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Amid Crackdown in Turkey, UN Silent, No Response to Press, Reducing Access

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 3 -- Amid the protests and crackdowns in Taksin Square, Istanbul and elsewhere in Turkey, what has the UN had to say? Nothing.

  It's not that they were not asked. Early on June 1, more than 45 hours before finally publishing this, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's three top spokespeople, "does the UN have any comment or guidance on the response to protests in Istanbul and elsewhere in Turkey?"

  Not only was there no response to or acknowledgment of question, which was accompanied by a request for Ban's response to 19 members of the US Congress writing about his dismissal of 5000 legal claims for the UN bringing cholera to Haiti, and on other issues -- the UN has put out no statement at all.

  Statements are what this UN has been reduced to. They churn them out at breathtaking speed, and those who cover Ban write them up, as it's called, as fast as they come out. Ban is "deeply concerned" about this, "concerned about that," "calls for restraint," and so forth.

  In this case, it's not that Ban and his Office have not been cranking out statements: about malaria, Tanzania, post-2015 development, Madagascar, the World Bank and, of course, Syria. But nothing on #OccupyGezi or Turkey -- one of the West's and Ban's allies on Syria. Could that be it?

  Meanwhile Ban's UN, having orchestrated an entirely unnecessary reduction in press access and media workspace in front of the relocating Security Council, has also gone silent. Knowing of a 10 am Monday deadline, unlike Ban's Office of the Spokesperson the responsible department did contact Inner City Press.

A request was made to hold off to allow the checking and consideration of information provided by the new Free UN Coalition for Access back on May 21, when the proposed rule (apparently supported by the old UN Correspondents Association and explicitly by Ban or at least his Office of the Spokesperson, video here). Inner City Press did turn closer to home and hold off, it's unclear for what.

Ironically, a cause or justification for the impending reduction in media access is... a new so-called Turkish Lounge. We'll have more on all this. Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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