Thursday, April 7, 2016

On Western Sahara, Inne City Press First Reported the "Any Other Business" Meeting, Delattre Confirmed It, But Ban's Haq Wouldn't

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 7 -- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, tellingly though his spokesman Stephane Dujarric, issued a non-apology apology to Morocco on March 28, “regretting misunderstandings.”

 Inner City Press on the evening of April 6 learned from multiple sources that there would be a UN Security Council session about Western Sahara, at the request of Venezuela and Uruguay, on April 7; it published the news at 6 am on April 7. At 10 am, Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Francois Delattre, Periscope video here, French Mission transcript here:

Inner City Press: On Western Sahara what´s the [Any Other] Business?

Amb Delattre: Following that there will be an AOB on Western Sahara, it will be an opportunity for the Secretariat -I believe it will be Herve Ladsous - to brief us about the progress and the state of affairs and the perspectives of the dialogue.

(Inner City Press question if UN official Jeff Feltman, and not Ladsous, is leading talks with Morocco, and Delattre's answer of Yes, was not transcribed - but something is better than nothing.)

   Strangely, when Inner City Press at the day's noon briefing to among other things confirm that Ladsous would brief the Security Council about Western Sahara under Any Other Business, Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq would not confirm it, nor that Feltman is meeting with Morocco in Geneva, as he did in a Washington DC transit hub. We'll have more on this.

Update: shortly after UN spokesperson Haq declined to confirm that Ladsous would brief the Council about Western Sahara, Ladsous came out of the Council after doing just that. Asked for comment he said, Non.

If the UN Secretariat is standing up for MINURSO, why won't its briefer Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row atop DPKO, talk? The question may answer itself - since basic questions are being left unanswered.

  Even some of those close to Ban tell Inner City Press that Ban cares only a bit, or only belatedly, for the Saharawis, only that he was "personally insulted" by Morocco's protests and wants to retaliate, as his UN did on Inner City Press on February 19 and now. (There has been aletter to Ban from the Government Accountability Project, here, andpetition with 1,280 signatures, hereCourthouse News Service April 6 coverage hereOIOS audit here.)

The UN's head of Political Affairs, past and seemingly future US State Department figure Jeffrey Feltman, is said to head up the UN Secretariat's “dialogue” with those who ousted MINURSO. This as for example Sudan on April 6 echoed those arguments for ouster, after UN DPKO boss Ladsous' droning speech about Darfur.

 How long before the echo reaches South Sudan, no matter how much UNMISS and UN agencies try to ingratiate themselves to Salva Kiir? Or DR Congo, same with Joseph Kabila?

  While Banned from the Security Council stakeout but not yet from the UN Press Briefing Room, at least not during the increasingly thuggish noon briefings, Inner City Press on April 1 asked Ban's Dujarric about Western Sahara and then censorship, and Dujarric just walked out, saying, "I'm done."

  On March 31, Inner City Press asked Morocco's Ambassador Hilale if you would show the proof he was alluding to, to a group of invited Moroccan and French journalists (Inner City Press was not invited, but present) and Hilale said no, saying he would show Dujarric.

 Inner City Press also asked Hilale if those from MINURSO in Las Palmas should stay; Hilale replied, "For us, it's over." Video here.

On April 6, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq about Sudan's ambassador also flashing a smart phone, and if Ban or his spokesman Dujarric had followed up on Hillale's offer. From the UN transcript:

Inner City Press: in the Security Council this morning, the ambassador of Sudan, in the middle of saying a number of things about hidden agendas of UNAMID, held up his cell phone and said we have video evidence, which he didn't show in the meeting, but what I'm wondering is, the same thing happened at the stakeout with the Moroccan ambassador, saying he had evidence that he wanted to show Stéphane [Dujarric] to disprove what he was saying about Western Sahara and MINURSO.  So, I wanted to know, in each of these two cases, what does the UN do when a Permanent Representative of a Member State says publicly, “I have the evidence”?  Did Stéphane ever contact Omar Hilale and ask to see the evidence about Western Sahara?  And is Mr. Ladsous going to contact the Sudanese ambassador to prove or disprove what he's holding up as his phone?

Deputy Spokesman:  We do follow up with the relevant people, and in the case of the Moroccans, I'm aware that we have been in touch with Mr. Hilale.

Inner City Press:  Did you see the evidence that he was talking about?  Did he characterize it?

Deputy Spokesman:  I have not.

  "You" meant this deputy's Office, not he himself. We'll have more on this.

On April 1, Inner City Press asked Dujarric, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press:  I wanted to know whether even in its current status, MINURSO [United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara] can confirm a buildup of troops and tanks in an area called Mahbas, which is about an hour from… near the wall and near Tindouf.  And I also wanted to ask, I’ve listened more closely to what Ambassador Hilale said yesterday.  He said that the people that were in Dakhla were not officially… this was an unofficial post without an official building.  He wasn’t sure if they were in the budget of the Fifth Committee, he made a lot of administrative arguments also saying that… that the Mission should have told Morocco that 11 people listed has being there had already left.  So, I wanted to know, have you seen the footage of what he said and do you have any response to it?  And is it the case this Dakhla outpost was, in fact, authorized or official part of the Fifth Committee?  And can you confirm these tanks building up?

Spokesman:  I don't have an update from the mission about the buildup around Mahbas. I can check.  I am not going to get into it… the Mission was operating under its mandate, under its approved budget.  I have not seen what the ambassador said.  And there is really nothing more I can tell you on that.

Iner City Press:  Overall what he was trying to say, and I mean there are a number of parts of the Mission which he says were, were done sort of at the, by the good graces of Morocco.  That they weren’t really approved by the mandate…

Spokesman:  All I can tell you… again, I don’t know what the Ambassador exactly said; what I can tell you is that the Mission has been operating under its Security Council mandate and with the appropriate budget.  Mr. … Charbonneau.

 Inner City Press asked Duajrric on March 31, before his April 1 walk-out, UN transcript.

Back on March 28, UN transcript here  I have a question of how the stakeout on Western Sahara on the 24th was run.  I can ask now or at the end, whichever you prefer.

Spokesman:  Let’s ask later. [See & UN retaliation.]

Meanwhile Ban's head of Communications Cristina Gallach had Inner City Press Banned from covering the UN Security Council meeting on Western Sahara on March 21, and in a Kafka-esque show required a UN minder for Inner City Press on March 24, then misrepresented it to Western Sahara supporters in New Zealand, see below.

  When to respond to Morocco's ouster of the MINURSO mission from Western Sahara the UN Security Council met at 8:30 am on March 21, Inner City Press arrived to cover the meeting, as it has Council meetings on the topic each April and October.

 But this time, it was unable to access the Security Council stakeout in order to speak with diplomats for its reporting. Video here. Any reporter with a Resident Correspondent pass, as Inner City Press had for eight years, could go to the stakeout. But not Inner City Press, not anymore.

   The reason Inner City Press was Banned from stakeout out the Western Sahara meeting was UN Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach's February 19 letter telling it, on two hours notice, to leave the UN after ten years of coverage. Letter here. Gallach never once spoke to Inner City Press before issuing the order.

   The results of Gallach's order, which remains in place as of March 26, is systemic exclusion from covering and staking out events ranging from Sri Lanka counter-terrorism to the process for selecting Ban Ki-moon's successor, from UN Security Council reform to an event about slavery, the UN's memorial to which has funded since indicted and pleaded guilty to bribery at the UN.

   After the March 24 UN Security Council consultations on Western Sahara, just after the reading out o the Council's “Press Elements,” things hit a new low. UN Department of Public Information staff, working for Gallach, told Inner City Press it had to leave the Security Council stakeout even as other pro-Morocco journalists were conducting interviews with diplomats.

   After Inner City Press stated this was censorship attributable to Gallach, her staff's “solution” was even more Kafka-esque: Inner City Press would require an escort, or minder, as it conducted interviews. Obviously, diplomats desiring to speak on background about Ban's performance on Western Sahara would not do so in the presence of a minder working for Ban's Secretariat.

   What has led to this censorship or Banning of the Press at the UN, on Western Sahara, Yemen, Sri Lanka, Burundi and other topics?

  While Gallach's February 19 letter is vague, in the “incident” she alludes to Inner City Press sought to report on an event, nowhere listed as closed, held in the UN Press Briefing Room on January 29.

It was a meeting of the UN Correspondents Association, and Inner City Press wanted to cover it to see if the group's having under Giampaolo Pioli taken money from thhe South South News of now indicted Ng Lap Seng's and Vivian Wang's (and Frank Lorenzo, who has pleaded guilty) would be discussed. UNCA's Pioli demanded that UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric ask Inner City Press to leave.

 When despite no showing that it was a “Closed Meeting” a single UN Security officer told Inner City Press that Dujarric wanted Inner City Press to leave, it did.

   But the disagreement about the right to exclude the press from the UN Press Briefing Room was used by Gallach -- and it seems UNCA “leaders” including Giampaolo Pioli and at least two news services which now operate anonymous troll social media accounts -- to three weeks later, on two hours notice and with no due process, order Inner City Press out.

   Because the UNCA trolls, which are followed by and echo Gallach, repetitively tell anyone they can that Inner City Press is not restricted in any way in covering the UN -- which is a lie -- Inner City Press notes not only the obvious - that Gallach is Spain's highest UN official - but also the following:

After the March 24 Western Sahara meeting of the UN Security Council, Gallach tweeted to a questioner from New Zealand who asked, “why did you remove the accreditation of Inner City Press?” Gallach replied, photo here, that “I did not! ICP is fully accredited! Can report from UN.?His privilege to use office was taken out, due to misbehavior.”Photo of Gallach's tweet here.

  This is false. On March 21, Inner City Press was unable to reach the stakeout of the UN Security Council on Western Sahara as it had been able, until Gallach's decision of February 19. And on March 25, the moment Security Council president Gaspar Martins finished reading out the elements to the press - and Inner City Press but not the swearing UNCA boss Pioli asked him a question -- UN DPI staff told Inner City Press to leave the stakeout, even as diplomats remain.

  Inner City Press said that to report on the meeting, it need to speak to the diplomats, many of whom has in the past spoken with in on background. But now with its Gallach-reduced pass, DPI staff said Inner City Press required an “escort” or minder to remain on the second floor.

  What diplomat desiring to speak on background about Ban Ki-moon's questionable performance on Western Sahara would do so in view of a minder from Ban's Secretariat? It is FALSE that Inner City Press is fully accredited. And it is significant that, well before March 25, Gallach has been multiply informed of the impact of the restrictions she imposed without due process. As to Western Sahara, for example, the impacts -and intent? - are clear.

  Furthermore, the “misbehavior” repeatedly citing by Gallach illusory. UNCA should have have been trying to hold a “closed” meeting in the UN Press Briefing Room - even Francois Hollande could not do that - and the event was nowhere listed as closed. Inner City Press live tweeted and live streamed it openly, from the booth in the back to avoid the heckling of Pioli's gang.

  Dispositively, on March 23 UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq did nothing when two non interpreters were in the interpretation booth during the noon briefing. There is no clear rule, at least none that is enforced.

  But compared to this disagreement, isn't coming to the UN Security Council stakeout to loudly call another reporter “an asshole” misbehavior?UNCA chief Giampaolo Pioli, who lobbied Gallach to throw Inner City Press out, came to the UN Security Council stakeout on Western Sahara and loudly and repeatedly called Inner City Press “an asshole.” Audio here. Gallach's February 19 letter citing some rule about civility. Will she enforce it on Pioli?

 Gallach's ruling must be reversed. Watch this site.

The day after the UN Security Council issued mere Elements to the Press on Morocco's ouster of much of the UN's MINURSO mission, Moroccan media stole a photograph taken by Inner City Press and false said it was Ambassador Omar Hilale flashing the victory sign on the way into a lunch with Ban Ki-moon, here.

  In fact, Inner City Press took and tweeted  the photo as Hilale and his team gathered in the Turkish Lounge outside the Security Council during one of this week's closed door consultations, on March 21. Notably, the Moroccan publication not only uses the Inner City Press photo without credit - it claims credit itself.

  At this same UN Security Council on March 24 UN Correspondents Association boss Giampaolo Pioli repeatedly and loudly told Inner City Press "You are an asshole.Sample audio here. Since then another sample pro-Moroccan troll has snarked, "Maybe you are;" @InnerCityPress replied that Hilale for example never said it. We'll have more on this.

Why didn't UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon go to El Aaiun in Western Sahara, even to visit the headquarters of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara?  And why on March 21 did Ban say, "We had a good meeting in the Security Council today" when his deputyspokesperson Farhan Haq told Inner City Press it was fine it was excluded between there were no Secretariat staff involved? Who is Ban's "we"?

  On March 24, after three hours of consultations, the UN Security Council emerged with so-called "Press Elements" read by the Council's President for March, Angola's Ambassador Gaspar Martins. Periscope video here. Fast transcript by here.

  After these Elements were read out, Inner City Press asked if they meant all15 members would like to see MINURSO returned to Western Sahara, and if some thought Ban Ki-moon should, as demanded, apologize. Inner City Press also asked about Morocco's foreign minister's comment that the country's recent moves are "irreversible."

  Still later, while UN minders were telling Inner City Press it had to leave the second floor even as other UN correspondents on UNCA's board remained doing interviews, Inner City Press managed to get a read-out, that in the Security Council consultations members had not been sure of, or agreed on, what Morocco's minister had said, and so would have to meet again soon. Watch this site.

Strangely, while Ban's Secretariat saying it is strongly opposing Morocco's note verbale its civilian staff leave "the territory of the Kingdom of Morocco," on March 23 to Reuters and AFP it was an anonymous UN official who made the argument.

On March 24, Inner City Press asked Ban's Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq about this incongruity: why ostensibly speak truth to (Moroccan) power... anonymously?

 Instead of explaining, Haq said to Inner City Press, For a journalist you seem to have a problem with officials speaking to the media. Well, no: why only to pro-Ladsous scribes, and anonymously? Inner City Press asked if Herve Ladsous as head of UN Peacekeeping will finally hold a press conference, which it seems he hasn't since September 11, 2015 when on camera he linked peacekeeper rapes to "R&R." Haq did not respond.

 (On Reuters and AFP and anonimity, it's ironic: both were linked to anti-Press anonymous troll society media accounts, here; now it seemsVoice of America has joined them.)

 As the UN Security Council had another round of closed door consultations about MINURSO on March 23, Inner City Press' sources tell it that a mild draft Press Statement is being "shot down" by Egypt, for the Arab Group or League - with France once again able to hide its imminent veto on the issue.

 As to Spain, whose foreign ministry has yet to answer - and in full disclosure whose highest UN official Cristina Gallach ordered Inner City Press out of the UN on two hours' notice and it still trying to seize its office, restrict its ability even to cover the Security Council on Western Sahara, video here -- sources says it is "blackmailed."

 What does that mean? Morocco can turn on migration, act on the small territories, has many Spanish companies on its territory and at sea. "Unless a larger power tells Spain to be decisive on this, Spain will just drivft," was the verdict. We await the ministry's comment.

Cristina Gallach, with Qatar's ex-PR, Spain sign, credit UN Photo/Evan Schneider

  UN DPKO boss Herve Ladsous went into the Security Council on the afternoon of March 23 without a word or answer. On his way out at 4:30 pm, Inner City Press asked him, Any progress on MINURSO? No answer. Any response to the Tony Banbury op-ed? One in his entourage laughed. Would retaliation follow? For Inner City Press, it already has. Watch this site.

On March 21, having had difficulty getting an answer from Spain's Mission to the UN particularly after Cristina Gallach, the highest Spanish official in the UN system, ousted Inner City Press from its office and the UN without due process -- and from the Western Sahara meeting, Periscope here -- sent this to Spain's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson:

From: Matthew Russell Lee [at]
Date: Mon, Mar 21, 2016 at 9:15 AM
Subject: Press Q on Spain's position on Morocco ordering out 83 UN/AU staff from MINURSO, and UN doing it, on deadline, thanks
To: cecilia.yuste [at]

Hello -
This is a Press request to know Spain's position on Morocco ordering 83 UN (and AU) staff to leave “the territory of the Kingdom of Morocco,” as they referred to Western Sahara - and, separately, to UNSG Ban Ki-moon and/or DPKO chief Herve Ladsous deciding to in fact evacuate these staff to Las Palmas.
We have not heard Spain's position from the Mission here - there are other issues - and so put this question to you, on deadline. Please acknowledge receipt and provide substantive response asap.
Thank you in advance,
Matthew Russell Lee,  Inner City Press
Office at UN: Room S-303, UN HQ, NY NY 10017 (??)
Cell: 718-716-3540 [&]
Email Matthew.Lee [at] and this and @FUNCA_info
Periscope live broadcasts:
Video of protest in Jaffna, Sri Lanka (in Tamil)
Sri Lanka Sunday Times, March 20, 2016
   But still no answers at all - other than a continued push for eviction of Inner City Press, despite or because of what is in the OIOS audit Inner City Press has published.

As the 8:30 am meeting took place, Inner City Press once it got about the retaliatory Ban imposed by UN official Cristina Gallach heard from its sources that this photograph of troops and missiles - note the flag(s) - was circulating among the highest UN officials including DPKO chief Herve Ladsous, and that Morocco was moving to oust even MINURSO military personnel from Dakhla. There were still no other media present at 9:30 am.

  Inner City Press arrived at the UN at 8:20 am and as passing through the now required (by UN censorship and retaliation) metal detectors saw a convoy diplomats from the Morocco mission going in.

 But up at the Security Council, the door for "non-resident correspondents" was locked; Inner City Press' current pass downgraded in retaliation by the UN doesn't work on the turnstiles and there was no guard present.

 Inner City Press set up in the hall, but from there was unable to put questions -- as it has  right to -- to the Permanent Representatives going in.

  Seen, through glass, were the Perm Reps of France and Spain chatting amiably; PRs of New Zealand and Ukraine and Russia; American Deputy David Pressman.

  At the noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq, Vine here (video still not provided)

 Later on March 21, along with telling Ban (again) that his Under Secretary General for "Communications" Cristina Gallach and Security had thrown Inner City Press out of its office and the UN as a whole on February 19, Inner City Press asked Ban what he was doing on Western Sahara.

 Ban said, "We had a good meeting in the Security Council today."Audio embedded here.

But didn't Haq say it was fine to Ban Inner City Press because there were no Secretariat staff involved? Beyond who is Ban's we, does the justification for censorship stand up?

Beyond having physically thrown Inner City Press out of the UN, twice, does Ban's UN not want the media on its announcement list to cover such a meeting?

Inner City Press had heard of the Monday 8:30 am meeting from sources in the region on Sunday evening.
 Moroccan state media MAP reported on March 20 that “significant number” of UN staffers had left El Aaiun airport in UN aircraft and commercial flights to Las Palmas in Spain, that 73 U.N. staffers had left and 10 would leave in the afternoon.

  Why did Ban (or the head of UN Peacekeeping, Frenchman Herve Ladsous) give in? If, in the most positive light, it was for staff safety --which was ignored for example in Sri Lanka -- why has Ban not come out and said that? This is a new low.

  On March 16, Inner City Press asked the US State Department about Western Sahara and then (from the State Department briefing room) published this, emailed to Inner City Press from Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner:

"The United States continues to support the UN-led process designed to bring about a peaceful, sustainable, and mutually-agreed solution to the conflict in the Western Sahara, one in which the human rights of all individuals are respected.

We support the work of the UN Secretary General’s Personal Envoy for the Western Sahara and the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum on Western Sahara (MINURSO).

We encourage all of the parties to remain fully and actively engaged in pushing the process toward an effective resolution."

  But on March 19, a strongly rumored UN Security Council meeting about Western Sahara did not happen, at least by 3 pm.

It seems friends of Morocco - read, France - argued that the meeting was not needed. But what of Morocco's "note verbale" telling 84 people to leave "the territory of the Kingdom of Morocco"?

 That's the rub - under international law, Western Sahara is NOT "the territory of the Kingdom of Morocco." So how can 84 people be ordered out this way?

 Contrary to the analogies UN and DPKO spokesman Stephane Dujarric used, Eritrea kicking out UNMEE for not enforcing its legal right to Badme, or Chad kicking out MINURCAT, Morocco is not the host country of MINURSO.  So the note verbale, which in any event should have been sent to the Security Council, is not effective.

 But what is the role of Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row atop UN Peacekeeping, in this - and in the ouster of Inner City Press on February 19, ostensibly by his fellow Frenchman Stephane Dujarric and Cristina Gallach, the highest official of Spain in UN System? We'll have more on this.

Meanwhile two tweets from the account of the acting spokesperson for the US Mission to the UN got a lot of play, on both sides of the issue,click here to view.

  On March 18 Inner City Press asked Kirby, again, about theGovernment Accountability Project's letter to the US Mission to the UN about UN retaliation against the Press. Kirby said, "I’m also happy to refer you to our mission up in New York City." Later his office put in writing, "On the question on the Government Accountability Project letter, we’d refer you to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations."

But Inner City Press has already asked three at the US Mission about the GAP letter.

After the Security Council met on March 18 about Western Sahara, the Council's President for March, Ambassador Gaspar Martins of Angola, said the members had agreed to work both bilaterally and as  Council. Which is it? Left solo, France reflexively defends Morocco. French Ambassador Delattre on his way in said:

"With respect to Western Sahara, we, as France, but also as member of the Security Council, are having one clear objective, which is to appease the tensions. And that is why we believe that, at this stage, an important thing in order to appease the tensions, is for Morocco and the UN to have a serene, respectful, and in-depth dialogue. We believe this is absolutely important in order to, again, appease the tensions. This is our number one priority, and we will continue on this path."

 Sounds bilateral... Watch this site.

On March 14, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about an upcoming meeting it had heard from other sources about. From the UN transcript:

Inner City Press: Has there been a request by Morocco's Foreign Minister to meet with the Secretary-General this week?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Yes.

Inner City Press:  And will that be an open photo op?

Spokesman Dujarric:  The meeting is still… we're still working on the scheduling of the meeting.  Obviously, it will be a photo op, as it is usually with every Foreign Minister that comes to town.  Vine here.

 And then, despite Inner City Press' question, Dujarric's office waited until four minutes before the deadline to go up to photograph the meeting to announce it. Some photo op.

  On March 7, Inner City Press asked Dujarric if Ban had even tried to get to MINURSO's headquarters in El Aaiun -- Dujarric didn't answer that -- and if Ban hadn't in his comment distributed on March 6 given Morocco a veto over the referendum promises even in the name of the MINURSO mission.

Back on March 2, Inner City Press asked Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq why Ban is not going, while wanly claiming he has the right to do. UN transcript here.

Ban was supposed to go in November 2015 but he canceled it, thinking he could get more political - read, South Korea electoral -- play by going to North Korea. But then North Korea turned him down.

  On February 25, Inner City Press asked Dujarric about issues including Western Sahara, after three days reporting on the UN from outside after Ban's head of Communications Cristina Gallach threw Inner City Press out without due process: petition hereweird pro Morocco spin on the ouster, here.

  Ahead of Ban's March 1 stop in Spain there was pick up of the fact that Gallach is Spain's highest UN official, and that she ousted the Press from the UN.

In defense of Ban and Gallach, anonymous troll account has taken to tweeting, now at Spanish journalists, that Gallach is fine and didn't throw Inner City Press out of the UN on two hours notice without once speaking to it. But those are the facts. Among the new troll account's followers are Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric and four UNCA board members, plus Reuters bureau chief Louis Charbonneau, who has a history with this, see here.