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As UN Denies, Boumedra Tells ICP Kobler Chose Photos, Dropped Inquiry

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 24 -- Two days ago the UN was asked by Inner City Press about the statement by former UN Mission in Iraq human rights officer Tahar Boumedra that current Special Representative of the Secretary General in Iraq Martin Kobler told him to only send out "positive photographs" and to "falsify reports" about Camp Ashraf.

  Yesterday the UN denied it.

   Now, Mr. Boumedra has provided more detail to Inner City Press. And the UN, despite being provided a full copy, has not addressed it.

   In a 12 paragraph statement to Inner City Press, here, Boumedra specifies that it was the December 2011 photographs that Kobler cherry-picked, and Boumedra states that Kobler repeatedly told him that the residents of the camp were "terrorists."

   Boumedra says that a UN shelter specialists was pressured into declaring the facilities adequate. He says that a Memorandum of Understanding was watered down to drop reference to human rights law, and that Kobler stopped pushing for an inquiry into killings in the camp in early 2011.

  Back on August 22, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky about Boumedra's claim that he was ordered to only take photographs of the positive things and essentially file inaccurate reports: "I've tried to get an answer from Mr. Kobler and others. Do they deny that these orders were given?"

Nesirky replied that "it’s regrettable that such a distorted picture is being presented of the efforts of the United Nations in Iraq to resolve peacefully the situation of Camp Ashraf," then that he'd "just go back to what’s already been said, and that’s that it is a distorted picture." Video here from Minute 46.

   But, Inner City Press asked, what is the UN saying is distorted: the picture of conditions in the camp, or the claim that a UN official, previously in charge of human rights, was told to "doctor" reports?

   On August 23, the UN provided a more direct denial, which Inner City Press immediately added as an update, that

"Matthew, You asked specifically about allegations by a former staff member of misleading use of photos or 'doctoring' of reports in connection with the work of the UN on Camp Ashraf. We would like to state very clearly that such allegations are false."

  Inner City Press published the UN's denial, but subsequently received a direct reply from Boumedra, here. The UN was provided the full copy, but has indicated it will not respond. Watch this site.

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