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At UN, Indigenous Displaced from GA Hall for Economists & Bankers, from Qatar

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 16 -- With the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in town, the UN General Assembly Hall had long been booked for their event on Thursday, May 17. Then the indigenous were unceremoniously displaced again, this time so that a "High Level Event" on the economy can take its place in the GA Hall.

  A number of Permanent Representatives, mostly but not only from Latin America, complained to Inner City Press, blaming the President of the General Assembly, who they called "the Qatari." It was noted that among the participants in this High Level on the Economy event is Qatar Central Bank, and Doha Bank Group.

  Soon came this announcement:

"Please note that there has been a last minute change of venue for the opening segment of the HLTD on the State of the World Economy from the ECOSOC Chamber to the GA Hall."

  So Inner City Press replied to the PGA's spokesperson:

"I'm hearing complaints by indigenous groups that they got bounced from the GA Hall tomorrow for this -- can you comment? They (indigenous, some Latin diplomats) say they had the GA for a long time, just "thrown out" now - true? "

After that, yet more Latin Permanent Representatives complained to Inner City Press, describing a meeting with the PGA's chief of staff, at which it was argued that the High Level on the Economy participants would need spaces for bilaterals. This argument was described as "laughable."

Then came this response:

Subject: Re: Question: were indigenous "bounced" from GA Hall tomorrow? If so, why?
From: Spokesperson of the PGA
Date: Wed, May 16, 2012 at 7:50 PM
To: Matthew Lee [at]

It is incorrect Matthew for you to use the phrase “thrown out”. The change of venue was done simply for security and logistical reasons. There is a long list of Speakers in the opening segment. They are accompanied by their delegations and the GA hall is the only venue big enough to accommodate all the participants and their delegations. Additionally, we received requests from several missions for access to the press corps accompanying their officials to the venue of the opening segment, and this access is not possible at ECOSOC.

In fact, a representative group of indigenous leaders has met in our office with the Chef de Cabinet and his Deputy, who explained to them the reasoning behind the switch of venues. Additionally, the PGA is scheduled to give opening remarks at the Commemoration of the 5th Anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

   Out of respect, we'll headline it "displaced" rather than "thrown out." While it is not clear how this will go down with the complaining Latin and other Permanent Representatives, at least the PGA will speak to the indigenous group -- many have complained that Ban Ki-moon has yet to. Watch this site.

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