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UN Schools in Censorship, Press Ejected by Ban's Guards For Ladsous Commanders

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 20 --With scandals surrounding UN Peacekeeping, from covering up child rape by French “peacekeepers” in the Central African Republic to buying sex in Haiti and selling UN Police jobs in the DR Congo, on June 18 the UN including Secretary General Ban Ki-moon gave Force Commanders a lesson -- one in censorship. Ban's guards ejected the investigative Press, which closely covers Peacekeeping including the scandals, out of an open meeting, at the demand of Herve Ladsous.

  This came a day after Jose Ramos-Horta and 14 others on Ban's Panel issued a report complaining for example that "Sometimes peace operations are slow and reactive in getting their messages out; at other times the messages are convoluted or obscure. At other times, peace operations appear mute and introverted, which conveys its own very particular message." "HIPPO" Report at Paragraph 282.

  So what is the message of using UN Security to throw the Press out of an open meeting about Peacekeeping, right in front of the Secretary General who did... nothing? On June 19, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric to explain, but it remained "convoluted and obscure." From the UN transcript:

Inner City Press: I have a number of questions, but I feel I have to ask this one first and it has to do with…

Spokesman Dujarric:  Are you getting me on two cameras?

Inner City Press:  I actually am, yes, and here is the reason for it. [Periscope.] Yesterday, there was an open meeting in the basement, in Conference Room 9, which the Secretary-General was to deliver a speech to a number of generals, and Mr. [Hervé] Ladsous was there.  I went to attend it and it was listed in the media alert.  I was told not to take pictures at the photo op, but I continued to, because it was in the hallway.  But, in Conference Room 9, the security detail of the Secretary-General told me I had to leave the open meeting at the direction of the organizer, Mr. Ladsous.  And I wanted to know, one, what do you say about an open meeting, the press being excluded from it?  Two, what is the role of the security detail of the Secretary-General in excluding journalists that were far away from it?

Spokesman:  I think it was an unfortunate situation and a misunderstanding and the decision to open up the meeting in the AE for the [Secretary-General’s] part was taken late and I think everybody that should have known didn't know, so it was a misunderstanding.

Inner City Press:  But, I guess what was the problem, given the meeting it was on UN TV and you distributed his remarks?

Spokesman:  What I'm saying is that it was a misunderstanding and that all the people who should have known that it was an open meeting were not aware.

Inner City Press:  Isn't the default… I mean MALU [Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit] was there and MALU said to the security detail to the Secretary-General, “this is an open meeting”, and they said:  “It doesn't matter, if the organizer says you are out you are out”.

Spokesman:  It was a misunderstanding.

Inner City Press:  Can you say from this podium that meetings that are open, that journalists should be able to remain inside them?

Spokesman:  Of course.  Everybody should know how the meeting is classified.  It was a misunderstanding.  Everybody who should have known should have known.

Inner City Press:  I also I guess related as to security, it came up yesterday and Farhan said what he said, but I want maybe to take a second shot at it.  There is a photograph of Ban Ki-moon shaking hands with an individual who is on the US Al-Qaida terrorist sanctions list.  So, what I wanted to know is, I mean, in diplomacy you may have to meet with anyone, but my question actually has to do with entering the UN premises and role of the security detail of the Secretary-General, did they know that this individual was listed as having financed if not being a member of Al-Qaida?

Spokesman:  I think you're right.  In diplomacy, we have to speak to the people we have to speak to.  As for the Secretary-General’s security, I'm not going to get into the details of it, but obviously, it's there to protect the security of the Secretary-General and they do what they need to do.

Inner City Press:  But, what do you think of the Hadi or Riyadh delegation having as one of its members a US-listed Al-Qaida terrorist?

Spokesman:  I think I have used as many words as I can on this.

  As Ramos-Horta said, convoluted and obscure. We'll have more on this.

 Ban was scheduled to give a speech to UN Force Commanders in Conference Room 9 of UN Headquarters in an open meeting, following a public photo-op with the commanders.

   But when Inner City Press showed up for the photo op, UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous directed one of his officials to tell Inner City Press to leave. Then he got Ban's guards to eject Inner City Press from the open meeting.

 On June 19, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who previously enabled Ladsous' strikingly anti-press stance by refusing to allow Inner City Press to put a single question to Ladsous, to explain the use of Ban's security detail to oust a journalist from an open speech by Ban. Video here.

  Dujarric said those who needed to know weren't told early enough that it was an open meeting. It was a strange response, because there are open meetings every day in the UN without prior notice to all participants; this one was listed as open in the Media Alert the night before.

  It seems that what Dujarric meant is that had Ladsous been specifically directed to the open meeting notation, he would have had time to veto it, like this patron. But since he didn't, how could Ladsous who ostensibly works FOR Ban Ki-moon get Ban's guards to oust the Press from covering an open speech by their boss? Who works for whom? We'll have more on this.

  On June 18 Inner City Press first refused to stop taking pictures at the photo op, noting that Ban's appearance was listed in the online Media Alert of the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit (MALU). Nevertheless, Ladsous' official insisted, and Ladsous himself began to film Inner City Press with his phone.

   When Ban Ki-moon and his security detail of at least four arrived, they proceeded into Conference Room 9, as did Inner City Press accompanied by a MALU staff member and a staffer from UN Photo. But just as Ban Ki-moon began speaking, two of his security officers came over and told Inner City Press to leave. In the hall they said that “the organizer” -- Ladsous -- had ordered it.

  Inner City Press asked, if some UN official tells you to throw out the media, you just do it? "If he told you to throw me on the ground, would you throw me on the ground?"

“Somebody doesn't have to tell me to throw you on the ground, if I've got to put you on the ground, I put you on the ground,” came the response. Audio here. Periscope video here. Now YouTube video permalink here.

   Another security officer said, at this point the media is not coming in. That's it.

  This is called censorship. And it happened right in front of Ban Ki-moon.  When Ban came out of Conference Room 9, he had a discussion with Ladsous - what about? - then walked on by. Periscope Video II here. This is Ban's UN, UNtransparent, descended to censorship.

 Inner City Press has reported not only on Ladsous' cover up of rapes in CAR (and before that in Minova in the DRC and Tabit in Darfur), but also on a growing lack of transparency in Ban Ki-moon's UN, including the reported use of Ban's name by his nephew "Dennis" Bahn while purporting to sell real estate in Vietnam to the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar. (Bahn works for Colliers International, which rents office space to and for Ban's UN system.) Now, outright censorship.

  The old UN Correspondents Association has said nothing, just as they said nothing and more when Ladsous said he would not answer Inner City Press and Ban's spokesman decided not to call on Inner City Press to put a question to Ladsous, on the CAR rapes and cover up. The new Free UN Coalition for Access has demanded an explanation and response from MALU and the Department of Public Information above it. A senior UN official told Inner City Press, “There is no court.”

 This use of UN Security is ironic, given that as Inner City Press reported on June 17 and asked Ban's deputy spokesman about on June 18, Ban shook hands in the UN in Geneva with a person on the US Al-Qaeda terrorist list, photo here. But today's UN has become the source of lawless censorship, amid its scandals. Watch this site.


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