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As in Sudan Arrests & Attacks Loom, UN Cuts Monitoring, Council Silent

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 2 -- In Sudan over the weekend Darfur human rights activists were arrested, and the Khartoum office of a radio station which covers the conflict was shuttered.

  Tuesday morning in front of the UN Security Council in New York, Inner City Press asked delegations what they would do about it. Mostly they referred to a November 16 meeting on Sudan, which focuses on the North South referendum.

Now Inner City Press hears from sources that the UN's Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan Georg Charpentier has ordered that all “non-essential” missions in the country should be suspended until February 2011 -- that is, until after the referendum.

The implication, the sources say, is that the UN will do even less reporting on human rights abuses and malnutrition in Darfur than it has been doing of late. The idea is that the UN -- and perhaps Western countries on the Security Council -- are so interested in the referendum that they are increasingly looking the other way on Darfur, as things there get worse.

Sources also report that many tanks, troops were seen in North Darfur areas of Kutum, Kernoi, and Altina. Same in addition to janjaweed gatherings were seen in West Darfur in areas of Geneina and Kulbus.

  Pro Government of Sudan volunteers landed in Kutum airport. One was asked by Darfuri policeman: What are you and where are you going. The person reportedly answered, we are mujahideen and the government told us we have to fight the infidels and their supporters in Darfur. We came to clean Darfur.

  Some Arab tribes revolted and refused to participate in the operation. Sources say most of those revolted were in the army and belong to Bani Halba Arab tribe. The operation is planned to start in November (within few days). It would, the sources say, start with aerial bombings with planes taking off from Dongola in the North Sudan (neighboring state to Darfur in th nile north) rather than from Darfur airports (due to the last noise regarding U.N.S.C. visit and arms embargo reports). The operation is timed to finish before the end of December, just before referendum of Jan 2011. That's what sources say.

There are reports of attacks on civilians in Tawila, and that the UNAMID peacekeepers “did nothing.” Could this be part of the referendum strategy?

UK Lyall Grant, US Susan Rice in El Fasher, post-trip reaction not shown

  On Monday at noon Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: first on Darfur, I wanted to ask you, it’s been… the Ugandan Army… the military, their main spokesman said on Friday that Joseph Kony has now passed from Central African Republic into Darfur. I know that the UN had set up UNMIS [United Nations Mission in the Sudan] to be part of some… along with MONUSCO [United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] and the soon to be finished MINURCAT [United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad] to be looking into the LRA [Lord’s Resistance Army]. But does UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur] have a comment on this indicted war criminal, according to Uganda, having gone into Darfur and what in fact would UNAMID do about this [inaudible] case?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Let me find out.

Inner City Press: Also there is a report, just this, a factual thing, but there’s reports of fighting in South Darfur resulting in 10 dead, and I am just wondering, is this the kind of thing that UNAMID tracks? Can it confirm this or…?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, again I am sure UNAMID, if they have information, they’d let us know. I don’t have anything right now.

And 22 hours later, still nothing. Watch this site.

* * *

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.

* * *

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?

* * *

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.

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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