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UN Blocks Access to Free Gaza Movement's Website, Jan. 15 Meeting in General Assembly Set

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, January 13, updated -- On UN computers, the website of the Free Gaza Movement is blocked. Inner City Press asked about the group's attempts to deliver aid to Gaza by ship at the UN's noon briefing on Tuesday. Video here, at Minute 29:44. Later in the day, alerted by a UN staff member that the web site had been blocked, Inner City Press typed it in: Within the UN, this results in a message from the "ICT Security Unit" that "you have been redirected to this page because the site you are attempting to access is blocked according to the policy as detailed in ST/SGB/2004/15.

            This Secretary-General's Bulletin allows staff "limited personal use of ICT resources" unless these involve "pornography or engaging in gambling" or would "compromise the interests or the reputation of the Organization."

  The Free Gaza Movement's mission statement is that

"We want to break the siege of Gaza. We want to raise international awareness about the prison-like closure of the Gaza Strip and pressure the international community to review its sanctions policy and end its support for continued Israeli occupation. We want to uphold Palestine's right to welcome internationals as visitors, human rights observers, humanitarian aid workers, journalists, or otherwise."

 How does this "compromise the interests or reputation" of the UN?

UN's Ban, UNDP's Dervis, Google and technology: Free Gaza not shown

  Asked why the UN would block this site, one wag quipped, so that UN staff don't go work for an organization that actually accomplishes something - the reference being to the "Banquished" Ban Ki-moon, not to some heroic UNRWA staff.

Footnote: At 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday Inner City Press learned that the UN General Assembly will hold its postponed special session on Gaza this Thursday at 10 am. During Tuesday morning's closed door consultations in the Security Council, France's Jean-Maurice Ripert said that the General Assembly should be careful to remain consistent with the Council. Why?

Update: Following Inner City Press' January 13 report that the UN was blocking intra-net access to the website of the Free Gaza Movement, the next day the UN reversed course and allowed access -- without explanation, of course. Could it be like increased Internet access during last Summer's Olympics?

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

Click here for Inner City Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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