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Burundi Has Famine, OCHA Email Said, But OCHA Denies It In Front of Shingiro, Qs for Next SG

By Matthew Russell Lee, Follow up to Exclusives

UNITES NATIONS, November 18 -- 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
Date: 07/11/2016 10:40
Subject: Mouvements of populations from Kirundu Muyinga, Cankuzo et Ruyigi.

Dear Micaela,                                        

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.

At the UN in New York, when a photo of Burundi's Ambassador's empty seat during the first speech by Ban's successor Antonio Guterres is tweeted out, threats including death threats ensue. Then again, today's UN has no respect for freedom of the press, even in its own headquarters, evicting its perceived critics and restricting them to minders. So where is the US, UK, EU and others? Watch this site.

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 Scribd

Here'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]
From: Inner City Press
Date: Mon, Aug 22, 2016 at 3:13 PM
Cc: Farhan Haq [at], FUNCA [at]
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 hereVideo 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…

Burundi Draft UNSC Resolution "In Blue" Via Inner City Press by Matthew Russell Lee on Scribd

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
Date: Thu, Apr 21, 2016 at 1:46 PM
Subject: Your question on Burundi
To: Matthew.Lee [at]
Cc: Stephane Dujarric [at]

"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.

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