Tuesday, May 31, 2016

On Cambodia, When Inner City Press Asks of Ban Ki-moon's "Timid" Comment, Ban's Spokesman Dujarric Doubles Down

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, May 31 -- The UN under Ban Ki-moon increasingly has separate messages for separate audiences, for example exclusive off-the-record South Korean political talk for South Korean journalists, praise of Turkey for Turkish journalists, evictions for the critical Press. 
But now amid the crackdown in Cambodia there is this: Ban's UN issued a statement on the country, only to the country. When criticized, it doubled down.
  Inner City Press on May 31 asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric,Video here, UN Transcript here:
Inner City Press: On Cambodia, has your office issued a statement of concern about the crackdown there? Because some… they are saying that it was issued and it was stunningly timid.  They said it didn’t capture… that it’s basically Hun Sen cracking down on the opposition.  It’s not a two-sided thing.  So I was looking at the counter there.  Has there been a statement on Cambodia?
Spokesman:  I always appreciate the analysis of our response.  We were asked and we answered.  There was no statement issued, and since I… I take it you’re asking what our position is.  The Secretary-General is, indeed, concerned about the escalating tensions between the ruling and the opposition parties in Cambodia, particularly the arrests or attempted arrests of parliamentarians, who enjoy parliamentary immunity.  A non-threatening environment of democratic dialogue is essential for political stability and a peaceful and prosperous society.
Inner City Press:  All right.  But you’ve seen the criticism that this seems to sort of equate the opposition that’s getting arrested with the…
Spokesman:  I think people are free to analyse and dissect our statements.  We would expect that is the case.
Or not. For ten years as Inner City Press covered the UN in ever greater detail, showing Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Herve Ladsous' inept overseeing and cover up of sexual abuse and exploitation bypeacekeepersdisparate treatment in Mali, dalliance with genocide in Sri Lanka and prospectively Burundi, impunity for cholera deaths in Haitiand until now for UN lead poisoning in Kosovo and cravenly pro-Saudi position on Yemen amid the airstrikes, it was never thrown out of the UN. 
Now it has beenNew York Times of May 14 here.  And even as groups like the Government Accountability Project tell Ban to reverse the eviction and give Inner City Press back its long time office and Resident Correspondent pass, Ban's UN tellingly moved to award Inner City Press' office to Egypt state media Al-Akhbar / Akhbar Elyoum. Tweeted photograph here.
On May 19, a sign for "Al Akhbar Yom" went up on Inner City Press' office - Inner City Press has STILL never seen the correspondent being given the stolen office. 
So on May 20 Inner City Press went to get an on the record explanation from Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Duajrric, before Ban sets out on a campaign trip to South Korea (denied by his senior adviser Kim Won-soo). But not only did Dujarric refuse to answer the question - Gallach's DPI intentionally omitted from the transcript Inner City Press' entirely audible question about Ban Ki-moon's commitment to freedom of the press. The question then, answer itself. 
Since the spin to the NYT is that Inner City Press' questions on corruption and censorship somehow block questions other correspondents want to ask, Inner City Press twice told Dujarric it would hold one question to the end. But Dujarric, showing that the spin is a scam, insisted: go ahead. Video here. From the UN Transcript: 
Inner City Press: I have another question, but I don't want to…

Spokesman:  Well, just ask it.

Inner City Press:  No, no, I'll wait.

Spokesman:  I'd like you to ask it now.

Question:  Okay.  Stay where you are and I’ll do it as fast as I can.  I wanted to ask you, you sometimes say you don’t have a long memory, but you’ve been a Spokesman for a while.  When is the last time, to your knowledge, that the publication Akhbar al Youm has been in this room and asked a question?  And the reason I asked… you said I could ask.  I’ll do it quickly.  The office that was formerly "Inner City Press", has been given to this organization.  I've never seen them here.  I'm aware there's a rule of being three days a week here.  So, I’m wondering… and you used to implement that rule.  And the reason I’m asking you, and you’re going to say, ask MALU [Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit], I want an on the record quote.  This is a media organization that CPJ [Committee to Protect Journalists] says targets other medias for arrest for not agreeing with the Government.

Spokesman:  I will tell you that I do not have in my head the attendance records of journalists here.  Some of you are here every day.  But, for the rest of you, I don't keep tabs in my head.  And again, that’s a question for you to ask MALU.
Inner City Pres:  But, I'm asking for an on-the-record comment.  What does it say about freedom of the press…

Spokesman:  I’ve given you… Nabil? 
Inner City Press' last line, "What does it say about freedom of the press," was intentionally mistranscribed and censored: it said, What does it say about Ban Ki-moon's commitment to freedom of the press."

This is today's UN: ham-handed censorship.  
The UN says Resident Correspondents must be at the UN three days a week, but Inner City Press has never seen this person, former UN Correspondents Association president Sanaa Youssef, much less asking a question in the UN noon briefing.  
The point, of course, which Dujarric did everything he could to cut off, including walking out of the brieifng room and not returning, is what does it say about Ban Ki-moon's supposed commitment to free press to evict the investigative Press here every day for a state media never here, never with questions, which targets other journalists for arrest? 
The question is answering itself, but we will continue. Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq after the briefing was heard telling DPI staff under Gallach that he had predicted Inner City Press would "go after" Akhbar Elyom. 
This is today's UN: here's Haq on Jan 29, video here, and before. Haq claimed incorrectly that "non resident correspondent" passes get one through to the second floor: either years out of date or intentional inaccurate. This too is today's UN. 
Scribes speaking off the record according to the New York Times of May 14 "accused [ICP] of printing gossip, rumors." That UNCA's president rented an apartment to Palitha Kohona then granted his request to screenin the UN his government's war crimes denial film is no rumor or gossip. 
But Akhbar Elyom, to which Gallach's and Ban's MALU and UNCA have given Inner City Press' office, not only gets journalists in Egypt attested - it targets, with a "Muslim Brotherhood" smear, a journalist who works right in the UN. Arabic article here. 
This is the journalism that Ban Ki-moon and his Cristina Gallach want and reward. By taking away Inner City Press' office, it is now required to have a minder and is told to not ask diplomats questions. This is censorship.
Akhbar Elyom has been used to finger for imprisonment non-state journalists in Egypt. For example, in July 2015 Aboubakr Khallaf, the founder and head of the independent Electronic Media Syndicate (EMS), “was arrested after a news article was published by the government-owned daily Akhbar Elyoum.”