Bashir Threatens to Cut Observers' Fingers Off, UN Silent, on Venezuela
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, March 23 -- Sudan's president Omar al Bashir has claimed his
indictment by the International Criminal Court for war crimes has
made him more popular, in the run up to elections. He's said that
after the elections, he will travel to Venezuela, a member of the
on March 23 asked the UN about Bashir, and experts on the ICC about
Venezuela's -- and Brazil's -- duties to apprehend Bashir. David
Donat Cattin, Director of the International Law and Human Rights
Programme at Parliamentarians for Global Action, replied that
Venezuela has NOT invited Bashir, and would be obligated to arrest
him. So too would Lula, he said, if Bashir flew over Brazil. Video
the UN in
Sudan in the run up to election, what does the Organization say when
President Bashir threatens to "cut off the fingers" of
elections observers? Nothing, is the answer.
Bashir on the mic, cut fingers not shown
March 23, Inner
City Press asked
Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky
City Press: On Darfur, President Omar Al-Bashir has been quoted
regarding election observers as saying, if they interfere in our
affairs, “we will cut their fingers off, put them under our shoes,
and throw them out”, Bashir said. So, I understand there was a
background briefing in which senior UN officials said that they’re
monitoring things and as things come up, they are raised to the
Government. I want to know what is the UN’s response, given both
its role in the elections and with two major peacekeeping forces
there, to a President saying he’ll cut the fingers off election
The point here is that the elections are a Sudanese process and the
UN is providing technical support under a Security Council mandate. And
the preparations for the election are well under way, as you
know, and we do have concerns in three areas. One is that the
technical challenges of preparing for an election in a country of
that size with the infrastructure that is in place there, or not in
place. We are also concerned about reports of harassment of
opposition party members and intimidation, arbitrary arrest and
detention. And we are also concerned about the low registration of
internally displaced people in Darfur. So we have been encouraging
the Government of Sudan to address those particular concerns so that
the elections, and this is really the key point, will reflect the
will of the Sudanese people.
I am just wondering: This seems to be a particular sort of
harassment of election observers, saying that you would cut their
fingers off. It is hard to imagine this not having some effect on
the objectivity of the observation. So it was these senior UN
officials, unnamed, said that these are the type of things that Mr.
[Haile] Menkerios raises to the Government.
Said where? Said where, Matthew?
City Press: No, no. There was, maybe while you were traveling, but
they announced here, so it was a known fact that there was a
briefing about the Sudanese elections. But they said the
type of things, seemingly lesser than this, are the type of things
Mr. Menkerios -- maybe he has not raised it yet, but I am wondering
if and when Mr. Menkerios actually does raise this to the Government,
about the open statement of cutting off fingers of election
observers; is it possible to know that the UN did react in some way?
Look, I have seen the same reports that you have about what
President Bashir is supposed to have said. I do not know at this
point whether Mr. Menkerios has raised it or not and I will find out.
* * *
Sudan, UN Still Hasn't Reached Jebel Marra in Darfur, Pre-Spins
Criticism, Afghanistan Redux?
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, March 22 -- Weeks after reports of civilians being killed in
Jebel Marra in Darfur, the UN has still not managed to visit the
area, Inner City Press has been told. After twice asking about the
issue in UN noon briefings, at a background briefing on March 19 by
two senior UN officials about Sudan's upcoming elections, the failure
to visit Jebal Marra was acknowledged. Later this came in writing:
Matthew, Kindly find hereby the answer to your question asked during
noon briefing regarding Jebel Marra : Has UNAMID accessed Jebel Marra
since the recent incident involving the Blue Helmets?
Mission is hoping to materialize a security assessment in the next
week with a view to then sending humanitarians."
briefing in advance of the April 11 elections in Sudan left
correspondents scratching their heads. To many, it appeared that
following the bad publicity the UN Mission in Afghanistan got, on
phantom polling places and the like, the UN wants to "get out in
front of the issue" in Sudan, and disclaim any responsibility
us to judge," said one of the senior UN officials. "Our
role is not as observers."
asked about blatant attacks on the press and on the ability of
candidates to speak to the public. For example, Sadiq al-Mahdi being
unable to broadcast, the National Press Council of Sudan grilling
editors for insulting Omar al-Bashir, a radio station in Juba shut
down for a time.
UN's Ban and Sudan Bashir in past: congratulations
on your election?
official said that each incident was raised, behind the scenes, to
the Sudanese authorities, presumably by new UNMIS chief Haile
Menkerios. But if the trends of crackdown is raised but just
continues, does the UN go public?