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As Darfur Arrestees Named, UN Has No Comment, Gambari On Vacation in NY

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 27 -- Following the UN Security Council's visit to Darfur on October 8, the UN has been asked to verify the arrests by Sudan of at least two people who were present in the Abu Shouk camp for internally displaced people.

 On October 27, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky to confirm a report that the arrestees are Abdullah Ishaq Abdel Razek, the supervisor of the nutrition program of the IDP camp’s schools, and Mohammed Abdullah Mohammed Al-Haj, who gave a speech to Council members on October 8. Video here.

  Nesirky replied that if top UN peacekeeper Alain Le Roy had been asked to look into the situation, he would. But previously, Le Roy was asked to obtain and provide a “full understanding of the facts” underlying the deadly violence this year in the Kalma IDP camp, without doing so.

  In the opacity that the UN allowed after the Kalma violence, Sudan had demanded that the UN turn over five sheikhs of the Kalma camp. As exposed by Inner City Press with leaked documents, the head of the UN - African Union mission UNAMID Ibrahim Gambari was close to an agreement with Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti to turn the five sheikhs over, in exchange for a promise not to execute by Omar al-Bashir, indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

  On October 27, Inner City Press approached and asked ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo outside the UN Security Council for his view of UN turn overs to Omar al Bashir. I have nothing to do with that, Ocampo said. He said that Inner City Press' previous questions to the Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak were well placed. But what about the ICC?

  While Inner City Press has repeatedly asked Nesirky for Gambari's or the UN's view of Nowak's statement that to turn the sheikhs over to Bashir would violate customary international law, no response has been provided. On October 27, Nesirky belatedly told Inner City Press that Gambari is “on leave.”

UN's Ban & AU's Ping, Ibrahim "On Leave" Gambari and Kalma 5 not shown

Since according to Nigerian Mission sources Gambari had been in New York since Friday, October 22 -- but didn't appear at the UN Security Council for its October 25 session on UNAMID -- questions are mounting about the appropriateness of taking a vacation in the midst of Darfur's problems, and not even pausing the vacation to attend a nearby Security Council meeting about UNAMID. Watch this site.

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UN Sudan Debate Degenerates to Book Sales, In Empire of Deng, Genocide Forgotten

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 27 -- When the UN holds an event entitled “Sudan, a Vision for the Future” six weeks before the referendum on secession is slated to be held, it seems worth going to.

There were piles of books for sale by the event's entrance in the UN's North Lawn building. UN official Francis Deng, charged with preventing genocide but rarely seen these days, was speaking about his writings, including “New Sudan in the Making” published, strangely, by Third World Book of Trenton, New Jersey and Asmara, Eritrea.

The event was moderated by Kiyotaka Akasaka of the UN Department of Public Information, who intervened to cut short the response by Sudanese Ambassador Dafaala El Haj Ali Osman so that questions could be asked the audience, including those online.

Inner City Press asked about the religious differences between South Sudan and the North, about how external debt might be divided, and the implications of a planned new oil pipeline to run south through Kenya. Only one of these questions was answered, and even then only by saying that debt is being negotiated in Addis Ababa, under the rubric of Liabilities.

Afterward, Inner City Press asked Mr. Deng what other countries he and his UN Prevention of Genocide are working on, including what he might think of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's panel of experts on accountability in Sri Lanka, which has not even asked to visit that country.

Deng said “we don't like to single out countries” then said he was distracted due to an upcoming appointment. He was courteous as always and patrician -- of Abyei aristocracy -- but one wonders what is being accomplished.

Sources say that under Deng, the UN Prevention of Genocide office is largely devoted to producing and promoting Deng's writings, including the time of other staff members of the Office.

 “Nice work if you can get it,” one insider commented, while noting that a less distracted person might be better for the UN's Prevention of Genocide post, unless it is by UN design a no-show job.

Deng earlier at UN, book sales and Prevention of Genocide not shown

  If Deng's writings are being produced on UN time and with UN money, then shouldn't they be attributable to the UN? His “New Sudan in the Making” volume has a chapter by “Eltigani Seisi M. Ateem” -- the former UN staff member at the Economic Commission on Africa who was drafted, including by joint UN - African Union mediator Bassole, to lead the Darfur “Astroturf rebel” group the Liberation and Justice Movement. (Astroturf, the artificial surface in the now demolished Houston Astrodome, means fake grassroots.)

Also appearing on the panel was UN peacekeeping's Team Leader of the Sudan Operational Team Jack Christofides, who afterward briefed a Permanent Five Security Council diplomat about the “logistics” of the Security Council's recent trip to Sudan.

What is the UN accomplishing with all this book publishing and self- and Deng-promotion? As Deng concludes New Sudan in the Making?, “the question mark... is therefore pertinent.” Watch this site.

Footnote: as to UN DPI and Mr. Akasaka, having debates with Q&A is generally a good thing. But it was alleged by a panelist after Tuesday's session that the purpose was to promote sales of a UN official's book. This should be clarified. Mr. Akasaka at the end mentioned possible future sessions on Haiti or Pakistan -- perhaps Jean Maurice Ripert could lead that session, since he is still being paid despite being relieved of his Pakistan envoy position. Could there be a book deal in the works?

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At UN on Darfur Arrestees, Susan Rice Issues Skeptical Statement, Sudan Blames on NGOs

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 25 -- So did Sudan arrest internally displaced people who spoke with the UN Security Council in Abu Shouk IDP camp earlier this month?

The US belatedly went public about the issue, first in background comments late last week. Then on Monday after a Security Council meeting at which Sudan denied the arrests, including after the meeting in a stakeout Q&A with Inner City Press, the US issued a written statement by Ambassador Susan Rice, who was not present at the Council meeting.

Rice's statement concluded that “the U.S. and the UK asked the UN to address this issue in today's UN Security Council briefing so that the full Council could hear directly from UN officials about this matter. We have yet to receive any information that alleviates our deep concern over this issue.”

Sources inside the Security Council's closed door consultations told Inner City Press that the UK and one non-Permanent member asked UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy to say what the UN knows about arrests, and to “not politicize” the issue. Le Roy's subsequent answer was described as “strange” and “not convincing.”

Inner City Press asked Le Roy, as he left the meeting, if the US or UK had provided him with names, on a confidential basis. No, he said, adding that the names were not known.

On camera at the UN stakeout, Inner City Press asked Sudan's Ambassador to the UN Dafaala El Haj Ali Osman about the arrests. He acknowledged arrests, but not of anyone who had met with the Security Council. Video here.

Dafaala El Haj Ali at stakout, Susan Rice not shown

A Sudanese diplomat scoffed to Inner City Press that “Susan Rice got a letter from the Enough Project and Genocide Intervention, that's all this is.”

   But did these two groups and the four other ones signing the letter think that Susan Rice would be at the Security Council meeting where it was discussed, to push on the issue and speak afterward to counter the defient denial of her Sudanese counterpart Dafaala El Haj Ali? Watch this site.

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In Darfur, Gambari Criticizes Nur & Inner City Press on Video, Transcription Here

By Matthew Russell Lee

DARFUR, October 8 -- Peacekeepers were sent to Darfur after reports of a brutal campaign by the government of Omar al Bashir against opponents of his regime and civilians perceived as supporting them.

Now top peacekeeper Ibrahim Gambari, as shown by documents leaked to and published by Inner City Press, is near to turning over five supporters of rebel Abdel Wahid Nur to that same Bashir regime, in exchange for a promise by Bashir to commute any death sentence his courts impose.

Several members of the UN Security Council, which ostensibly oversees Gambari's actions along with the African Union, expressed surprise to Inner City Press once they saw the leaked documents, consisting of a draft letter and “Additional Terms” from Gambari to Bashir's foreign minister Ali Karti.

On the UN plane Thursday to El Fasher from South Sudan, US Ambassador Susan Rice told Inner City Press that she intends to inquire into Gambari's offers about the Kalma Camp Five while in Darfur. This echoed a statement of intention previously issued by another Permanent Member of the Council.

After a closed door meeting with the visiting Security Council members, Gambari and two of his military officials, in uniform, came to see the Press. Gambari called Inner City Press' publication of his draft documents “reprehensible” and told Inner City Press to “be careful... lives are at stake.”  Transcription below.

  Yeah, a witness to Gambari's statements later said, the lives of the Kalma Camp Five are at risk if the UN turns them over to a strongman already indicted for genocide and war crimes. “Is this what the UN should be doing?”

  Gambari's statements to Inner City Press were caught on video and will soon be published online as such. For now, here is a transcription, prepared late Thursday night at a guest house in El Fasher outside of Gambari's UNAMID compound:

Inner City Press asked Ibrahim Gambari, “What's happen with the Kalma Camp Five that you are considering turning over to the government... or that documents indicate you are considering turning over?”

Gambari answered: “Here is the situation. We have these five sheikhs who have been accused of some very serious offenses. We have no means as UNAMID to try them... Down the line if ever there was a death sentence, the President has the prerogative of mercy. All has been discussed confidentially. I want to say how reprehensible it was that somebody leaked the confidential communication of the government of Sudan...endangering the lives of those in the camps. The recipient of such a leak I think should also think twice about what they do considering that they are endangering the lives.. We've lost 27 peacekeepers between UNAMID and UNMIS, I mean AMIS.”

Inner City Press asked about Abdel Wahid Nur saying that if the Five are turned over, it will make UNAMID complicit in genocide, and that his group would not cooperate with the UN any more.

Gambari responded, “you quote words Abdel Wahid was supposed to have said... I met Khalil Ibrahim yesterday, asked how about how someone said JEM wants Gambari to resign for Tarabat Market. [He said he] ever said that, never authorized this... I want to hear from Abdel Wahid. I've been to Paris twice, I went to Tripoli...What happened in New York I condemn it. Matthew I have known you a long time, you should be careful... You are a recipient of a leaked document... Journalism also is a responsibility. I regard you as a friend, I used to, I regard you as a friend, I am admitting that.”

Of Abdel Wahid Nur, Gambari said: “He wants all issues resolved almost before he comes.”

“Matthew, I'm very angry with you , what are we supposed to do, keep people indefinitely?”

Inner City Press said, “Several Security Council members, when they saw the leaked documents, said they were not aware that you or UNAMID were in such discussions, and some expressed worry. How much is this Mission overseen by the Security Council?”

Gambari said “Ask them. Ask the S-G. I am responsible to two masters. You have the AU and you have the UN. The unity of the international community is key to finding a solution.”

Inner City Press said, as Gambari backed out the door toward his vehicle, “Transparency you can always say is dangerous, but I think it's probably a good thing.”

“No,” Gambari said. “Believe me, lives are at stake.”

Or maybe jobs, a witness to Gambari's statements later said, adding that the lives of the Kalma Camp Five are at risk if the UN turns them over to a strongman already indicted for genocide and war crimes. Among other lives put at risk, without oversight, transparency or explanation. “Is this what the UN should be doing?” Watch this site.

Footnote: it's worth noting that even before Inner City Press obtained and published Gambari's draft letter to Sudan's Ali Karti, Gambari had already expressed anger at Inner City Press' publication of other leaked documents concerning his time as UN envoy to Myanmar.

  That time, before the UN's September 24 high level meeting on Sudan, Gambari didn't argue about lives being at risk. He claimed the documents were “old” (2009) and not newsworthy. “Just leave me alone,” he said, having in the past declined to respond to questions sentto his UN e-mail address by Inner City Press. Now, the claim that lives are put at risk. Is it just opposition to transparency?

Watch this site, follow on Twitter @InnerCityPress.

 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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