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At UN Protest for Justice for Guinea Killings, ICP Interviews on Alpha Conde, France

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 28 -- Outside the UN on Wednesday afternoon, there was a protest of impunity in Guinea-Conakry, complete with photographs of the killings in 2009 in the stadium and since. Photo here; 8-minute video here. Inner City Press conducted a few interviews; participants said they hadn't been made aware of the visit to the UN and handshake with Ban Ki-moon of president Alpha Conde.

   He wasn't the president in 2009, one participant said, but he hasn't held anyone accountable. Click here for earlier Inner City Press coverage, from 2013. Strangely, some have praised Conde for his response to the 2009 killings, or rapes. Who you gonna believe? We'll have more on this.

While outgoing UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described the 2016 UN General Assembly debate as a tribute to multilateralism, it ended Monday afternoon with Indonesia accusing the Solomon Islands of ignorance and using “trash information” about West Papua.

India and Pakistan went two rounds on Kashmir; Guatemala replied to Belize about a territorial dispute.

While in Washington US State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner talked on and about a “Plan B” on Syria, in the UNGA hall Iran said of the United Arab Emirates that it bombs Yemen and exports extremists.

Ban Ki-moon, who spent the week handing out copies of his vanity press book “Highlights of the Tenure of Ban Ki-moon,” was already out of town. His spokespeople have yet to provide a copy of the book, or to say who was on the panel that “recommended” to Ban that he appoint his own son in law Siddharth Chatterjee to the top UN job in Kenya.

Earlier in the day, Eritrea said, “we have suffered the occupation of our territory in violation of binding international arbitration.”

Then it was over, UN staff took selfies and jazz fusion came up on the UN sound system. Inner City Press, which live-streamed Periscope of this final session, was urged to move on. But it is covering the UN, ever more closely. Watch this site.

While there was much talk about the UN during its General Debate on Saturday, September 25, there were strikingly few people actually *at* the UN.

Inner City Press went to cover Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's meeting with Burundi, where even UN experts say there is a risk of genocide. But Ban's meeting with the country's foreign minister lasted less than 20 minute. Afterward, Ban stood chatting with his chief of staff Edmond Mulet, waiting to repeat the process with the president of Guyana.

   Inner City Press stayed upstairs for the next few photo ops, held not in Ban's conference room on the 38th floor, where earlier in the week it first reported on Ban handing signed copies of his vanity press book “Highlights of the Tenure of Ban Ki-moon” to visiting dignitaries, but rather on the near-empty 27th floor.

  The previous day on 27, when Inner City Press live-streamed Yemen's president in exile Hadi has stumbled and turned the wrong way, only to be turned around by Ban - physically, not on his continued calling for airstrikes by the Saudi led Coalition - in the shadows were two lobbyists from Human Rights Watch, one of whom scurried away when seen by the press.

Does it make Ban feel better, having these token insiders around while he sells out the children of Yemen, or phones it in on Burundi?

  Saturday there was almost no one on the 27th floor. Even UNTV did not film the photo op with Kosovo -- “they're not a country,” it was said -- so Inner City Press went back upstairs to do it.

Ban asked Inner City Press, “Working on a Saturday?” Yes - no thanks to Ban Ki-moon and his head of “public information” Cristina Gallach who evicted Inner City Press and reduced its accreditation and access to retaliate for UN corruption coverage.

   In the less than half full GA Hall, Burundi's foreign minister was denying genocide; the day's session ended ended with rights of reply by Turkey (against Syria), Indonesia (on Papua) and two rounds between China and the Philippines -- things are heating up.

Inner City Press was told by sources there would be a Security Council meeting about Aleppo in Syria on Sunday. Inquiries with the spokespeople of the Council's president for September, New Zealand, did not yield an answer; later the UN itself announced an 11 am meeting in the Council Chamber. We'll be there. Watch this site.

As Ban Ki-moon's time at the UN winds down and he prepares coyly to run for President in South Korea, his packaging of his legacy has become a vanity amateur operation.

Take for example the hard cover book on his conference table when he met on September 18 with Donald Tusk, President, European Council and Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President, European Commission. Inner City Press subsequently went and saw it give to Poland, Chad and it seems clear (all) others.

It is called “Highlights of the tenure of Ban Ki-moon, 2007-2016.” Inner City Press asks: who wrote it? Who paid for it? Why was this done? What are the contents?

Team Ban has refused to show a copy to the Press, even though we've discovered it is listed in the UN Department of Public Information catalog as finished in August, for sale for $45. Click here for photo Inner City Press tweeted.

  For the next meeting, with Denmark's Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, another copy of the Ban vanity book was out, along with a pen to sign it.

By the last meeting of the day, after Inner City Press tweeted then first published this story, the copy of the book for UNASUR's Ernesto Samper Pizano was covered up with a file by Ban's staff. Is this on the level?

 In the hall was the office of Nardos Bekele-Thomas, moved out of the top job in Kenya so Ban's son in law could occupy it before Ban leaves. Legacy, indeed....

 The Friday before UN General Assembly week starts in earnest, reporters at the UN were told of some of the upcoming meetings and how, despite restrictions, to cover them.

Inner City Press asked the head of the UN's Department of Public Information Cristina Gallach why DPI says the non-resident correspondents, the vast majority of journalists covering the UN, will be placed in basement Conference Room 1 where no only food and beverages but even water is not allowed.

(In Ban's conference room there is water and, we've noted at his all-Korean meeting, tea.)

   Gallach's reply cited to “professionalism” and rules, both of which she invoked when she ousted and then evicted Inner City Press from the UN earlier this year.

Ironically, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric less that an hour later explained having violated the rules (about those without cameras not attending photo ops) so that South Korean print journalists could witness Ban's speech to politicians visiting from Seoul.

The UN's rules are selectively implied, in this case to censor.

  Last October 19, 2015 Inner City Press asked Gallach about her attendance at the South South Awards of Ng Lap Seng, the Macau-based businessman under house arrest for bribery at the UN.

  On September 16, Inner City Press asked Gallach about the since-released Office of Internal Oversight Services audit, which found that her DPI did not due diligence on events by Ng Lap Seng fundees.

  Gallach said that the outside event - the case in Federal court - is being followed. So Inner City Press asked for her response to testimony in the case that South South News, which unlike Inner City Press the rule-invoking Gallach left in its UN office despite or because of it not asking any questions at the UN, was named as a “conduit of bribery.” This, she did not answer.

   After the briefing, which included film maker Richard Curtis whom Inner City Press asked about the Next SG race, Gallach's staffer asked for further information about the water(less) issue.

  Inner City Press added the exclusion of non-resident correspondents from access to the UN's EZTV which shows more events than the UN webcast. See flier here of the Free UN Coalition for Access, also ejected and sign torn down under Gallach. What will change? We'll see. Watch this site.


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