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In Sudan, Harun Accused of 20 Murders After UN Flew Him to Abyei, Susan Rice Says "The Concern is Constant"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 20, updated -- When the UN took to offering free flights in Sudan to Ahmed Harun, indicted for war crimes in Darfur by the International Criminal, the UN claimed Harun was indispensable to peace in Abyei.

  But last week Harun was accused of organizing a militia to attack El-Faid Um Abdullah, the home village of his deputy governor in South Kordofan, Abdelaziz al-Hilu. The accusation was made by the deputy governor himself:

Abdelaziz al-Hilu accused governor Ahmed Harun, who is from a rival party and will contest local elections against him on May 2, of 'organizing an attack by the Popular Defence Forces on my village, El-Faid Um Abdullah. They killed more than 20 people and burned between 300 and 500 houses in the early morning. Two women and four children were among those who burned inside the houses,' he said.”

  After asking the US State Department and then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, without substantive response, about the new allegations against Harun, Inner City Press on April 20 was able to asked the number two official in UN Peacekeeping, Atul Khare, about it as he left a Security Council briefing about the UN Mission in Sudan.

  Khare said that the killing including “inter alia women and children,” in “the village of the deputy governor.” He said the UN would be paying more attention to the area, mentioning humanitarian issues.

  But what about investigating Abdelaziz al-Hilu's claim that Ahmed Harun was involved? If the UN confirmed this, could or would they keep flying Harun around on UN helicopters? With the UN you never know.

Update of 6 pm - Inner City Press asked US Ambassador Susan Rice if the new charges against Harun should end the UN's flights for Harun. "He was already indicted," Rice said. "At this point the concern is constant."

  But has the US spoken against the UN flying Harun? Inner City Press has repeatedly asked the US Mission for a comment, without receiving any. Inner City Press asked State Department spokesman Mark Toner, who disagreed that the US has lost focus on Sudan. But what about the UN's flights of Harun?

  Inner City Press asked Khartoum's Ambassador to the UN Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman the charges against Harun.  He said this is just an attempt to smear Harun.

  Is this a counter allegation that the villagers did the burning and killing themselves? Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman said “there are other aspirants.” It's time for an investigation: but by whom?

  Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman also spoke, in French, to praise France's position on the Darfur rebels, and defended the administrative referendum planned by Khartoum.

Ban & Khare, murders by and flights to Ahmed Harun not shown

At the US State Department on April 14, Inner City Press asked spokesman Mark Toner:

Inner City Press: there were these attacks in South Kordofan state. They say that the governor of the state, Ahmed Haroun, is behind an attack on a village, killing 20, displacing 500. And so my – I guess what I’m wondering is what is the State Department – it seems like you’re mostly dealing with this whole Abyei-South Sudan situation through the UN. Do you think that they’ve done enough? In fact, they’ve flown this guy Haroun around in a UN helicopter. I wonder if the State Department’s in agreement with that.

MR. TONER: Well, I reject your characterization that we’ve been hands off on the Sudan. We just named a new envoy to the Sudan and we’ve got a special envoy as well, Dane Smith, working Darfur issues. So we remain actively engaged. We’re aware of the violence that’s been ongoing there. We call on all parties to show restraint and that everybody needs to keep implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement there.

  Back up at the UN on April 20, a self-described “Security Council member” told Inner City Press:

on possible involvement by Harun in violence, the last time DPKO briefed on Abyei violence in closed consultations and were asked directly whether Harun was involved, they said that there was no evidence that he had instigated any of the violence.”

  Inner City Press confirmed that this meant a previous Council consultation on Abyei, not the April 20 meeting. So now that Harun has been newly accused, will anything change? Again, with the UN one never knows. Watch this site.

* * *

UN Has No Comment on Protests in Abyei of Haroun Flight, Partition of Darfur

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 10 -- Whether on Abyei or Darfur, despite spending over $1 billion a year the UN has nothing to say, even as Dinka protests confront its flights of indicted war criminal Ahmed Haroun.

On March 9, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky about criticism of the UN's lack of protection of civilians in Abyei, then about its silence on Darfur:

Inner City Press: there is a report that the SPLM [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement] has threatened to stop negotiations with the National Congress Party about Abyei and outstanding issues due to the violence. It’s in the Sudan Tribune article, which quotes an SPLM leader for Abyei, saying why is the UN not taking a more active role? Meanwhile, the Sudanese Government newspaper has said that the UN has rejected calls to get involved, either physically… either in the physical protection of civilians or in a way other than simply monitoring. Is that… is the Sudanese Government accurate in saying that UNMIS’s [United Nations Mission in Sudan] role in Abyei is simply to monitor what some said is the destruction of 300 buildings and three villages, or is there a physical protection role that is being implemented there?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, two points. One is that you know quite well that the UN Mission in Sudan was instrumental in bringing the sides together just last week. And secondly, as you also know, we told you that an additional company, on top of four companies already deployed in that area, this additional company was being deployed there. So that is extra boots on the ground.

Inner City Press: Where were they when these… not to… obviously they didn’t burn them, but when these villages were burned down — there are satellite photos of the before and the after — is there any… is the attempt of this new company to actually be physically present to stop physical destruction or…? I am just trying to understand what the…?

Spokesperson: The presence of peacekeeping personnel on the ground is supposed to do a number of things. One is, yes, it is monitoring, two, it is to investigate after the fact if they, if it happened somewhere a long way from where they are positioned, and it is also to help people who have been either attacked or need assistance for some other reason. And we have seen that repeatedly. In this particular case, we are aware of those reports that you referred to, and if I have any more details on the location of the peacekeepers in relation to that, I’d be happy to let you know.

More than thirty hours later, there was no answer at all from the UN.

UN's Ban & spox Nesirky, cost of flying ICC indictee not shown

  Also on March 9, Inner City Press asked:

Inner City Press: in Darfur, there is a lot of now criticism by the rebel groups in Darfur that the Government on Monday proposed to add two additional administrative states to Darfur; they are calling it a “divide and rule” regime. I just wonder, given the UN’s role in these negotiations, one, do they think that… what do they make of these criticisms of divide and rule, and two, do they think that the steps that the Sudanese Government is taking to supposedly seek consent of people in IDP [internally displaced persons] camps are sufficient, democratic and the things that the UN would like to see done?

Spokesperson: Well, as I understand it, from the mediation, this has not been formally communicated, this notion of establishing two extra administrative areas in Darfur. This has not been officially communicated to the mediation, and so they are waiting to hear more about that, because, after all, that is one aspect of the negotiations that are going on. They haven’t heard anything officially yet. And if they do, I’ll be happy to let you know.

Again, more than 30 hours later there was no answer from the UN. And so the next day March 10, Inner City Press asked a follow up:

Inner City Press: about this flight of Ahmed Haroun, there has been a new report that when he was flown into Abyei that actually 400 Dinka youth stormed the UN’s compound, angered at his presence and that McClatchy/Miami Herald story says that [Salah] Gosh, who is this former intelligence chief, and Haroun were evacuated by helicopter from their visit to Abyei. So, I wanted to know, one, can you confirm that in fact the UN flew him in and then upon protest by youth, Dinka youth, flew him out? Is that true?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, I can tell you that Governor Haroun was transported there and back again. That is correct. I have already said that. As for what happened at the time around the location where the meeting was being held, there were some disturbances that ended peacefully, and if I have more details precisely on what happened, then I’ll let you know.

Inner City Press: when it first came up, it was presented, this is a very positive visit, that he’d brought peace and, in fact, if 400 youth protested him and destroyed vehicles and he left under fire, it seems to… would the UN fly him there again?

Spokesperson: As I say, I would need to check on the precise details. There were protests; that is the case. But also there was a result, in the form of the agreement that I have mentioned before. But if I have more detail, I’ll be happy to give it to you.

And nine hours later, nothing. Nothing at all. And so it goes at the UN.

* * *

UN Admits 2d Flight of ICC Darfur Indictee Haroun to Abyei in Sudan, Impunity

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 4, updated -- The UN has for a second time offered a free UN flight in Sudan to Ahmed Haroun, under indictment by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur, the UN admitted Friday in response to questions from Inner City Press.

  On March 3 the UN Security Council met about renewed fighting in the disputed Abyei region. Back in January, Inner City Press got the UN to acknowledge they had flown ICC indictee Haroun from South Kordofan, where he serves fellow ICC indictee Omar al Bashir as governor, to Abyei.

  The UN has defended this controversial flight by saying that Haroun and Haroun alone could stop violence in Abyei. The UN never explained why the government of Sudan, which has an air force currently bombing civilians in Jebel Marra in Darfur, couldn't itself fly Haroun.

The UN said it was a scheduled flight, then UN Mission in Sudan chief Haile Menkerios admitted to Inner City Press that it was a special flight. Inner City Press is told such flights cost $40,000, and the UN has confirm no reimbursement has been sought from the Bashir government.

But now the violence has continued, making the UN flight of ICC indictee Haroun harder to justify even by the UN's own argument.

  March 3 in front of the Security Council, Inner City Press asked Council president for March Li Baodong of China if the UN Peacekeeping official who briefed the Council, Atul Khare, had mentioned if Haroun would again be flown in a UN helicopter. Li Baodong did not directly answer.

At the March 4 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky to confirm or deny that that the UN would once again fly ICC indictee Haroun to Abyei, even now that his work in connection with the first flight has proved ineffective.

Nesirky said he would check. Ten minutes later, Nesirky's deputy Farhan Haq announced by speaker to all UN correspondents that yes, Haroun attended today's meeting in Abyei, and yes, “he was transported” by the UN.

  This UN promotes impunity, even for one of the few people indicted for war crimes by the ICC. Meanwhile Ban Ki-moon brags about the Security Council's partial referral of the situation in Libya to the ICC -- a referral that Ban Ki-moon did not even call for until after the Council voted to make the referral.

  This UN is promoting and enshrining lawlessness, with no transparency or accountability. Watch this site.

Update of 3:48 pm -- Human Rights Watch, via Richard Dicker, submitted this comment:

This is the second time in recent weeks the UN has transported Ahmed Haroun who is charged by the ICC with war crimes in Darfur. We have real concerns because the U.N. should not be in the business of transporting Haroun. There needs to be an extremely high threshold of urgency for such action by UNMIS.”

Responses have been sought from the Missions to the UN of France, the UK and the US, with the latter two asked if they knew in advance of the UN's new flight of ICC indictee Haroun. Given her statements this year about social media, & after hours of non-response by the US Mission to the UN,@AmbassadorRice has been asked directly as well. Watch this site.

Update of 4:30 pm -- Then this, from UK Mission to the UN spokesman Daniel Shepherd:

As spokesperson, I would only reiterate the message that my two Ambassadors have both said on the record (and published by Inner City Press) first time around: that we aren’t going to second guess how UNMIS fulfills its mandate to provide good offices to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) parties in efforts to resolve differences through dialogue and negotiations. I’d only add that this work is particularly important at this sensitive time, to contain any potential escalation after the recent Abyei violence.”

We could note again that violence has persisted despite the UN flying ICC indictee Ahmed Haroun in the first time, and that it is the role of UN member states to oversee the UN Secretariat, not to defer in this case to what some see as its promotion of impunity - but at least the UK would put its position on the record.

Update of 4:43 pm -- this too has come in, perhaps in response:

Date: Fri, Mar 4, 201
Subject: Haroun and Abyei
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

You guys ask great questions! Have you noticed perhaps that the United Nations seems to be unaware of who is causing the violence in Abyei. And yet "diplomatic sources" report seeing the burial of 33 bodies - all southerners.

The Arab nomads say the violence started when SPLM police shot at them (Hitler used a similar ploy to invade Poland) - and today thousands of civilians fled Abyei fearing another crisis like in June 2008. The Dinka Ngok villages north of Abyei, such as Maker, have been burnt to the ground. The end explains the means. There is a creeping ethnic cleansing going on in the Abyei region despite the agreements of 2005 and the Court of Arbitration ruling in 2010.

Why fly Haroun to Abyei - what is his cv? It is, as you correctly point out, that of arming arab militias to burn villages. I hope to see more of your questions pinning the UN to the responsibility to protect.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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