Wednesday, December 28, 2016

On Gambia, ICP Asked UN About Sarr Without Response, Ban's Failure

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, December 25 – As in The Gambia Yahya Jammeh moved on December 1 to shut off the Internet (and Viber, etc) for the / his election, there was again a deafening silence from the UN of Ban Ki-moon and his “communications” chief Cristina Gallach. 
Now that Jammeh has reversed himself and denounced the results, ECOWAS is talking intervention. Ban Ki-moon was still silent, entirely focused on his own ambitions in South Korea.  
 On December 22, video here, Inner City Press asked about the replacement of Gambia's "Permanent" Representative to the UN Mamadou Tangara by the Deputy Sam Sarr, about whose previously F-bomb filled threat to kill the opposition Inner City Press asked the UN in May, here.
  In May the UN had not response; in December they wouldn't say that Sarr was taking over. This is another Ban Ki-moon failure, along with Burundi, Yemen, Sri Lanka and the like. We'll have more on this.
On December 12, Ban's spokesperson's office canceled its daily noon briefing, and has refused to answer written questions from Inner City Press, including about Burundi.
But Spain's deputy ambassador Juan Manuel González de Linares read out Security Council Press Element on UNTV, and Inner City Press asked him if any further measures had been discussed, if Jammeh does not cede power or even accept the Tuesday mission of regional presidents. He said the point is to support that mission. But Angola's Ambassador told the press, if there is regime change, we have to act (il faut agir.) 
Earlier, during the closed door UN Security Council session on The Gambia, which Inner City Press alone staked out, suddenly a half dozen US Mission picked media showed up (including one, US state media Voice of America, which previously “saw Liberians” in Burundi).

   Samantha Power came out, with spokesman and three US-paid bodyguards, and launched a speech about Gambia. Not on UNTV, which global taxpayers including Americans are paying for, but for the handpicked media. Inner City Press' Periscope went dead from covering the UN General Assembly, but it managed an audio recording. Audio here.

  Inner City Press asked Samantha Power, What about Burundi where the mediator now says Pierre Nkurunziza is legitimate? But Power did not answer: no follow through. And even the question was not included in the US Mission transcript. The UN and even its Security Council have become a circus that you pay for. Drain Turtle Bay.
 Where *was* Ban Ki-moon, after so many hours? Access to him on December 16 is being sold for $1,200. 
Hours later, Ban issued this - even as his promoted son in law gushed online about the impeachment of Park in South Korea - could he work for the government there? Or simply still have a protector? Watch this site. 
Senegal has been relatively quiet as a Security Council member. But for them, this is too close to home. We'll have more on this.
On December 1, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: 
Inner City Press:  today's election day in Gambia, and it has been widely reported the internet has been turned off, and no international calls are being allowed.  I know that the DPA [Department of Political Affairs] had some involvement previously or tried to have some involvement in Gambia.  What is the position on the UN? On the election generally, the President has said he'll stay in until Allah says differently, but also on the turning off of the internet to an entire country…

Spokesman:  Well, I think it's… we would like to see, as we would like to see anywhere, freedom of access to information, including freedom of access through the internet.  We're obviously watching the developments in the Gambia very closely, and then we'll have probably a bit more to say later on.

ICP Question:  How are you watching it if the internet's turned off?

Spokesman:  We do have a country office that's there.

ICP Question:  A related as to internet question, in Qatar, access to something called Doha News, which reports about Qatar, has been blocked in the country.  And I wanted to know… you might say just the same thing, but do you see this also --

Spokesman:  Let me check on those reports. 
 Six hours later, nothing. Meanwhile Gallach has most recently complained about the “difficult” role of social media in the November 8 U.S. election -- as she has evictedInner 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.
On May 11, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the crackdown, and audio. Vine hereUN transcript here and below.
From May 11: