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In Rwanda, Real History of UN Inaction & Sri Lanka Banned, A La Francaise

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 7 -- At the Rwanda genocide commemoration that France's Justice Minister refused to attend, UN Secretary General gave a speech that did not mention the issue -- that is, the history.

  Of Rwanda in 1994, Ban said

"Many United Nations personnel and others showed remarkable bravery. But we could have done much more. We should have done much more."

   But it was more than inaction. Take, for example, UN staff member Callixte Mbarushimana, who

"lent vehicles and satellite telephones of the UNDP to military officers, that he also used the UNDP vehicles to facilitate his own contribution to the killings," as stated in an article that was on the UN's own MONUC mission website, since abandoned or forgotten - covered up? Another UN documents recites his role in "the death of UNDPís National Personnel Officer, Ms. Florence Ngirumpatse, and a number of refugees in the residence where they had taken refuge."

  The international justice machinery Ban praised fumbled on this.  Now, Ban argues that but for divisions in the Security Council like on Syria, the UN has turned the corner. Referring to what's now called the "Rights Up Front" program, he said

"I have sent my own signal to UN representatives around the world. My message to them is simply this: When you see people at risk of atrocity crimes, do not wait for instructions from afar. Speak up, even if it may offend. Act. Our first duty must always be to protect people -- to protect human beings in need and distress. That is what we have done recently in South Sudan."

  This ignored -- covers up? - the roots of the Rigths Up Front program, the UN's failure in Sri Lanka in 2009 and since.  So, never again?

  French foreign ministry spokesperson Romain Nadal has said he is "surprised" at the linking of France to the 1994 Rwanda genocide. He shouldn't be. Beyond the documentary evidence, earlier this year at the UN memorial of the genocide with Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon present France was named as guilty, see below.

  Nevertheless, now France said that its Justice Minister Christiane Taubira will no longer attend the April 7 memorial in Kigali. Ban Ki-moon will be there -- and some wonder if his (or France's) head of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous will go.

  Rwanda is a major UN troop contributing country, most recently in Central African Republic. But Ladsous, who in 1994 was France's Deputy Permanent Representative at the UN, has his own history. Sample memo here. Ladsous argued for the escape of the genocidaires into Eastern Congo -- where "his" UN Peacekeeping, even now, went after the M23, then the ADF while still not the Hutu militia FDLR.

  When Inner City Press asked Ladsous about his history, in the form of a question, Ladsous responded by refusing to answer any Inner City Press questions, even about precautions against spreading cholera as UN Peacekeeping did in Haiti. Video compilation here, UK coverage here, yet
more here, on what to call the 1994 genocide.

   At the Kwibuka 20 ceremony at the UN on February 27, from the podium France was twice blamed for working with genocidaires and helping them escape into the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

  On the podium Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who has praised French troops even his UN human rights counterpart Navi Pillay noted they'd left Muslim communities vulnerable to attack, looked uncomfortable.

  Ban mentioned his "Rights Up Front" program, without mentioning its roots in the 2009 failure of his UN in Sri Lanka, as tens of thousands were killed.

   Following Rwanda's Permanent Representative Gasana, genocide survivor Immaculee Ilibagiza spoke movingly of barely escaping slaughter, but then speaking of forgiveness.  Gerald Caplan said he would be less forgiving, and was.

   He twice blamed France, specifically for Operation Turquoise which current UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous defended and promoted in the Security Council in 1994 as France's deputy permanent representative, click here for a memo.

   Caplan also mentioned Bill Clinton, for example -- but Clinton has apologized, unlike Ladsous. Instead, Ladsous simply refuses to answer this and other critical questions at the UN, and the UN accepts it, even tried to dictate how Ladsous can be covered.

  Forgiveness is one thing, and censorship is another. The February 27 ceremony was nothing but class. But day to day at the UN, with scribes braying about only the M23 and not the FDLR, it's another story.

  Even earlier on February 27, when Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesperson Martin Nesirky when UN Peacekeeping will go after the Hutu FDLR militia, he responded he would not speak to operational activities that "have not yet started and that might not start." Click here for that.

   In late January after the Democratic Republic of the Congo sanctions resolution was adopted by the UN Security Council, 15-0, Rwanda's Permanent Representative Gasana emerged from the Council chamber. Inner City Press asked him about his DRC counterpart's comment that Gasana was educated in the Congo. Video here and embedded below.

  Gasana laughed and said he was born in Burundi. He mused that the Congolese might want to adopt him. Then he turned to go.

  Wire services Reuters and Agence France-Presse pursued him to the esclator, where Reuters UN bureau chief asked Gasana about Rwanda being accused of supporting the M23. Gasana replied that the DRC has other problems, for example in Katanga. He said Rwanda is a scapegoat for the DRC's wider problems.

  Reuters insisted that the Group of Experts report had been welcomed by the Security Council resolution.  "Because they need that," Gasana replied. "This is the raison d'etre of the Security Council."

  Nothing was asked there about the fight in the Council on how to described the 1994 genocide and the compromise language in the resolution. AFP's outgoing scribe was there, but asked nothing. Nor when the DRC Permanent Representative spoke minutes later at the UNTV stakeout, in French. This is how the UN works.

  An hour later at the UN's noon briefing, Inner City Press asked the UN's acting deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq for an update on any accountability for the mass rapes in Minova by units of the Congolese Army the UN supports, and if UN Peacekeeping, led by Herve Ladsous, is investigating links between the Congolese Army and the FDLR militia. On this, Haq said to look at the Council's resolutions. Video here.

  In the January 30 resolution, the language compromised on is "the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, during which Hutu and others who opposed the genocide were also killed."

  Sources exclusively told Inner City Press that the United States resisted calling it a genocide against the Tutsi of Rwanda, even saying that there is a US policy against referring to it in this way.

   Inner City Press has asked the US Mission to the UN for an explanation. It was said one might be forthcoming after the vote.

  Where would such a US policy be written down? It seemed strange, particularly during a time of Holocaust events at the UN, from one about Hungary to another about Albania.

   On January 29, Inner City Press asked a US Council diplomat, who said spokespeople would be asked. Inner City Press was told to wait for the language to be final, then, for the vote.

  In the Council's January 29 debate, the representative of the DRC spoke about Rwanda and the M23 rebels. Rwanda's Deputy Permanent Representative replied with a series of questions: was it Rwanda who killed Lumumba? Was Rwanda responsible for Mobutu? Who hosted and failed to separate the genocidaires from Rwanda in 1994?

  This continued on January 30 after the vote.  Rwanda Permanent Representative Gasana said UN Peacekeeping should investigate links between the DRC Army and the FDLR.

  The DRC representative asked to be given specifics about links between his country's army the FARDC and the FDLR militia. The resolution voted on provides:

"Noting with deep concern reports indicating FARDC collaboration with the FDLR at a local level, recalling that the FDLR is a group under United Nations sanctions whose leaders and members inchide perpetrators of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, during which Hutu and others who opposed the genocide were also killed, and have continued to promote and commit ethnically based and other killings in Rwanda and in the DRC, and stressing the importance of permanently addressing this threat"

   As Inner City Press exclusively put online last June, some of these links were even specified in the UN Group of Experts report, for example:

"107. The Group interviewed 10 FARDC soldiers in Tongo, in North Kivu, who reported that FARDC and FDLR regularly meet and exchange operational information. These same sources stated that FARDC soldiers supplied ammunition to the FDLR. Col. Faida Fidel Kamulete, the commander of FARDC 2nd battalion of 601st Regiment based at Tongo, denied such collaboration, but declared to the Group that FARDC and FDLR do not fight each other."

  Going further back, it is impossible not to note, particularly given the lack of explanation or transparency, that US Permanent Representative Samantha Power began her 2001 article "Bystanders to Genocide" in the Atlantic with this sentence: "In the course of a hundred days in 1994 the Hutu government of Rwanda and its extremist allies very nearly succeeded in exterminating the country's Tutsi minority."

  Given that, why would the US Mission be saying it had a policy of describing the genocide as being against the Tutsi minority? Inner City Press asked again: Since I'm told that the US has said that there is a government position not to say the 1994 genocide was against the Tutsis, can you say what that policy is? Why does it exist? Does it apply to other genocides or atrocities?

 As noted, Inner City Press also has pending with the US State Department a number of requests, including a Freedom of Information Act request regarding the Administration's Atrocities Prevention Board.

  A Rwandan diplomat told Inner City Press these were Hutu killed not because of their ethnicity but because they opposed the genocide against the Tutsi. "This is a precedent," the diplomat said. Watch this site.


 

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