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UN Won't Tell ICP Whom It Supports on FDLR, If Minova Rape Units Involved

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 2 -- The UN has been dissembling about its role in the Congolese Army's stated attempt to "neutralize" the FDLR.  Inner City Press on January 30 asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric:

Inner City Press: Since it's UN Social Media Day, MONUSCO 46 minutes ago said that — I'll say it in French: Les operations militaires contre les #FDLR, lancées hier jeudi, seront dirigées et planifiées conjointement par la #MONUSCO et les FARDC.  So unless I'm misunderstanding this, they're claiming that it's a joint operation, “conjointement”, on their Twitter feed.  I wanted to know, why would they be doing that, given what you've just said?

Spokesman:  I think without going into a deep analysis of French and English, which you obviously are able to do and I couldn't try to keep up with you, I think it is a different characterization maybe, a different use of words, but I think the point is that it's an FARDC-led operation with the support of the UN.

   On February 2, Inner City Press asked Dujarric more specifically, video here,

transcript here:

Inner City Press: On the DRC, I wanted to ask you about the action against the FDLR [Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda], if you can be a little more specific on what the UN's MONUSCO [United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] and its Force Intervention Brigade's role are.  Have they fired any shots?  And is the human rights due diligence policy in place?  And how does it relate to support being given to the units of the FARDC [Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo] who are firing?  And do these units include the 391st and 41st battalions that were engaged in the rapes in Minova?

Spokesman Dujarric:  The operational questions as to what operations are taking place, I think if they're answered, will be answered by MONUSCO.  If they're ongoing military operations, they will make the decision of what is announced and what is not announced.  In terms of MONUSCO, its support will be in strict compliance with the UN's human rights due diligence policy, and as you know, the policy requires that the UN ensures that its support to non-UN security forces will not contribute to grave human rights violations.  The policy is being implemented by MONUSCO in close collaboration, obviously, with the national authorities.  And you know, if… I will find out on the specific units, but if problems do arise because of past issues, either related to the records of units or commanders, there are substantial grounds to believe that, you know, either the commanders or units, there are risks of human rights violations — support to those units is withheld unless adequate mitigating measures can be put in place.

Inner City Press:  And is Bruno Mandevu, he's been named as a commander.  Is that a problem for the UN?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Obviously, if there are commanders that are… where we have issues then we are in discussions with the DRC authorities to see how… you know, how they can address the concerns that we have.  But overall, the operation is being done within the framework of our human rights due diligence policy.

  That's called NOT answering a question, about whom the UN is supporting.

  Reuters has again misrepresented the UN's and Herve Ladsous' (non) enforcement of the human rights due diligence policy. The anonymously trolling Reuters correspondent -- reviving that on January 26, after Reuters' Stephen J. Adler et al were told but did nothing -- "reports" that

"The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo threatened in 2013 to withdraw support for two Congolese battalions accused of involvement in the mass rape. The mission decided to keep working with the battalions after 12 senior officers, including the commanders and deputy commanders, were suspended and about a dozen soldiers were charged over the rapes in Minova."

  This is propaganda -- only two lower ranking soldiers were convicted. The Reuters implication is that Ladsous' DPKO is tough on human rights: false.

  On January 22  Ladsous made a speech about freedom of the press in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Thursday to the US Security Council, and made excuses for not acting to “neutralize” the Hutu FDLR rebels as the UN did the largely Tutsi M23.

Then Ladsous came to the Security Council stakeout, ostensibly to take questions.

  Inner City Press asked, “On the neutralization of the FDLR, what is the hold up?”

  Ladsous said "I don't respond to your questions, Mister." Video here and embedded below.

   Then Ladsous turned and gave the question to Reuters, the same trolling correspondent. When that back and forth was over, Inner City Press asked if any of the countries in the UN's Force Intervention Brigade are well than willing to attack the FDLR, as senior diplomats at the UN have told Inner City Press.

   Ladsous refused to answer this question, and gestured that Ban Ki-moon's envoy to the DRC Martin Kobler, standing behind Ladsous at the stakeout, shouldn't answer it either. Reuters took or was given another question, distancing the FDLR from genocide.

   Finally Inner City Press asked both men what if anything UN Peacekeeping has done as the Kabila government has frozen the accounts of the Panzi hospital for rape victims.  Ladsous waved this off -- for months he waved off Press questions about mass rape in Minova by his partners in the Congolese Army, video here -- and walked away with this spokesman.

 (One can only imagine the advise this “communications professional” is giving Ladsous. Perhaps he can help Ladsous address his history with Hutu groups as evidence in this memo. These are Press questions.)

   Kobler to his credit told Inner City Press he would come back and answer, and he did, albeit only some, and off camera. That will be another story. Because the story here is, how can a person in charge of UN Peacekeeping be allowed to refuse particular media's questions in this way? While, in classic UN fashion, giving a speech about freedom of the press, elsewhere? The weakness of current UN leadership comes to mind.

  But as many ask, WHY does Ladsous refuse to answer Inner City Press? While he has refused to answer that, too, it began when Inner City Press reported that Ladsous was not even France's first choice for the position - Jerome Bonnafont was.

   Tellingly, an Agence France Presse member of the Executive Committee of the so-called UN Correspondents Association complained about this Inner City Press story, and soon the Executive Committee of UNCA, under then and now president Giampaolo Pioli, made more complaint about that story, and another about Sri Lanka, demanding it be removed from the Internet.

   Inner City Press quit UNCA and co-founded the Free UN Coalition for Access, which demands that all UN Under Secretaries General answer questions. UNCA, for course, has said nothing about Ladsous' refusal. It is the UN's Censorship Alliance. More on this -- including video -- to follow.


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