Monthly Archives: September 2016

Letter from the Congo, 15 September 1961

From the family of UN officer Peter J. Hazou, I am proud to share their contribution of photos and memories from 1961, and a letter from the former Leopoldville, now Kinshasa, that was written on this day, 55 years ago.

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Dag Hammarskjold, center, in white suit, his bodyguard William Ranallo at far left, and Peter J. Hazou at right in dark suit with lapel pin.
From reverse of UN photo: “SECRETARY-GENERAL LEAVES FOR CONFERENCE WITH CONGO PREMIER. UN 72653 -United Nations, Leopoldville, September, 1961. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold leaves UN Headquarters in Leopoldville on his way to meet Congolese Premier, Cyrille Adoula. The Secretary-General was consulting with Premier Adoula on the Katanga dispute.”

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Friday, September 15, 1961

Dear Abboud and family,

We are still here in Congo and still enjoying ourselves. Peter has decided to stay a while longer as it is to our advantage financially, and so we will remain here in Congo until the end of November, 1961. At that time we are planning to take a three week cruise from Point Noir in French Congo and go up West Africa, stopping at a different port each day and ending up in Casablanca and then going to Marseille, where we will take a plane home. It will be a very interesting trip. It will get us home in cold Winter weather, though. We would stay longer but we have our house empty at home and that is a responsibility. We have registered Linda at Sacre Coeure school where they speak only French. She doesn’t know any yet but will learn quickly. In two months she won’t speak it perfectly but it will be better than nothing.

Sunday we all went on another boat ride up the Congo River. We stopped at a few islands and on one was a small African village. The children were interested in seeing how the people live. It was on the French Congo side. It is fun to go on these sandy islands. People swim from there but we don’t because the Congo River is brown and has strong currents which would pull one downstream quickly. Someone saw a crocodile once but we never did.

I take the children to the pool often because they love it. Linda swims a bit now, and Petey uses the tube. Tennis is available but I haven’t been able to get Peter to play much. He is still gaining weight but this week he intends to go on a diet. Linda has gotten very tall, and Petey is maturing nicely. I am happy that you are all well. We received your letter and it was good to get all your news. It is good Marcos is still globe-trotting, and I am glad it has been a good tourist season. I hope the weather remains pleasant for you. Over here it is still pleasantly cool, and we have rainy days now and then. The heavy rains will be coming soon and also the warm weather. Yesterday I taught our house boy to cook stuffed cabbage and Peter loved it. Also, I cook spaghetti occasionally because the family loves it. Sunday nights we sit at the outdoor gelateria and have Italian ice cream. Sometimes we go to the football matches (the Nigerians are good players) and sometimes we go to the movies, and so the time goes. There are still many cocktail parties, and the enclosed picture was taken at an Indian Officers’ one under a huge tent.

Wednesday [13 September 1961], Dag [Hammarskjold] came in and Peter was the protocol officer for the government at the airport. He greeted Adoula, Gizenga, Mobutu and Momboko[?-TB] when they arrived and then he made all the arrangements. When the S-G’s plane arrived he went up to meet him with Linner and Gen.[McKeown]. The Congolese and Nigerian bands played and it was a very nice welcome.

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Tonight we will attend a big reception given by the Sec. General. This is a very crucial week here in the Congo. There is heavy fighting in Katanga, and at the huge UN army base. Last night the planes of UN personnel arrived from there as they were evacuated for safety. Don’t worry about us, though, as we are quite safe in Leopoldville as the fighting is far away. Peter is taking care of settling the refugees comfortably. If there is any big job Peter is asked to do it because they know it will get done properly. Because of this, Peter is working hard and practically running the big UN operation here but feels he doesn’t get the appreciation he deserves from headquarters, who do not realize he is working so hard because some of the other men are not capable of handling their jobs and so it falls on Peter. But it is a satisfaction to handle jobs well. He set up the whole Lovanium operation, which was tremendous and cost a million dollars. He used to have a private radio connection with it when it was locked in session, although he was one of the few people who had complete access to it. Too bad he didn’t take pictures there. We all hope the Katanga situation resolves itself quickly without civil war breaking out.

Well, Linda will start school Monday and we are glad about it. Tomorrow we will take a trip across the river to Brazzaville and look the town over. It is much smaller than Leopoldville. The past few days were warm and the hot season is starting to come in. It isn’t uncomfortable yet, though. I guess it is getting cooler in Bethlehem and the tourists are fewer. It is amazing to think that we will be having another great trip next Summer and will be with you again. I guess we can never complain about the United Nations! The children send kisses to each one of you and they are constantly drawing pictures which they say are for you. They are too bulky to send, though. Take good care of yourselves and keep in good spirits and health.

Love, Winnie

[At end of letter, Peter Hazou writes in pen:]
Dear Abboud,
I am sorry I have not been able to write more often since I have not been able to find the time. Thank you for your letters which arrive here via New York much quicker than in the past. As soon as we return to New York (about 17 December 1961) I shall resume a more regular correspondence. I am tired but healthy and I am sure the boat trip from the Congo to Marseille will do me a lot of good. My love to Mother, Victoria, Jamil and Mary and of course to yourself. I shall take a few days off and will write you a more detailed letter. The S-G will return to New York after tomorrow. The news from Katanga this evening is quite bad. I hope things improve. Love, Peter

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Boat rides on the Congo River, Peter Hazou and family, 1961

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Peter Hazou, Congo, 1961

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First page of Lovanium Operation report from Hazou, who did tremendous work to organize all the details for the Lovanium conference to happen, dated 23 August 1961, with photo and ONUC Lovanium pass. Hazou worked for the United Nations for over three decades, from 1947 until 1978.

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Peter and Winnie Hazou at left, with Sergeant Harold Julien second from right. This is likely the photo of the Indian Officer’s cocktail party mentioned in the letter, it is undated. The son of Winnie Hazou recalls: “She told me that she told Harry [Julien] at the reception how very lucky he was to be going on the mission to Katanga with the S-G”.

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Hazou with unidentified person, possibly at same Indian Officer’s Party.

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Invitation to the reception for Dag Hammarskjold, at La Deviniere, 15 September 1961

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At reception for Hammarskjold, on the terrace at La Deviniere, Peter and Winnie with unidentified person.

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La Deviniere terrace, Peter and Winnie Hazou, Joseph Kasa-Vubu, and S. Habib Ahmed

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Here is the reverse of the last photo, which is dated in arabic 16 September 1961. Though she writes in the letter to Abboud that the reception for Hammarskjold was on the 15th, Winnie Hazou told her family later on that the reception was the night before the flight, the 16th, which also contradicts the date on the invitation, but the days leading up to the flight were intense with fighting, so it’s very possible that the date was moved at the last minute.

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Prime Minister Cyrille Adoula, far left, with Peter Hazou on right, at Ndjili airport, Leopoldville, to transfer the 16 fallen to the Pan-Am plane.

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Leopoldville, Pan-Am transport of fallen

The son of Peter and Winnie was only four years old at the time of the crash, but he remembers how he heard the news about Hammarskjold. He was at a luncheon for wives of diplomats with his mother, when the news came that Hammarskjold’s plane was announced missing, and the luncheon ended abruptly. He knew that something was wrong when his father came home in the middle of the day, which was very unusual for him. And then he saw his parents crying together. When the bodies of the fallen arrived in Leopoldville, he was on the observation deck at Ndjili airport with his family, and still recalls the intense sadness and solemnity of the people around him.

It took many people to run the United Nations Operation in the Congo, and I am glad to pay tribute to the memory of a colleague of Vlado, who no doubt grieved his death as well.

peter-hazou

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Misleading Conduct? US and UK Intelligence Obstruct Justice of UN Investigation

Vlado's casket Geneva Lutheran Church

From Julian Borger’s Guardian article, 24 August 2016, “Dag Hammarskjold: Ban Ki-moon seeks to appoint investigator for fatal crash”:

“[…]Ban [Ki-moon] noted that the UK had stuck to its position last year that it had no further documentation to show the UN investigation. He appended a letter sent in June by the British permanent representative to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, saying “our position remains the same and we are not able to release the materials in question without any redactions”.

Rycroft added “the total amount of information withheld is very small and most of the redactions only consist of a few words”.

The wording of the letter echoed a similar letter, turning down the UN request for more information, the UK sent in June 2015, which said that “no pertinent material” had been found in a “search across all relevant UK departments”.

In reply the UN legal counsel, Miguel de Serpa Soares, reminded Rycroft of the shared responsibility of the UN and its member states “to pursue the full truth” about Hammarskjold’s death, and asked him to confirm that the search of “all relevant UK departments” included security and intelligence agencies.

In reply, Rycroft simply quoted the former UK foreign secretary Philip Hammond telling parliament that the foreign office had “coordinated a search across all relevant UK departments”.

“I think the British response is extraordinary. It’s very brisk and curt and evasive,” said Susan Williams, a British historian at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, whose book Who Killed Hammarskjold: The UN, The Cold War and White Supremacy in Africa, revealed new evidence that helped persuade the UN to open a new investigation into the crash near Ndola, in what was then the British colony of Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia.

Part of that evidence was a report from a British intelligence officer, Neil Ritchie, who was in the area at the time of the crash and who was trying to organise a meeting between Hammarskjold and a rebel leader from neighbouring Congo, where the UN secretary general was trying to broker a truce.

“This was British territory and they had a man on the ground. It doesn’t make them responsible for the crash but it does indicate they knew a lot of what was going on,” Williams said, adding it was “highly unlikely” that Ritchie’s report which she found in an archive at Essex University, was the only British intelligence report coming the area at the time.”

On 28 August 2016, Dr Mandy Banton (Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies), Henning Melber (Senior adviser/director emeritus, The Dag Hammarskjold Foundation), and David Wardrop (Chairman, United Nations Association Westminster Branch) published letters together in the Guardian, “UK’s lack of transparency over plane crash that killed Dag Hammarskjold”. From Melber:

“The US and British responses to the efforts by the United Nations to further explore the circumstances of the plane crash at Ndola should be an embarrassment to all citizens in these countries (and elsewhere), who have an interest in seeking clarification of what happened. The reports so far already present sufficient evidence that there is more to it than what the official government responses are willing to admit.

This form of denial through non-compliance with legitimate demands for access to information is tantamount to obstruction and sabotages the sincere efforts to bring closure to one of the unsolved cases involving western states and their security operations. Such an arrogant attitude further dents the image of those who claim to be among civilized nations then and now.”

From 2 September 2016, here is an excerpt from Justice Richard Goldstone’s letter to the Guardian, “Hammarskjold case is not yet closed”:

“[…]it is highly likely that some member states of the UN, especially but not only the US, hold records or transcripts of cockpit transmissions in the minutes before the plane came down. If so, these may well put the cause of the crash, whatever it was, beyond doubt. But neither the US National Security Agency, which has gradually resiled from its admission to our commission that it held two relevant records, nor, as Dr Banton’s letter (29 August) suggests, the UK government, has so far responded with any vigour to the secretary-general’s plea for cooperation.”

From the 6 September 2016 New York Times, “Release the Records on Dag Hammarskjold’s Death”, written by The Rt. Hon. Sir Stephen Sedley:

“There was also evidence that the N.S.A. was monitoring the airwaves in the Ndola region, almost certainly from one of two American aircraft parked on the tarmac. Our inquiry therefore asked the agency for any relevant records it held of local radio traffic before the crash. The agency replied that it had three records “responsive” to our request but that two of those were classified top secret and would not be disclosed.

At its close, my commission recommended that the United Nations follow up this lead. The General Assembly appointed a three-person panel, which repeated our request to the N.S.A. This time, the agency replied that the two documents were not transcripts of radio messages as Southall had described and offered to let one of the panel members, the Australian aviation expert Kerryn Macaulay, see them. This she did, reporting that the documents contained nothing relevant to the cause of the crash.

This makes it difficult to understand how those two documents were initially described as “responsive” to a request explicitly for records of radio intercepts, or why they were classified top secret. It raises doubts about whether the documents shown to Ms. Macaulay were, in fact, the documents originally identified by the N.S.A. The recent denial that there is any record of United States Air Force planes’ being present at Ndola increases the impression of evasiveness.”

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From the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) website, “What You Should Know About Obstruction of Justice”:
“Q: Does obstruction of justice always involve bribery or physical force?
A: No. One particularly murky category of obstruction is the use of “misleading conduct” toward another person for the purpose of obstructing justice. “Misleading conduct” may consist of deliberate lies or “material omissions” (leaving out facts which are crucial to a case). It may also include knowingly submitting or inviting a judge or jury to rely on false or misleading physical evidence, such as documents, maps, photographs or other objects. Any other “trick, scheme, or device with intent to mislead” may constitute a “misleading conduct” form of obstruction.”