Thursday, June 9, 2016

Ban Ki-moon's Spox Refused To Answer on Press Eviction, Ban Trades Gifts

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, June 8 -- 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 by peacekeepersdisparate treatment in Mali, dalliance withgenocide in Sri Lanka and prospectively Burundi, impunity for cholera deaths in Haiti and 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 in 2016, Ban Ki-moon's last year at the UN, it has beenNew York Times of May 14 here.  
Now Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric on June 8 has outright refused to provide a copy of, or any answer questions about, the "Handbook" the alleged violation of which the UN told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was the basis for evicting Inner City Press. Aide Memoire to SFRC here.
Before Inner City Press was even able to ask the question, Dujarric cut it off, and later disallowed an unrelated Press question about other UNcorruption. Video here, transcript here and below, with quotes from Ban Ki-moon later on June 8.
Ban later on June 8 said: "I will continue to defend the rights of journalists and to do everything possible, publicly and privately, to ensure that journalists have the freedom to work...I will also continue to stand up for the rights of journalists and their defenders to be represented here at the United Nations.

"I am extremely disturbed by recent remarks by the President-elect of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte. [Inner City Press had asked, here.] I unequivocally condemn his apparent endorsement of extrajudicial killing, which is illegal and a breach of fundamental rights and freedoms.  Such comments are of particular concern in light of on-going impunity for serious cases of violence against journalists in the Philippines. I have expressed my disappointment that the Non-Governmental Organization Committee voted to deny the Committee to Protect Journalists consultative status with the Economic and Social Council...I have presents for each of you [segue to presentation]. "
e This is what it has come to: censorship while Ban exchanges gifts and drinks champagne with his friends and sells out the UN human rights lists to the highest bidder (for now, Saudi Arabia.) From the June 8transcript: 
Inner City Press:  I've asked you about this aide-mémoire that was sent by the UN to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  So I want to ask you about it again.  What I want to ask you about…

Spokesman:  My answer's not going to change.

Inner City Press:  No, here's what I want to ask you about specifically.  You call it a leaked document.  It's hard to understand if it's sent from the UN to a committee.  It's leaked.  But this is my question.  And it's sort of a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) like question.  The document says that what was violated is something called the UN Handbook for Safety and Security Personnel.

Spokesman:  Matthew, Matthew, your personal issues will not be discussed here.

Inner City Press:  You're calling it personal…

Spokesman:  Thank you.  Masood?

Inner City Press:  But if you can punish journalists, where is the document?  I'm requesting the handbook.

Spokesman:  Talk to DPI (Department of Public Information).

Inner City Press:  I did, and they don't have it.

Spokesman:  Talk to them again.
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.  
While Ban told Inner City Press "That is not my decision," and his Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach has yet to explain anything to Inner City Press, on June 5 we published the UN's "Aide Memoire" which claims that the "rule" against being in an interpreters booth is in a UN Security handbook that is not available to the public - it is not on the Internet, not on the UN's in-house iSeek and on June 6, UN MALU did not have it -- and states there is no paper work for the underlying meeting being closed.  

The UN Aide Memoire says the entire event -- which included UN paid sound engineering - was organized orally between UNCA President Giampaolo Piolo and Ban Ki-moon's Spokesman Stephane Dujarric. So on June 5, Inner City Press asked Dujarric about it, video here, only to have Dujarric call it a "leak" he could not verify and to insist Inner City Press ask  the Department of Public Information.
Inner City Press: This I wanted to ask you and I'll try to keep it brief.  I've seen now a aide-mémoire that the UN, I guess, Office of Legal Affairs sent to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and they said this. It had… since it involves you, I wanted to ask you about it.  It says that, as to a meeting held in this room on 29 January, the UN has no documents, correspondence or other written materials in print or electronic that it was a closed meeting.  And it says you arranged it entirely orally that it would be closed.  So, I wanted to ask you this.  As a financial matter, how is it possible to arrange for UN audio engineering without there being any written record and how…?

Spokesman:  Matthew, I don't know what document you're quoting for or what… the veracity of this leaked document.

Inner City Press:  They sent it to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Spokesman:  We've gone through your personal case here over and over again, and I would ask you to take it up with DPI [Department of Public Information].

Inner City Press: This quotes you.

Spokesman:  Lot of things quote me. 
 But here is what the UN's Aide Memoire provided to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee says, in Paragraph 9:
“The Spokesperson of the Secretary-General of the United Nations has informed the Office of Legal Affairs that on or about Tuesday, 26 January 2016, he was approached by the President of UNCA who orally requested permission from the Spokesperson for the use of the UN Press Briefing Room in order to hold a members-only meeting of UNCA. Among his other duties, the Spokesperson grants permission for the use of the UN Press Briefing Room for meetings other than press briefings. The UNCA President told the Spokesperson that the UNCA Meeting Room on the fourth floor of the United Nations Secretariat Building was being prepared for a reception to be held after the closed members-only meeting and so, the UNCA Meeting Room was unavailable for such closed members-only meeting on the 29th of January. The Spokesperson gave permission orally to the President of UNCA during that encounter on or about the 26th of January.”
   As Inner City Press reported, there were UNTV audio staff in the engineers' booth for the UNCA meeting. Is it credible that this use of UN resources was organized without a single written record? Inner City Press was told that the engineer was to make sure to disable the microphones in the briefing room, other than those at the podium occupied by this UNCA President Giampaolo Pioli and two others.
 The UN's response is false in many ways - but note that the UNCA Meeting Room is NOT on the fourth floor. So what else is false? Watch this site.
Aide Memoire now here  It states that Gallach has NO paperwork that the meeting she ousted and evicted Inner City Press for attending was closed. This was requested:
“Documentation received by Cristina Gallach, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, including emails, letters, and any other written communications indicating that the United Nations Correspondents Association meeting in the Press Briefing Room, that Mr. Lee was barred from attending, was a closed meeting.”
  Here is the UN's response:
“No official of the United Nations has received or is in possession of any documentation, correspondence or any written materials, whether in print or electronic form, indicating that the closed meeting of the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA), which took place on Friday, 29 January 2016, was taking place or was a closed meeting.”
  So if the UN admits there is NO WRITTEN RECORD that this event in the UN Press Briefing Room was a closed meeting, how was it a closed meeting? How could Inner City Press be ousted and evicted for seeking to cover, in the UN Press Briefing Room, an event attended by other correspondents and NOWHERE listed as closed?
  And now Inner City Press' long time office given to an Egyptian state media which rarely comes to the UN and never asks questions? This is a scam; this is UN censorship..
  The UN "aide memoire" also claims that Stephane Dujarric orally told UN Correspondents Association honcho Giampaolo Pioli, who previously demanded that Inner City Press remove from the Internet a factual story about his financial relationship with Sri Lanka's Ambassador Palith Kohona, that the meeting was closed. This is a joke; this is a pretext.   This is censorship.
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.” 

Inner City Press has formally requested the return of its long time shared office and Resident Correspondent status, as have 1,450 people in this petition, here