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UN Praises Exit of Darfur IDPs, Silent on Censorship, Refuses Sudan Questions

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 21 -- The UN's cover up of abuses in Darfur hit a new low on Friday when Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky openly refused to take a question about Darfur, telling Inner City Press “I will take questions from you when you behave in an appropriate manner.”

  Apparently, asking about the UN's double standards is no longer “appropriate” under Ban Ki-moon and his spokesman Nesirky.

  In Sudan, through Ban's humanitarian coordinator Georg Charpentier the UN absolves the government of responsibility for murders by nomadic tribes, despite International Criminal Court indictments of President Omar al-Bashir and Ahmed Haroun for organizing such tribes to drive people from their land. Some point out that in Cote d'Ivoire, the UN blames “tribal” deaths on the “defiant leader” Laurent Gbagbo.

  On January 21 Nesirky read out a statement by Charpentier praising the “resettlement of IDPs from Kalma Camp.” The Sudanese government has been trying to move people out of Kalma Camp and shut it down for months, even imposing a blockade that the UN at first did not publicize or even mention.

  Having questioned top UN Peacekeeper Alain Le Roy on January 20 about the mission he oversees, UNAMID, and been told that there are now 43,000 new IDPs from fighting in Darfur, Inner City Press on January 21 asked Nesirky to compare these 43,000 to the undisclosed number of people moving out from Kalma Camp, voluntarily or not.

  Nesirky declined to provide any of the numbers underlying the Charpentier statement he had read out, merely saying that it was “worth drawing attention to.” Video here, from Minute 16:45.

  Earlier in the January 21 briefing, Inner City Press had asked why the UN has said nothing about Sudan's Omar al Bashir's government blocking the printing of an SPLM newspaper directed at Southern Sudan, Ajras al-Huriya, after they published articles about the secession referendum. Inner City Press also asked about the UN following its own rules. Video here, from Minute 16.

  In response, after first indicating he would take Inner City Press' question about Ban Ki-moon's Charpentier's claims that the thousands of violent deaths in Darfur in the last 12 months are not the fault of the government of Omar al-Bashir, Nesirky abruptly ended the briefing, telling Inner City Press “I will take questions from you when you behave in an appropriate manner.”

  What could be inappropriate -- to ask about the UN's failure to abide by a UN rule? To ask about the UN's ludicrous praise of and providing of transportation to indicted war criminal Ahmed Haroun?

UN's Le Roy (says 43,000 new IDPs), Nesirky reads PR re Kalma IDPs, refuses questions

   On January 18, Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: what does the UN say about that, and also the lawyer for these Darfur activists, including the editor of Al-Safaha newspaper, said that they were tortured? They’ve just recently been released. Their lawyer said that they were tortured, and I just wonder what is… Given the Darfur connection, what does Mr. Gambari or the UN system, along with praising the referendum in the South, what do they say about these two things?

Spokesperson Nesirky: On the first, we’re aware of the reports, and I think we’ll be able to say something a little later. On the second, I’ll need to check with my colleagues. I don’t have any details on that.

The next day, just before the noon briefing, Nesirky's office sent this: “On your Darfur rights question from yesterday: "UNAMID is aware of the story which appeared in the press. The item is being monitored by the Mission's Human Rights Section." In the two days since, nothing. Monitoring?

On January 20, Inner City Press asked

Inner City Press: in Darfur, I wanted to know whether, now, several days after it happened, UNAMID has any confirmation or I guess denial of shootings of students in El Fasher right near the UN’s base, reported by Radio Dabanga and others. Has it been able to confirm that? Or did it not take place?

Spokesperson: What I can tell you is that, as the mission understands it, three students were hurt in this shooting incident at a high school in El Fasher, as you mentioned, on 18 January. The mission tells us that those three students have been evacuated by the local authorities to Khartoum for medical treatment and one of them is listed in critical condition.

Question: Who were they shot by, and why?

Spokesperson: That I can’t tell you, I don’t know, I would need to find out. But this is information that I have from the mission.

  The Charpentier question that Nesirky refused to take on Friday concerned precisely this UN blurriness about who is responsible for allowing the deaths of civilians. Again, in Cote d'Ivoire, the UN blames “tribal” deaths on the “defiant leader” Laurent Gbagbo. In Sudan, through Charpentier it absolves the government of responsibility for murders by nomadic tribes, despite ICC indictments of the President and Ahmed Haroun for organizing such tribes to drive people from their land.

  Inner City Press wanted and wants an explanation of this blatant double standard. But Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky simple refused to take the question. What should happen next? Watch this site.

* * *

As Sudan Shoots Students in Darfur, UN Says It's Better, Ignores Questions

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 20 -- The UN says it is not forgetting or trying to cover up Sudanese government abuse in Darfur, but both appear to be going on.

  The UN's Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan Georg Charpentier in a press conference in Khartoum this week said that despite the raised level of violent deaths in Darfur in 2010, the figure is exaggerated because it includes tribe on tribe murders. (Of course, the UN is reporting and highlighting just such numbers in Cote d'Ivoire and attributing tribal killings to the government in power there.)

  On January 18, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky what the UN and the UN - African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) under Ibrahim Gambari have to say about the reported torture of Darfur activists including the editor of the Al Sahafa newspaper.

  Nesirky had no information, bu the next day sent an email that UNAMID is looking into it. Since then, nothing.

   Similarly, Nesirky's office has refused since last year to confirm or deny notes from a presentation about Sudan by the UN Department of Political Affairs that were leaked to Inner City Press. The question was reiterated on January 19, without any response.

   On January 19, cutting off his noon briefing at 12:15 for, ironically, a press conference by the Special Adviser on Genocide (who used to work for the Government of Sudan), Nesirky did not allow Inner City Press to ask a question about government shooting in Darfur.

UN's Gambari & Charpentier, Darfur improvements not seen

  Later on January 19 Inner City Press submitted the Darfur question, and reiterated Sudan question, to Nesirky and his Deputy Farhan Haq in writing.

   At the January 20 briefing, Nesirky did not mention the shootings, and had not sent any answer about them to Inner City Press. So Inner City Press asked the question again. Nesirky pulled out notes he had not read from to start the briefing, and said that students were shot and taken to Khartoum.

Who shot them?” Inner City Press asked. Video here from Minute 8:02.

   “That, I can't tell,” Nesirky said. Indeed.

Later on January 20, Inner City Press directly asked the head of UN Peacekeeping Alain Le Roy about Charpentier's rosy assessment of Darfur. Le Roy said there are over 40,000 new internally displaced people. Who is the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan? Watch this site.

* * *

As UN Admits Transporting ICC Indictee Harun to Abyei, NGOs & US Have Yet to Speak

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 11 -- The UN Mission in Sudan transported and assisted International Criminal Court indictee Ahmed Harun, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky confirmed to Inner City Press on Tuesday, because the UN finds Harun helpful in dealing with violence in Abyei.
   Nesirky implied that the UN will continue to transport Harun, saying that the UN "will continue to provide necessary support to key players."
Video here, from Minute 13:48.

  Inner City Press asked why the UN transported Harun, not only in light of his ICC indictment for war crimes in Darfur, but also of the capacities of the Sudanese Air Force, which has recently conducted bombing raids in and near Southern Sudan.

  If the Sudanese Air Force can bomb, Inner City Press asked, why can't it fly Harun to Abyei? Nesirky did not answer this question. Nor would he tell Inner City Press if UNMIS, led by Haile Menkerios, had checked with UN Headquarters' Office of Legal Affairs or Ban Ki-moon before transporting an indicted war criminal.

  It seems to some that the Sudanese government of Omar al Bashir, who has also been indicted by the ICC for genocide as well as war crimes, has no lack of capacity to transport its official Harun, but instead wanted to get the UN further involved in undercutting the war crimes indictments.

  Already, Haile Menkerios and his counterpart at the Mission in Darfur UNAMID Ibrahim Gambari attended the inauguration of Omar al Bashir. Inner City Press asked Nesirky, without answer, if the UN would provide transport and assistance to other ICC indictees, including Joseph Kony of the the Lord's Resistance Army, widely thought to be in South Darfur.

UN Security Council in Sudan w/ Gambari, 10/10 (c)MRLee

  Earlier on January 11, Inner City Press asked representatives of non-governmental organizations active on Sudan about the UN's transport of ICC indictee Harun. David Abramowitz, the Director of Policy and Government Relations of the group Humanity United, said that he wasn't aware of the reports of Harun being transported, "I have not seen that report."

  Nor has the US administration, including its Mission at the UN, yet spoken on the matter. Some wonder whether they were consulted, even whether, in light of the offer to delink Darfur from the offer to remove some sanctions on Sudan in exchange for the South Sudan referendum, if the US agreed.

  Sam Bell, the Executive Director of the Genocide Intervention Network / Save Darfur Coalition, said he hadn't seen the report confirmed, but either way it did not send a good message to the people of Darfur, where Harun was indicted for war crimes: "already Darfuri are suspicious of UNAMID and UN personnel."

  In fact, Harun was indicted for working with and organizing the type of nomadic tribes which are accused of the killings in Abyei, and now in South Kordofan state as well.

   Nesirky told Inner City Press that "Governor Harun was critical" to bringing the Miseriya tribes together. Video here, from Minute 15:58.

  So in this view, it is not only a matter of the fox guarding the hen house: the UN has taken to transporting the fox to the hen house. Where will there be accountability? Watch this site.

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.

* * *

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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