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On DRC's "Genetic Signature" Line, UN's Ban Won't Comment, Kerry "Didn't Hear," France Mute

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 27 -- In the UN Security Council on July 25, the Democratic Republic of the Congo's foreign minister Raymond Tshibanda said that rebellions in the Great Lakes region for years have "all bear the same genetic signature" (la meme signature genetique).

Given the mass killing of Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994 and events since, this line was quickly seen, including by diplomats from UN Missions including that of the United States, but only not for attribution, as hate speech or worse.

Inner City Press went to the UN's July 26 noon briefing and put the question to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's outgoing spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey:

Inner City Press: Yesterday, possibly even while this briefing was taking place, the Foreign Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in his prepared remarks that he read in the Security Council, said that rebellions in the Great Lakes region all bear a similar genetic signature. And many people have seen this as a problematic statement given the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and its ethnic basis. And so what I wanted to know is, the Secretariat, do they have any comment on the use of what some people see as hate speech inside the Great Lakes meeting of the UN Security Council?

Deputy Spokesperson Del Buey: No, were not going to comment on that, Matthew. If people find it offensive, its up to them to take it up with the Congolese authorities.

  This hands-off approach stands in contrast to cases in which Ban Ki-moon has chosen to criticize comments, like those questioning who did Nine Eleven, about about the Boston bombing, by what Ban described as an independent special rapporteur. Given the resonance of genetic signature to genocide and the number of people killed, why take this approach here? Convenience?

  Outside the US Mission to the UN on July 25, Inner City Press asked Secretary of State John Kerry about his Congolese counterpart's reference to "genetic signature." Kerry stopped and ask for clarification, then replied that he heard the Congolese minister's comment. He was chairing the meeting.

UN video here at 1:06:20 

A written request to the US Mission to the UN for comment, including Tshibanda's prepared speech and a link to the video as delivered, has yet to be responded to (although there was an oral update).

A similar question, including on the Intervention Brigade slated to be run by Frenchman Herve Ladsous in Eastern Congo, has gone entirely unresponded to by four French Mission spokespeople, including Frederic Jung.

  The UK has told Inner City Press they are looking into the questions with their DRC expert. Still, delegates from other UN and Security Council members marvel at what was said, and the lack of response. "They want to pretend they're solving things there, so they just let it go," one said.

  To be fair, Inner City Press asked a member of the Congolese delegation about the comment, expect to have its meaning spun as has to done to Inner City Press on Twitter. But the Congolese delegate told Inner City Press, No, that was exactly what we intended, we did not want to say it more directly. And even then -- would Ban, or Kerry, or the French or UK mission, have responded to any way? Watch this site.


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