Friday, October 7, 2016

Inner City Press BANned from UN Legal Meeting, Ban Ki-moon Requires, Withdraws Minders

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 7 -- When Inner City Press went to cover the UN Legal Committee meeting on the “Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Act” on October 7, it could only do so with a UN minder, unlike correspondents at the UN who have not questioned or criticized Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his Under Secretaries General Herve Ladsous and Cristina Gallach.

   In the middle of speaking with diplomats and reporting on Twitter the disagreements between for example the United States, which does NOT want a convention of the responsibility of states for internationally wrongful act and Mexico which does, Inner City Press was abruptly told that it had to leave.

  The stated reason was that Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson's office had called the end of day “lid,” even though the UN General Assembly Sixth (Legal) Committee meeting continued and the Spokesperson's Office had not answered Inner City Press questions about Ladsous' DPKO's use of tear gas and refusal to confirm receipt of a Frente Polisario letter about Western Sahara.

 Why is the UN saying Inner City Press requires a minder? Because Gallach and Ban threw Inner City Press out of its long time shared workspace for daring to cover an event in the UN Press Briefing Room, in pursuit of the ongoing UN Ng Lap Seng bribery scandal, and are giving the space to Egyptian state media Akhbar al Yom whose correspondent rarely comes to the UN - not there on October 7 - and never asks questions. The only qualification seems to be the correspondent is a past president of the Ban-friendly UN Correspondents Association, UNCA.

   As Inner City Press was required to leave, still getting information including about the next day's second Syria draft, which it put online at 5:54, here, other correspondents whom Ban favors were still free to roam the UN's second floor, including one who hugged a diplomat who pulled back and asked, “Who ARE you?”

   Meanwhile for having dared ask Ladsous a question - whether the often targeted Chadian peacekeepers in Mali have been denied access to the equipment of NATO members like the Netherlands also in Ladsous' MINUSMA mission - some in the UN are implying Inner City Press did wrong by doing its job. This is censorship. We'll have more on this.

 This has been going on too long. For example, when Inner City Press went to cover an event in the UN's Trusteeship Council Chamber on September 1, it was required to have a UN “minder.”

The minder, whose fault none of this is, came close as diplomats spoke to Inner City Press in some cases critically of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon -- including his promoting his own son in law to a top post, without even recusing himself.

   While some diplomats approached Inner City Press and discussed wars and politics in their country, and the Next Secretary General selection process, another diplomat Inner City Press observed was Burundi's Albert Shingiro, engaged in UN Security Council lobbying.

  Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric has refused to confirm, or even inquire into, Burundi's notes verbale that they will NOT accept the UN Police mandated by the Security Council's July resolution.

So Ban's requirement that Inner City Press be confined to a minder has the effect to making it more difficult to cover this new failure of Ban's tenure (following Sri Lanka, Haiti, Yemen and others).

  Other diplomats came in and out of the UN General Assembly meeting on the “Culture of Peace,” telling Inner City Press in some cases about the background of their speeches, and in other cases entirely different matters.

  Suddenly Ban Ki-moon's minder told Inner City Press, You have to leave, I have another assignment.

Not only does Ban and his Under Secretary General for “Public Information” Cristina Gallach absurdly and vindictively require Inner City Press to have a minder -- they don't even have enough minders, despite Gallach's DPI being in the process of recruiting yet-more unpaid interns, ignoring protests of Ban's UN on this issue and even outlawing filming of the protests. This is the UN of Ban and Gallach.

This ouster took place right during the speech by the US Mission - which ironically included press freedom issues -- and just before the speech by South Korea, where Ban Ki-moon hopes to run for president in 2017. On what platform? Questions are pending.

Back on August 12 when Inner City Press went to cover a meeting in the UN Economic and Social Council chamber featuring a canned speech by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and at least two of his Assistant Secretaries General on August 12, it went as now required to get a minder from the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit.

 But Inner City Press was told Ban doesn't have enough minders -- under Ban's regime of censorship, his demand for minders is outstripping supply -- and that it could only cover the event when MALU and UN Security arbitrarily decided to allow it.

   This is targeting - other correspondents who do not ask about Ban's and his head of Communications Cristina Gallach's links to the UN bribery scandal of Ng Lap Seng and John Ashe (RIP) could cover the entire meeting, and even other “non-resident correspondents,” the status to which Ban and Gallach reduced Inner City Press in retaliation travel freely around, to the Delegates Lounge and elsewhere.

  This is targeted censorship. After throwing Inner City Press' laptop then filed onto the sidewalk, Ban and Gallach moved to give its longtime shared office to Egypian state media Akhbar Al Youm, whose correspondent Sanaa Youssef, a former president of the UN Correspondents Association, rarely comes into the UN and never asks any questions. Two Gallach staffers cruised through the press floor on August 11; they are on notice but the censorship continues.

Before Ban's minders ordered Inner City Press to leave, a number of diplomats approached it, providing tips including on corruption, one saying, I'm glad you're here. Ban and Gallach are not.

   Tellingly, the event on Gallach's Department of Public Information's UNTV did not have any audio, including for Ban Ki-moon's canned speech. A topic was youth - earlier this week at the UN “Youth Assembly” in the UN General Assembly Hall, Larry Summers was presented as a champion of girls' education. This is today's UN - we will have more on the corruption they are trying to cover up and hinder Press coverage of.

On August 11, Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq tried to evade questions about conflicts of interest by Ban's mentor Han Seung-soo by claiming he was being “bullied;” he has previously tried to cut off any questions about the censoring restrictions imposed on the Press. But today there is more than enough Ban Ki-moon corruption news, which Haq will find hard(er) to cut off. Watch this site.

For the the Haiti and South Sudan meetings of UN ESOCOC on July 26, it was required to have a UN minder, who oversaw as diplomats approached Inner City Press to talk. Then it got worse - the minder said Inner City Press would have to leave in 15 minutes, before the Haiti and South Sudan segments even began. Inner City Press has asked the UN about these restrictions, video here.

   Inner City Press objected, noting that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric told the New York Times that Inner City Press would be “escorted” to cover such meetings. In Haiti, Ban's UN killed 10,000 with cholera and didn't pay the victims' families a penny. In South Sudan, Ban's and Herve Ladsous' DPKO is covering up even the detention of UN staff, as well as negligence as the government killed IDPs in Malakal and elsewhere.

Inner City Press took up its stakeout position, to the side of the hallway; several Ambassadors approached, with one even under Ban's minder's watchful eye telling Inner City Press that Ban's Secretariat is not accessible or transparent, it's not even clear how to reach them.

   But after hindering Inner City Press' reporting with two levels of UN Security, the middle one of which despite requets has refused to give his name, a third one arrived and said “Matty you have to go.” It was the same supervisor, Mathew Sullivan, who told Inner City Press on February 22 that it was banned from UN premises worldwide and had to leave the UN pass office, and who earlier was beaten up by Turkey's Erdogan's security -- Inner City Press wrote in favor of Sullivan but Ban Ki-moon apologized... to Erdogan. Now Sullivan is listed promoting for-profit companies' UN events, here. This is Ban's UN.

    Back in the Media Accreditation office the supervisor said there were not enough minders, they were upstairs with Ban Ki-moon and Laura Boldrini, president of the Chamber of Deputies, Republic of Italy: a photo op. Inner City Press filmed Boldrini's scripted read-out instead, and asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about the Banning: can't cover Haiti, where the UN killed 10,000. Video hereUN Transcript here: 

Inner City Press:  I'll keep this brief.  But today there was a meeting at ECOSOC in the ECOSOC chambers.  One of the meetings involved Haiti.  The other one involved South Sudan.  MALU (Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit) escorted me there, but then said they had to leave, and then security told me to leave.  So I'm wondering, what is the procedure for green Ps, the vast majority of journalists that you have, to be able to cover meetings and stake out meetings, such as ones on Haiti and South Sudan?

Deputy Spokesman:  You have the ability to stake out these when you have escorts.  We try to provide escorts as much as possible.  In fact…

ICP Question:  Why were there only two people in MALU…?

Deputy Spokesman:  There's… we accommodate you to the best of our abilities and to the extent that our staffing allows.  Like I said, I spoke with the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit this morning, and, again, they're trying their very best to accommodate.  We can't have so many staff devoted simply to…

ICP Question:  Why is a journalist standing in front…

Deputy Spokesman:  Please.

ICP Question:  Please.  Go ahead.  I'd like to hear your answer.

Deputy Spokesman:  …simply to the convenience of one individual.  But they… to the extent that their staffing allows it, they do it.

ICP Question:  Given that other journalists here can stand freely in front of it, what's the difference between these two classes of journalists?  Do whatever you want.

Deputy Spokesman:  You're making pleading for your special case.

ICP Question:  No, I'm not.  I'm saying there are 2,000 green Ps.  Why can't they cover the meeting?

Deputy Spokesman:  Yes, you are.  And if there were 2,000 green Ps who were making an issue of it, that would be one thing.  There's one individual journalist, yourself, making an issue of it.  I've told you what the response is from my Media Accreditation colleagues, and they are trying to help you.

ICP Question:  What's the response from security?  What is the security problem?

Deputy Spokesman:  Security… Matthew…

ICP Question:  I talked to an ambassador there who said Ban Ki-moon is inaccessible and unaccountable.

Deputy Spokesman:  Matthew… Matthew, quit trying to drown me out.  It's unprofessional.  It is blatantly unprofessional.

ICP Question:  Go on.

Deputy Spokesman:  Security abides by their own rules.  They do not make exceptions simply for an individual.  They do that to keep the building secure.  Within those parameters, we're trying to accommodate your request.

ICP Question:  What's the security problem of a journalist just standing in front…

Deputy Spokesman:  That's all I've got to say to you.  Beyond this, it's just arguing.  Thank you.  Have a good afternoon, everyone.

To this has Ban Ki-moon's UN descended.

  The reason given to Inner City Press that it cannot stakeout ECOSOC, as it has for ten years, is that Ban and his head of Communications Cristina Gallach ousted and evicted Inner City Press for trying to cover an event in the UN Press Briefing Room by a group which took money from Ng Lap Seng, the Macau based businessman now under house arrest for UN bribery.

To keep Inner City Press in this censored status, Ban and Gallacah are giving its long time shared office to Egyptian state media Akhbar Al Youm's Sanaa Youssef, a former UN Correspondents Association president who asks no question and rarely if even comes to the UN.  We note that current UNCA boss Giampaolo Pioli, who lifts prosecco toasts with and to Ban but never criticizes him while being invoked by Gallach in support of eviction, is nowhere to be seen.  And Ban Ki-moon himself will soon again be on the road, without impact other than negative on climate change.

 On July 20 at the conclusion of the UN High Level Political Forum, Inner City Press was told by a UN Security official it could only do so with an escort, or minder, from UN Media Accreditation. There was no one in that office - but when the supervisor of it asked the UN Security official to let Inner City Press through the turnstile, he said only if someone stayed with Inner City Press the whole time -- that is, a minder. The supervisor could not. And that was it: censorship.

On July 22, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq why the Press was Banned, Video here, UN Transcript here:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask a media access question and it doesn’t only… it would presumably impact the majority of journalists being accredited here.  There was a meeting of the High-Level Political Forum on the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) on Wednesday and it was listed in the journal as concluding at 6:30 to 7:00, so I went to cover it but was unable to stake it out and speak to anyone, because there was no one in MALU (Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit) and the guards refused to let me through the turnstile, which I want to clarify to you… which doesn't work for green ‘P’ passes, which is the majority of what the journalists have here.  So I wanted to know, it's not a question of beating up on MALU for not being present at 6:30, although the meeting was listed, but what can be done?  What is the policy?  Does this mean the majority of journalists can't stake out such meetings, or should there be a policy, when there is an official meeting at that level at 6:30 that the journalists can go through and speak to diplomats about it?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, we certainly try to make sure that access is there for all meeting and MALU tries… you know, the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit tries to be present as much as it can.  Obviously, for later scheduled meetings, it's hard to have escorts for all of these, but we have been in touch with the media accreditation people and they have assured us of their constant efforts to try and be there as escorts for you.  And with that…

ICP Question:  Why don’t you tell security to let people through?  If there is no escort you can't cover it.

Deputy Spokesman:  No.  That is not how security works.

 That's not how BAN's security and minder work...