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On Egypt UN Guterres Commends Sisi No Word On Human Rights or Press Freedom Birds of a Feather

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR Letter PFT Q&A

UN GATE, Feb 9 – After the "election" of Abdel Fattah El-Sisi as Egypt's president with 97% of the vote amid fining of media like Al-Masry Al-Youm and the expulsion of journalists, the spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on 2 April 2018 said, "We were not involved in the holding of the election, whether in observing or offering technical assistance as far as I know.  So, I will leave it at that." This is the same UN - and spokesman - which evicted independent Inner City Press (and now banned it after assaulting it on July 3, Fox News story here, GAP blogs I and II, and put in its work place Sissi's state media Akhbar al-Youm, in the form of Sanaa Youssef a former (1984) president of the UN Correspondents Association who hasn't asked a single question of the UN in more than ten years.

  Now on February 9, 2020, this: "The Secretary-General met with the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E. Mr. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi.     The Secretary-General and President Sisi discussed regional developments, including the situation in Libya and the Middle East Peace Process. The Secretary-General commended Egypt for its concluded chairmanship of the African Union." So much for human rights, press freedom, anything. Guterres is corrupt.
In late June 2019 with Guterres at the G20 in Osaka meeting with Sisi his spokesman Stephane Dujarric, in his already then increasingly bogus noon briefings which sometimes for no apparent reason include Sanaa Youssef for more than a decade not asking a single question, refuses to answer Inner City Press' questions on Egypt and about Sisi's continuing detention of journalists. Then again, Guterres himself is a continuing censor of Press. On 17 August 2018 Guterres through Alison Smale banned Inner City Press for life; on August 27 his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said this was for "creating a hostile environment" for diplomats. Really?

  Now this: "The Secretary-General met today with H.E. Mr Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt.     The Secretary-General and President Al Sisi discussed regional matters, including the Middle East Peace Process and the situations in Libya, Syria and Yemen.     The Secretary-General commended the African Union’s leadership on implementing Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda.     On climate change, he thanked Egypt for its efforts, together with the United Kingdom, to lead the coalition on adaptation and resilience ahead of the September Climate Summit.     Osaka, Japan  29 June 2019." Guterres is turning the UN into a coddler of dictators and censors such as himself.

Back on September 25 Guterres met Sisi and afterward gushed, "The Secretary-General met with H.E. Mr. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt. The Secretary-General and the President exchanged views on a number of issues of mutual interest, including developments in Africa and the Middle East region. The Secretary-General congratulated Egypt on a very effective chairmanship of the G77." Not a word on press freedom - not surprising, since Guterres as it turns out is a dictator on this too. In the 47th Street protest pens that day, supports of Morsi and Sisi shouted at each other, with Falun Dafa adherents meditating in between, along with a clown from Guatemala. Inside the UN Guterres has turned it into a circus - of censorship. On September 17 four UN rapporteurs for now publicly silent on the UN's own no due process censorship called on the Human Rights Council to respond to verdicts condemning 75 protesters to death and 47 to life sentences in Egypt. On 8 September, a Cairo Criminal Court confirmed the sentences delivered at a mass trial in July involving 739 people who were convicted on charges of illegal gathering, involvement in violence and incitement to break the law. The rights of the accused to present evidence in their defense were not guaranteed as required by the principle of fair trial.  The experts are
Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voulé, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Ms Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.. And here's what they said: “As a matter of priority, the international community must act to ensure international human rights standards are applied." We agree. And what about the UN Secretariat? On September 9 still new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, to whom the above has been raised, issued this: "The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said today that she is extremely concerned that an Egyptian court’s confirmation of 75 death sentences on Saturday did not result from a fair trial, and the sentences, if carried out, would therefore amount to “a gross and irreversible miscarriage of justice”. She also pointed to the stark contrast between Egypt’s mass trials and a recent law that effectively grants members of the security forces complete immunity for crimes they may have committed. The death sentences were originally imposed during a mass trial in July in which a total of 739 people were convicted on charges that stemmed from a Muslim Brotherhood-led protest, in August 2013, which was met with a lethal military crackdown. “The conduct of the trial in the Cairo Criminal Court has been widely criticized,” Bachelet said. “And rightly so. The 739 people were tried en masse, and were not permitted individual legal representation before the court. In addition, the accused were not given the right to present evidence in their defence, and the Prosecution did not provide sufficient evidence to prove individual guilt. The evident disregard of basic rights of the accused places the guilt of all those convicted in serious doubt. In particular, the 75 death sentences affirmed yesterday, if implemented, would represent a gross and irreversible miscarriage of justice. “I hope that the Egyptian Court of Appeal will review this verdict and ensure that international standards of justice are respected by setting it aside,” she added.... In July this year, the Egyptian Parliament approved a law that will effectively bestow immunity from prosecution on security force personnel for any offenses committed in the course of duty between 3 July 2013 – the date the military overthrew the Government of  President Morsi – and 10 January 2016. The law permits the President to designate a number of officers as lifelong reserves, and grants them the immunities and privileges of a sitting Government minister, including diplomatic immunity when traveling abroad. “Justice must apply to all – no one should be immune." Yes. But doesn't that apply to Guterres who nominated her as well? We'll see. In in a small subset of that news, the five year jail sentence passed on Mahmoud Abdel Shakour Abou Zeid, the photojournalist also known as Shawkan, means he should soon be free because he has already spent five years in preventive detention. He was finally convicted at the end of a mass trial with more than 700 fellow defendants. All this for trying cover a massacre by the security forces in Cairo’s Rabaa Square on August 14, 2013 - as noted by a stated borderless freedom of the press group which has said nothing about the UN they love having roughed up and still banning Inner City Press, despite it being repeatedly raised in reply to Julie Bance. One can love the UN so much it becomes a double standard - we'll have more on this. In Egypt the “cybercrime law” that Sisi signed on August 18 legalizes and reinforces the existing censorship and blocking of websites and criminalizes both those who operate sites and those who use them, a group who has yet to act on UN censorship said. Under article 7 of this law, Egypt’s authorities can now legally block access to any website that is deemed to constitute “a threat to national security” or to the “national economy.” It legalizes a well-established practice. Hundreds of sites have already been blocked in the past few years, apparently on nothing more than the orders of security officials, and the authorities have arrested several online journalists and bloggers, including a news website editor and satirical bloggers. Even visiting a banned website is now punishable by a year in prison while those who create or manage a website that is subsequently banned could be sentenced to two years in prison. We'll have more on this - and this: Cairo national security prosecutor ordered Mohammed Ibrahim Ezz, a reporter for the daily newspaper Al-Nahar, to be detained for 15 days on charges of belonging to a banned group. Ezz was arrested in the city of Tanta, north of Cairo, on July 10; the prosecutor will look into renewing Ezz detention again on August 5. The latest arrest comes as photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, a/k/a Shawkan, is slated to appear in court to hear a possible verdict on July 28. Shawkan has been jailed since August 2013 and faces the death penalty. On July 18, Inner City Press banned from entering the UN unlike the no-question Sissi (retired) scribe Sanaa Youssef in writing asked Dujarric and his deputy Farhan Haq, "Given your belated answer yesterday on Saudi King Salman's immunity announcement, and your now stated policy, please provide comment today on this: “Senior military officers who oversaw the killing of hundreds of protesters in Egypt after the 2013 coup that brought President Sisi to power are to be given immunity from prosecution.'" To which Haq replied, "on Egypt, we reiterate our basic point:The United Nations does not endorse amnesties for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity or gross violations of human rights." Is that why Guterres shook so heartily with Sissi, and gave Inner City Press' work space to Sissi's retiree? We'll have more on this.  On July 17 Inner City Press asked Haq and Dujarric, still UNanswered on July 18: “Egypt's parliament has approved a tough new law to regulate social media, raising fears that it could curb dissent against President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi's regime. The law states that social media users who have more than 5,000 followers could be placed under the supervision of Egypt's Supreme Council for Media Regulations. The council would be authorized to suspend or block any personal account which "publishes or broadcasts fake news” - what is the comment of the SG / UN?" The noon briefing Inner City Press was banned from had few questions, none like this; seven hours later Haq had not provided any written answer or even confirmation of receipt. The UN under Guterres is failing. On July 7 the government behind Guterres' and Smale's favorite Akhbar al Yom sentenced a Lebanese woman to eight years in prison over "insulting Egyptians" by complaining of sexual harassment in a video she posted online, and set July 29 as the date for her appeal. Mona el-Mazbouh was charged with "deliberately broadcasting false rumors which aim to undermine society and attack religions." She posted a 10-minute video in which she used profanities to describe her vacation in Cairo where she says she was sexually harassed. The UN under Guterres, as Inner City Press first reported, rejected even a #MeToo club at its offices in Vienna. The Sissi government also pushed back the sentencing of photo journalist Shawkan or Mahmoud Abu Zeid and more than 700 others to July 28, while moving on a law to subject all social media accounts with more than 5000 followers to monitoring and immediate blocking for undefined "fake news." It is lawless - like Guterres' UN, which on June 22 deployed UN Security guards who refused to give them names while equipped with automatic weapons to oust Inner City Press from the UN during an Eid al Fitr event at which Guterres bragged about fasting in Mali. Video here, story here, new petition here. Earlier the Sisi government grabbed up Hazem Abdel-Azim, a critic since the government since he left Sissi’s campaign in the 2014 elections. Hazem Abdel-Azim was taken from his home in a Cairo suburb late Saturday on charges of disseminating fake news (!) and belonging to an outlawed group. This follows the detention of noted blogger Wael Abbas. Abbas was seized on accusations including disseminating false news and joining an outlawed group. He was taken blindfolded from his home to an unknown location and not allowed to contact his lawyer. His YouTube channel was shut in 2007, resulting in the removal of hundreds of videos depicting abuses by security forces. In December, he posted on Facebook that Twitter had suspended his account without providing any justification.
Last week they arrested labor rights lawyer
Haytham Mohamedeen for "belonging to an outlawed group." (In the UN, the Department of Public Information before evicting Inner City Press told it it would be ousted if it did not remove the sign of the Free UN Coalition for Access from the door of its past (and future?) office S-303, even as the neighboring door carried and carries Turkish government paraphernalia. That threat, from DPI's holdover Hua Jiang, cc-ed to holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric, is here). In 2016, Mohamedeen was arrested and later released over calling for protests against Egypt's transfer of two strategic Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. (When Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman on May 23 about Saudi detaining women's right activist, he spoke vaguely about space for civil society.) Apparently Sisi's Egypt is as much for sale as the UN, to Ng Lap Seng and more recently Patrick Ho and their mutual controller. An independent jury for a UNESCO prize awarded it to jailed Egyptian photo journalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid a/k/a Shawkan, about whom Inner City Press asked Amnesty International at the UN this month. The Egyptian government, needless to say, has criticized the award. This is the Sisi government to which Guterres sends his warm regards, and to whose state media Akhbar al Yom's Sanaa Youssef Guterres and his Global Communicator Alison Smale have purported to assign Inner City Press' long time work space in the UN. UNCA, the only claim to UN fame of Sanaa Youssef, has said nothing, bungling forward this April 23 with a 5 pm wine event for a novel seemingly entirely unrelated to the UN by
Elizabeth Strout, "at the event marking 'UN English Language Day', Ms. Strout will be joined by fiction writer Katherine Vaz and poet, Major Jackson... with a with a [sic] wine and cheese reception beginning at 5:00 pm." Then on April 24, ghoulishly an event in their clubhouse for a movement the UN's exclusion of which from the public UNSC stakeout UNCA, heavy with Moroccan state media, said nothing. We'll have more on this. On April 4, again with Akhbar al Youm's Saana Youssef nowhere in sight much less asking a question after a decade, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: when you were asked about the 97 per cent election of President Sisi, you said, 'We were not involved in the holding of the election, whether in observing or technical assistance.  So, I'll leave it at that.' I wanted to ask you, since then, one, a newspaper, Al-Masry Al-Youm, has been fined for its independent coverage of the election.  And now a website, Masr al-Arabia, has been raided by the Government.  So, beyond your… what you said on Monday, do you believe that… that… that… that the way in which the press was disallowed from covering this cake-walk election complies with the principles of António Guterres and his open-press ways?

Spokesman:  I think the Secretary-General, in the run-up to the election, had expressed his concern at the limited political space in the country, and that is a concern we continue to have." Really. On April 5 it emerged that Egyptian prosecutors ordered the editor-in-chief of
Masr al-Arabia, Adel Sabry, be detained for 15 days pending investigations. A prosecutor in Cairo’s Dokki district accused Sabry of belonging to a terrorist group, publishing false news, using text and visuals that contradict the constitution, and inciting demonstrations, according to Eman Hamed, the defendant’s lawyer. This is what today's UN is siding with, in the form of former UNCA President Sanaa Youssef of Egyptian state media. Back on February 28 when Guterres met Egypt's new Ambassador Mohamed Fathi Ahmed Edrees on February 28, Inner City Press went through the UN's tourist entrance and then UN Security on the 37th floor to cover it. Still, before Guterres expressed his warm regards for Sisi, who is arresting all opponents, the UN Security officer who has already checked Inner City Press' microphone told it it could not record audio, see below. Now on March 8, Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Sisi's government seeking the death penalty against photo journalist Shawkan, as relates to Guterres warm regards. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press:  it was pretty… pretty recently that the Secretary-General sent his very, very warm regards to President [Abdelfattah al] Sisi of Egypt, and so, in that re… in that connection, I wanted to ask you, the noted photographer, Mahmoud Abou Zeid, also known as Shawkan, has now been informed that he faces the death penalty.  He's been in jail for four and a half years.  It's kind of a cause célèbre.  And I wondered if the Secretary-General, who has these warm feelings, is this something he might have a comment on, a photojournalist being… facing the death by hanging? Spokesman:  I will check on that particular case.  The Secretary-General stands firmly against the death penalty.  And as for questions of the ongoing climate in Egypt, I think I answered that to Masood two days ago, and my answer stands." Masood-ji, Dujarric's straight man for justification of eviction of the Press, video here. This is censorship, and it remains ongoing - they have not answered a petition with thousands of signatures.


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