Friday, June 2, 2017

UN Guterres Claims His Reforms Are Public, As NGO Allowed on 2d Floor Where ICP Must Have a Minder

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video here
UNITED NATIONS, May 25 – More than fifteen months ago, acting against Press coverage of Ban Ki-moon's links to UN corruption cases, the UN Department of Public Information had Inner City Press physically ousted from the UN.  Audio here. 
 Since then an UNrelenting campaign of harassment by UN Security (DSS) and the requirement that Inner City Press unlike other media have minders to stake-out public events in the UN has continued.  "New" UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, on his 144st day in charge of the UN on May 25, told Inner City Press that his reform proposals are public. But Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric refused to give Inner City Press even a copy of Guterres' budget speech, much less a chart of who he has hired on the 38th floor. Later on May 25 an NGOrepresentative - who wrote to Dujarric to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN - was allowed through the turnstile onto the UN's second floor, where Inner City Press cannot go without one of Guterres' minders. This is a new low, after Guterres put out a statement that "on World Press Freedom Day, I call for an end to all crackdowns against journalists – because a free press advances peace and justice for all." What about the UN's crackdown on the Press, without hearing or appeal, and the crackdowns of WIPO and FAO Inner City Press has asked the UN about, on before of the Free UN Coalition for Access whose sign DPI threatened to tear down, before evicting Inner City Press without a hearing or appeal? We'll have more on this. For now, 7-minute video here.
  Petition here. On the afternoon of April 26 to cover a UN Security Council meeting about peacekeeping in Africa, Inner City Press unlike other media was required to get a minder, which was not immediately available. After several Ambassadors spoke to Inner City Press, about that meeting, Western Sahara, Syria, North Korea, the UN's lack of reform and other issues, the DPI minder or escort told Inner City Press it had to leave. This as Morocco state media, that used to work for the UN, walked up and down the second floor freely, along with other correspondents. This came after Inner City Press was banned in the morning from an "open" meeting of the Burundi Peacekeeping Commission, which it covers; it asked holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric without response. While DPI "Officer in Charge" Maher Nasser's lone response has been "Matthew U have same access as 3000 other journalists," that is false. As simply one example, on April 25 when the UN Security Council met on Western Sahara, Morocco state journalists were allowed free access up and down the second floor of the UN, and Inner City Press was not. On April 26, despite claims by DPI that DSS "gives priority" at the metal detectors, there was a single long line and Inner City Press despite arriving early was late to cover the UN Security Council. It appears that the DPI executive who use accreditation as their personal or national way to settle scores don't even watch the UN noon briefing, where Inner City Press asks the most questions. Or maybe that's the reason for these ongoing restrictions and threats or worse. We'll have more on this. Another new low: after a few days of Inner City Press using a table left by the UN in the UN lobby to work, including editing videos of Antonio Guterres' spokesman's non-answered about censorship in Cameroon, on April 18 the UN Department of Public Information which evicted Inner City Press for reporting on corruption told it "multiple people" want it to stop using the table. On what basis? If UN staff and others use it? Apparently the goal is to, post-eviction, make Inner City Press disappear, or to stop it from being contacted by sources about UN corruption. A diplomat, told of DPI's "disgusting" statement Requests have been made to the top floor of the UN. Watch this site. Also, unlike other media, now Inner City Press has a "witching hour" of 7 pm, after which its pass does not work. This meant, for example, that the "Peace Is" event in the General Assembly lobby, ironically overseen by the Department of Public Information and its Officer in Charge Maher Nasser, Inner City Press could only cover until 6:56 pm, in the middle of a performance of flutes and dancers. Periscope video here. The Officer in Charge has still not substantively responded to the straight forward requests submitted to him in writing 11 days ago. We'll have more on this.
  On April 10, Inner City Press was required to get a UN Department of Public Information minder to cover a meeting on "Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the Work of the General Assembly Third thematic debate on the selection and appointment of the Secretary-General and other executive heads." Ambassadors then approached Inner City Press to say, among other things, they favored a single term for the Secretary General and other top officials, to preserve independence from pressure from the most powerful countries to get a second term. Then a UN Security supervisor, who last week banned a Latin American ambassador from speaking to Inner City Press, had his underlying guard come to demand to see Inner City Press' minder - this while he allowed another correspondent, reportedly vying for a UN job, to run down the hall after a diplomat. Meanwhile a DPI official stiffly walked by, follow by the UN Security official responsible for this. This is today's UN: corrupt. More to follow.
  On April 7, the annual Rwanda genocide commemoration by the UN which failed so badly in 1994 took place in the Trusteeship Council Chamber. To cover it as it has in previous years, Inner City Press was required to get a DPI minder to escort it; the minder stayed while diplomats approached Inner City Press to speak, including about the UN's current failures on Burundi and Cameroon as well as Yemen and Syria. Then the DPI minder said, You have to go, and escorted Inner City Press back outside the turnstile. When the event ended Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who had sat on the podium with the DPI Officer in Charge Maher Nasser who has had before him for a week Inner City Press' formal request for restoration, gave through the turnstiles to head to the elevator. He passed, seemingly oblivious, by the very location of censorship, chatting with a staffer whose promotion Inner City Press has covered (which Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric called "despicable"). This is today's UN.
  Back on April 3, the continuing restrictions by DPI meant that after entering through the UN metal detectors and having its backpack / office searched in detail, Inner City Press has to request a DPI "minder" to stakeout the day's meeting on UN Security Council reform. As other correspondents walked by without minders, Inner City Press was behind a red rope. When a Latin American country's Permanent Representative approached Inner City Press to ask questions - ironically, one was about DPI's censorship - a UN Security official came over to "break it up." This is censorship, and has been raised.
  On March 31, the day after a ghoulish farewell event for DPI's Cristina Gallach, Inner City Press was still restricted, and could not for example stake-out a UN Security Council session about "hybrid war" without being overseen by a UN minder. This is censorship.
  Back on March 23, because it is still unlike other UN correspondents required to enter through the metal detectors with tourists, Inner City Press was unable to cover the UN Security Council meeting beginning with UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, whom it wished to ask about the cut off of internet to Anglophones in Cameroon for more than 60 days. Call it double censorship, with the UN's role as shameful. Gallach's Department of Public Information claims that the press it has evicted is facilitated through the metal detectors, around tourists whom DPI propogandizes. This DPI claim is false, as are so many. Mend it or end it.
 On March 6, Inner City Press had to curtail coverage of an event in the UN General Assembly lobby about Sexual Violence in Conflict, including the rapes in Minova in Eastern Congo about which alone asked UN Peaekeeping's Herve Ladsous until he stopped answering, because of Gallach's ongoing curfew: 7 pm. After that hour, unlike other correspondents in the UN, Inner City Press' pass no longer opens even the first turnstile (it still does not open the second floor turnstile at any hour).  So Inner City Press had to suspend broadcasting amid thespeech by new Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed.
   Quickly before having to leave altogether, Inner City Press went to the Ghana National Day it was invited to and Periscoped the Permanent Representative's speech, here, including on Security Council reform which Inner City Press asked Deputy SG Mohammed about and a dance afterward, here. And then it had to go, under Gallach's censorship order. Ghoulishly, Inner City Press is informed that Gallach may even be re-applying to keep the post that has been advertised. That would be a travesty: Gallach's unilateral decisions must be reversed. Watch this site.
  On March 1, 2017, Inner City Press was unable to cover an event on the UN Conference Building's second floor to which it had been invited. It informed the sponsor that due to Gallach's evicting order and reduction in Inner City Press' accreditation, it can still not get through the turnstile to the second floor. So the sponsor moved to put Inner City Press on the list of public guests to enter through the General Assembly lobby but was told not, that is not possible for the Press. So, entirely Banned - while the Egyptian state media to which Gallach is trying to give Inner City Press' long time shared office, Akhbar al Yom, rarely comes in, and asks no questions at all.

   Meanwhile, despite the top job of DPI that Gallach has so badly mishandled being opened for applications, on March 1 some said Gallach is trying to stay on in the job. That would be a travesty, not only in light of her no due process eviction of and continuing restrictions on the Press, but also her failure to do any due diligence on Ng Lap Seng, under house arrest for UN bribery. Gallach is responsible for DPI's "Wonder Woman as UN Ambassador" fiasco, and paid public funds for a trainer to tell DPI-accredited NGOs that Detroit, Michigan is a "third rate city" in "flyover country." Staying on at the UN even now reflects what's wrong and budget cut-worthy in today's UN. Anything past March 31, in any capacity, would just make it worse. Watch this site.