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As US Speaks Against Violence in Sudan, Are Tabit Rapes Forgotten?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 8, more here -- Amid charges that the UN in Sudan, including Herve Ladsous' UN Peacekeeping in Darfur, has colluded with the authorities in Khartoum to cover up rapes like those in Tabit, several UN Security Council members including the US have vowed to continue to pursue the truth at Tabit. But will they?

On May 8 the US issued a detailed statement about violence in Sudan, naming rebel groups too - but it did not mention the Tabit rapes. Why not? Here is the US statement:

The United States is gravely concerned about the continuing fighting in Sudan’s Darfur region and Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states. Actions by the Sudanese government and armed opposition groups, especially following the return of some elements of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), have displaced countless civilians this year and exacerbated an already serious humanitarian crisis.

We urge the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), all other armed groups, and the Government of Sudan to cease hostilities, to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular with regard to the protection of civilians, and to ensure safe, timely, and unhindered access for aid organizations as called for by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

A political solution is essential to attaining sustainable peace in Sudan. We urge Sudanese government and opposition leaders to take the bold steps needed to secure peace for all Sudanese. Years of fighting have made clear that there is no military solution to the conflicts in Sudan.

We condemn the recent attacks against the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) peacekeepers in Kass, South Darfur state.  The UNSC has made clear that UNAMID is authorized to defend itself against attacks, as occurred in this incident. We call on the Government of Sudan to bring the perpetrators of such violence to account and to take all necessary action to prevent future attacks.  The Government of Sudan has the responsibility to defuse tensions in the area and prevent future attacks on UNAMID personnel."

  Why not at least mention Tabit?

 Back in December the UN said it would fight to keep its Resident Coordinator Ali Al Za'tari in the country.

  That was the UN's response to Za'tari being ordered to leave Sudan by January 2, Inner City Press first reported. Inner City Press similarly exclusively reported, and asked the UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about, Sudan's ouster of UNDP Country Director Yvonne Heller on December 24.

  But did the UN follow through on its vow to push-back? No, the UN remained quiet when it ended up replacing Za'atari, as Inner City Press noticed and asked about on March 31, video here, transcript below

Inner City Press: I wanted to go back to Sudan, because remember there was that standoff about the Resident Coordinator Ali Za’atari, who has said that the UN is standing behind him and he won’t be PNG’d, and I saw an announcement that on March 21st, a new Resident Humanitarian Coordinator began work in Khartoum, Mr. Mustafa Bin Al Malih.  And so what happened?  And why didn’t the UN announce that they removed Mr. Za’atari as Resident Coordinator?

Deputy Spokesman:  We pressed for them to continue with Mr. Ali Za’atari and they continued with their objections.  Ultimately we do need to have somebody on the ground to do the work, although we do not accept that our impartial, neutral experts did not get permission to be on the ground to do their work.

Inner City Press: And has Yvonne Helle also been replaced as the representative of UNDP in the country?

Deputy Spokesman:  I believe Ms. Helle left some time ago.  She was already out of the country when they took the decision so I believe there’s a process in place to make sure that the work is done.

 Back on December 25 after another inquiry by Inner City Press to Dujarric and UNDP, Dujarric sent this:

From: Stephane Dujarric [at]
Date: Thu, Dec 25, 2014 at 1:31 PM
Subject: Re: Press request on Sudan PNG-ing Yvonne Helle (asked Dec 24) & now Dec 25 Ali Al-Za'tari
To: Matthew Lee [at]
Cc: UNDP, funca [at]

Matthew, The UN has filed a protest with the government of Sudan following their decision to request the departure of two senior UN officials from the country.

  So the UN filed a protest. But what about the UNFPA case in April, and aother one, in Darfur, which Inner City Press exclusively reported on in December?

On March 31, Inner City Press also asked on Myanmar:

Inner City Press: I heard your statement on behalf of or by Mr. Nambiar praising the country.  I just wanted to know:  has he or anyone else in the UN system have anything to say about the filing of criminal charges against the students who protested the national education law?  A number of… even some countries have [inaudible] this standoff in March where the peaceful demonstrators have been arrested.  Now the charges have been filed, they haven’t been released.  Is there any follow-up by the UN on that?

Deputy Spokesman:  We’ll check with Mr. Nambiar what he has to say on that.

  Six hours later and counting, nothing.

  On Sudan back on December 24, Inner City Press similarly exclusively reported and then asked the UN Spokesman about UNDP Country Director Yvonne Helle being ordered out of Sudan, citing her and Al-Za'tari's e-mails. Video here.

  A full day after that, Reuters reported on Helle's ouster -- typically, for Reuters, with no credit to the Press' prior exclusive story. (Reuters' UN bureau chief has said he has a policy of not crediting Inner City Press' exclusive, and has gone to far as to censor, Sudan-style, his "for the record" anti-Press complains to the UN, click here for that, via EFF's

   On December 24, Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Sudan having just similarly "PNG-ed" or declared persona non-grata the Sudan Country Director of the UN Development Program Yvonne Helle, with Za'tari barely pushing back against the government.

  Dujarric said that host countries' ordered to PNG a UN staff member are treated seriously and should be sent to, and considered and acted on by, Ban's Secretariat in New York. But Dujarric in the 18 hours after Inner City Press asked about Helle has not returned with any information or answer. Then Reuters published its story, with no credit.

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