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In DRC, UN Supports Government Locking Up Its Critics, Jamming Radios

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 13 -- It's already become a trend for this UN to remain silent amid crackdowns on the press and free speech in some countries. But now in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN is militarily supporting a government which is reported to arrest elected parliamentarians for "insulting the president," Joseph Kabila.

Muhindo Nzangi, MP for Lubero, appeared on Kivu Radio on August 10. Afterward he was reportedly charged with insulting Kabila, and arrested. The UN has refused to answer Inner City Press' questions from June, when it exclusively published the full text of the Group of Experts report, on which units of Kabila's Army it is providing support to.

At the UN's August 12 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's outgoing deputy spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey:

Inner City Press: In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there is an uptick in violence in Katanga Province, which is not in the Kivus, but in which they say civilians are being killed. And so one is, is MONUSCO [United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] doing anything on that? Whatís their response to that? And as to the Kivus, the M23 [23 March Movement] has said that they are sticking by what they agreed to in Kampala and they are not going to relinquish their positions near the Goma airport, and the spokesman for MONUSCO has said that they intend to expand the weaponless zone to include those positions. So, does the UN still view what was agreed to at Kampala as a binding agreement or does this announcement by the MONUSCO spokesman supersede that?

Deputy Spokesperson Del Buey: Well, Iíll have to get back to you on that. What I have for you is that the objective of the security zone is to provide better protection to the over 1 million civilians, including internally displaced persons living in the area. UN peacekeepers and Congolese security forces will continue their patrols and to ensure the area is free of unauthorized weapons. The Mission adds that the security zone is not an offensive operation and is not targeted against any one group. They are there to protect civilians.

Inner City Press: if you could, whatís the relationship between enforcing this zone and those agreements that were reached at Kampala? I know that Susana Malcorra went there, there was a signed agreement of where positions were supposed to be, does that mean a position without weapons? It seems like there is a brewing problem?

Deputy Spokesperson: Well, Iíll have to find out, Matthew, I donít have any information with me.

  Twenty hours later, no answer has been provided. UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous, who refuses to answer Press questions even when he is in New York, is nowhere to be seen (although he had his spokesperson Kieran Dwyer spoon-feed a half-response to questions Inner City Press asked on June 24 to another media.)

  There are reports of a new radio station in the Kivus being jammed by the government, a sort of Debbie Does Dungu. But given how far the UN's ostensibly support of free speech and free media has fallen, what would UN Headquarters or Ladsous say about that? Perhaps newly arrived envoy Martin Kobler. Watch this site.

Footnote: The UN providing military support to a government which arrests its critics for what they say on the radio is a larger example of events inside UN Headquarters, where Ban's Department of Public Information combined with its UN Censorship Alliance to purport to ban (some) signs on media office doors.

  Then the Alliance has threatened Inner City Press' accreditation with suspension or withdrawal for merely hanging a sign of the new Free UN Coalition for Access on the door of its shared office, while UNCA has five signs. UNCA "leaders" are engaged in anonymous social media trolling, stirring up haters even from the Great Lakes region. This is today's UN.


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