Saturday, April 2, 2016

UN's Gallach Orders Press Eviction by April 6, Changes Access Claim

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 30 -- On February 19 without once speaking to Inner City Press, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Under Secretary General for Public Information, Spain's Cristina Gallach, ordered the Press to leave the UN, which it has covered for ten years, in two hours. February 19 letter here.

On March 30, despite having been petitioned to stop her censorship and hindering of the Press' reporting by, among others, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jose Ramos Horta, Tamils of Sri Lanka and elsewhere including a Northern Provincial Councilor, over one thousand petition signers and commenters, Ambassadors and UN officials and, it seems, Jeffrey Sachs, Gallach nevertheless had delivered to Inner City Press a final eviction letter. It read, in full:

“Dear Mr. Lee, I write further to me letter of 19 February 2016. As I made clear in that letter, your accreditation privileges to access the premises of the United Nations to conduct your journalistic activities have been changed to that of non-Resident Correspondent. In this regard, I note that you have applied for and received your non-Resident Correspondent accreditation on 25 February 2016. Such accreditation allows you access to the premises of the United Nations in that capacity in order to carry out your full journalistic activities in the same manner as any other journalist with such accreditation privileges.

“At the same time, I also note that as of today, and after several reminders, you have not yet emptied the office of your belongings, which remain untouched, nor have you returned the key to that office.

“In light of the above, I request that you remove your belongings from the office and return its key to the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit by no later than 5:00 p.m. on 6 April 2016. If you do not collect your belongings from the office by that deadline, I would request your presence for the packaging and forwarding of your belongings to the address listed in your accreditation application. Yours sincerely, Cristina Gallach, Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information”

  To many who petitioned her, from Washington to Jaffna in Sri Lanka, Gallach had repeatedly claimed that despite seizing Inner City Press' long time shared office and investigative files, Inner City Press would have the same access AS IT HAD BEFORE, or the same access as OTHER REPORTERS AT THE UN.

  This has proved to be false. Since the non-Resident Correspondent pass does not open the turnstile on the second floor of the UN's Conference Building, Inner City Press has been Banned from covering meetings in the ECOSOC and Trusteeship Council chambers, on such topics as UN Security Council reform, counter-terrorism and Sri Lanka, the selection of the next Secretary General, and more.

   Even Security Council meetings, such as the March 21 session on Western Sahara, Inner City Press was Banned from by Gallach's order. Now, after make claims, she says Inner City Press will have not the same access that it had, or even access to all Security Council meetings -- rather, the same access as other with the restricted non-Resident Correspondent pass: a tautology.  We'll have more on this.