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On Cameroon, UN's Zeid Who Stopped Death Count at 10 Now Speaks, Little and Late

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, 1st Person, this

UNITED NATIONS, March 10 -- The deference of the UN system's and many of its member states to Cameroon's corrupt 36-year president Paul Biya, and their complicity in his recent crackdown, continues. Now much belatedly the outgoing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, who stopped his Office's death count in Anglophone Cameroon at 10 and whose spokesman then refused to answer Press questions, has included a paragraph on Cameroon in his oral update to the Human Rights Council. Like for example Secretary General Antonio Guterres' humanitarian ASG Ursula Mueller, Zeid makes some excuses for the crackdown ("acknowledging the complex challenges facing the authorities, renewed displacement from the Central African Republic and the increase in Boko Haram attacks in the north") Zeid says "my Office has not been given access to verify these allegations." How hard has the UN system tried? Guterres in October stopped by and took Paul Biya's golden statue; his adviser as Inner City Press has reported from sources on the 38th floor of the UN have praised to him the Biya government, which has and uses the chairmanship of the UN's budget (Fifth) committee. In this context, Zeid's paragraph is far too little, far too late. But here it is: "In Cameroon, what appears to be long-standing structural discrimination in the Anglophone region of the country has led to continuing clashes between security forces and separatist groups. The arrest, in Nigeria, of 47 Anglophone community leaders, and their extradition to Cameroon has reportedly led to renewed violence in the south-west and north-west of the country. Allegations of summary executions of civilians by members of the security forces have been reported, and are generating widespread resentment. I regret that my Office has not been given access to verify these allegations. Acknowledging the complex challenges facing the authorities – including renewed displacement from the Central African Republic and the increase in Boko Haram attacks in the north – I urge the Government to make every effort to de-escalate the conflict in the Anglophone regions, and to allow unimpeded access to human rights monitors so that accurate information on the situation can inform constructive engagement on the way forward." This while Guterres' envoy Francois Lounceny Fall, in UN Radio no less, equated secessionists with extremists, outgoing Political chief Jeff Feltman didn't know Fall was visiting and Mueller didn't even visit the area. (Zeid is charged with retaliation, and even issued a press release in that regard.) The UN system is failing on this. The Biya government is destroying historic places like Boa Bakundu, alongside the illegal refoulement to Yaounde from Nigeria, and other ongoing crackdowns. The UN's Central Africa representative Francois Lounceny Fall, who on UN Radio equated secessionists and extremists then ran from Press questions in UN Headquarters, deigned to visit Buea, along with the UN's resident coordinator Allegra Maria Del Pilar Baiocchi, more focused on promoting the UN than trying to prevent conflict and the killing of civilians. She has tweeted photos about the visit, nothing on the burned motor bikes and people, much less the illegal refoulement. The same was true of the visit of Guterres' Assistant Secretary General Ursula Mueller of Germany. She didn't got to the Anglophone areas, her trip was quickly follow by a German government KFW contribution to other parts of the country and now it emerges that the website of the Germany embassy in Cameroon, while purportedly in both French and English, has virtually no information to apply for a visa in English. In fact, the site says "This Website is currently under construction. In the meantime, please check our french or german Website version for more Information regarding the visa procedure." Photo here. This in a country that is purportedly bilingual. We'll have more on this.  From the UN's February 28 transcript: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about Cameroon.  I've seen that François Fall has… or at least his office is tweeting that he's in the south-west region in Buea, saying he's having some great meetings.  Given that the Government side there has asked for a… for a… an alert and that young people's motorcycles are being burned, destroying their livelihood, I'm just wondering, are we going to get a readout?  Was that said in advance…? Spokesman:  Let me see what I can get. Inner City Press: It seems like Mr. Feltman didn't actually know it was taking place.  I tried-- Spokesman:  Well, he may not be the only one.  I was not aware of the visit." A full 24 hours later, without sending Inner City Press any update or response to its question, Dujarric at the noon briefing read this out: "Turning to Cameroon, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Central Africa, François Louncény Fall, is indeed in Cameroon to consult on and assess recent developments in the south-west and north-west regions of the country and encourage a peaceful resolution of the crisis through dialogue and in accordance with international standards of human rights and humanitarian law. Mr. Fall held consultations in Yaoundé, in Douala and in the two concerned regions, including with Government officials, political stakeholders, the diplomatic corps and civil society, among others.  His visit to Cameroon will end on 4 March." Inner City Press asked, vide here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press:  on Cameroon, on the thing you read out? What I wanted to know is that… you know, it all sounds great and thanks for coming back with the statement.  It seems like at the same time that he's there with this statement, the Government is actually deploying its special forces to… to increasingly militarize the conflict.  So I wanted to know, did… did he witness that while he was there? Spokesman:  I'm not aware that [he witnessed it]… Inner City Press:  Did he raise the issue of the… what he had called separatists, what they call restorationist leaders, that are… have been detained and not seen for months? Spokesman:  I think the situation in the Anglophone area was raised, as we said it was.  Thank you." So what DID Fall witness? Guterres' humanitarian deputy official Ursula Mueller offered "congratulations" to Biya's foreign minister Mbella Mbella. Photo and UNanswered Press question here. Now on February 26 after four day Mueller has issued a funding plea for Biya's Cameroon, with a perfunctory reference to the western regions at the end: "Concluding a four-day visit to Cameroon, the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ursula Mueller, called on the international community and the Government to step up support to humanitarian actions in the country. During the visit, she met with the Minister of External Relations and the Governor of the Far North.... Ms. Mueller’s visit was also an opportunity to discuss other crises that Cameroon is facing, with an increased influx of refugees from the Central African Republic and sociopolitical tensions in the north-west and south-west regions." Yeah. This comes after Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric if Mueller would stop in the Anglophone zones, and since not, why not? He replied that the overall humanitarian situation would be discussed. So on February 23, Inner City Press asked Dujarric again, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I had asked you before Ursula Mueller's trip, whether the… the situation in the anglophone zones of Cameroon would come up, and I just want to say I saw… I guess she tweeted a picture of herself with the Foreign Minister of Cameroon yesterday, saying… congratulating the Cameroon Government, entirely positive.  And I just wanted to know… you seemed… you seemed to indicate that the overall humanitarian situation would arise.  Given even… even on the issue of refugees, given that there were 47 people sent back seemingly illegally, refouled from Nigeria, is this… is she unaware of that in giving these congratulations? Spokesman:  Her mission focused on the Lake Chad Basin, on the situation in the Lake Chad Basin which, as you know, has led to mass… to a humanitarian situation that's impacted at least 10 million people.  She discussed a wide range of humanitarian concerns with the government of Cameroon, including the Boko Haram crisis in the far north, the situation of refugees from the CAR [Central African Republic] in the east, and the growing food insecurity across the country, as well as the situation in the Anglophone regions."  Really? With congratulations, echoes of the golden statue that Guterres took in October? Meanwhile in Nigeria people are being prosecuted for sheltering refugees from Cameroon, and Guterres and the UN are silent. We'll have more on this. A new report details Biya's long stays outside of the country in Geneva, while his military kills Anglophones and the country declines. Biya has spent four and a half years in Geneva, at a cost of $65 million in hotel fees and $117 million for chartered private plane, sometimes left "on stand-by" for weeks at a time. The report goes one level down: "One of Biya’s closest confidants, Joseph Fouda, a military officer and special advisor, has accompanied him on at least 86 trips, amounting to more than three years of travel since 1993. He prefers a room on a top floor of the Intercontinental. Another close confidant, Martin Belinga Eboutou, 78, has spent nearly three years travelling with the president starting in 1987, when he was Cameroon’s ambassador to Morocco. The president attempted to buy a brand new private jet in 2004, but his staff reportedly cut corners on the deal, buying a defective plane covered by a fresh coat of paint that nearly crashed on its first flight. Since then, the president has chartered at least several private aircraft, including a luxury jet formerly owned by the government of Kazakhstan." Still UN Secretary General, himself a murky first class flyer, smilingly took Biya's golden statue and has done nothing; his advisers Khassim Diagne and the outgoing head of Political Affairs have assured him of Biya's bona fides or the wisdom of doing... nothing. The UN has failed. The UN refugee agency UNHCR in Abuja early on January 30 told Inner City Press that it has as yet no comment on the blatant forced repatriation or refoulement to Cameroon of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and 46 others while it seeks "explanations through official channels." (Later UNHCR issued a short statement.) On January 31, Inner City Press again asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here and below. When Inner City Press on February 8 put the refoulement question to Francois Delattre, the UN Ambassador of France which has supported Paul Biya's 36-year rule, Delattre replied that "We always have views but no comment from me at this stage." Video here. That is irresponsible - or another sign of France's responsibility for what is happening in the region. We'll have more on this - and now on Germany. Angela Merkel's "personal representative for Africa" Gunter Nooke showed up in Yaounde on February 15 trying as he does elsewhere to drum up business. With him was Ambassador Hans Dieter Stell; there was according to CRTV "the exchange of gifts symbolic of Cameroon's legendary hospitality." Another golden statue like UNSG Guterres took? At UN headquarters, as Inner City Press alone asked, Germany's Ambassador procured a publicly funded post for his wife by merely emailing Guterres' chief of staff. Inner City Press asked Dujarric and his deputy Haq - no real answer - while the only other question asked about it was how the information about the job had leaked. The media asking that is given full access to the UN by the UN Department of Public Information of British Alison Smale, a major Germanophile who continues to have Inner City Press restricted, its long time work space given to a no-show no-question Egyptian state media. We'll have more on this.

The United Kingdom's silence about the plight of Anglophone residents of the former British Southern Cameroons persists even in the face of a Freedom of Information Act request from Inner City Press.

More than five months ago on 15 August 2017 Inner City Press asked the UK government for records concerning Cameroon. After repeatedly extending the time to response, now the UK has denied access to all responsive records, letter here, saying that "the release of information relating to the UK’s discussion on UN business could harm our relations and other member states of the United Nations (UN)."

Here on Patreon is the full denial letter, from which Inner City Press is preparing an appeal, on Yemen as well - it has 40 working days.

This is shameful - the UK is also exiting transparency.

On February 6 in front of the UN Security Council, Inner City Press asked the United Kingdom's Deputy Ambassador Jonathan Allen for the UK's comment on Nigeria's forced repatriation of 47 to Cameroon. From the UK transcript: Inner City Press: Nigeria did a forced repatriation of 47 Cameroonian leaders. The UNHCR said it was illegal. The US has commented on it. Does the UK have any view? Amb Allen: I’m afraid I wasn’t aware of that before. I’ll have to get back to you on the details." Video here. At day's end, a UK Mission spokesperson sent Inner City Press a short comment, here.

As Inner City Press pursues these questions at the UN, again it remains restricted to minders by the head of the UN Department of Public Information Alison Smale, who it is noted is British - and functionally a censor. A retaliator, too? As noted, Smale has not explained why Inner City Press' long time work space is assigned to no-show, no-question Egyptian state media Akhbar al Youm.

On Cameroon and Yemen, UK Denies Inner City Press FOIA Request After 170 Days, Preparing to Appeal, 40 Work... by Matthew Russell Lee on Scribd

Meanwhile the French government, which claims at the UN and elsewhere that human rights is in its DNA, has ignored the refoulement, limited its condemnation instead, via
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes Von der Muhll, on "new killings of law enforcement officials that took place on 1 February in Cameroon."

In Yaounde, France's Ambassador Gilles Thibault is focusing, like Reuters' ostensibly charitable arm, on the cultivation of pepper, see here. This is colonialism.Are these the relations that the UK claims would be hurt by complying with FOIA? Watch this site.


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