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Amid Ban's S. Korea Campaign, Cyprus Double-talk, "That Is Not My Decision"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 27 -- Soon to be ex-UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has zipped to Japan from his native South Korea, where there is a Presidential election in 2017. On May 19, only to South Korean correspondents, Ban Ki-moon's senior adviser Kim Won-soo said and was quoted that Ban's is NOT a political trip. Clearly it is. 

It has also, even on the way East, been politically incorrect. After a dinner gaffe in Turkey, on May 27 Ban's office issues two different versions of a read-out of Ban's telephone call to Cyprus' president.

The first began, “Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke today by telephone with President Nicos Anastasiades of Cyprus. With reference to recent events in Istanbul, the Secretary-General reiterated that the UN’s policy on Cyprus, including towards the Republic of Cyprus as the member state of the UN, has not changed.”

The second, issued as “revised” without identifying what was changed or explaining why, said: “Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke today by telephone with President Nicos Anastasiades of Cyprus. With reference to recent events in Istanbul, the Secretary-General reiterated that the UN’s policy on Cyprus has not changed. The Republic of Cyprus is the Member State of the UN.”

  We'll have more on this.

Back on October 2, 2015 after Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on October 2, Inner City Press asked him if there was any movement on the hydrocarbons issues, video here.

 Akinci described the issue as a potential win-win, speaking of gas from Israel and potable water from Turkey, and new relationships. He did not answer Inner City Press about his bilateral meetings with Sweden, New Zealand and the EU's Federica Mogherini.

Back on July 30, 2014 when the International Monetary Fund took questions about Cyprus on an embargoed media call about its concluding statement for the 2014 Article IV Consultation and its fifth review of Cyprus’s economic program on July 30, most were about foreclosures.

The IMF's Mission Chief for Cyprus Delia Velculescu said several times that the next tranche of the bailout is unlikely in September if a law speeding foreclosures is not enacted by then, despite nearly across the board opposition from political parties.

For example, deputy spokesman Athos Antoniades said. “The Democratic Party will not vote on such a sensitive issue with a gun to its head.”

But that is the situation: no law, no money.

Inner City Press asked Velculescu about the discrepancies between PIMCO's estimate of what Cyprus' banks needed, and the lower BlackRock estimate that has recently come to light.

Velculescu replied that “at the time of the on-set of the program the requirement was for an independent assess of capital needs in the banking sector.” She said, “Countries have decided of course on individual independent assessors... PIMCO was chosen in Cyrus.”

Backing up PIMCO and the resulting capitalization framework (and “bail-in”), Velculescu said, “we believe the assessment was done independently... with methodology that were specific to the company that undertook it.”

Inner City Press asked, “So BlackRock was wrong?”

Velculescu replied, “BlackRock was not chosen for the assessment that was undertaken in Cyprus.. the recapitalization was done under PIMCO.. BlackRock was the assessor in another country.”

So is this a case of two financial firms snarking at each other, on a competitive basis, or as PIMCO acting for those who wanted to justify the bail-in and the “gun to the head” that has come afterwards?

From the G7 "outreach" session on May 27, the UN issues Ban's remarks and this was the longest paragraph, sounding like a South Korean campaign speech:

"more seriously and worrying situation is on the Korean peninsula. I appreciate the very firm and united position of the G7, which was discussed and announced yesterday, against the DPRK’s continued provocative actions by strengthening their nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities. We must make sure that all relevant Security Council resolutions, sanction measures, be fully implemented so that North Korea should understand that their continuing provocation, and investing in and nuclear ballistic missile, will only make their situation insecure and make their people starve."

There's a problem for Ban Ki-moon: not only Inner City Press, but now The Economist calls Ban the worst and weakest Secretary General ever. 

Ban can and has evicted Inner City Press from its long time office at the UN -- but he can't change the track record, from his victory lap in Sri Lanka in 2009, which Inner City Press reported on, to further damaging the UN's reputation in Haiti by insisting on impunity for cholera, to his negligent overseeing of rapes in the Central African Republic.

 On May 26, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, video here UN transcript here:

Inner City Press:  I wanted to ask you more about the Secretary-General's trip.  The… the… the press coverage is pretty… pretty… in terms of interpreting what he said and how he's going about things is pretty… almost unanimous in saying that he's trying to send signals that he's going to run for President.  So this is a direct quote I want to ask you about.  The deputy floor leader of the Minjoo party said the latest remarks amount to a de facto declaration of a presidential bid.  And my question in this light is, I know that Mr. Kim [Wonsoo] met with South Korean journalists before the trip occurred.  And, apparently, according to them, he said this is not a political trip.  And what I wanted to know is, first, in what capacity did he met with him?  Did he meet with him as Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament?  Did he meet with him… in a sense, some people see it as sort of political work.  And so I'm wondering, in the same way that Helen Clark has said that she takes leave to do work to run for SG, was he on the clock and what… in what possible capacity was he speaking? 

Deputy Spokesman:  No, he's speaking as a UN official who is talking about a visit… an official visit by the Secretary-General.  The Secretary-General is here in his capacity as Secretary-General.  He is doing things, such as the Jeju Forum and the DPI (Department of Public Information) NGO conference, in his capacity as Secretary-General.  This is not a trip in a private capacity, and he's made very clear, including to reporters in the Republic of Korea, that he will not be acting in a private capacity until he is done with his duties as Secretary-General.

Question:  He said… he says that he's been approached by other world leaders about running, that they've offered their support.  I mean, I'm sure you've read… this is in Korea Joongang Daily.  They quote a number of reporters at this meeting and he says things well beyond what you're saying from here.  And so… I mean, he can do whatever he wants, whatever the resolution says.  But my question… again, I want to go back… Is there any consideration… Mr. Kim's work, was this done in his capacity as Under-Secretary-General of disarmament or as sort of… he used to be Deputy Chief of Staff.  Is he still performing that role?

Deputy Spokesman:  No, he's not.  The Deputy's Chief of Staff is Patrick Carey.  When there are delegations who go on trips, sometimes they speak to reporters about the trip.  That's the case with that.  The spokespeople do that, as well.  In this case, he was talking about the trip, and he was trying to make it very clear that this is not a political trip.  And that is something that we echo from here.  Good afternoon, everyone. Oh, okay, one more.

Question:  Can I ask one more question, just a factual… this is unrelated.  It's unrelated but just… the other day, I was coming in through the metal detectors.  And there was a long student group coming through.  It's not what you think I'm going.  I'm going somewhere else.  There was a student that had on a Bernie Sanders button and the guard said, "Take it off.  There's no political statements allowed in the UN."  I wanted to know, is that really the case?

Deputy Spokesman:  Security are told that there're not supposed to be political slogans or political banners brought into the United Nations.  I don't, frankly, know how they enforce it on a case-by-case basis, but the standing rule is that you're not supposed to bring in any sort of political slogans or banners in.

Question:  Right.  I guess… do you… maybe you don't have it offhand.  Tell me what the rule is so I can look into whether it applies to a button.

Deputy Spokesman:  I do think that depends on the individual judgment of the security guard, whether a button counts or not.  I am, of course, wearing a button right now for Peacekeepers Day, although, presumably, that's a nonpartisan button, and hopefully, that passes the standard.  We shall see when I exit.

   Ban is responsible for his Under Secretaries General, from Herve Ladsous to Cristina Gallach. In Jeju Ban said: 

"Sri Lanka is overcoming political conflict. [Torture continues]]
"Myanmar is undergoing a peaceful democratic transition [Ban's Renata Lok-Dessalien hides from human rights]

One saying I frequently practice writing is 上善若水 which means, “The highest virtue is to act like water.”  Water Now

Water like the drip of corrption at the UN under Ban Ki-mon, and  like his attempt to drown the critial Press. We'll have more on this.

A senior Ban administration official more loyal (as they should be) to the UN than Ban tells Inner City Press it seems clear Ban is considering a run in South Korea and that what is is doing and not doing at and through the UN these days is "all about that." 

Ban wants to be sure not to be connected to the major and expanding UN bribery scandal that as occurred on his watch. Indictments, guilty pleas, inconvenient pictures of Ban with Francis Lorenzo, John Ashe and even Ng Lap Seng.  It now appears that for Ban to run would violate the General Assembly's Resolution of January 24, 1946, on the Terms of Appointment of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, 4(b).

 On May 25, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: this has come up during the Secretary-General's trip in South Korea.  People are citing a GA (General Assembly) resolution that was passed in January 1946, which says, quote, “because the Secretary-General is a confidante of many governments, it is desirable that no member should offer him at any rate immediately upon retirement any governmental position”.  And so they're saying that this is… essentially, it's a GA resolution and that comments now made in Jeju, but the idea of Ban Ki-moon running for President of Korea in 2017 would be contrary to a GA resolution.  I'm sure he's aware of this, the mayor of Seoul, a former human rights lawyer, has raised it.  Others have raised it.  What is his response to how this GA resolution applies to his situation?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, the Secretary-General's response to this entire topic is one that he made clear even today, where he said that right now he's not considering the idea of what he does next after he ceases to be Secretary-General.  Right now he is going to focus on his work as Secretary-General.  It's at the start of next year that he'll actually have the time and the ability to think about other things.

Inner City Press:  I'm sure you've seen all the headlines.  All the headlines say that his statement that… that beginning 1 January, he will be back as a South Korean… is taken… I mean, and I understand you can say he's taken, but it doesn't seem unfair to say this is a GA resolution.  Does he acknowledge that this is the resolution?   And, two, it seems to say immediately… especially immediately upon retirement, this should not be done.  So is he saying… what's his response?

Deputy Spokesman:  I don't really think that there's any point in trying to read into his words more than what he's said.  Right now the idea is he's not considering any sort of post-UN activity.  You know, he won't take up that issue until the following year.  .

"Because a Secretary-General is a confidant of many governments, it is desirable that no Member should offer him, at any rate immediately on retirement, any governmental position in which his confidential information might be a source of embarrassment to other Members, and on his part a Secretary-General should refrain from accepting any such position."

Inner City Press on May 24 asked about a / the new sponsor of the DPI NGO conference without Ban's Deputy Spokesman proffering an answer. Also on May 24, Inner City Press asked the Deputy Spokesperson, Farhan Haq, about the trip and transparency, video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: There's a report today in the Korea Herald, again, speculating… you know, and that's speculation, whether he may run for President.  But I wanted to ask you this.  They said that… that… that, upon his arrival on Wednesday, Mr. Ban will meet with members of an association of senior journalists and was likely to field questions on his political ambitions.  I wanted to know, does your office intend to put out a transcript of that type of meeting?  And I'm asking because the same article says that, quote, “Ban had told Korean correspondents in New York that he would appreciate if they, quote, ‘help him bring to a successful conclusion his service as UN Secretary-General’”.  And I never saw that quote.  Was that… did he actually say that, or was that Mr. Kim?  Was there some… how does it work…?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, first of all, sometimes the Secretary-General conducts interviews.  As you know, sometimes, they might even be with small group interviews.  Those aren't the same as press conferences.  We will provide transcripts of all press conferences and press encounters, but interviews, of course, are exclusives for the journalists involved, and so we don't have a transcript put out for those.

Inner City Press:  So this thing coming up Wednesday upon his arrival in Jeju, is that a press conference, or what is it?

Deputy Spokesman:  I believe that's a group interview, but like I said, if there's press encounters, we'll put those transcripts out. 

A number of people in the UN directly connect Ban's ouster and eviction of Inner City Press, which has asked about nepotism (see, the son in law running UNFPA Kenya, and the nephew who worked for the company managing UNDP's building, and promising more) to a desire to prevent or discourage coverage of and inquiry into Ban's role in the Ng Lap Seng scandal.

Ban and his team try to deflect this by saying, as Kim Won-soo has, that it is all Cristina Gallach, you have to talk to Cristina - how? On May 23, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who's said to be preparing to accompany and spin Ban's six (or four) day trip to South Korea

video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: I know that Mr. Kim [Won-soo] did a briefing for South Korean media, I guess, last week trying to say that the upcoming trip has... you know, is in no way indicative of a desire to run for President by the Secretary-General, but there have been other stories including one... I don't know if it's today or yesterday... in the Korea Times saying that several of the Secretary-General's former associates still in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs intend to create a foundation in his name saying that Mr. Yoon Yeocheol is now the protocol officer of the President and very much saying it's a six-day trip that it's hard to conclude that it isn't in some way related to the upcoming campaign.  Is... what's your... first of all, is Mr. Hyun now the protocol officer of President Park [Geun-Hye]?

Spokesman: This may come as a shock to you, but I speak for the Secretary-General and for the United Nations.  I have no... I have a tough enough time keeping tabs on what people do in this organization that I don't know what people do for the Foreign Ministry.

Inner City Press:  Okay [Yoon].

Spokesman: I think your question assumes a lot of things.  The Secretary-General has made it clear that his focus remains and will remain on his job as Secretary-General.

Inner City Press:  It seems fair to ask, is there... is he aware or are you on his behalf aware of attempts to set up a foundation in his name?

Spokesman:  I'm not aware.

Inner City Press:  Then why is it six days?

Spokesman:  Why is it six days?

Inner City Press:  Yeah.

Spokesman:  He's not going there... he's going there for one day in Jeju Island, and then he's going to the G7.  He has one personal day as he's allowed to take to see his family, because he does have family there.  And then the next days are spent speaking at the DPI/NGO conference.

Question:  [Inaudible: Rotary]

Spokesman:  And the Rotary International as well.

Others have noted that while Ban quickly moved to apologize when a (Korean) reporter was jostled at the South Korean mission, he has had nothing to say about Gallach's oust and eviction orders, the physical ouster of Inner City Press from the UN, audio here, and dumping of five boxes of its files on First Avenue. Others note that Ban has had the South Korean mission write speeches he has delivered as "UN" Secretary General. More on this to follow.

For ten years as Inner City Press covered the UN in ever greater detail, showing Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Herve Ladsous' inept overseeing and cover up of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers, disparate treatment in Mali, dalliance with genocide in Sri Lanka and prospectively Burundi, impunity for cholera deaths in Haiti and until now for UN lead poisoning in Kosovo and cravenly pro-Saudi position on Yemen amid the airstrikes, it was never thrown out of the UN.

Now it has been, and even as groups like the Government Accountability Project tell Ban to reverse the eviction and give Inner City Press back its long time office and Resident Correspondent pass, Ban's UN tellingly move to award Inner City Press' office to Egypt state media Al-Akhbar / Akhbar Elyoum.  Tweeted photograph here.

On May 19, a sign for "Al Akhbar Yom" went up on Inner City Press' office - Inner City Press has STILL never seen the correspondent being given the stolen office. The UN says Resident Correspondents must be at the UN three days a week, but Inner City Press has never seen this person, former UN Correspondents Association president Sanaa Youssef, much less asking a question in the UN noon briefing.

Scribes speaking off the record according to the New York Times of May 14 "accused [ICP] of printing gossip, rumors." That UNCA's president rented an apartment to Palitha Kohona then granted his request to screenin the UN his government's war crimes denial film is no rumor or gossip.

But Akhbar Elyom, to which Gallach's and Ban's MALU and UNCA have given Inner City Press' office, not only gets journalists in Egypt attested - it targets, with a "Muslim Brotherhood" smear, a journalist who works right in the UN. Arabic article here.

This is the journalism that Ban Ki-moon and his Cristina Gallach want and reward. By taking away Inner City Press' office, it is now required to have a minder and is told to not ask diplomats questions. This is censorship.

Akhbar Elyom has been used to finger for imprisonment non-state journalists in Egypt. For example, in July 2015 Aboubakr Khallaf, the founder and head of the independent Electronic Media Syndicate (EMS), “was arrested after a news article was published by the government-owned daily Akhbar Elyoum.” (Article in Arabic here.)

According to CPJ, Khallaf's EMS “trains and supports journalists who work online in Egypt. The syndicate operates independently from the state-recognized Egyptian Journalists Syndicate...
The local press freedom group Journalists Against Torture and the local Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) said Khallaf was also accused of 'taking pictures and displaying artistic works without a license,' among other allegations. A 1998 executive order states that individuals conducting audio and audiovisual work must have a license from the Ministry of Culture. According to AFTE, the accusation is in connection with Khallaf photographing the funeral of Hisham Barakat, Egypt's prosecutor general who was assassinated late last month."

There are many echoes of this in Ban's UN: as simply one example Ban's Under Secretary General for Public Information Cristina Gallach telling Inner City Press it takes photographs of things that "are not newsworthy." There are more, and more examples of Akbar Elyom.

Only when it questioned Ban's and its PR official Cristina Gallach's roles in the John Ashe, Ng Lap Seng and Francis Lorenzo UN bribery scandal did Gallach order Inner City Press ousted then evicted, and now try to give its office to an Egyptian media which rarely or never asked questions. Ban Ki-moon claimed “That is not my decision,” but that is not true.

  The New York Times on May 14 covered the story. But they did not in their long process report, because it happened at the end, that Ban Ki-moon and Gallach are moving to give Inner City Press' long time office to Egyptian state media, Al Akhbar / Akhbar El-Yom / Akher Saa, to a correspondent Sanaa Youssef who most even on the UN press floor have never seen.

Her "in" seems to be that she was a previous president of the UN Correspondents Association, now become the UN's Censorship Alliance. As one respected usual UN interlocutor put it, "it would be a hugely negative symbolic step for Egyptian state media to replace Inner City Press in the UN."

 A longtime UN correspondent who spotted her moving in on Inner City Press' office noted she had not been seen before; the name was confirmed by UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit, which refused to provide the waiting list or describe the rationale.

But this is Ban's and Gallach's UN (click here for a Spanish take on Gallach's tenure.) We are beginning to report this now because it has proven nearly impossible to reach Al Akhbar / Akhbar Al Yom - the telephone numbers listed online are disconnected, or private homes; the correspondent at UNCA address has been unresponsive. The absurdity of this has been directly raised to Ban Ki-moon, his Deputy and Chief of Staff with enough time to stop it. We'll see.

  For now from the NYT we note this quote: “It’s not exactly the same access,’’ Mr. Dujarric said, “but if he has an issue, there is a staff of media liaisons to help him resolve the problem and get where he needs to go.”

  This is false. As Inner City Press has raised to Ban Ki-moon, "even when begrudgingly accompanied by a staff member of your Spokesperson's office, UN Security refused to allow me through the turnstile onto the second floor of Conference Building. I have been told not to ask questions of diplomats, just after you came out of ECOSOC and even with a MALU minder / escort with me, a UN Security official stood directly in front of me, apparently so I couldn't even try to ask you a question. This is censorship."  We await response.

Audio hereBan, when asked, said “that is not my decision.” But he heard about the ouster and eviction in advance and ok-ed it.

On April 16, the acting chief of Gallach's “Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit Tal Mekel oversaw the eviction of Inner City Press' office, leaving five boxes of its files out on First Avenue. Video here.

Some in Ban's team indicated to Inner City Press its office would be left empty until its four month “purgatory” or punishment-for-reporting period was over.

That was a lie: on May 13, after Inner City Press asked more questions about Ban's engagements with John Ashe and Francis Lorenzo - president of South South News which paid UNCA and still has a UN office - Inner City Press was informed that its long time office is being given out.

   When Inner City Press asked to see the supposed waiting list, this was refused by Mekel. It is apparently entirely up to Gallach - or UNCA - who is given UN office space, without which one cannot access the UN Conference Building's second floor, see below.

On May 13 as the UN Security Council began a meeting about Lebanon, the glass doors to enter the Council were locked. Apparenlty the UN can't afford one guard for a Security Council meeting, but won't provide information requested by the Press about Ban Ki-moon's endless and largely fruitless travel.

   Inner City Press, which covers the UN corruption scandal and was ousted then evicted by an official implicated in the scandal, Cristina Gallach -- see OIOS audit Paragraphs 37 to 40 and 20(b) -- with Ban Ki-moon's full knowledge, was unable to get to the Security Council stakeout. Its pass, cut by Gallach, won't open the turnstile at the other end of the stakeout. This week a guard there even refused to allow Inner City Press through to a stakeout with a staffer of the Spokesperson's office.

   Gallach, at least according to some paid to tweet for the UN, is in Washington. So Inner City Press undertook to document the restrictions and censorship. Another UN system spokesperson tried to undermine it, as did UN Security. They claimed everything is fine, even as Security Council Ambassadors asked them how can it be that the door is locked (and Press excluded). Some Security write-up began, sure to omit all of this. Watch this site.


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