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Anatomy of UN Spin on Congo Rapes, Stonewall & Lie, Censor & Steal

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 8 -- This is how the UN and its compliant press corps work, or don't.

  For months, the investigative Press asks about 126 rapes in Minova by the Congolese Army, with which UN Peacekeeping partners.

  Chief Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row to hold the post, openly refuses to answer any of Inner City Press' questions. See November 27 stakeout, here.

 Ladsous even directs one of his three spokespeople to seize the UNTV microphone at the Security Council stakeout on December 18, to try to prevent a Minova question from Inner City Press. Video here.

  Inner City Press, through the new Free UN Coalition for Access, complains to the UN Department of Public Information. They tell FUNCA, on the record, that they have spoken quietly to Ladsous' spokesperson. They take credit for Ladsous finally on February 6 responding to a question from Inner City Press about the Minova rapes.

  But Ladsous' answer, that the UN knows the identity of the majority of the perpetrators (but has done nothing) raised more questions. The UN refuses to answer Inner City Press' many follow-ups.

  Finally on March 5, at a Security Council stakeout session about the Congo, Inner City Press manages to ask Secretary General Ban Ki-moon directly about the rapes and Ladsous' failure to implement Ban's supposed Human Rights Due Diligence Policy. Ban says he will do his utmost.

   But what does the UN then do?

   On March 7, it summons not Inner City Press which asked the Minova question at stakeouts twice to Ban himself and in noon briefings for months but other, friendlier media -- several of whom tried to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN in 2012, through their UN Correspondents Association.

   These media -- including Reuters' Michelle Nichols and Louis Charbonneau, Agence France Presse' Tim Witcher, Voice of America's Margaret Besheer, BBC's Barbara Plett, more to follow -- take the spoon-fed story that they have never themselves asked about and run stories about how an unnamed UN official has given an undefined deadline for prosecution to two unidentified units of the Congolese Army.

  The stories have no attribution or context, and no criticism of the UN, Ladsous or Ban Ki-moon.

  This is how the UN and its compliant press corps work, or don't. But it must change -- with these sleights of hand, the UN will never improve.

  Take as simply the first example the UN's (and Ban's and Ladsous' DPKO's) terse dismissal of the legal claim they killed 8000 people by introducing cholera to Haiti.

 The day it was announced, UNCA president Pamela Falk of CBS demanded the first question at the UN noon briefing -- to ask not about Haiti but about an unrelated and self-serving UNCA letter she'd sent to the chief of DPI.

   This is how the UN and its compliant press corps, many in what's now known as the UN's Censorship Alliance, don't work. It has to change. Watch this site.

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