Law & Order and Congolese Rape, CNDP, Kabila and UN Let Off the
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, March 18 -- The plight of women in the Eastern Congo made it
into the second half of an episode of Law & Order: Special
Victims Unit on St. Patrick's night. A home health attendant who
intervenes to stop a rape in the stairwell of a New York apartment
building by punching the rapist in the face. Due to her (over the
top) accent, the rapist plays the undocumented alien card,
threatening to have her deported if she testifies against him.
the crack SVU
squad track her down and offer to protect her against deportation, as
a material witness in what turns out to be a murder case. Interviewed
by outgoing prosecutor Ms. Cabot, it emerges that the witness was
repeatedly raped in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
writers insert that rape and fear of mass rape is not a basis for an
asylum claim in the United States. Next, immigration agents take the
witness into custody, then ship her to a (private) immigration
detention center in New York.
Jack McCoy, now moonlighting as a pitchman for TD Ameritrade, gets
the U.S. Attorney involved, and the witness is released. On the
stand, she is asked if she is not a terrorist, married to a terrorism
-- that is, the forced wife of the FDLR Interahamwe.
close Congo watcher, Bosco and Nkunda's CNDP never made it into SVU!
Enough Project sent out a press release about the show, and some
surmise that they were consultants. While integrating serious
material into a U.S. detective show is commendable, one wonders about
the lack of any reference to rape by government forces in the Congo,
or even sexual exploitation by UN peacekeepers. Such are the down
sides of using a single NGO as consultant.
UNSC at Heal
show ends in a
frenzy of good feeling. The witness is offered a U visa to stay in
the United States, but chooses to return to the Congo to empower
other women. Ms. Cabot is again leaving the Empire of Wolf's Law &
Order franchise, ostensibly heading to the International Criminal
Court to prosecute rape as a weapon of war.
previously Law &
Order, which wove children and armed conflict into the plot about
Uganda, also referred to the ICC. Two references to the ICC in the
most long term popular crime drama franchise in a country that has
not joined the ICC's Rome Statute: do we smell activist media
Or is it just
a single SVU staffer with an ICC fixation? We
will endeavor to find out. The show's worth seeing, and will live
forever in reruns, as there is a Law & Order playing at all hours
of the day, even in Kinshasa and Goma.
* * *
UN, Mandela and Rugby Praised, No Answers on Sri Lanka or Sudan,
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, March 17 -- The film "Invictus" was screened at
the UN Tuesday night, with a panel discussion afterwards featuring
senior UN advisor Nicholas Haysom, formerly Nelson Mandela's chief
legal advisor. Haysom said South Africa was lucky to have Mandela,
who gambled his presidency on forging a "shared national
identify [unlike in] Sudan, Sri Lanka and Iraq."
asked Haysom whether these three conflict ridden societies lacked
only a leader like Mandela, or what else could be done. Haysom's
response because with South Africa, where he said there was a
recognition that people "could not live in the old way,"
that the social compact had to be renegotiated.
with the UN, because without hope the UN dies, Haysom then referred
not only to the Iranian national soccer team -- integrating the
"three elements of the country," he said -- but even to Sri
cricket did not
stop the Rajapaksa government from bombing Tamil civilians in make
shift hospitals and tents in the blood bath on the beach, or to
holding them in UN funded internment camps. And Haysom's answer did
not even purport to address Sudan. Could sport forestall the upcoming
breakaway of South Sudan?
Mandela at UN 1994: S-G BBG, Brahimi, Sanbar, 1995
rugby not shown
was, as is typical for the UN, badly organized. Many more people
showed up than could be accomodated in Conference Room 3 of the North
Lawn Temporary Building. People were told to line up for admission to
Room 1, after film screens had been installed. Meanwhile, others were
still being admitted to the main room: Deputy Spokesperson Marie
Okabe, a UNFPA officials, others. How did Security know who to admit?
As tweeted in real
time by Inner City Press, if the UN wanted coverage of Ban
opening speech, why exclude the press and not broadcast the speech
into the overflow room? We have a new hash tag -- #OnlyAtTheUN. Watch
that tag, and this site.
after the Q & A session, where Inner City Press prefaced the
question to Haysom by saying he is not available enough on the
record, UN official Bob Orr told the Press, "You couldn't
resist, saying he is not available enough." Inner City Press
clarified, "No available enough on the record."
at the room, "What this on the record?"
Inner City Press said. "And this is too."
While the UN
Spokesperson's Office has never come back with an on the record answer
to Inner City Press' thrice asked question about whether Orr's ASG for
policy or "global goods" position is in the UN budget, or cobbled
together from other budget lines, Orr has said it is in the budget. To be continued.
* * *
UN, Human Rights Sold Out in Sudan, Congo and Myanmar, Taking the
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, March 11 -- When letting down their hair with tequila, even
human rights true believers can be depressingly hard nosed. At a
recently soirée complete with lime and salt licks, the talk
to Sudan. "It was never genocide," said a senior NGO
staffer. "Save Darfur and the Enough Project better move fast to
declare victory and move on. Because with Khartoum taking over Jebel
Marra it is all over."
staffer, having spent five years in Sudan, disagreed, as least on
genocide -- "they burned down whole villages" -- but agreed
the war in Darfur was reaching end game. "And where did Save
Darfur's Jerry Fowler go? Back to the Holocaust Museum?"
ago, a UN
staffer with responsibility for the Sudan portfolio snarked to Inner
City Press that Fowler had send out an email not about Darfur "but
condoms," he said and laughed, seemingly with contempt for the
NGO. But what is the UN Secretariat's attitude toward human rights
NGOs? Toward human rights more generally?
is talk of
the move to fill the new human rights Assistant Secretary General
post. While the expert from the Security Council Report may be best
qualified, with outgoing Chilean Ambassador Munoz looking for a job,
blatantly trying out on the Bhutto investigation and recent
earthquake press conference with Fergie, the Secretariat is more
tempted to go the member state route, to get more bang for its buck.
rights staffers approached Inner City Press to register their disgust
with the UN's Congo envoy Alan Doss, on both nepotism and working
with war criminals. One recounted that finally head UN Peacekeeper
Alain Le Roy is mad at Doss. Before Le Roy's recent trip to Kinshasa,
Doss did not tell Le Roy that Congolese President Joseph Kabila
wanted the UN to begin pull out in one year.
UN's Doss preaches in DRC, feet of clay and tequila not shown
Roy thought it
would be three years, that had to backtrack once Kabila spoke to him.
Why didn't Doss know or give the heads up? "It's last time for
Doss to go," the staffer said. "His support is from the
UK." It was added the Kabila has already forward names of
acceptable replacements, including Le Roy's predecessor Jean Marie
Guehenno and "two Americans."
assessment was of Burma / Myanmar. A human rights staffer recounted
that the U.S. Mission to the UN's Burma expert said the Obama
Administration'spreference is for the UN to stay in stasis, with
"acting" envoy Vijay Nambiar in place. This is so that the
Administration's accommodative position on Than Shwe is not shown up
by any UN moves. And so are human rights sold out. Skoll!