Ban's UN, Rwanda Letters Lost or Denied, In Echo of Genocide Memo, Still Left
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN
UNITED NATIONS, June
26 -- Rwanda is a relatively small country, but as a site of genocide and of UN
inaction, it resonates and requires the UN's respect. At a minimum, questions
about Rwanda merit clarity and disclosure.
Rwandan News Agency has reported,
recent days, that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon received a letter from a
Rwandan genocide survivors' group, Ibuka, the Kinyarwanda word for "Remember."
But either the report is false, or Mr. Ban and his team don't remember. Inner
City Press asked about Ibuka's letter, and
at Tuesday's noon briefing at UN headquarters.
not received these letters," Ban's spokesperson said. Inner City Press
followed-up before 1 p.m. with copies of articles about the letter from not only
the Rwanda News Agency but also
Agence France Presse.
Five hours later, nothing. Ibuka's leadership and two news agencies say the
letter was received by Team Ban, but Team Ban says no.
this year, the long-planned exhibition to commemorate the Rwanda genocide was
cancelled at the last moment, so that a number of changes could be made. The
widest reported change involved blurring a reference to genocide in Armenia.
Inner City Press' coverage of the postponement. But other, still not fully
disclosed changes were made to the Rwanda portions of the exhibition.
silence? Why this lack of clarity? The evolving story of
Ban's UN and human rights continues
to twist and turn (in the wind).
Ban at the postponed genocide exhibition, letters not shown
also demanded that the UN system, including its International Criminal Tribunal
for Rwanda, release its archives on the genocide. The UN's role remains less
than full disclosed. In "The Horseshoe Table," a 2006 book by diplomat
and UN official Chinamya Gharekhan, the infamous memo of January 1994, in which
UN headquarters was told of genocide plans by an informant, is re-mystified. Mr.
Gharekhan, whose job it was as Special Adviser to brief the Security Council
about such communications, intentionally leaves the matter unresolved:
"On page 32, paragraph 86, of the UN Blue
Book on Rwanda, published in 1996, the Secretary General says that 'On the same
day (namely, January 11) in New York, my Special Adviser briefed the Security
Council on reports which had been received from UNAMIR and on the actions the UN
had taken in response.'.. This is where the practice of not keeping official
records of informal consultations showed its worth. There was nothing to prevent
the Secretary General from claiming that the Council had been briefed,
since it said so in the Blue Book... I, in all honesty, could neither confirm or
deny the claim in the book; after all, the allusion was to something what was
supposed to have happened two years ago."
generally interesting book, it is disturbing for Mr. Gharekhan to find benefits
in wiggle-room on genocide forewarnings. It is this context that makes the
current lack of clarity about even what Rwanda-related letter have been received
by Ban Ki-moon, and his response to them, all the more troubling. Watch this
UN Office: S-453A,
UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439
(in Seattle): 718-716-3540
Other, earlier Inner
City Press are listed here, and
some are available in the ProQuest service.
Copyright 2007 Inner City Press, Inc. To request
reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] innercitypress.com