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On Cameroon, Failing Fall's UNOCA Site Out of Date and Broken, Spox Dujarric No Answer 2 Days

By Matthew Russell Lee, New Platform

UNITED NATIONS, June 13 – After Inner City Press repeatedly asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and his spokesman about Cameroon's Internet cut-off and abuses, the UN's answer after its Resident Coordinator Najat Rochdi was shown to block the Press and then left for the Central African Republic was that the UN Office on Central Africa (UNOCA) envoy Francois Lonseny Fall would be visiting in May. This turned out to be misleading like so much with today's UN, including the UN's celebration of World Environment, see below, and UNOCA's report, see below. For two days, Antonio Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric has refuse to answer questions, including " on the UNOCA report, please state who WERE the leaders Paul Biya was 'willing to dialogue with' either – the ones in detention or the interim ones." No answer at all. A review of UNOCA's website finds its most recent magazine is from 2014, photo here, and the link to its May 31, 2017 report (excerpted below) doesn't work. Fall's report implies that restoring the Internet he cut off resolves the issues- it hasn't - while vaguely alluding to " historical discrimination against the anglophone population." In fact, as in so many places the UN has been failing for a long time: it allowed the Northern and Southern Cameroons to be cut in two for purposes of a plebiscite, then failed to stand up for the federalism that had been committed to by Ahmadou Ahidjo. Paul Biya, who took over power in 1982 - yes, 1982 - without a vote colluded in the broken promises of federalism, then and since. He was, it's said, chosen by French oil company ELF. We'll have more on that history - and this.  Inner City Press put the full report online, here. Here's what it says, from Paragraphs 7 to 11: "In Cameroon, social unrest continued in the North-West and South-West
regions over the imposition of the French language in judicial, educational and other fields. While the initial protests in late 2016 were related to grievances expressed by unions representing lawyers and teachers, accusations expanded to include historical, political and economic discrimination against the anglophone population.
Numerous clashes with security forces took place, along with ongoing general strikes (also referred to as “ghost towns”), arrests of anglophone activists and an Internet blackout in the two regions (from 17 January to 20 April 2017). 8. Government efforts to appease those tensions at the outset were not successful. On 17 January, it banned the activities of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society
Consortium and the secessionist movement, the Southern Cameroons National Council, accusing them of conducting actions contrary to the Constitution and
aimed at undermining State security. Leaders of the Consortium, Nkongho Felix Agbor-Balla and Fontem Aforteka’a Neba, were also arrested on 17 January, and
journalist and activist Mancho Bibixy on 20 January. All three face charges of terrorism and, if convicted, could face the death penalty under the country’s anti-terrorism law of February 2014. The trial of the three lead activists and five others, all civilians, commenced on 13 February at the Yaoundé military tribunal. On 7 April, the court adjoined the case of 25 other defendants. Meanwhile, another military tribunal was held, in the case of a reporter for Radio France Internationale, Ahmed Abba, whom the Government alleges to have colluded with Boko Haram. He had been in detention since 30 July 2015. The defendant, who pleaded not guilty,
was sentenced to 10 years in prison on 20 April 2017.
9. On 15 March, the President of Cameroon, Paul Biya, appointed the president and 13 representatives of the National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism, which he established on 23 January. The  Presidency also contacted the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium on 17 March, expressing willingness to engage in dialogue to address their grievances. Moreover, on 30 March, the Minister of Justice unveiled a number of measures taken by the Government to address the crisis, including the creation of a common law section at the École nationale de magistrature, English law departments at a number of universities, the redeployment of magistrates according to linguistic criteria, and the appointment of additional anglophone magistrates at the High Court. Those steps were deemed insufficient by the striking lawyers and the
leadership of the Consortium, who continued to demand the immediate release and pardon of those detained and the restoration of Internet service in the two regions
where it had been blocked. Internet service was restored on 20 April." Failing Fall doesn't mention Agbor Balla history as a UN legal adviser, now facing the death penalty for non-violent opposition, nor this: "the report fails to mention how the President contacted the Consortium (which by March had long been outlawed by Biya’s government) and also given that its leaders were abruptly arrested in the middle of talks with the government on January 17. It also does not mention who were the leaders President Biya was “willing to dialogue with” either – the ones in detention or the interim ones." Three months after Inner City Press publicly asked the UN at its noon briefing about Rochdi blocking the Press on Twitter, she has replied: "if it was done it was not on purpose." This is absurd: to block is a choice, and it was publicly asked about at the UN's own noon briefing. (Much) worse, Rochdi now says she worked very hard on the "Anglopphone" [sic] crisis. Photo here. There is no evidence at all of that. This is today's UN. On June 8, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: in Cameroon, which I've asked you about before, those Anglophone region protest leaders were held over for trial.  They face the death penalty.  One of them is a former UN legal adviser, Mr. Felix Agbor Balla.  I know it took about a week to get the comment from [Francois] Louncény Fall.  Is there any more rapid response to the holding over of these leaders?

Spokesman:  I think we believe that all parties need to address the current issues in a spirit of dialogue, and I'll try to get a bit more from Mr. Fall.

  A bit more? In Cameroon, minister Hele Pierre babbled about gardens and protecting flora and fauna. But for example the FrancAfrique firm Bollore and its 71% subsidiary SocFin destroy the environment in Cameroon, DRC and Gabon, as recently protested in Paris and sued including as far away as Cameroon. Amnesty says " Workers and residents have denounced in particular non-compliance with their customary land rights, the low levels of compensation granted, the harshness of working conditions for agricultural workers and the threat to their food security." But the UN ignores all this in Cameroon, similar to their approach to Paul Biya's Internet cut and abuses. Lonseny Fall's visit it turns out it would be in (early) June, and it would mostly be about Boko Haram. This is now confirmed, despite a separate side read-out the UN sent Inner City Press. Contrary to the UN's vague and unsubstantiated claim that Lonseny Fall's visit dealt with human rights concerns, here's the non-tailored read-out: "The 44th meeting of ministers in the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on security in Central Africa (Unsac) started on 29 May and will close on 02 June in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon. The group noted that the situation particularly in CAR is still alarming. There were also discussions on, among other things, political governance and the multiple factors menacing peace and stability in the sub-region. Participants emphasised the ways and means to reinforce the fight against phenomena such as armed violence and terrorism, naval insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea, poaching and illegal traffic of wild species, electoral tensions, proliferation of light and small calibre weapons, etc. In this regard, the experts recommended more collaboration on intelligence between the Central African States." Collaboration on intelligence? It is Paul Biya who is intercepting communications in Southern Cameroons and putting people in jail far away in Yaounde. On June 1, Inner City Press asked again - still nothing - and then on June 2, transcript here:

Inner City Press: to ask again about this Cameroon thing, but I wanted to ask because it was said that [Francois] Loncény Fall would be there in late May.  Many people were kind of waiting to hear what he had to say.  Yesterday, his whereabouts, I guess, according to Stéphane, were not known.  What is his comment now that he's returned to the country?

Deputy Spokesman:  Yes, we're checking with our DPA colleagues what we can say about Mr. Loncény Fall's travels.  Once we have an update, we'll share it.

  And hours later, this: "To Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press Re Your Question on Cameroon: As mentioned previously, the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) and the UN Country Team in Cameroon continue to follow events in the country closely. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Central Africa and Head of UNOCA, François Louncény Fall, was in Yaoundé, Cameroon, this week, for the 44th Ministerial meeting of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa (UNSAC), during which Cameroon took over the chairmanship of the Committee.  This is SRSG Fall’s fifth visit to the country since November 2016. He took this opportunity to meet with a wide range of Cameroonian interlocutors to address the persisting tensions and human rights concerns.  SRSG Fall will continue efforts to engage with all relevant parties and to monitor the situation in close cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). "

  We'll see. Representative of the UN system as a whole, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child when it met about Cameroon's report on May 30 did not ask a single recorded question about the Anglophone areas, the Internet cut-off or the GCE scam. It seems it is today's UN that is a scam. Marie-Therese Abena Ondoa, Minister for the Promotion of the Woman and the Family of Cameroon, sung the praises of the 34-year Paul Biya government. The UN's Rapporteur on Cameroon, the former Minister of Health from Togo, Suzanne Aho Assouma, joined in the praise, as if like France's Ambassador to the UN told Inner City Press the Internet cut off was never heard of. Call it FrancAfrique, reaching all the way into today's UN Headquarters. Also on May 30 Inner City Press asked Guterres spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you, on Cameroon, you'd said that in May Mr. Francois Loncény Fall would be going to the country.  I don't know if that's true.  I know that he's going in early June.  And I just wanted to make sure that you were referring to this meeting of regional security that seems to be almost entirely about Boko Haram and [Central African Republic].  Is there anything… can you say what his agenda is there and if he's going to raise the Anglophone issue?

Spokesman:  I will check.

  Eight hours later, typically, nothing. Cameroon's UN Ambassador Tommo Monthe, who told Inner City Press that Paul Biya stands ready to cut the Internet again, and partied with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' Deputy SG and chief of staff while singing songs for Chantal Biya, is already at the meeting Fall will attend. Tommo Monthe is quoted, "We need to exchange views on all these insecurity situations before we bring it back to the UN during its forthcoming general assembly session." On May 29 Fall issued this canned quote: "We will continue to support efforts of the subregion in its determination to prevent, to combat and to bring an end to the uncontrolled flow of arms in Central Africa. This would strengthen confidence among states and reassure the population, the main victims of this phenomenon, which is also a hindrance to the sustainable development of Central Africa." This is the focus on Lonseny Fall's much-hyped visit to Yaounde, while Guterres' Deputy SG and chief of staff party with Paul Biya's representative amid songs for Chantal Biya and French champagne. We'll have more on this. Well over a week ago, Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Cameroon administering in areas to which it cut off the Internet for 94 days a General Certificate of Education test, specifically citing UNESCO. Dujarric said he would look into it. Having received no answer even as Guterres' Deputy and Chief of Staff appeared at Cameroon's (boycotted) national day, on May 23 Inner City Press asked again about this, and Amnesty International's press conference on 10 year sentences to students (whose jokes included the GCEs) being shut down.
Inner City Press:  Did you ever look into the testing thing?  I'd asked you about administering a test…

Spokesman:  Yes, I think… we were given some guidance by UNESCO...

Now here it is: "Your question on the Cameroon tests: Regarding a previous query on a test being administered in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon despite the regions being affected by school closures and a internet blackout, while this is not an issue covered by UNOCA, but rather UNESCO, UNOCA has informed that there have been reports of abstentions from the examinations in the North West and South-West regions of the country. We are not aware of any reports of these tests being taken at gunpoint.  Nonetheless it is of concern that these examinations [General Certificate of Education] were held, despite school closures and the internet blackout for over three months, which disrupted normal activities. However that is an issue for the relevant national authorities to respond to. UNOCA, in close cooperation with the Acting Resident Coordinator, is monitoring the situation in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon and will continue to liaise with the authorities to promote a peaceful resolution to the grievances of the Anglophone population."

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

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

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

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

Spokesman:  I think if… well, if it's secret, it's secret.  Mr. [Francois Lonceny] Fall has been following and is the point person for the UN on this issue.

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

Spokesman:  I'll take a look that report.  Okay. Thank you.

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

Exclusive: From Cameroon to UNSC, "Urgent & Confidential" Memo About Weapons, Copter, Here by Matthew Russell Lee on Scribd

This comes amid reports that armaments Cameroon got ostensibly to fight Boko Haram have been spotted in the Anglophone regions. On May 2 when Inner City Press told the UN's spokesman Stephane Dujarric that it had a question on Cameroon, he walked off the podium, as he has done before. He and the UN Department of Public Information, whose Cameroon mis-information is profiled below, worked together to evict and still restrict Inner City Press.


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