UNSC trip co-led by France, not even cover the controversy?

  We note that the French Mission to the UN said that Lamek was being misrepresented (the same French Mission has tried to shield Lamek from critical Press questions, which here on Vine Lamek has refused to answer even when entirely audible). Later an AFP quote emerged of Lamek saying that any AU force, even the 100 human rights observers, should significantly focus on the Rwandan border.

  On the evening of January 23 the UN has put up select clips including a mere 16 seconds of French deputy ambassador Lamek, much less than the local Burundian media present at the same press encountered had.  If the UN filmed the press encounters, why did it so selectively edit them?

  More specifically, now, who decided on the edits?

Inner City Press, which is the media which on January 22 asked for the live-stream, has asked the UN, publicly on Twitter, here, and in more detail by e-mail to three top UN spokespeople:

"having just seen that your Office put online edited video from Burundi, must ask: why did UN edit the footage it has, with no Burundi government speaker, and only 16 seconds of France, penholder in the UNSC on Burundi? Please provide the full footage, in response to this request and, separately, online. Would also still like answers to questions below" on Burundi.

 And still no answers at all, the next day. Watch this site.

  The UN spokespeople refused to say, but beyond the pro-government "religious leaders" that they cited, the Council also met with at least some of the concerned members of civil society, and some journalists who inevitably raised the issue of attacks and censorship. This was not mentioned by the UN.

  We're told that Ambassador Albert Shingiro, who blocks the Press on Twitter, told the scribes that US Power said she would send “a strong message to the government of Rwanda." Again, Shingiro blocks the Press on Twitter: some diplomat.

  One of the four handpicked pass-throughs opined that "the fact that Council members presented Nkurunziza with a largely unified message on the different issues was seen as a positive sign that they had come closer to a common position." So they traveled to Burundi to work on their own issues? We'll have more on this - and on the Council's junket-ending meetings in Addis, if not on Oromo protests, than this we've asked about. Watch this site.

   On January 22, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq for the UN's response to Pierre Nkurunziza denying the existence of his party's youth militia, and why there was no video or even audio stream of the Security Council's - and Nkurunziza's -- press statements. Video here.

  Haq replied that "the facilities are difficult," that the UN Spokesperson's Office had reached out to the traveling party for information but hadn't gotten any. The Free UN Coalition for Access calls this a failure.

 On January 21 Inner City Press in New York learned both of Pierre Nkurunziza plans to parade "community work" for the Security Council members on January 22 and has been provided with a letter promoting same, here.

  On January 22, even after the Council's meeting with Nkurunziza was over, when Inner City Press asked the UN for a read-out there was none, nor any good explanation of why the UN with its country team could not arrange at least an audio stream of the Council's (and Nkurunziza's) press statements.

  Inner City Press asked the head of the Campaign Against the Third Term (“Halte au troisičme mandat”) Vital Nshimirimana about the UNSC visit, and why the AU human rights observers are not yet in place. His answers to Inner City Press:

"As for the deployment of the AU Human rights observers, I would recall that the same was decided back in June following the June 13, 2015 Johannesburg Summit on Burundi. Initially, the number was to be about 70 observers but the government refused and allowed a narrow team.

"My thought over the issue is that Nkurunziza has chosen to humiliate everybody in as much as he does not care about any principle or value. So, the AU and other bodies as well choose to deal with him very carefully for he is a man (and a regime) "irrational," likely to commit whatever crime, insult whomever.....

"With regard to the UNSC visit, I hope this is the very last warning towards a kind of regime likely to commit genocide. They are expected to dually and objectively assess the situation and especially the strength and presence of Imbonerakure, the CNDD-FDD militia.... And this was shown through a huge anti- peacekeeping mission mission to Burundi, MAPROBU rhetoric.
Burundians expect the UNSC support the deployment of such a mission in line with the responsibility to protect (Pillar III) since Burundi is no longer able and is unwilling to protect citizens from crimes against humanity (ongoing from April 2015) and genocide (of which dozens of signs suggest that it is likely to happen and some acts are already undertaken).

Lastly, the UNSC is expected to talk with Nkurunziza and the AU as well regarding peace talks. They should assess Museveni's performance, after what conclude that he should be assigned AU and UN teams (to enhance his capacity) or change him.... I commend your endeavors to keep the world informed about the Burundi crisis."

 We'll have more on this -- including in light the UN Deputy Spokesperson's response to Inner City Press that transcripts may be provided.

  Here are parts of an Inner City Press interview with a journalist attacked by the Nkurunziza government and for that reason anonymous:

In English: "It would be better if the Security Council met for example UPRONA leader Nditije Charles, with the non-governmental branch of the UPRONA party) or his Spokesman Thacien Sibomana. The Council should try to meet civil society but  there is almost no one left to really speak with now in Bujumbura. All those still in Bujumbura, they can't say anything about the abuses of authorithies. If it was possible, they should ask to meet the young men in prison. They should see themselves how the government abuses those young men, with tortures... Tell them visit to the prisoners in Gitega (those who are accused to attempting a coup d'etat) UN has the right to visit prisoners."

  Inner City Press note: another source says "the government moved several detainees from the SNR jails. I highly doubt they'd allow a visit to detainees."

 Tellingly, IWACU reports that bike taxi and motorcycle taxi drivers offered money to protest in favor of Nkurunziza weren't, after the fact, paid: here.

    At the January 21 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq about the "community works" and meeting(s). Video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press:  I wanted to ask you this just because I'm trying to cover it, and I know that you'd said yesterday that the Special Adviser, Jamal Benomar, is in Burundi in part of the trip.  So what I wanted to ask you is, I've seen documents that show that the… the… the… tomorrow, the meeting with the President, [Pierre] Nkurunziza, will involve a demonstration of “community work”, i.e., people have been asked to go and I don't know if it's to show how happy they are — Gitega and Karuzi.  Does the Special Adviser… not the Security Council, does the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General believe that this type of… of… of show is the right one and will they be meeting with UPRONA and other opposition groups or prisoners currently in jail?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  Well, we'll be able to provide details of the meetings once they've taken place.  As you know, the expectation is for the members of the Council to meet with President Nkurunziza.  That hasn't happened so far, but once that's happened, we'll see what the circumstances are and what the views of Mr. Benomar are.



 This is reminiscent of the type of dog-and-pony show Sri Lanka's then President Mahinda Rajapaksa put on for visiting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and that Inner City Press accompanied and covered (apparently not to the UN's and its allies' liking - it has been Banned from trips since.) But will the UNSC, unlike Ban, have the fortitude or leverage to reject a dog and pony show? Watch this site.

On January 19 at the UN, Inner City Press asked Uruguay's Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Jose Luis Cancela, chairing the Security Council debate on Protection of Civilians, about Burundi and the Council's trip. Video here.

  On January 21, Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access asked UK Permanent Representative Matthew Rycroft about his stop-over on Addis Ababa, "will you as UK meet with AU before heading to Burundi? About AU's proposed deployment?"

   Rycroft replied, "Yes! Looking forward to meeting @AU_Chergui today. Will also return to Addis with whole UNSC after Burundi."

  In Addis, Chergui had filed the Concept of Operation for the MAPROBU peacekeeping mission. We'll have more on this.

  Burundian civil society has written to Ban seeking the repatriation of the country's peacekeepers. Inner City Press has put the letter from Vital Nshimirimana to Ban online here, and will be asking the UN about it. Watch this site.

  On December 30 Nkurunziza threatened to have his forces attack peacekeepers proposed for the country.


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, last weekend's 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 had 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?”

  On December 16, hours before UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon held a rare press conference, MINUSCA's acting spokesperson sent this to Inner City Press:

"To: Matthew.Lee [at] InnerCityPress.com
From: Vladimir MONTEIRO [at] UN.org
Date: Wed, Dec 16, 2015
Subject: ICP question: Gaspard Baratuza of Burundi's army getting a MINUSCA-related post?
Cc: FUNCA [at] funca.info

"No decision related to Lt Col Baratuza's deployment can be taken before we finish looking into the matter. We can confirm that Lt Col Baratuza is in Entebbe but he has not yet deployed to MINUSCA.  Regards. VNM"

There are some questions about Baratuza, a Colonel in Burundi's Army, being listed by the UN as “Lt. Col.”

  Despite multiple follow-up questions by Inner City Press, Mr. Monteiro - previously a spokesperson for the UN electoral mission in Burundi - replied that “This is what we can say about this issue.”

   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.
 

Share |

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

Click for  BloggingHeads.tv re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Feedback: Editorial [at] innercitypress.com

UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

Google
  Search innercitypress.com  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-2016 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] innercitypress.com

 

  lloo