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UN's d'Escoto Defends Ahmadinejad's Right to Free Speech, Decries (Ban's?) Theater

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, April 23 -- Mahmood Ahmadinejad has asked the 137-member Non-Aligned Movement to condemn UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for criticizing him, as President of Iran, for his statements at the Durban Review Conference Monday in Geneva. Thursday it emerged, perhaps not surprisingly, that the President of the UN General Assembly Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann is diplomatically in support of Ahmadinejad. Inner City Press asked d'Escoto Brockmann's spokesperson, Enrique Yeves, for the President of the General Assembly's views on Ban v. Ahmadinejad. Video here, cleaned up statement below:

Subj: Durban Review Conference
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 4/23/2009 1:18:14 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time

Hi Matthew, below is what I said today at the briefing. Best regards, Enrique

Noon Briefing

The President of the GA, of course, believes that the United Nations must provide a forum where all views of Members States can be expressed, even those views that are considered controversial.

That said, he is disappointed that the controversy has become a distraction from the bigger goal of finding justice and sovereignty for the Palestinian People.

It is unfortunate that the attention has focused on the President of Iran rather than on this difficult process of bringing peace and justice to peoples of the region.

(The recent incident unfolded like a theatrical production and, he does not think this is the best use of the world stage.)

  After Yeves read out this statement, Inner City Press followed up, asking who d'Escoto was criticizing for focusing on Ahmadinejad: the press or Ban Ki-moon?  It was that Yeves made the parenthetical statement about it being a "theatrical production."

UN's Ban and PGA d'Escoto, different Durban reviews

  In fact, Monday in UN headquarters it was more like a screening of a home movie. Ban's Spokesperson's Office cancelled the normal Q&A noon briefing, and instead used the briefing room to show a broadcast, at first without sound and throughout without any possibility to ask questions from UN Headquarters, of Ban and Navi Pillay speaking in Geneva, denounced Ahmadinejad. Ban went further and called for "discipline" on NGOs. Since then, several have been thrown out from the Review Conference.

Footnote: D'Escoto's good buddy Evo Morales of Bolivia was at the UN on Wednesday for the new Madre Tierra / Mother Earth Day. One reporter protested that there was already one (or two) UN accepted Earth Days. Another called the nomenclature sexist, and said that Germany in the General Assembly spoke of Father Earth.

   Morales, for his part, used his hour-long press conference to answer only four questions. Throughout he was sweating and later, while being interviewed, he got sick and was taken away in a wheelchair. He cancelled his appearance in a church in Harlem, where a long line of people arriving to hear him speak were told at 5:30 that he would not be appearing. He cancelled his trip to the indigenous conference in Alaska that d'Escoto is attending, and headed back to Bolivia. The UN says the country is being taken over by the Mexican drug cartels. But that's only part of the UN....

Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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