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Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


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Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

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Facing US Cuts, UNRWA Uses Outside PR Firm, Takes Pitch Into Private Club, UN Censorship Alliance

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 8 -- In the wake of announced US budget cuts to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, UNRWA is understandably trying to reach out for other sources of funds. So when its West Bank Director, Scott Anderson and the Director of its Representative Office in New York, Peter Mulrean, want to speak to the press covering the UN, one would think they would do it in the UN Press Briefing Room. But for a February 8 briefing UNRWA has chosen instead to make its pitch in a private club in the UN, one that has gotten critical journalists thrown out using the UN's lack of content neutral media accreditation and access rules. UNRWA, which has a spokesperson and media staff, is using an outside public relations firm. While Inner City Press will not enter this clubhouse, the pitch in advance is that "On January 16, the United States, the single largest contributor to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), announced that it would disburse only $60 million of its expected 2018 contribution of more than $360 million to the agency. UNRWA says the cuts are abrupt, harmful to the millions who benefit from the agency’s lifesaving services, and risk destabilizing the Middle East. In response, UNRWA launched the Dignity Is Priceless global fundraising campaign to keep UNRWA’s schools and clinics open through 2018 and beyond. Recently UNRWA also launched an $800 million emergency appeal for areas of crisis intervention, including the West Bank.
Please join us for a briefing with Scott Anderson, UNRWA’s Director of West Bank
Operations, and Peter Mulrean, Director of UNRWA’s Representative Office in New York,
discussing how the funding freeze is affecting day to day operations on the ground for
UNRWA’s beneficiaries in Gaza, the West Bank, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. This briefing is on the record and is open to press and UN staff. Members of the press are requested to RSVP to A light breakfast will be served... United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA)." No thank you.  In other news,
while at least four countries have issued travel warnings in the wake of Bangladesh's arrest and crackdown on the resulting protests, the UN on February 8 hid from the issue, and from the need to better vet the security forces the UN is accepting from Bangladesh in light of the crackdown. Inner City Press asked, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: on Bangladesh.  I mean, you had said… the arrest took place some time ago, and various countries have put out already travel warnings, so I'm wondering, at a minimum… the UN with its country team there, have they taken note of what's taking place in the street? Deputy Spokesman:  I've told you what I've got on that for now. Inner City Press: given that there's live fire, you say… very recently, DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] put out a statement thanking Bangladesh for its peacekeepers, and I'm sure they've done great work, but there have been repeated issues of abuses by the security forces, or seeming abuses, killing of civilians, use of live fire on protesters.  Can you describe what vetting goes on, and… and the recent spate of… of these thank you, messages put out by DPKO, are they in any relation to… to… to the vetting process that's going on or issues that have arisen in various delegations, contingents of peacekeepers? Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq:  All peacekeepers are vetted to make sure that they have not engaged in any practices that involve the violation of human rights.  And we go through that on a country-by-country basis. Inner City Press: And so have there been any Bangladesh peacekeepers blocked in the last five years, given the events in the country in which units by name have taken place in crackdowns on their own civilians? Deputy Spokesman:  We raise all concerns with any particular members of incoming peacekeeping troops with the troop-contributing country to make sure that no one is deployed who does not meet our standards." What standards are those? In other news, with Maldives' President declaring a state of emergency, on February 5 Inner City Press  asked the spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres Stephane Dujarric about it at noon on February 5, before the US then spoke, below.  Under Guterres and his outgoing head of Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, both headed to Korea, it took the UN a full 18 hours to come out with two paragraphs on February 6, below. On February 8, UN Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenca was to brief the UN Security Council about the Maldives under "Any Other Business." But Jenca did not speak to the Press on the way in or out of the Council. Past 2 pm when Kuwait's Ambassador, the President of the Security Council for February, gave a summary of the day's meetings, Maldives wasn't on it. Inner City Press asked, loudly, but no answer; later it was explained that since AOB topics are not listed in the UN Journal, the President feels he cannot speak to it. It would be up to the Secretariat. But under Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretariat says and disclosed less and less. If a briefing on a crackdown happens but no one was speak about it, does it make a sound? Some ask, why is Guterres not sending some sort of envoy or mediator? It can't be that he feels he needs total consent: he sent Nigeria's former president Obasanjo to Kenya, where both sides said they never met with him. So why the different approach to the Maldives? We'll have more on this. The UN's statement from earlier on February 6: "The Secretary-General is seriously concerned about the unfolding situation in the Maldives, in particular the declaration of a state of emergency and the entry of security forces into the Supreme Court premises. The Secretary-General urges the Government of the Maldives to uphold the constitution and rule of law, lift the state of emergency as soon as possible, and take all measures to ensure the safety and security of the people in the country, including members of the judiciary." From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: it seems like President Abdulla Yameen [Abdul Gayoom] has not complied with releasing the opponents.  In fact, he's issued a state of emergency.  I'm wondering, is there… is DPI… is DPA (Department of Political Affairs) actually involved, or is it just… is it issuing statements from New York, or is it trying to speak with him and engage and…? Spokesman:  I think we're very concerned with the ongoing developments in the Maldives, including what we've seen in the last 24 hours.  We're following it very closely.  And I would… you know, the Secretary-General would, again, call on the Government to respect the court ruling and for restraint to be exercised.  And we… I do expect a more formal statement on this shortly." A the UN, shortly means 18 hours.
How far will today's UN go to placate some countries, while ignoring others and restricting the Press? On January 26 UN "global communications" chief Alison Smale flew to Charleston, South Carolina for a photo op and UNTV video with China's Xiamen Airlines for having painting the UN's "SDGs" logo on the side of an airplane. This without having answered Press questions about her Department of Public Information's malfeasance with resources allocated by the General Assembly for Kiswahili and about the lack under her "leadership" of any content neutral UN media access rules. Afterward, when Inner City Press asked for the mp4 video of her South Carolina junket - Inner City Press is informed that the plane she celebrated could not in fact fly - it was told to "Ask UN Webcast," which is under Smale. They were asked - and have not given the video. Nor has Smale offered any response to a detailed petition two weeks ago, while re-tweeting her former employer the NYT and current boss Antonio Guterres. But who is making who look bad? And how can a former NYT editor have no content neutral media access rules, and no answers? As she restricts Inner City Press from its UN reporting on Cameroon, Myanmar, Kenya, Yemen and elsewhere? We'll have more on this. While any country would try to get the UN to promote its airline, if the UN would do it, Smale is the UN official who responsible for Inner City Press being restricted and evicted as it reports on the UN bribery scandal of Patrick Ho and China Energy Fund Committee. Smale hasn't even deigned to answer petitions in this regard, in September (she said she recognized the need for the "courtesy" of a response, never given) and in January -- too busy flying to South Carolina to promote an airline:

Today's UN of Antonio Guterres, who just met with ICC indictee Omar al Bashir, and his Deputy Amina J. Mohammed who has refused Press questions on her rosewood signatures and now the refoulement of 47 people to Cameroon from "her" Nigeria, has become a place of corruption and censorship. On January 30 as Inner City Press sought to complete its reporting for the day on Guterres' Bashir meeting and Mohammed's Cameroon no-answer, it had a problem. It was invited to the month's UN Security Council president's end of presidency reception, 6:30 to 8:30 - but with its accreditation reduced by censorship, it could not get back into the UN after 7 pm, to the already delayed UN video. It ran to at least enter the reception - but the elevator led to a jammed packed third floor, diplomats lined up to shake the outgoing UNSC president's hand. Inner City Press turn to turn tail back to the UN, passing on its way favored, pro-UN correspondents under no such restriction. Periscope here. Inner City Press has written about this to the head of the UN Department of Public Information Alison Smale, in Sepember 2017 - no answer but a new threat - and this month, when Smale's DPI it handing out full access passes to no-show state media. No answer at all: pure censorship, for corruption. Smale's DPI diverted funds allocated for Kiswahili, her staff say, now saying they are targeted for retaliation. This is today's UN. Amid UN bribery scandals, failures in countries from Cameroon to Yemen and declining transparency, today's UN does not even pretend to have content neutral rules about which media get full access and which are confined to minders or escorts to cover the General Assembly.

Inner City Press, which while it pursue the story of Macau-based businessman Ng Lap Seng's bribery of President of the General Assembly John Ashe was evicted by the UN Department of Public Information from its office, is STILL confined to minders as it pursues the new UN bribery scandal, of Patrick Ho and Cheikh Gadio allegedly bribing President of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa, and Chad's Idriss Deby, for CEFC China Energy.

Last week Inner City Press asked UN DPI where it is on the list to be restored to (its) office, and regain full office - and was told it is not even on the list, there is no public list, the UN can exclude, permanently, whomever it wants. This is censorship.


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