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As Kagame's Rwanda Accused of Genocide, UN Downplays Threats, MDG Connection

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 27 -- In the face of Rwanda's push back Friday against a draft UN High Commissioner for Human Rights report accusing it of genocide in the Congo in the 1990s, the UN in New York was in disarray.

  UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky said it was “absolutely false” that Rwandan president Paul Kagame threatened to withdrawn his country's troops from the peacekeeping Mission in Darfur, UNAMID.

Inner City Press asked if this threat was made not by Kagame but in a letter by Rwandan foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo -- from whose photo op with Deputy Secretary General Asha Rose Migiro Inner City Press was excluded. Video here, from Minute 10:20.

There has been correspondence,” Nesirky replied, calling it the “normal practice to not disclose the contents of correspondence in that way.” But Nesirky had so strenuously denied the threat of withdrawing peacekeepers, a threat Rwanda made before, after complaints about one of its general, indicted for war crimes, serving with UNAMID.

The working theory is that one of the 30 authors of the report leaked it, because they sensed or knew that the word genocide would be removed from the final version.

  Rwanda, on the other hand, is accusing the UN of more systematically and strategically leaking it, to divert attention from its peacekeeping mission MONUSCO's inaction on mass rapes by the Hutu rebel FDLR.

   Inner City Press asked Nesirky about this Rwandan government allegation. Nesirky refused to comment, saying he wasn't aware of the Rwandan government response. Video here, from Minute 14:44.

UN's Ban and Kagame in July 2010, HCHR genocide charge not shown

 Given that this UNHCRH report, at least in draft form, accused Kagame's Rwanda of genocide, Inner City Press asked Nesirky if Ban Ki-moon considered this before naming Kagame the co-chair, along with Spain's Zapatero who in turn snubbed Kagame on war crimes grounds, of the UN MDG advocacy group.

   “The two are not connected,” Nesirky said. So why not name Omar Al Bashir, one wag asked, to the UN's High Level Panel on Global Sustainability?

Footnote: in fact, on the High Level Panel on Global Sustainability, along with Kevin Rudd, Ban named the head of Research in Motion / BlackBerry, James Lawrence Balsillie.

  While one angle involves the countries like Saudi Arabia trying to block BlackBerry service if they are not allowed to unencrypt communications, the other is the opprobrium of the SEC and Canadian government at Ban's sustainable choice Balsillie. Then again, Ban put a convicted corporate criminal from South Korea on the UN Global Compact board. Watch this site.

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On Congo Rapes, UN Can't Find E-mail, Won't Say Where Expert Wallstrom Was

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 27 -- How seriously is the UN taking the scandal of its peacekeepers' inaction on the mass rapes in Eastern Congo in early August? Well, at the August 27 UN noon briefing, more than 24 hours after Inner City Press asked about a late July UN e-mail telling humanitarian workers to stay away from the area due to the incursion of rebels, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said the UN is “still trying to track down the e-mail.” Video here, from Minute 23:44.

While the UN's excuse for not stopping four days of mass rape 30 kilometers from its peacekeepers' base, and supposedly only learning of the rapes a week after the fact, is that the area is “densely wooded,” presumably this description does not apply to the UN's e-mail system. So why the delay?

Also on delay, Inner City Press on August 27 asked Nesirky why the UN Office on Sexual Violence and Conflict, six months after its ostensible launch, has filled only two of the six allotted staff positions. Video here, from Minute 25:46. The head of the office, Margot Wallstrom, reportedly only learned of the mass rapes on the weekend of August 21-22, when they became public in the media.

Inner City Press asked what procedures are in place for UN peacekeeping missions like MONUSCO to tell Ms. Wallstrom and her office when they learn of rape as a tool of war, as MONUSCO says it learned on August 12? In ten days, they couldn't tell even Ms. Wallstrom or her office?

It appears that Ms. Wallstrom was in Europe at the time; the statement Nesirky's office put out in her name did not have a dateline, unlike Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's statement of the same day. Nesirky told Inner City Press that Ms. Wallstrom's location was “immaterial.” Was it?

UN's Ban and Wallstrom, 2 weeks to know, e-mail and location not shown

It appears that the UN is trying to make the Congo rape scandal story die down, by delaying admitting finding the late July e-mail, and belatedly dispatching to the Congo Ms. Wallstrom and Peacekeeping Deputy Atul Khare. (Where, correspondents asked again on Friday, is top peacekeeper Alain Le Roy?)

The Security Council's presidency will soon pass from Russia to the next in the alphabet, Turkey, a country with its own concerns in the Council and a Permanent Representative who has to date spoken very little to the UN press corps. So, some correspondents opine, the UN is trying to “run out the clock and play for time.” Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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