Monday, July 18, 2016

On Turkey, Inner City Press Asks UN of Crackdown, As Egypt Objects To Democracy Support

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, July 18 -- After the events in Turkey on July 15, Egypt in the UN Security Council blocked a Press Statement calling on the parties to "respect the democratically elected government of Turkey." 
On July 18, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, video hereUN transcript here: 
Inner City Press: do you have any response of what has been happening in Turkey since the coup or attempted coup was put down; i.e., the arrest of near… more than a thousand Judges, closing down of websites, what is the UN position on this?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, you have seen, of course, the statement we issued on Friday evening at the time that the coup attempt was happening.  And, of course, since then it's clear to us, the point that the constitutional order needs to be fully preserved in accordance with the principles of democracy and fundamental rights, including through the full respect of freedom of speech and assembly and adherence to due process.  That is a point we made then and we are continuing to stress that in the subsequent days, that these steps would be critical to help preserve Turkey's democracy and its future stability.  And, of course, the UN continues to stand firmly by Turkey and its democracy during this difficult moment.

Inner City Press:  And as impacts Syria and I guess the work of Envoy [Staffan] de Mistura, some people are saying that this makes the right… currently the border is less secure than before in terms of the entrance of extremist forces in and out of Syria.  And did Staffan de Mistura or the UN system see any impact of the event, of these events on the attempt to reach a political solution in Syria?

Deputy Spokesman:  No, Mr. Staffan de Mistura is continuing with his work.  We don't believe that this should have any long-term adverse effect on the work that we're doing in Syria.
Ban Ki-moon's UN's lack of commitment to freedom of the press is apparent with regard to Egypt. As the Egyptian government steps up its crackdown on freedom of expression, from imposing a two year prison sentence on Ahmed Naji for his novel ‘Using Life’ to expelling Liliane Daoud after arresting Yahia Galash, the Sisi-supporting media including Akhbar Elyom a/k/a Akhbar Al Youm has stayed quiet or participated. 
Meanwhile Ban Ki-moon's UN is rewarding Akhbar Elyom and its correspondent Sanaa Youssef, rarely present (here in 2002) but a former president of the Ban-friendly UN Correspondents Association with the long time office of Inner City Press, which covers Ban critically. This was raised to the UN Human Rights Council on June 27, here.
 But this is the state media Ban and his head of "Public Information" Cristina Gallach are trying to reward with the critical Press' shared office. 
Likewise, they have given Erdogan's state media TRT its own private office, used to cover - what else - Ng Lap Seng's and South South News' corrupt Macau event in August  2015, before Gallach attended Ng's South South Awards in September 2015, then evicted Inner City Press after it asked her about it. This is Ban's UN.
Meanwhile the Committee to Protect Journalists has said
“Authorities are pursuing Yehia Qallash, Khaled al-Balshy, and Gamal Abdel Rahim for trying to defend the Egyptian media against a thin-skinned and brutal security apparatus," CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said. "We call on Egyptian prosecutors to drop these charges immediately and stop harassing journalists."
  But CPJ has yet to speak on Ban's UN evicting the investigative press, much less on Ban then giving Inner City Press' UN shared office to Egyptian state media Akhbar Elyom. We'll have more on this.

Only when it questioned Ban's and its PR official CristinaGallach's roles in the John Ashe, Ng Lap Seng and Francis Lorenzo UN bribery scandal did Gallach order Inner City Press ousted then evicted, and now try to give its office to an Egyptian media which rarely or never asked questions. Ban Ki-moon claimed “That is not my decision,” but that is not true.
  The New York Times on May 14 covered the story. But they did not in their long process report, because it happened at the end, that Ban Ki-moon and Gallach are moving to give Inner City Press' long time office to Egyptian state media, Al Akhbar / Akhbar El-Yom / Akher Saa, to a correspondent Sanaa Youssef who most even on the UN press floor have never seen. 
Her "in" seems to be that she was a previous president of the UN Correspondents Association, now become the UN's Censorship Alliance. As one respected usual UN interlocutor put it, "it would be a hugely negative symbolic step for Egyptian state media to replace Inner City Press in the UN." 
 A longtime UN correspondent who spotted her moving in on Inner City Press' office noted she had not been seen before; the name was confirmed by UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit, which refused to provide the waiting list or describe the rationale. 
But this is Ban's and Gallach's UN (click here for a Spanish take on Gallach's tenure.) We are beginning to report this now because it has proven nearly impossible to reach Al Akhbar / Akhbar Al Yom - the telephone numbers listed online are disconnected, or private homes; the correspondent at UNCA address has been unresponsive.The absurdity of this has been directly raised to Ban Ki-moon, his Deputy and Chief of Staff with enough time to stop it. We'll see. 
  For now from the NYT we note this quote: “It’s not exactly the same access,’’ Mr. Dujarric said, “but if he has an issue, there is a staff of media liaisons to help him resolve the problem and get where he needs to go.”
  This is false. As Inner City Press has raised to Ban Ki-moon, "even when begrudgingly accompanied by a staff member of your Spokesperson's office, UN Security refused to allow me through the turnstile onto the second floor of Conference Building. I have been told not to ask questions of diplomats, just after you came out of ECOSOC and even with a MALU minder / escort with me, a UN Security official stood directly in front of me, apparently so I couldn't even try to ask you a question. This is censorship."  We await response.
    UN Correspondents Association boss Giampaolo Pioli lied, but at least on the record. (He rented one of his Manhattan apartments to Palitha Kohona then granted Kohona's request, as Sri Lanka's Ambassador, to screen his government's war crimes denial film in the UN. Then Pioli told Inner City Press to take its story about it off the Internet or be thrown out of the UN, which Gallach and Ban did: UN Censorship Alliance.)
In any event, who is a rarely present boss of an ostensible Correspondents Association (morphing into the UN's Censorship Alliance) to lobby for the ouster of an investigative journalist so that his office can be handed to a never present former UNCA president - a representative of state owned media who never asks questions? This too has been raised and we await response.

  What's next? Is it acceptable for the UN to throw out a critical journalist writing four to eight stories a day, while leaving in people who write little, and ask nothing? Is Ban Ki-moon killing the UN? Watch this site.