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On 50 DRC Rapes by Mai Mai Morgan, & Minova, UN DPKO Silent

By Matthew Russell Lee, Follow up on exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, March 3 -- The UN talks a lot about stopping sexual violence in conflict. But when asked specific questions, will not answer.

The most recent example, and question, began with an exclusive report by Inner City Press on February 28 based on UN whistleblowers telling it of some 50 rapes in Eastern Congo on and around February 8 by the Mai Mai Morgan militia but "covered-up," the whistleblowers said, by the UN.

Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky:

Inner City Press: Iíve been told by whistle-blowers in UN peacekeeping that there was an incident 8 February in eastern Congo in which Mai Mai Morgan raped 50 women and that MONUSCO (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) is aware of it, sent a team some time ago, but that the report has not been issued. There is a concern by these whistle-blowers that the UN is not speaking up on this rime that the UN says itís so serious. And the allegation is that although the UN does report sometimes, that Mai Mai Morgan is close to the Congolese army, and is involved in the trade and in tusks and gold and other things [with FARDC Army units], and so I wanted to know, can you find out whether MONUSCO is aware of the rapes by Mai Mai Morgan and if they are aware of them, can you explain why they didnít report them?

Spokesperson Nesirky: I will certainly look into that with my colleagues from Peacekeeping Operations.

    But three days later on March 3 there was no answer. So Inner City Press crossed First Avenue to an event featuring UN Peackeeping's "Senior Gender Adviser" Carole Doucet and DPKO's Deputy Military Adviser Major General Adrian Foster.

  The event was about gender and peacekeeping. In the question and answer session Inner City Press asked about the alleged Mai Mai Morgan rapes, and about asked if DPKO felt there had been accountability for the over 100 rapes committed in November 2012 at Minova by two units of the Congolese Army which the UN continues to support.

  Major General Foster, who work in MONUSCO in the Congo in 2009 through 2013 (as acting force commander) answered vaguely that due diligence exists, but did not MENTION the Minova rapes, much less the Mai Mai Morgan allegations.

  Gender Adviser Doucet didn't answer the question at all. This is the UN Peacekeeping of Herve Ladsous, who dodged Press questions about the Minova rapes for months.

  Listed as a participant in the event at which the questions were asked but not answered were, among others, DPKO's Enzo Bartolo and Silvia Bolzan, the French Mission to the UN's Lt-Col. Bettina Boughani, even Katie Guzzi of the "Office of the Syrian Coalition to the UN."

  Here now again about Mai Mai Morgan:

The whistleblowers say that over 50 women were raped over three days around February 8 in the villages of Zalana and Mbango near Mambasa, and that the UN Mission has been aware of it since at latest February 12. Why hasn't the UN spoken out?

Mai Mai Morgan, led by elephant poacher and illegal gold miner Paul Sadala a/k/a Morgan a/k/a Chuck Norris, has links with parts of the Congolese Army FARDC who are also involved in the illegal gold trade. For that reason, they say, Congolese authorities do not arrest or even speak much about Mai Mai Morgan.

And now the UN has gone silent too.

This comes the week after US Secretary of State John Kerry and his UK counterpart William Hague held a press conference in Washington about sexual violence in conflict; it is a topic on which UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says the UN has "zero tolerance." But the whistleblowers ask, why then the silence about these rapes?

  It is reminiscent of the months-long cover up by UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous about the more than 100 rapes in Minova in November 2012 by Congolese Army Battalions 41 and 391, the latter US-trained. Before that, amid mass rapes in Walikale, MONUSCO under then envoy Roger Meece tried to obscure what they knew and when they knew it.

  In the run up to a meeting of UN Special Representatives of the Secretary General, to be attended by Ban Ki-moon himself, the whistleblowers asked when MONUSCO chief Martin Kobler knew about these rapes, if not why not, and if so: why the silence?

  The UN's silence, the whistleblowers say, stands in contrast to how the UN highlighted every alleged abuse by the M23 rebels in the run-up to MONUSCO's "Force Intervention Brigade" attacking and neutralizing them.

  There, human rights reporting fed into a military strategy. Here, with the Congolese Army linked to Mai Mai Morgan, the UN does not report abuses the whistleblower say the UN is aware of. Watch this site.


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