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Ethiopia Minister Who Un-Tweeted Gay Rights Listed at CSW As NVB Cancels

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 11 -- Among the listed speakers at the UN Commission on the Status of Women is Ethiopia's Zenebu Tadesse, at Speaker Number 42.

  Back in Addis, her re-tweets of messages supporting gay rights led her to say that these in fact were not her tweets. Now some wonder, will she be Ethiopia's speaker, and what happens next?

    Meanwhile in other CSW news, when French minister on the rights of women Najat Vallaud-Belkacem came to the UN last March for the Commission on the Status of Women, Inner City Press asked her about the 135 rapes in Minova by two battalions of the Congolese Army which UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous supports.

  Then, Vallaud-Belkacem said that "time is the enemy" in rape investigations. In June 2013, when Inner City Press asked again, she acknowledged that there had not "yet" been enough arrests.

   Now it is March 2014 and there have been no convictions for the Minova rapes but Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row to run UN Peacekeeping, continues to support the 41st and 391st Battalions of the Congolese Army, while refusing to answer Press questions.

  This is what France's domination of UN Peacekeeping and now more at the UN has come to: impunity, lack of accountability, statements like that of Ambassador Gerard Araud last week that "there is no Navi Pillay report" that France's disarming of ex Seleka in Central African Republic put Muslim communities at risk, but click here for that.

  What does Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, a spokesperson for the government of Francois Hollande, now say one year later?

   She cancelled her 10:15 UN press conference at March 11, the day after French Permanent Representative Gerard Araud repeatedly refused to answer Press questions on France going forward with a sale of two Mistral warships to Russia even while denouncing Russian actions in Crimea and Ukraine.

 Fifteen months after two units of the Congolese Army committed over 100 rapes at Minova, "Sexual Violence in Conflict" was the topic of a panel discussion at the UN on March 6. 

   The UN's envoy on the topic, Zainab Bangura, praised Congolese president Joseph Kabila for his new focus on rape. But have there been any convictions at all for the 135 rapes 15 months ago?

  The Enough Project, which ran the event, promised that questions like this one, submitted on paper in the room and on Twitter, will be answered. We'll see.

  The head of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous dodged Press questions about the Minova rapes for months, even directing his spokesperson to seize the microphone so the questions couldn't be asked. Click here for that video.

  On March 6 Ladsous was at it again, refusing to answer a Press question about allowing a UN-listed child soldier recruiter into "his" mission on Mali and prospectively in the Central African Republic. At the UN, grandiose speeches are given, but too often there is little follow through and no accountability.

 Here's a place to start: the US-trained 391st Battalion of the Congolese Army FARDC, which took part in the mass rape at Minova.

   That was more than 14 months ago, and yet at a February press conference by the UN Mission in the Congo MONUSCO, it was reported that in the already delayed interview of victims in Minova, interviewers spoke with barely a quarter of the more than 200 listed victims. Still no justice.

  Again: the 391st Battalion, one of two charged with the Minova rapes, was trained by the United States. (Click here for comment the US Mission to the UN provided to Inner City Press, which also first reported that Ambassador Samantha Power raised Minova to Joseph Kabila in October.)

  Kobler acknowledged that the most recent hearing in the Minova case had been postponed, that witness statements have still not been taken. Video here, from Minute 6:32.

  Given that the UN says it has a Human Rights Due Diligence Policy of not supporting army units engaged in abuses, how much longer will the UN accept this? Fifteen months and counting.

   Watch this site.

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