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UNESCO Azoulay Skips Big Education Meeting For Cambodia Photo Op Silent on Guterres Banning Press

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS GATE, December 7 – What is the mandate of UNESCO and its Director-General Audrey Azoulay? They don't defend press freedom, at least not in the UN system where Secretary General Antonio Guterres had roughed up and banned a lone critical Press and UNESCO did nothing. But they are failing on Education, too, as noted by a participant in this week's Global Education Meeting in Brussels who tweets a photograph of Azoulay not present but on a screen no one listened to, with this caption: "Such a shame that UNESCO DG, Audrey Azoulay, could not be at the Global Education Meeting GEM 2018 in Brussels, especially when so many leading global figures are here.  No-one listened to her video address as shown below." Now, where WAS Azoulay? As reported in Chinese media, she was in Cambodia for a ceremony. At whose behest? As with so many such things, one might was to ask the French government - but not in the UN. Watch this site. The UN's craven ambivalence in the face of the Saudi murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi extends from Antonio Guterres to UNESCO in Paris. There, Saudi Ambassador Ibrahim Albalawi is angling to take over the top post in UNESCO's International Program for the Development of Communication - which claims on its website to promote "the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity... An Attack on One is an Attack on All explores successful initiatives to protect journalists and combat impunity." We'll have more on this. The UN talks a lot about freedom of the press, now for November 2 about "ending impunity for crimes against journalists" - all crimes except its own UN crimes. At its headquarters in New York this summer twice physically ousted critical Inner City Press, banned by Secretary General Antonio Guterres from entering the UN since July 3 when it was covering the UN Budget Committee. This was captured on video.

And so, seeing that the Paris-based UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has whole sections devoted to Protection of Journalists and Fostering Freedom of Expression, Inner City Press reached out to UNESCO's Director of Freedom of Expression Guy Berger, whom it had questioned in the UN Press Briefing Room back in March before being banned from that room, about UNESCO sexual harasser Frank Larue, and to the New York-based liaison Ricardo de Guimarães Pinto.

A similar request for action directed first to a.azoulay [at], then to dg [at] was blocked: it seems Ms Azoulay accepted mail and information only from within UNESCO. So much for protecting journalists. Then UNESCO's New York representative, even after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, attended and spoke entirely positively at an event funded by Saudi Crown Prince MBS' Misk Foundation. Now Azoulay has robo-written to all member states, as annotated in bracks by Inner City Press and the Free UN Coalition for Access: "It has been five years since the United Nations began commemorating International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists. This day provides an opportunity to assess how we respond to the security problems faced by journalists as they carry out their investigative and reporting duties; it is an opportunity to assess how we address the impunity with which, all too often, crimes and attacks against journalists are perpetrated. [Guterres' UN fails on this assessment - his Lieutenant Ronald Dobbins and others who refused to give their names twice roughed up Inner City Press and there has been no accountability - last week Inner City Press saw Dobbins still on the payroll, as it was being barred from an event it was invited to, by UN Security's Matthew Sullivan who also bragged the UN is getting the NY Police Department to NOT release information under the Freedom of Information Law. This is today's UN.] The fight against impunity is inseparable from the defence of fundamental freedoms such as freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom of access to information..  UNESCO is launching the #TruthNeverDies campaign on 2 November.
It is our responsibility to ensure that crimes against journalists do not go unpunished. We must see to it that journalists can work in safe conditions which allow a free and pluralistic press to flourish."
This while Guterres' UN has put critical Inner City Press on a secret "permanently barred" list from all UN premises, including UNESCO. Pure hypocrisy.

Here is what Inner City Press has sent to UNESCO, Berger and de Guimarães Pinto: Dear Messrs. de Guimarães Pinto (NY), Berger (Paris), DG:

This is a formal request for freedom of the press action by UNESCO. I am an investigative journalist who has covered the United Nations system for a decade. But but I have now been banned from the UN with no end in sight since July 3, when I was physically ousted from the UN for the second time in 11 days, while I was doing reporting.

I am told by the UN that the “suspension” of my access to the UN, now for 22 days, is for a review of being physically ousted by UN Security from covering the UN Budget Committee meetings on July 3, the type of meeting I have staked-out and covered for 11 years, the last two as a non-resident correspondent. I managed to film some of my ouster, beginning half way through as UN Security Lieutenant Ronald Dobbins tried to grab my phone, video here.

Something has gone wrong in the UN - on which UNESCO must act, immediately -- when a journalist typing up notes from an interview with the UN Budget Committee chair has been approached and assaulted by UN Security officers at least one of whom had and has a personal vendetta springing from previous (and accurate) Press coverage.

But it has become or exposed a more systemic problem: I have been banned from the UN for doing my job as a journalist, with no due process, no end in sight.

USG DPI Alison Smale has gone on a three week vacation, after vaguely claiming I was uncivil as my arm was being twisted, and that a few e-mail responses to my questions by the UN spokespeople means the UN is respecting my rights as a journalist.)

DPI has caused this problem by downgrading Inner City Press to “non resident correspondent” status for my coverage of the John Ashe / Ng Lap Seng UN bribery case, which allows UN Security to target me any time I cover a meeting after 7 pm. I am allowed by rule to stay for such meetings, and for an hour afterward. But this is not been communicated to or accepted by these UN Security officers.

The only solution is to restore Inner City Press, which produces substantial UN coverage, to its long time shared work space in UN Room S-303 (which sits almost entirely unused) and to restore me to resident correspondent status. And then to ensure rules, and the rule of law and freedom of the press at the UN, going forward. If you have any questions, I am available (for now outside the UN gates) on my cell phone, or on email here. Please confirm receipt of this request.”

  They did not even confirm receipt. So much for protection of journalists.


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