Wednesday, April 20, 2016

As UN Evicts Then Targets Inner City Press, Ban's Spox Says It's Fine, Go To Back Of Line

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 20 -- Contrary to what the UN says about freedom of the press, and despite a petition signed by 1400 people and opposition from the Government Accountability Project and several Permanent Representatives at the UN and members of Congress in DC, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on April 16 threw five boxes of Inner City Press' journalistic files out onto First Avenue. Photo herevideo here and here (Periscope).

  This followed eight of Ban's guards, at the direction of his "Public Information" chief Cristina Gallach, physically throwing Inner City Press onto First Avenue, and its laptop on the sidewalk, on February 19.Audio here.

 On April 20, when Inner City Press arrived at the UN's Visitors' Entrance well in time to cover 10 am meetings, a UN Security guard blocked its way in to the metal detectors.

  "I know who you are," the guard said, telling Inner City Press to go to the back of a long line of visitors.

   Since on all previously days non-resident correspondents, like the "affiliates" who staff the UN's food venues and even its UNTV, are sent into the glass building with the metal detectors, this new "rule" was noteworthy.

 So on April 20, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: this is on access.  I’m going to try to do it as politely and productively as possible, but I wanted to ask you something.  This week I was stopped at the gate coming in on 46th Street at 6 p. m. and told that I cannot enter after 6 p.m.  And the rules say 7.  So I wanted to know, today I was told to go to the back of the line of NGOs and was told, “We know who you are; go to the back.”  So it took about 35 minutes to get into the building.  I call… you said call MALU (Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit), and I did, and nothing occurred.  And so I’m asking you, because this is injuring my work.  And my final piece is, when a meeting such as the one between [John] Kerry and Mr.… Mr. Kerry and Mr. [Javad] Zarif takes place, is this… I wasn’t able to get through the turnstile.  And so I wanted to know, this is obviously a newsworthy event that those with white passes can cover.  How am I supposed to cover that?

Spokesman:  On those… on the second part… on the last meeting, I think you should talk to MALU and make sure they get you in.

Inner City Press:  It…  [inaudible]

Spokesman:  It’s a very busy time of the… at the General Assembly… at the UN.  There’s a line.  I think people wait on line.

Question:  So you’re saying the media generally, because I’ve seen people go straight through the…  [inaudible] … “I know who you are; go to the back of the line,” so I’m asking.

Spokesman:  I don’t manage crowd control.  If there’s a line to get in, if people tell you get in a line, you get in a line.  And on your first part, again, discuss these things with MALU and DPI (Department of Public Information).

 (Later on April 20, DPI's MALU tore the Free UN Coalition for Access sign off S-303 without the FUNCA member / occupant's consent and apparently moved to sell off the space, which was immediately and formally opposed.)

  Inner City Press, as Ban's spokesman has often advised before walking off the podium even as Inner City Press asked questions, called the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit. But ultimately nothing was solved -- Inner City Press was only able to enter the UN 25 minutes late. Thanks, Ban Ki-moon, and Cristina Gallach -- also for BANning Press access to the stakeout by John Kerry and Javad Zarif on the JCPOA on April 19, here.

 At the noon briefing on April 20 Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman about these and about being BANned at 6 pm. Vine here.

 Dujarric cut in: "You should talk to MALU and make sure they get you in. It's a very busy time at the GA and the UN, there's a line, people wait on line. I don't manage crowd control, if people tell you to get on line, I think you get on line."

  So there you have it. When another (visiting) journalist asked about waiting for two hours for a pass, with 500 people and no water or chairs for the elderly, no fire exits, Dujarric was more conciliatory, saying, "I apologize and will raise with my colleagues."

 But when Inner City Press asked about what an NGO said was the UN's confiscation of its newsletter, Dujarric said curtly, "There was no confiscation." Of course not - everything is FINE at the UN. Just look at the recent patterns..

 On April 18, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about corruption, and the files, video hereUN transcript here:

Spokesman Dujarric: I will say, for the record, that your files were not moved out on First Avenue.  From what I gather and from watching the live broadcast over the weekend, you refused to provide an address for them to be shipped.

Inner City Press:  Because I don’t trust them.

Spokesman:  Well, that’s… but that’s your choice.

Inner City Press:  Why would I?  Would you?

Spokesman:  That’s your choice.  I don’t want you to portray that they’ve been moved or thrown out.

Inner City Press:  They were thrown out onto First Avenue.  Ban Ki-moon…

Spokesman:  I’ll come back to you.

  Between 6 and 7 pm on April 18, despite a Media Access "Guideline" saying even those with non-resident correspondent status can enter the UN up to 7 pm, an abusive UN guard targeted Inner City Press, apparently at Gallach's or Ban's instructions, claiming falsely that six pm is the cut off. This is today's UN.

  In the case of Gallach and ultimately Ban Ki-moon, this is retaliation for Inner City Press' critical coverage of the UN including each's involvement in the Ng Lap Seng bribery scandal which so far was resulted in four guilty pleas.

  Here is Ban Ki-moon's message in the August 2015 program for Ng Lap Seng's event in Macau, see page 2, at which UN staff and affiliates took and kept free iPads, a vice president of the UN Correspondents Association attended and Ban Ki-moon, here, gave and has never withdrawn his blessing:

"Macau SAR, China, 25 August 2015: I am pleased to send greetings to this High-level Multi-stakeholders Strategy Forum on Scaling-up Global
Support for South-South and Triangular Cooperation in the Context of the Post-2015 Development Agenda."

  As the UN bribery scandal gathered force Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for an audit by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services of the Global Sustainability Foundation (GSF), David Ng Lap Seng's Sun Kian Ip Group and its affiliates including the "World Harmony Foundation" and South South News, among others.

  The audit, completed early this year but first put online by Inner City Press, directly criticizes Cristina Gallach, the Under Secretary General for Communications and Public Information, for example in Paragraphs 20(b) and 37-40. She should have recused herself.

  Instead Gallach has ordered the search and eviction of Inner City Press' files, on April 16. She has misrepresented it to UN Ambassadors of major countries including South Africa and to Nobel Prize winner Jose Ramos Horta.

She and / or Ban Ki-moon above her are so intent on permanently restriction Inner City Press' ability to cover corruption at the UN that they had there functionary head of MALU write to Inner City Press at 1:30 AM on the morning of the eviction, limiting the Press' ability to document the seizure of its files:

From: Tal Mekel 
Date: Sat, Apr 16, 2016 at 1:30 AM
Subject: Saturday access

Dear Matthew,

Access on Saturday is 'exceptional' in nature (as Green Ps do not have access to UNHQ on weekends save for an official event being convened e/g. emergency SC meeting) and is solely for the purpose of over sighting the removal of your belongings.

You may bring with you one (1) individual, again on a  exceptional basis.

Best, Tal

Tal Mekel
Acting Chief
Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit
United Nations - S-250
New York, NY 10017

Tel: 1-212-963-1504
Fax: 1-212-963-4642

   Earlier on April 15, Mekel had told Inner City Press that a two-person film crew was approved. This was revoked at 1:30 am, precluding the crew. And yet...

 This inordinate focus on ousting Inner City Press, while UN Correspondents Association board members have private offices and many write no articles, is all the more contrary to freedom of the press as Inner City Press on April 15 exclusively published documents of UN and Morocco fraud in Western Saharacredited by 360, here.

Gallach, the highest UN official of Spain, has by her no due process orders BANned Inner City Press from covering even UNSC meetings on Western Sahara. This is retaliation and censorship.

On the afternoon of April 15 Inner City Press was told that it will be UN staff going through the files but that then they will be given to, and impounded for some time by, a third party or parties whom the UN won't even name to Inner City Press.

As one wag put it, maybe they'll just keep passing them along.

  Gallach's Team heard on April 15 from Capitol Hill to maintain the status quo. Did they even tell Ban Ki-moon, his chief of staff or deputy? Is this what allows Ban Ki-moon to (try to) say, "That is not my decision"? We'll have more on this.