Monday, December 5, 2016

As Gambia's Jammeh Shuts Internet, Silence of UN of Ban & Gallach, Censors Both

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, November 30 – As in Gambia Yahya Jammeh moved to shut off the Internet (and Viber, etc) for the / his election, there is again a deafening silence from the UN of Ban Ki-moon and his “communications” chief Cristina Gallach. 
This was true of Ban during earlier crackdowns in Gambia.Gallach has most recently complained about the “difficult” role of social media in the November 8 U.S. election -- as she has evicted Inner City Press, given its office to an Egyptian state media which never comes in, and restricts Inner City Press to minders.
   Even so-restricted on November 30, Inner City Press followed, if only from the small “focus booth” to which it's been reduced by Gallach's and Ban's censorship, a debate elsewhere in the UN in which Access Now - click here for their joint letter on Gambia - cited investigative journalism and UN Special Rapporteur of Freedom of Expression David Kaye. 
  Kaye and his colleague on human rights defenders Michel Forst wrote to Gallach about her no due process eviction of Inner City Press. Her response implied there was a physical fight, of which there was none, only Inner City Press stated it would leave a widely attended event in the UN Press Briefing Room once it was shown it was Closed or if UN Security said to. 
Ban's and Gallach's UN is one of censorship, and for now they are silent on Gambia. Others aren't - watch this site.
Back in July as Jammeh locked up the opposition, the UN Secretariat which has previously dabbled in the issue with no follow through said nothing on May 10 (nor on May 11 or 12). This despite the emergence of what's said to be audio of Gambia's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Sam Sarr saying he would shoot the protesters. 
On July 21, Inner City Press asked Ban K-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here
Inner City Press: in Gambia, the opposition leader, Mr. [Ousainou] Darboe, has been sentenced to three years for participating in a demonstration, and I wanted to know, I know previously the UN and the UN Office of West Africa and Mr. [Jeffrey] Feltman had been trying to engage with Gambia; what has been done since and do you have any comment on this prison sentence?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, we need to look into what the process is and make sure that due process has been followed in this particular case.  But I'll also check up and see whether there is any other reaction about this.
Eight hours later and counting, nothing.