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At UN, Union Incumbents Try to Censor Web, Scribes Party Amid Sirens

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 18 -- While the UN preaches democracy and even lack of censorship around the world, in two elections held last week inside the UN, disputes and decay were the rule, as they will are tonight at what we call the Censors' Ball, now underway.

  In the UN Staff Union election, in which an incumbent has sought to stay on despite term limits, there were charges of illegal polling, and an attempt to stop paying the Elections Services Company. Nevertheless polling took place in the UN lobby on December 10 and 11 and yesterday December 17 Inner City Press published the results, putting the document online here:

Winner with 430 votes: Ticket 1 [They have thanked voters]

President Stephen Kisambira (DESA/PD)

First Vice-President Emad Hassanin (DGACM/MPD/PS)

Second Vice-President Leonid Dolgopolov (DSS/DSSS/SSS)

2d place with 231 votes: Ticket 2

President Nadir A. Dirar Bashir (DGACM/MPD/PS/DTPU)...

  Now comes this attempt to remove the results from the UN website:

Dear ASG Pollard,

As you know, on 6 December 2013 the Unit Chairs recalled the Polling Officers and on 9 December a new call for nominations was issued.

In my capacity as Chair of Unit Chairpersons, the Staff Union body which holds the Polling Officers of the Staff Union accountable (elects and recalls them), may I kindly ask that the post on iSeek on the election results be removed, since the electoral process undertaken by the same recalled Polling Officers is null and void.

I fully agree with you that the Administration should not interfere with Union matters, and it is exactly why the results of the recent elections should not be published officially on iSeek.

Edwin Perez, DESA

   "The Administration" means Secretary General Ban Ki-moon; he has arrived with fanfare at the annual "ball" of what's become his UN Censorship Alliance tonight.

  His and two other cars arrived with sirens: the President of the General Assembly, and that of his Deputy. The UK's Lyall Grant went in -- he joked, as he often does, about a new fashion-centric so far anonymous account --  as did Colombia's stylish Nestor Osorio.

  Throughout the week, diplomats were barraged with requests to attend. So who's paying? The question is not answered.

   Technically it's called the United Nations Correspondents Association, and in 2012 its leaders tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, pointing at a factual article Inner City Press published about Sri Lanka, the UN and conflicts of interest.

  Ban's Secretariat now admits on Sri Lanka a "systemic failure" - his Deputy will speak on that tomorrow -- but UNCA, which still has no rules against trying to throw journalists out of the UN, nor apparently any conflict of interest rules, makes no admission, no reforms.

  Not surprisingly it is in decay. Even as to its annual overly expensive ball, its draw Richard Roth of CNN is replaced tonight by BBC's Laura Trevelyanwho during a 2009 trip to Sri Lanka with Ban Ki-moon and UK humanitarian chief Sir John Holmes not only didn't report Holmes on the record comment that he deleted all complaining emails from Tamils -- she said the Press reporting this "ruined" relations with Holmes for her and, for example, Reuters.

 Though over 2000 journalists are accredited at the UN, last week only 111 even tried to vote in the three days of polling -- and door to door demands to vote for -- the United Nations Correspondents Association. Seven of these ballots failed. The incumbent Pamela Falk of CBS, running unopposed, still managed to not get 26 of the 104 votes cast.

  Her vote total of 78 is lower than the 85 obtained in December 2011 by her predecessor, who was the one who first demanded that Inner City Press remove an article about Sri Lanka from the Internet, click here for that.

 The article UNCA "leaders" tries to censor reported on the previous financial relationship of Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative with UNCA's then president, in the context of this president screening in the UN the Sri Lankan government's war crimes denial film, without asking or the consent of Inner City Press then on the Executive Committee of UNCA.

  No reforms in UNCA were ever instituted after this.

  Now as Inner City Press exclusively reported yesterday, picked up in Sri Lanka in English and Tamil, Sri Lanka's defense secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is in New York. Some in Sri Lanka have asked: will he attend UNCA's $250 a plate event with Ban Ki-moon tomorrow night?

 Will the leaders of UNCA, an association of correspondents, make public who is attending their ball, who paid and how much?

(Inner City Press after withstanding a kangaroo court UNCA proceeding quit the organization and co-founded the new Free UN Coalition for Access, @FUNCA_info, to actually defend the right of free press and free inquiry in and about the UN system.)

   UNCA is an organization in continued decline. In 2012 many of its "leaders" tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, as documented by documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Voice of America asked the UN to "review" Inner City Press' accreditation; VOA said it had the support of Agence France Presse and Reuters, click here for that.

The Reuters first vice president of UNCA spied for the UN, giving them an internal anti Press UNCA document three minutes after promising not to (story here, document here, audio here).

 While he has stepped off, the Reuters reporter he supervised (and who also tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN) campaigned to get on UNCA's board, demanding in Friday's noon briefing to all present, "Have you voted?" It's as if Reuters has a Permanent seat on UNCA's 15-member Executive Committee, like the P5 in the Security Council.

Here are the results, compared to votes in December 2011 for the "candidate" or their predecessor

Dec '13 Dec '11

Prez: * 78 [85] Pamela Falk, CBS News TV and Radio

1st VP * 74 [79] Kahraman Haliscelik, TRT Turkish Radio & TV

2d VP * 48 71 Masood Haider, Dawn, Pakistan

* 48 [71] Sylviane Zehil, L’Orient Le Jour

3d VP * 55 [62] Erol Avdovic, Webpublicapress

38 Ali Barada, An-Nahar/France 24

Trez * 81 [71] Bouchra Benyoussef, Maghreb Arab Press

Sect * 79 [81] Seana Magee, Kyodo News

Members at Large (9)

* 57  Nabil Abi Saab , Alhurra TV

* 57  Talal Al-Haj ,Al-Arabiya News channel

22  George Baumgarten , Jewish Newspapers, Nation Media

* 50 Sherwin Bryce-Pease, South African Broadcasting (SABC)

* 51  Zhenqiu Gu, Xinhua News Agency

* 69  Melissa Kent, CBC/Radio Canada

* 56  Evelyn Leopold, Huffington Post Contributor

49 J. Tuyet Nguyen, German Press Agency DPA

* 67  Michelle Nichols, Reuters

41  Edwin Nwanchukwu, News Agency of Nigeria

27  Cia Pak, Scannews

*54  Valeria Robecco, ANSA

* 54  Sangwon Yoon , Bloomberg

  Some of the elected are new and their positions on UNCA Executive Committee members trying to get other (investigative) media thrown out of the UN, and the need to preclude this and UNCA leaders' anonymous social media trolling, are not yet known. (Some not elected were among the better / more diverse candidates.)

 Beyond the lack of reform after UNCA "leaders" tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, and then engaged in 2013 in anonymous social media trolling which the incumbent though told on the record did not stop, there's now a dispute of the statement that donated Samsung television equipment "did not involve a mission," which the UN itself admits Samsung have the equipment to the South Korean Mission, which gave it to the UN, which forwarded it on to UNCA.

 Why, given how much they are charging this week in Cipriani's? They will honor Ban Ki-moon, whose spokesperson's office squawked Friday, immediately after a briefing on Syria chemical weapons, that wine would be served in the UNCA room and that election results were out: to UN, newsworthy.

  As is the UNCA "ball" with Ban Ki-moon. Who from the Sri Lankan government is attending it? Will defense secretary Gotobhaya Rajapaksa?

When the UN Correspondents Association leaders tried stealthy to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN, and have failed to institute any reform since, it became the UN's Censorship Alliance. Party on. Watch this site.


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