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As Egypt Bans Yemen Nobel Winner, Will UN Speak or Silence as Before?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 4 -- As drones overfly Sana'a, Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkol Karman has been banned from entering Egypt to join those who say they are protesting a coup d'etat.

  Since UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with much fanfare put Tawakkol Karmen on his Post-2015 Development panel (while his Secretariat threatened the Press for signing her into the UN where she dared speak at the UN Security Council stakeout, click here for that), Inner City Press has asked Ban's three spokespeople for comment on her detention.

It will be, for the UN, a gut-check on the "Arab Spring." Many expected Ban to follow the African Union and call the military ouster of elected president Morsi a coup. But Ban did not.

A high ranking UN official, nonetheless afraid of retaliation for speaking on the record, told Inner City Press this silence harmed what was left of the UN's moral capital, to call things by their name. If the US called it a coup, financing would be stopped a matter of law. But why would the UN follow suit? How can the UN now denounce other future coups?

On the day Inner City Press signed Tawakkol Karman into the UN, at her request, the Security Council was considering Yemen. She stepped to the UNTV microphone and spoke; halfway through the Council ambassador in the lead (or "with the pen") on Yemen, the UK's Mark Lyall Grant, came out and stood by - smiling. (The generally responsive Lyall Grant has also be asked if the UK has any comment.)

But after the UN initially didn't air the footage of Tawakkol Karman speaking about Yemen - they blamed this on a cut cable - they told Inner City Press its accreditation was in jeopardy for signing her in.

Now the same Department of Public Information says Inner City Press accreditation can be suspended or withdrawn for hanging the sign of a new organization, the Free UN Coalition for Access, on the door of its shared office. According to the UN DPI, there can be only one media organization in the UN - one that it uses for its own purposes. One party systems? No comment on coups or detentions and banning? Watch this site.

Footnote: On the attack in Afghanistan on the Indian consulate in Jalalabad in which at least 12 were killed including nine children, the UK's Mark Lyall Grant told Inner City Press the UK is open to the UNSC statement, that Australia is in the lead and will probably look to the Indian mission to the UN for guidance. Click here for that.


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Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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