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As US Relaxes Sudan Sanctions, ICP Asks of Tabit Rapes, Is Referred to UN

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 17, more here -- With UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous still providing few to no updates on its UNAMID mission's November 9 covering up of rapes in Darfur, just as Ladsous stonewalled about mass rapes in Minova in the DR Congo, here, events keep moving on.

 On February 17 the US amended its sanctions on Sudan "pertaining to certain software, hardware, and services incident to personal communications," and held a background call with the media.

  Inner City Press asked, what about the mass rapes in Tabit and pushing Sudan to re-gain access to investigate?

  The Administration official who responded - those were the ground rules -- said that the US had discussed a range of issues with Sudan's Ibrahim Ghandour during this trip to the United States.

  Inner City Press asked if there is a timeline for Sudan to grant access to Tabit to investigate the rapes.

  The Administration official replied that Ghandour had also held discussions in New York with senior UN officials.

  Inner City Press covered Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's meeting with Ghandour, at which Ban asked, "How is President Bashir?" Video here.

  Did the UN gain any commitment at all? We'll be asking -- again.

   On February 11 inside the UN a report was issued and a set-aside first question was asked, purportedly about the Tabit rapes, with no mention of UN Peacekeeping's Herve Ladsous at all.

   While some claim that Ladsous' UN Peacekeeping is trying to get back to Tabit, on Feburary 10 a Sudanese diplomat told Inner City Press he had met with Ladsous on February 9 and "it was nice." How's that, for Ladsous' supposed commitment to get to the bottom of rapes and rights abuses?

 Instead, in order to NOT move against the FDLR militia, Ladsous' UN Peacekeeping is now claiming to care too much for human rights to support the Congolese Army's supposed offensive against the FDLR -- which, the UN belatedly acknowledged to Inner City Press, has not even begun.

  But on the Tabit rapes, that the Sudanese diplomat without irony described his February 9 meeting with Ladsous has "nice" is telling.

  It is easy and appropriate, of course, to blame Sudan, as it was and is to blame the Congolese Army and government for the rapes in Minova. But there is a pattern, and until UN Peacekeeping's senior leadership's cover up of these incidents - and even silence on dead peacekeepers for more than a week -- nothing will improve.

  So why is Human Rights Watch, which alongside its detailed work goes out of its way not to criticize the UN and especially Ladsous, for example on Central African Republic, as Inner City Press reported here, partnering to hold a privatized event on Tabit, not in the UN Press Briefing Room but among friends, as they say?

 Why have HRW and its hosts said nothing about posts in UN Peacekeeping under Ladsous being sold for money, exclusively exposed by Inner City Press on February 7, asked about February 9, and partially answered by the UN on February 10, here?

  Any country can sponsor such a briefing in the UN Press Briefing Room. But HRW hides behind and in the clubhouse of the UN Censorship Alliance, Board members of which in the past have ordered changes to articles about Ladsous - and about Sri Lanka, more here. Human rights? Hardly.  Look how Human Rights Watch's selectively distributed invitation whitewashes UN Peacekeeping's and Ladsous' role:

"Between October 30 and November 1, 2014, Sudanese government forces entered Tabit, North Darfur, and carried out massive abuses against the townís residents, including a mass rape of women and girls. Sudan responded by denying the abuses and has refused to allow international peacekeepers and other independent monitors to investigate the crimes."

  This is misleading - Ladsous' UNAMID was in Tabit on November 9, and put out a press release whitewashing the rapes and saying the people there like the government's security forces. This was shameful.

 More publicly, Inner City Press on January 26 asked Security Council ambassadors Mark Lyall Grant of the UK and Raimonda Murmokaite of Lithuania, "what happened with UNAMID going back for real investigation of rapes in Tabit?"

  Lyall Grant replied, "We continue to press DPKO to encourage UNAMID to revert on the Tabit allegations."

   Murmokaite added, "have been raising the issue at consultations, will continue."

 And so Inner City Press at the January 26 UN noon briefing asked Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here:

Inner City Press: two of the Security Council ambassadors this morning said they continued to ask DPKO to ensure that the Tabit site of alleged mass rapes is revisited. I want to know has any action been taken on that? Has there been any move by UNAMID?

Spokesman Dujarric: The request to visit Tabit stands. There's nothing to report.

 Nothing to report? Back on January 8 Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, video here:

Inner City Press: what has the UN system done in order to get access again to Thabit in Darfur, where there were allegedly 200 rapes, and then the Government didnít allow any inspectors. What have you done since we last spoke on it?

SG Ban: As for the first part of the question, as you know, we tried to have a thorough investigation. This report might not have been sufficient because of the lack of full cooperation of the authorities on the ground. That has really hampered our authorities to go into the field and get a thorough investigation. It is important that we have to have a thorough investigation and as a matter of principle, there should be a clear accountability process and justice. I am firm about this matter. And we will, in the course of time, have better information on this matter.

  While appreciated, it is widely recognized that the more time goes by, the more difficult a credible rape investigation becomes. So why did UNAMID issue a cover-up November 9 press release?
 

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