On Way to Myanmar and Than Shwe, Banning the Press
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
the UN: News Analysis
May 20, updated 8:45 p.m. --
Myanmar's general Than Shwe, who has repeatedly
refused to take telephone calls from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,
reportedly meet with Ban later this week. This was announced by Ban in
carefully choreographed appearance at the Security Council stakeout on
morning. Before Ban arrived, his personal rostrum was set up, complete
glass of water covered with a white napkin with UN logo.
one of his
spokespeople came down, to tell the press that only "one or two
questions" would be taken, and to whisper to technicians that some
-- one reporter in particular -- should not be given a chance to ask a
question. This is hitting a new low of control and censorship, but
counting? What's not yet clear is if Ban himself is aware of these
on press freedom. There is at least one such attack, in connection with
trip to Myanmar, of which he is known to be aware. We'll see.
Ban and his rostrum, control of questions not
shown - but known?
his prepared remarks, read from notes, Ban announced that the UN has
for the use of nine World Food Program helicopters. He said that 25% of
needing help are being served; others use a figure of 10%. As Ban
Foreign Minister David Miliband and France's human rights minister Rama
waited to the side. When Ban finished, technicians under the watchful
eye of UN
media staff quickly unplugged Ban's rostrum and moved it to the side.
else can be seen behind it. The rostrum, with its sticker from www.Sound-Craft.com,
is meant to convey authority. Who knew
that this is only maintained by affirmatively
trying to freeze particular questions, or reporters, out?
Miliband spoke of the concern of
"European nations" for "Myanmar and
Burma." Once inside the Security
Council chamber, he called it simply
Myanmar. Rama Yade spoke in English, then
reminded by Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert and his team to say it again in
Minister Miliband, before Rama Yade spoke,
said "we'll [or will] be able to answer your questions after the
meeting." Video here,
at Minute 2:07. It is pointed out that Ms. Yade herself never promised
to return to answer questions -- on that, we stand corrected. Of
course, the press had been alerted that she would be at the stakeout
after 9:30 and before 9:45; the assumption that this would include
answering some questions was apparently misplaced. There are some
questions to be asked, and one day soon they will be. Watch this site.
* * *
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