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France "Reserves" UN Press Briefing Room, Refuses DRC Q, Genocide Joyride

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 24 -- In the run up to French president Francois Hollande's press conference at the UN on Tuesday, a swatch of seats in the UN Press Briefing Room were marked "Reserved" -- in French. Tweeted photo here.

  Since France has once before tried to limit a press conference inside the UN to those with French passports, this time the Free UN Coalition for Access @FUNCA_info went to the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit and asked. The answer was that the head of MALU had said "oui."

  Inner City Press for the Free UN Coalition for Access wrote to four UN Department of Public Information officials, to act before the press conference (and to explain what percentage of the briefing room countries are now allowed to take over).

  There was no response; one of the officials, Stephane Dujarric, came before the briefing and greeted many members of the French press corps.

   The result was that numerous UN resident correspondents got not only no seats, but more importantly no questions. The picking of questioners (with one exception) was the work of two French staffers.

   The exception was the first question, predictably on Syria, going to the president of the UN Correspondents Association, Pamela Falk of CBS. UNCA said nothing about the banning from seats of resident correspondents they ostensibly represent.

  French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, with a reserved seat next to Falk's or "UNCA's" seat, greeted her. Falk's UNCA is set to host a faux UN briefing by Saudi-sponsored (and French-recognized) Syria rebel boss Ahmad al Jarba. As with the French "reserved" seats, the UN won't explain the use of its, or all 193 states', premises in this partisan way.

   For Francois Hollande the French staffers called on Agence France Presse, sure. One staffer whispered with a member of the UNCA Executive Committee and then decided to give him a question -- it was about the "Syrian regime."

  A traveling French media asked Hollande a softball question about Central African Republic, and Hollande spoke about how much he and France cared. But as Inner City Press reported, there was no UN Security Council resolution on CAR in August because France's UN diplomats were on vacation, and France "has the pen" on the issue.

  France also "has the pen" on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a region in which France and its highest UN official Herve Ladsous stand accused of supporting and assisting genocidaires, click here for some of that.

  As the press conference began to end, Inner City Press several times asked, "A question on the DRC?" The staffer, flanked by a French Mission to the UN diplomat, said no; the last question, like the first, was about Syria.

  France has so corrupted the UN that the French mission has been allowed to hand-pick which journalists can go and cover the Security Council's trip to DRC, Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia in early October.

  Inner City Press, which went on the Council's similar trip in 2010, applied but received this:

From: Jerome Bernard [at]
Date: Fri, Sep 20, 2013 at 6:46 PM
Subject: Re: Security Council trip to Africa
To: Matthew Russell Lee [at] InnerCityPress [dot] com
Cc: Free UN Coalition for Access @FUNCA_info

Hi Matthew,

I am sorry but because of the very limited number of seats in the UN plane it won't be possible for you to travel with the Security Council for this trip to the Great Lakes Region of Africa.

I am sure there will be other opportunities for travel in the future.

Best regards,

Jerome Bernard
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

  Inner City Press inquired and learned, from multiple sources, that France had been allowed to choose which journalists will go. That same day Inner City Press asked the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General for a list of those journalists who France has selected. Four days later, the list has not been provided.

  Jerome Bernard, who will be accompanying the trip apparently hand-picked by France (we note that he previously worked at Agence France Presse, on one of the management boards of which Ladsous served) will supposed tell reporters who France did not want on the trip what is happening.

   Pardonez nous that we are skeptical, and raise this question after the UN let France take over even the UN briefing room.

We will be reporting on this Genocide Joyride. Watch this site.


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