NASA Refutes UNMIL Claims

The National Staff Association of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (NASA) has categorically refuted claims made by the administration of UNMIL that a small group of its staff was involved in a recent demonstration inside the Star Base Compound.

According to a Press statement released by NASA, it was a mass rally of at least 95% of all National staff members within the employ of UNMIL and not as asserted by the administration.

The statement read that the sit-in-action was intended to draw the attention of management to the ill-treatment meted against the local UNMIL staff.

“For three hours, NASA members quietly sat down in the Star Base Compound of the Mission and rejected only the entry (by vehicles) of the Chief of Integrated Support Services (CISS), Mr. Francisco Roulillon, who has over the past several months subjected our members to harassment, discrimination and incrimination,” the statement explained.

The statement further condemned the action of UNMIL use of force against armless local staffers where troops of the Nepalese, Nigerian and Jordanian formed Police Units violently entered the compound and mercilessly beat and bullied some of the staffers.

NASA, however, according to the statement has lodged a formal complaint to the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs calling for a thorough investigation of the incident.

“Until now, absolutely no member of the senior management team of UNMIL has called any of the victimized national staff members to express empathy for the wounds sustained,” the statement narrated.

The group reiterated that it is ready to peacefully dialogue with UNMIL Administration in finding a lasting solution to the overarching concerns.

The statement concluded by calling and urging the SRSG Landgren and her team to address issues that are affecting the welfare of local staffers, and also withdraw all administrative leave granted their colleagues as part of the on going negotiations

See full text below:

NASA PRESS STATEMENT

The Officers and members of the UNMIL National Staff Association (UNMIL NASA) hereby write to counter, categorically refute and denounce the false allegation of UNMIL Administration against the National Staff Association.

The sit-in action of NASA members on Friday, December 27, 2013 was an attempt by NASA members to draw UNMIL management’s attention to the grievous abuse of power, alienation and gross discrimination against national staff members as reflected in wages, benefits, bus pick up schedule and supervision. This was not a demonstration by a “small group of UNMIL staff’ as indicated in UNMIL Press Statement. Rather, it was a mass rally of at least ninety-five (95%) of all National Staff members in UNMIL who demonstrated inside the Star Base compound and not at the main entrance gate.

For three hours, NASA members quietly sat down in the Star Base Compound of the Mission and rejected only the entry (by vehicle) of the Chief of Integrated Support Services (CISS), Mr. Francisco Rouillon, who has, over the past several months, subjected our members to harassment, discrimination and incrimination. We did not cut off power; neither did we vandalize any of UNMIL’s properties nor manhandled any of our UNMIL colleagues (international and national). Also, neither did we block the main entrance nor prevent the movement of staff members in and out of the compound as intimated. What we are fully aware of is that we vehemently refused to meet with Mr. Francisco Rouillon, Chief Integrated Support Services, a decision we took purposely for his personal safety among emotionally enraged national staff members who see him as the architect of the current problems.

We further condemn the action of UNMIL use of force against armless local staffers. At the instruction of UNMIL’s management, troops of the Nepalese, Nigerian and Jordanian Formed Police Units who violently entered the compound and mercilessly beat, raped and bullied our colleagues who sustained severe wounds. National Staff members were manhandled, beaten, publicly raped and ill-treated by armed officers of the UNMIL Jordanian Formed Police Unit…

NASA has lodged a formal complaint to the Government of Liberia on Monday, December 30, 2013 through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs calling for a thorough investigation of the incident, and has declared four international staff colleagues as persona non grata. Mr. Francisco Rouillon (Chief, Integrated Support Services), Ms. Carmen De Los Rios (Chief, Civilian Personnel Officer), Mr. Domingos Natividade (Fuel Officer) and Mr. Duncan Kamugisha (Sector Engineer, Greenville). An amended complaint is being prepared, which also declares the SRSG, Ms. Karin Landgren, persona non grata for grossly abusing her powers on the occasion of the brutality and heinous crimes meted against us and is now issuing letters of administrative suspension to the already wounded staff members, and UNMIL Spokesperson, Aleem Siddique who threatened to kill a national staff member to his face.

Until now, absolutely no member of the senior management team of UNMIL has called any of the victimized national staff members to express empathy for the wounds sustained.

We do agree with UNMIL Spokesperson that these are indeed serious offenses under Liberian Laws, which call for full and thorough investigation, but UNMIL’s insensitivity is further seen in the selective manner in which justice is being sought. While National staff members are being prosecuted, the Jordanian FPU officers who committed brutality against our compatriots go scoot free. Therefore, NASA calls on UNMIL to strip the alleged internationals of their immunity in like manner, and turned over to the police for investigation as has been the case of the national staff members. Even as we write, the photographs of national staff members who have been put on Administrative Leave are being placarded at the entrance of all UNMIL premises so as to be denied entry. This is a situation which is now depicting our esteemed colleagues as criminals.

NASA again reiterates its readiness to peacefully dialogue with UNMIL Administration in finding a lasting solution to these overarching concerns and therefore urges SRSG Landgren and her team to address themselves to issues that affect the welfare of local staffers, and not only the internationals. We also call on them to withdraw all Administrative Leave granted our colleagues as this beats the spirit of our on-going negotiation, borders on witch-hunt and further drives a wedge in the already strained relationship between NASA and Management.

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