Monday, December 5, 2016

At UN on Syria GA Draft, Censorship by Ban & Gallach Prevent Press Coverage, OP Text Here

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 3 -- When amid Press questions about UN corruption Ban Ki-moon and his Communications chief Cristina Gallach evicted Inner City Press from its long time shared office, they not only began confining the Press to “minders” to cover any events on the UN's second floor, including of the UN Security Council.

Now the Ban and Gallach censorship order has prevented Inner City Press from covering a session about the Syria General Assembly draft resolution it reported about on November 29.

   Ban's and Gallach's stripping Inner City Press of resident correspondent accreditation, which Gallach is quoted by other Under Secretaries General as saying would last “only” for four months but is now at nine months and counting, means that Inner City Press cannot enter the UN at all on Saturday, like December 3 when the Syria draft was negotiated. This is targeted censorship, and it must end.

Here for now is the "operative" conclusion of the draft GA resolution:

1. Demands an immediate and complete end to all indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilians;

2. Further demands the immediate cessation of hostilities, as described in Security Council resolution 2268 (2016), as well as safe and unhindered humanitarian access throughout Syria by the United Nations and its implementing partners;

3. Demands that all parties to the Syrian conflict, in particular the Syrian authorities, immediately comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, as applicable;

4. Further demands that all parties to the conflict fully and immediately implement all the provisions of Security Council resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), 2191 (2014), 2199 (2015), 2254 (2015), 2258 (2015), and 2268 (2016);

5. Calls for an inclusive Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition, in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 30 June 2012 and Security Council resolution 2254 (2015) leading to a genuine political transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and enables them independently and democratically to determine their own future, including through the establishment of an inclusive transitional governing body with full executive powers, formed on the basis of mutual consent while ensuring continuity of governmental institutions, and urges the representatives of the Syrian authorities to engage in these negotiations with the Syrian opposition in good faith, and in this respect expresses its full support for the Special Envoy’s efforts towards this end;

6. Emphasizes the need for accountability for crimes involving breaches of international law, in particular of international humanitarian law and human rights law, some of which may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity, committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011, through fair and independent investigations and prosecutions at the domestic or international level;

7. Requests the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of the present resolution, including on the implementation of the cessation of hostilities, as described in Security Council resolution 2268 (2016), the extent to which all parties to the Syrian conflict, in particular the Syrian authorities, are complying with their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, the implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions, and progress towards a genuine political transition, within 45 days of its adoption;

8. Calls upon the Security Council to reassume responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security by taking measures to address the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic.

Ban and Gallach also denied Inner City Press a place to work, and the possibility to cover many UN meetings including on November 29 a meeting of the UN “Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinians” addressed by Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson - and later, a related event of Palestinian embroidery addressed by USg Jeff Feltman.

In order to get to the morning meeting, Inner City Press unlike the other correspondents present and not present in the UN Press Briefing Room, or even though always absent like Egyptian state media Akhbar al Yom's Sanaa Youssef, being rewarded for now with Inner City Press' office, was required to get a minder.

  Even then, while other passed freely through the turnstile, UN Security demanded to know why Inner City Press wanted to go onto the second floor. This is targeted censorship. Once in front, Inner City Press even with a minder was able to learn some things - until it was time to have to leave, with the meeting still ongoing.

(Here's just one example of Inner City Press' Middle East coverage from before Gallach and Ban decided to restrict Inner City Press' access, this is from October 2015.)

Other favored correspondents continued to move freely, not even covering the meetings, just drinking coffee. This is the targeted censorship regime of Ban and Gallach, right in midtown Manhattan. UNreal - and hypocritical, when compared to Ban's and Gallach's unit's statements about West Bank journalists.

In the evening embroidery event, while the speeches didn't start until after 6:40 pm, Inner City Press had to leave before 7 pm under the censorship order of Cristina Gallach -- who was there present, nodding at references to embroidery but not having answered, in four days, whether the UN paid for her to go get a personal award in Catalonia. 

She turned, not too friendly - but she is the one who destroyed DPI by turning it into a vehicle to evict and restrict the Press, for nine months and counting, for daring to look into the Ng Lap Seng bribery case and her role in it - later affirmed by the OIOS' own audit. But sure, she's for Palestinian journalists, and is a journalist herself - on the UN dime? We'll have more on this.

On November 28 Inner City Press was similarly hindered from covering from a UN Security Council meeting in the Trusteeship Council Chambe sponsored by Senegal and Spain, set to be President of the Security Council in December the last of its 24 monts on the Council, on the topic of cyber security. Inner City Press was required by the order of Spain's highest UN official Cristina Gallach to have a minder to cover outside the meeting, a minder who stayed six feet away throughout. The meeting was said by Spain to be “open” but was not on the UN Webcast run by Gallach's DPI - it was only on “EZTV” for insider journalists not evicted by Gallach.

   It turns out that an obvious issue, the alleged hacking of elections, was not even mentioned in the meeting. Reviews afterward, with minder, were far from stellar, as were predictions for December. We'll have more on this, much more.

   While with Gallach's minder, Inner City Press was able to learn of a memorial service for November 29 in the ECOSOC chamber for Joseph Verner Reed; a UN official came by to chide Inner City Press was asking when the last time was that Ban Ki-moon spoke with his brother Ki-ho, who had done mining in Myanmar after being on a “UN Delegation.” This is UN corruption, and censorship, and it must end.

On November 21 Inner City Press was similarly hindered from covering a UN Security Council meeting in the Trusteeship Council Chamber on protecting infrastructure from terrorist attacks (as well as a UN Peacekeeping meeting, including on Contingent Owned Equipment, in the ECOSOC Chamber next door).

   Inner City Press was required to have a minder, who sat within six feet of where Inner City Press did its coverage. Even so, Inner City Press spoke to a number of Permanent Representatives, about both meeting - but immediately after speaking with the sponsor of the meeting, Inner City Press was told to leave, the meeting was over. (Coverage, of course, often happens after the meeting - this is no longer allowed).

   Ironically, UN Department of Public Information officials went up and down the hall giving tours in connection with DPI's Cristina Gallach allowing the UN to be used to promote a television show for a for-profit cable television network. This is what DPI has become - confining independent investigative press to minders, parading around this D-list celebrities, selling the UN as set forth in the OIOS audit of l'affaire John Ashe / Ng Lap Seng, which specifically criticizes Gallach for her lack of due diligence.

   Ukraine, the sponsor, told Inner City Press it intends to continue on the topic of infrastructure and terrorism in February, their second UN Security Council presidency. Participants in the Peacekeeping / equipment meeting complained again about African contingents being left with less equipment than the Dutch and other Europeans in Ladsous' Mali mission. Inner City Press, even with minder so nearby, learned more about the transition of the new / incoming Secretary General -- will these absurd restrictions continue?

  Passing through and greeting the Press was one of the more serious candidates for Secretary General, who spoke about the need for the UN to live up to media freedom principles and would certainly remove the restrictions. But will they be removed?