UNITED NATIONS, April 29 – The spin of the Francophone Cameroon government of Paul Biya has now reached the UN Security Council, or at least its media stakeout area. As Inner City Press asked questions at the stakeout on April 28, and telling Morocco's hatchet-man Ambassador that on decolonization Inner City Press errs on the side of the underdogs, video here, Cameroon's Ambassador Tommo Monthe approached. He handed two documents to Inner City Press: a chart of "actions taken by the Government following concerns raised by Cameroon Anglophone teaches and lawyers," and a press release mis-spelled "Realease."
Inner City Press is putting both online with this article, link below, for those impacted to see. Tellingly, behind the "Realease" which tries to justify the cutting off the Internet for more than 90 days is the UN's own press release praising Paul Biya for belatedly "instructing that internet service be fully restored" and urging "avoiding the use of the Internet to incite hatred or violence" - precisely Biya's pretext. To this has the UN sunk.
The day after Cameroon's Paul Biya government belatedly restored the Internet he cut in the two Anglophone regions of the country, on April 21 Inner City Press asked long time Cameroonian Ambassador to the UN Tommo Monthe about it. Monthe, set to chair the UN's Fifth (Budget) Committee next year, told Inner City Press "the scissors are in our hands... we will cut it" if it is used not only for so-called hate speech but for secession talk of any kind. For exclusive audio click here. Now Inner City Press has published the 2-page letter demanding the censorship of TV channel Afrique Media for saying “it's a corrupt government” and “France is controlling many African countries." Where is the UN on this? To try to find out, Inner City Press on April 27 asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, and about Felix Agbor-Balla, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you, in Cameroon, again, the… the former UN legal adviser in Afghanistan and MONUC and also a former employee of the Special Court in Sierra Leone, Felix Agbor Balla, is facing death penalty by military trial. And I wanted to know… there are also many of the other people that were… were… have faced trial today, and I wanted to know, is there any follow-up by the UN system on the issue?
Spokesman: I will take… I didn’t see those reports.
Inner City Press: There’s also a TV station, Afrique Media, that’s being taken off the cable networks there for having had two statements in English, one that the Government is corrupt, the other one that France controls many countries in Africa. [inaudible] Is that a… does the UN think that that’s a reason…
Spokesman: I will… I don’t… I can’t comment on something I don’t know about.
Like nearly everything about Cameroon. They won't say who is their acting Resident Coordinator since Antonio Guterres promoted Najat Rochdi to Central African Republic; whoever it is is not speaking about blatant censorship. Then again, today's UN itself is continuing censorship. We'll have more on this. Monthe said people should be jailed for burning the Cameroon flag, and that it was fine to destroy the businesses of entrepreneurs in Southern Cameroons even if they were not involved in secession talk. Cameroon from the top is against freedom of speech and press. On April 25, Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: in Cameroon, a journalist, Ahmed Abba, was yesterday sentenced to 10 years in jail for reporting on the Boko Haram conflict. And many press freedom groups have expressed concern. I'm wondering, does the UN have any concern? And I wanted… I guess I'm just asking you again, who is the Resident Coordinator in the country?
Spokesman: As soon as the Resident Coordinator has been named, that person will… we'll announce it, and there will obviously be a press release. As I've said before, the UNICEF representative is the acting Resident Coordinator.
Inner City Press: Right. And are you aware of this case of the person being sentenced to 10 years?
Spokesman: I've heard the case. I think any sentencing of journalists, I think, is something that is of concern to us, and we have to make sure that it is not done for… in reprisals for anything that that person may have said or written.
Which is exactly what has happened. Last week Dujarric repeatedly refused to tell Inner City Press the name of the acting Resident Coordinator in Cameroon after failed Najat Rochdi was promoted and said to ask UNICEF, Inner City Press did. Inner City Press submitted these questions to two UNICEF spokespeople on April 20: "Please state who are UNICEF is the acting Resident Coordinator in Cameroon and what if anything they have said and done about the 92 day Internet cut off in two regions, including to schools, and on the current doctors strikes. What is UNICEF's position on the 92 Internet cut off in Cameroon, as impacts children and otherwise?" UNICEF's Najwa Mekki, Officer in Charge of the Media Section, replied "received, we'll get back to you as soon as we can." Five days later, nothing - not even the name of who's the head of UNICEF in Cameroon, despite a second question to Dujarric (who has declared Press criticism of the UN's performance to be harassment, and threw Inner City Press out of the Press Briefing Room and has it still restricted after 14 months). We'll have more on this. On April 24, Inner City Press asked UN Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: what the head of UNOCA [United Nations Office in Central Africa], Mr. [Francois] Loncény Fall, said about the turning on of the internet in Cameroon. Some people found it strange that it ends with this urging to avoid using the internet to incite hatred or violence, which is exactly the reason that the Government gave for turning it off for 94 days. And the Government seems to have even included… according to the Permanent Representative here, to include any call for secession, even nonviolent referendum for secession to be a call for violence and--
Spokesman: I think we’re taking things one step at a time. I think we’re encouraged that the internet was restored.
The UN is a failure. Troublingly, UN official Francois Lonseny Fall has not only overly-praised the Biya government, but also admonished that the Internet not be used to "incite hatred or violence" - precisely the pretext Biya used to cut it off. Today's UN is disgusting - we'll have more on this.
Meanwhile when Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Monthe's comments, the UN had no response, wouldn't even after weeks tell Inner City Press who is in charge of the UN in Cameroon, following Guterres' promotion of Najat Rochdi who said nothing about the Internet and blocke on Twitter Inner City Press which is pursuing the issue. This is today's UN - and today's Cameroon. Watch this platform.