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After US Power Says Cut North Korea's Mic & UN Does, UN Won't Say Why

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 1, with new UN video  -- When the US Mission and that of South Korea started an event on human rights in North Korea in UN Conference Room 3 on April 30, from the podium US Ambassador Samantha Power called for the microphone to be turned off on North Korean Counselor Ri Song Chol's right of reply speech, given too early as it happened. Inner City Press shot this video; below is a transcription.

  After Inner City Press on April 30 asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq to explain the rules by which the UN cuts the mic on one member state at the request of another, Haq expressed skepticism that the event occured and said he would have to look into it. April 30 video here.

 On May 1, Haq read out answers to other April 30 questions, including about a previously undisclosed firefight in Haiti, but nothing on this one. So Inner City Press asked about it again (and was called rude by Haq, video here).

 On this, Haq when Press claimed that it was entirely a member states event, and the question should be asked to the member states. May 1 video here.

But one member state got the UN to turn off the UN microphone on another. Shouldn't the UN have to provide an answer about this, rather than call the jouranlist who asks "rude" for asking so? Watch this site.

  US Ambassador Power said to cut the microphone, then said that UN Security would be called. Ultimately the North Korean delegation left. Inner City Press at the day's UN noon briefing asked what rules apply. Video here.

 From the UN transcript:

Inner City Press: this morning, as I'm sure you know, there was a… an event on North… on human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and the DPRK envoy sought to speak and there was some back and forth from the podium telling the UN… the UN technicians to turn off his microphone and, in fact, it was turned off for a time and eventually there was some talk of calling UN Security and eventually they did leave with UN Security.  So I wanted to ask you, maybe here or shortly after the briefing, what are the rules in terms of invoking UN Secretariat resources such as turning off a microphone or calling Security to remove a diplomat of a country?

Deputy Spokesman:  I don't have any of the details of this meeting so I need to confirm what exactly happened and who asked for what.  I… I can't even confirm that that… what… the details of that.

Question:  Okay.  I just want… a request was made from the podium from the US ambassador to turn off the gentleman's microphone and it did turn off.  I just want to know from you is this usual UN procedure or was it a mistake or…

Deputy Spokesman:  This is not something I'd heard of.  So we would need to look into it and see what's happened and who made any sort of request.

  But here's a transcription from Conference Room 3:

"I’m Barbara Demick. I have been covering the DPRK since 2001. I wrote a book about North Korea called Nothing To Envy, and I’ve also been writing for the Los Angeles Times and the New Yorker on the subject. I’m delighted to be here and happy you will have an opportunity to hear...


Demick: I think you’ll have a chance to speak in the question and answer period.
DPRK again tries to speak.

Samantha Power: Sir, you’re discrediting yourself further by interrupting the proceedings. We will continue our panel You can speak when the panel concludes.
DPRK still trying to speak (speech as prepared for delivery now put online by Inner City Press here, excerpted below)
Power: I think the audience will agree it’s better to allow the DPRK to speak, since it is a self-discrediting exercise. Conclude your statement, and we will go back to our panel. There’s no need for a microphone.
DPRK: (inaudible)
Power: Please shut the mic down, since this is not an authorized intervention. If we could ask the acoustics people? Please ensure that the microphone is not live. Thank you.
DPRK keeps speaking, but can’t hear without a mic. Woman yells in Korean.
Power: So we are calling UN Security. Sir, you can either conclude your remarks, or you will be removed from the room.
Demick: you will have a chance to speak.

Power: No. He’s had his chance.
  Inner City Press has asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq what the UN's rules are, for cutting of a member state's microphone. Here's a part of DPRK's speech: (and here, on the US Mission's website, is Power's)

"The DPRK categorically rejects the groundless allegations made in this event organized by the US and south Korea.
  "It is well known to the world that the United States pursues the political confrontation and plot against the DPRK even in the international human rights fora as an extension of its hostile policy towards the DPRK. The principal human rights violator of the world is none other than the United States."
  "Under the 'Liberty Statue,' the United States enjoys its reputation by ranking the Number 1 in murder and crimes by murdering the innocent black people, extreme racial discrimination, sexual abuses against the women, and in the number of prisons and prisoners. These are just a tip of iceberg among the human rights violations committed in the US every day. The acts of racial discrimination committed by the white police officers through shooting, strangling, and beating to death the African-Americans in several cities of the US such as Ferguson and Baltimore as well as cruel and barbarian acts of torture by the CIA in the secret prison camps in all parts of the world clearly show that the US, so-called guardian of 'freedom' and 'human rights,' is the true kingpin of human rights violations and the barren land of human rights."

"The United States has no rights to raise the human rights issues of other countries, as it officially detain people, without any legal procedures, and brutally torture them in secret prisons placed in several countries around the world. The United States should disclose whole part of the report on torture by the CIA at detention centers, accept the international special investigation and take measures to punish those responsible for those crimes. It is preposterous for the US to accuse other's human rights. The US is better advised to correct its own faults in human rights."

 Eventually the North Korea trio left the conference room accompanied by UN Security officers. Inner City Press followed, and asked them if they'd return for a more UN-conventional right of reply. No, was the response.

Update: Inner City Press has obtained North Korea's speech and puts it online here, since the mic was cut off. Inner City Press also asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq what are the UN's rules for cutting off microphones on member states, and use of UN Security.

 As the DPRK trio went up the escalator, a heckler who had followed from the Conference Room shouted at them, "You are human scum!" Video here.
They proceeded up the escalator, through the UN's checkerboard floored lobby and were gone.

 The event was called "Victims’ Voices: A Conversation on North Korean Human Rights," and included author Barbara Demick.

  Back on April 8 the North Korean mission to the UN held a press conference at its office on Second Avenue, at which its Deputy Permanent Representative An Myong Hun denounced the continued detention of the Mudubong ship in Mexico.

  An Myong Hun said that in January Mexico was going to release the ship, which ran into a Mexican coral reef (damage to which North Korea paid for) - then reversed its position, saying that a UN Under Secretary General had told them to hold the ship.

  Inner City Press asked An Myong Hun if that UN Under Secretary General was Angela Kane of Disarmament, soon to be replaced by Kim Won-soo (see Inner City Press' scoop, here). An Myong Hun said that the USG was unnamed - but said the United States was behind the continued "illegal" detention of the ship.

  But, An Myong Hun said, DPRK has not spoken about this with the United States. He was on his way to deliver a speech to the UN Disarmament meeting Inner City Press is also covering.

Here's how An Myong Hung began his press conference:

"One peaceful commercial ship of my country has been detained for more than eight months and we think that this is complete abnormal situation. Mudubong, which was on a peaceful voyage for foreign trade activities, entered into one port at Mexico but unfortunately it went aground on a coral reef near that port. It was totally an accident. Mexico requested payment for damage to the coral reef according to its domestic law. We the DPRK fully paid all this compensation for environmental damage to the reef. And since we fulfilled our legal obligation by payment, Mexico authorities decided to release the Mudubong and allow Mudobong to leave the port, January this year.

"But suddenly, the Mexico government revoked its position. They said they have received advice from an unnamed Under Secretary General of the United Nations for the continued detention of the ship."

  The North Korean mission held another press conference back on February 16, President's Day, when the UN was closed. The purpose then  was to go public with the opposition of the DPRK Korea to the “Conference on North Korean Human Rights” to be held by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington on February 17.

   Inner City Press asked North Korean Ambassador Jang Il Hun if, as the Korea Times has reported, the event would be held in the US Capitol. No, he said, he expected it would be held on CSIS's campus. The State Department told him that since it is not a US government event - despite the participation of Ambassador Robert King and Kurt Campbell - the DPRK's request for cancellation or participation was not granted.

   But, Jang Il Hun said, why wasn't DPRK allowed to participate in the US goverment event in September 2014 in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel? Inner City Press covered that event, here, and asked the same question, in the spirit of the right to reply.

  Despite the presence of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid, and a blue UN flag, Inner City Press was told that was not a “UN event,” so no right to reply.

  Inner City Press also asked Jang Il Hun if UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has replied to his government's recent letter. No, was the answer. Video here and embedded below. And so it goes at the UN.

  This press conference was held a small room at the DPRK mission on Second Avenue; Inner City press tweeted photos here, and here.

  Jang Il Hun said he hoped this would be the first of many such events, part of DPRK's campaign. In the foyer were photographs of gifts given to DPRK, including a signed Wilson basketball. “Now you must leave,” the Press was told. Back at the UN, the temperature was 57 degrees. Watch this site.

Here's the DPRK Mission's statement:

No.4 /02/15

Press Statement of the Permanent Mission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to the United Nations

The Permanent Mission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to the Unite Nations releases the following press statement with regard to the “Conference on North Korean Human Rights” to be hosted by the United States in Washington D.C.

The United States and south Korea are going to convene so-called "Conference on North Korean Human Rights: the Road Ahead" on 17 February in Washington by bringing together Michael Donald Kirby, former chairman of COI and Marzuki Darusman, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK.

The Permanent Mission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to the United Nations condemns the convening of such human rights gathering as a political human rights plot against the DPRK and makes clear its position as follows;

The "Conference on North Korean Human Rights: the Road Ahead " constitutes a product of the hostile policy of the United States against the DPRK, and it is nothing but a rubbish event for the United States to get rid of the predicament driven at home and abroad, due to the recent confession by the defector of the fabrication of his testimony and to the disclosure of CIA's torture crimes.

We made due request to the U.S. on our participation in the gathering, since we are the party directly concerned. But the U.S. ignored our request for participation because they are afraid of disclosure of their plot for fabrication.

The US is advised to clean up its own human rights ravages. If the U.S. is sincerely interested in human rights, they should, above all, call into question the CIA's torture crimes and the gross human rights violations committed by "national security law" in south Korea, far from clinging to the attempted fabrication of falsehood and plot through such as the kind of above "conference".

The United States does not have qualification at all to talk about human rights situation of other countries, since it is the worst human rights violator in the world.

We, the people of the DPRK are proud of our political and social system chosen by ourselves and we will strongly respond to any attempts to overthrow our system under the pretext of human rights.


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