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On South Sudan US Sanctions Gregory Vasili Israel Ziv and Obac William Olawo As UN Censors Press

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR Ban PFT Q&A

UNITED NATIONS GATE, December 14 – When youth leaders from South Sudan and DR Congo took questions on October 26, it was across the street from the UN and Inner City Press went to ask and live-stream. Video here. It asked about the performance of the UN Mission UNMISS. Inner City Press asked the UN in writing, "South Sudan's Susan Kyunon Sebit William  told Inner City Press that UNMISS does not sufficiently protect civilians, particularly women, citing Terrain Hotel etc. What IS the UN doing? What did it learn?" Apparently nothing - these has been no answer, more than six weeks later. Now on December 14 the US State Department announces new sanctions: "Today, the United States imposed sanctions on three individuals for their roles in the conflict in South Sudan.  Israel Ziv and Obac William Olawo were designated by the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) for being leaders of entities whose actions expanded or extend the conflict in South Sudan.  Gregory Vasili was designated by OFAC for actions that have undermined peace, stability, and security in South Sudan.  OFAC further designated a total of six entities owned and/or controlled by Ziv and Olawo." We'll have more on this - and this: the UN under Antonio Guterres has further covered up rapes in CAR by its own "peacekeepers" from Cameroon, refusing to answer questions in a censorship pattern well known to each of the officials who on December issued this fwiw statement: "UN Special Representatives on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, and the Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng strongly condemn reports of 150 women and girls brutally raped during a ten-day period (19-29 November) while making their way to collect food for their families near Bentiu, South Sudan. The violations took place in a Government-controlled area, reportedly carried out by young men in civilian clothing or military uniforms.  

We reiterate the messages of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for South Sudan, David Shearer and call on the Government of South Sudan to urgently denounce these abhorrent acts, swiftly launch investigations and ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted and held accountable.

Accountability is critical to obtain lasting peace and reconciliation among the communities in South Sudan we therefore call on the Government to take all appropriate measures to end the chronic impunity prevailing in the country. We also call on the Government to uphold its primary responsibility for protecting and ensuring the safety of its population, irrespective of their ethnic or political affiliation.  We further urge the Government to ensure that all victims receive essential medical, psychosocial and legal support necessary for their recovery.

It is very disturbing that sexual violence remains rampant in the country. This year, in particular, has been marked by an alarming increase in the number of rape cases perpetrated on vulnerable women and girls, despite the signing of the Revitalized Peace Agreement in September 2018." But why have they allowed Guterres censorship on the very issue of sexual abuse? We'll have more on this.  Today's UN bans pPress. When "the Role of Conventional Arms in Preventing Conflicts" was debated across First Avenue frm the UN on October 25, Inner City Press went, to ask a question. Video here. It asked UN Peacekeeping official Thomas Kontogeorgos what the UN has done about its negligent loss of weapons and ammunition - which Inner City Press asked about IN the UN before being banned as cover up by SG Antonio Guterres and his USG Alison Smale.
Kontogeorgos to his credit answered, only somewhat evasively, that DPKO "provided inputs" to the Small Arms Survey, and now UNPOL passes information to INTERPOL (the disappearance of whose head Guterres has said nothing about, despite written questions from Inner City Press.). At the end of the IPI program, Youssef Mahmoud spoke about the elephant(s) in the room, selling arms. Afterward Dr. Mihaela Racovita of SAS told Inner City Press they are trying to make further inroads with DPKO, for example with the mission in Mali. We hope to have more on this - the lawless ban by Guterres and Smale, for reporting on UN corruption, is not helpful. But we will not stop. Back on September 5, hours after in the UN Security Council chamber UK Ambassador Karen Pierce said she supported the morning's meeting about Nicaragua due to refugee flows, across the street from the UN Inner City Press asked her why this logic didn't apply to the confict in the former British Southern Cameroons and the flight of Anglophones from state violence into Nigeria. Periscope video here.

     Pierce replied that a country is less likely to end up on the Security Council's agenda if it is taking some positive steps. But given 36 year Cameroonian head of state Paul Biya's torching of villages, what are his positive steps? A sceptic might point to the natural gas deal he signed with UK-based New Age, which UK Minister Liam Fox bragged around as showing UK companies can still get deals after Brexit.

   Also on the panel on the "Culture of Peace," moderated by Kevin Rudd, was Secretary General Antonio Guterres' head of policy planning Fabrizio Hochschild. When Inner City Press began a question to Hochschild, who had spoken with gruesome examples from Colombia of the need for opposing sides to humanize each other though “dignification,” Rudd cut it off.

Stepping off the crowded elevator at ground level Inner City Press endeavored to ask Hochschild the questions, both Cameroon and whether Guterres and his opaque Global Communicator Alison Smale, purporting to ban Inner City Press from the UN for life without once speaking with it, should engaged in some dignification. He declined to answer -- declined to dignify the question, so to speak -- then said “Ask Steph.”

It was a reference to Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who Smale has twice written would answer Inner City Press' question but who has refused to for a full week.

  This as Inner City Press, already banned from the UN for 64 days amid its questions on Guterres' inaction on Cameroon with the country's ambassador Tommo Monthe heading the UN Budget Committee, has an application pending to cover the UN General Assembly as it has for the past 11 years. Dignification, indeed. We'll have more on this.


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