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On Oromo Protests, US Power Concerned, ICP Asked UN, Canned Statements

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 18 -- Despite the UN having offices in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, it had nothing to say about the crackdown that has led to the killing, reportedly, of over 140 Oromo people, when Inner City Press on January 11 asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon' spokesman Stephane Dujarric. Video here.

 On January 15, there was a large Oromo demonstration across First Avenue from the UN. Inner City Press broadcast it live on Periscope, with interviews, putting it on YouTube, here and below.

  On January 23, the US Mission to the UN issued this read-out from Addis:

"U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power met with Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on January 23, 2016. Ambassador Power and Foreign Minister Tedros discussed the situation in Burundi and the need for an inclusive political dialogue outside Burundi, which remains the only credible and sustainable route to securing a political solution. Ambassador Power and Foreign Minister Tedros also discussed the political and security situation in Somalia, and Ambassador Power thanked the Foreign Minister for Ethiopia’s leadership on regional security issues, including its ongoing support for implementation of the peace agreement in South Sudan, which it played a catalytic role in helping secure.

"Ambassador Power expressed her deep alarm over the current drought and food crisis in Ethiopia and reiterated the United States’ commitment to support Ethiopian efforts to address huge humanitarian needs. Ambassador Power expressed the United States' concern for the deaths of protesters in Oromia and encouraged the Ethiopian government to engage in a dialogue to address Oromo political and economic grievances. Finally, Ambassador Power stressed the importance of a free and independent civil society in Ethiopia.

"Later in the day, Ambassador Power met with seven Ethiopian civil society leaders. Ambassador Power noted the courageous efforts made by the journalists, lawyers and nongovernmental organization leaders to try to preserve space for civil society and deepen civic engagement in Ethiopia. Ambassador Power thanked the leaders for their commitment to a more transparent and inclusive society despite the challenging political environment in which they work. Ambassador Power assured the civil society leaders of the United States’ continued support for human rights, development and security in Ethiopia, as well as our core conviction that the three objectives go hand in hand."

  The question is, how concerned?

  Then Inner City Press went in and asked UN Spokesman Dujarric, video here, transcript here:

Inner City Press: it seems inevitable to ask you.  There's a big protest in front of the building by Oromo people saying that more than 140 of them have been killed by Ethiopia.  So I'd asked you about it on Monday.  You said you don't have anything but you'd check.  What does the UN know given that it has an office in Addis about these killings?

Spokesman Dujarric:  On the protests, we're obviously very much aware of the protests not only going on outside but in Ethiopia itself.  I think the Secretary-General would call on the Government and the groups concerned to hold a constructive and peaceful dialogue and also to ensure that all those who want to protest are able to express themselves freely and free of harassment as it is their right.

Inner City Press: You just announced an Ethiopian general heading UNISFA-

Spokesman Dujarric: soldiers from any nationality, as you know, for serving in DPKO, in peacekeeping missions, they go through a screening policy to ensure that the individuals and the units themselves are free of any human rights violations.

  We'll have more on this. For now, note that the UNSC's upcoming trip, from which Inner City Press was Banned, goes through Addis Ababa. Will anything be said about Oromo?

The UN report on rapes in the Central African Republic, released on December 17, found that UN Peacekeeping's Under Secretary General Herve Ladsous “illustrate[s] the UN's failure to respond to allegations of serious human rights violations in the meaningful way.”

 Ladsous has yet to take any questions about the report.  Now the Office of the UN Spokesperson refuses Press questions on reports that "peacekeepers" from Burundi, France, Gabon and Morocco paid fifty cents for sex with children in CAR. On the morning of January 12, Inner City Press asked three separate UN spokespeople, in writing:

"In light of the Jan 11-12 Washington Post report that “ in interviews, U.N. officials said the peacekeepers were from Gabon, Morocco, Burundi and France. The prostitution ring they allegedly used was run by boys and young men who offered up girls 'for anywhere from 50 cents to three dollars,' according to one official,” please state the current status of these 'peacekeepers' from Morocco, Gabon, France and Burundi - and the status of the waiver USG Ladsous gave to the Burundian contingent.

 By the morning of January 15, no answer, nothing...


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