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UN of Guterres Stood By As Meeting Disrupted By Supporters But Dodges on Press Ouster Double Standard

By Matthew Russell Lee, Audio

UNITED NATIONS, October 17 – Five days after Inner City Press was told by a UN Security officer that it is on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' list of people banned from entering its premises as "demonstrators," Guterres' UN Security did nothing on October 16 as a meeting in the UN's ECOSOC Chamber was shouted over by demonstrators whom UN Security did nothing to stop. Video here. On October 17 before the UN noon briefing from which Inner City Press was banned for the 106th day in a row, Inner City Press put in written questions of the type Guterres' Communicator Alison Smale has said out be answered. The only one answered three hours later was this one: "October 17-2: Regarding yesterday's disrupted 1:15 event in the ECOSOC Chamber, please state why UN Security did not act, whether it or the wider Secretariat has received complaint(s) and how you can justify banning a journalist now 106 days for filming and covering the Budget Committee meeting after 7 pm while no similar action after the October 16 actual disruption / hostile environment." Spokesman Stephane Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq wrote back to Inner City Press, "Regarding question 17,2, we can say the following: The sponsoring Permanent Mission is fully responsible for the content and conduct of the meeting.  It is not the role of UN security to physically remove any delegate from a meeting unless they pose a physical threat." Of course, this doesn't even purport to answer about the glaring double standard. It was not only delegates / diplomats: it is reported that "Toward the end of the meeting, U.N. security officials ordered out more than a dozen pro-Cubans in the balcony who had joined in the shouting;" those chanting were described as diplomats and supporters." The non-diplomats, are they banned like Inner City Press? Or that only happens if you are asking and writing about Guterres? The UN is becoming a dictatorship. While Inner City Press' ten-year media accreditation was withdrawn on August 17 by Guterres' Global Communicator Alison Smale for allegedly being disruptive, the actual disruption of a UN meeting did not trigger any removal, much less banning. The difference appears to be that Inner City Press was asking about and inquiring into corruption by the boss, Guterres. His use of force and of his secret banned list is limited to protecting himself, and it seems his son Pedro's undisclosed business links in Angola, Namibia, Sao Tome, Timor Leste and Cabo Verde. Someone is going to have to explain this double standard - and reverse it. Even the Security officers who enforce the ban are not told the reason why a person is on the list: whether it was for actual violence, or writing articles questioning the Secretary General Antonio Guterres' misuse of public funds, for example. One told Inner City Press the secret list includes "demonstrators" and "political activists," audio here.

  Guterres or apparently his head of Global Communications Alison Smale, if only as a proxy, can put a journalist on the list without any review, any notice, any appeal. It is a dictator's dream come true.

   Inner City Press was physically ousted twice by Guterres' UN Security this summer as it reported on his now-15 flights to his home in Lisbon with public funds, his trading away of Cameroon human rights abuses for favors in the Budget Committee, and now his son Pedro's undisclosed business links in Africa. Smale on August 17, without once speaking to me covering the UN for Inner City Press for 11 years, withdrew my media accreditation.

  But it's gone further than that. For example, on October 11 I showed up for a film screening about sex trafficking, “Love Sonia,” to which I had been invited by the UN Office of Drugs and Crimes. UNODC's New York director personally put me on the list for a post screening reception and came and met me and took me to the UN gate to sign me in, since my ticket - which she said she'd seen - mysteriously disappeared.

  UN Security refused to allow the NY director of UNODC to sign me in. “Even if he had a ticket we'd have to check,” one officer said. I was told that a supervisor would come out, and that UNODC would speak to them. But after one hour it never happened. Guterres' chief of staff Maria Luiza Viotti left the building and I audibly told her, I'm invited but I'm being blocked. She did not even break stride.

  The UN has given me nothing in writing that I am banned. Guterres' spokesman has stated it as a fact, without explanation or rationale, on October 9 and 11, while refusing to answer my e-mailed questions despite Smale's promise they would be answered to supposedly respect my "journalistic endeavours."

   Another UN Security officer told me, No one is going to help you. You are on the list. I asked him, who else is on the list? He mentioned “demonstrators” and "political activists" and others. Audio here.

  Tellingly, NOT on Guterres' banned list are those who pleaded guilty to UN bribery for example in the Ng Lap Seng - John Ashe case. They are not banned by Guterres, UNlike the journalist who most closely covered those convictions, and the current UN bribery case of Patrick Ho and the China Energy Fund Committee. Guterres is fine with bribery, but bans those who investigate and expose it.

UNSG Guterres thinks he can ban people without no notice, no due process, no review? And that it won't be noticed or reviewed? Watch this site.


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