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At UN, Coverage of Rwanda Genocide Failure, Diplomat Q&A, Hindered by DPI Censorship

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 8 – Thirteen and a half months ago, acting against Press coverage of Ban Ki-moon's links to UN corruption cases, the UN Department of Public Information had Inner City Press physically ousted from the UN.  Audio here.

  Since then an UNrelenting campaign of harassment by UN Security and the requirement that Inner City Press unlike other media have minders to stake-out public events in the UN has continued.

  On April 7, the annual Rwanda genocide commemoration by the UN which failed so badly in 1994 took place in the Trusteeship Council Chamber. To cover it as it has in previous years, Inner City Press was required to get a DPI minder to escort it; the minder stayed while diplomats approached Inner City Press to speak, including about the UN's current failures on Burundi and Cameroon as well as Yemen and Syria. Then the DPI minder said, You have to go, and escorted Inner City Press back outside the turnstile. When the event ended Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who had sat on the podium with the DPI Officer in Charge Maher Nasser who has had before him for a week Inner City Press' formal request for restoration, gave through the turnstiles to head to the elevator. He passed, seemingly oblivious, by the very location of censorship, chatting with a staffer whose promotion Inner City Press has covered (which Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric called "despicable"). This is today's UN.

  Back on April 3, the continuing restrictions by DPI meant that after entering through the UN metal detectors and having its backpack / office searched in detail, Inner City Press has to request a DPI "minder" to stakeout the day's meeting on UN Security Council reform. As other correspondents walked by without minders, Inner City Press was behind a red rope. When a Latin American country's Permanent Representative approached Inner City Press to ask questions - ironically, one was about DPI's censorship - a UN Security official came over to "break it up." This is censorship, and has been raised.

  On March 31, the day after a ghoulish farewell event for DPI's Cristina Gallach, Inner City Press was still restricted, and could not for example stake-out a UN Security Council session about "hybrid war" without being overseen by a UN minder. This is censorship.

  Back on March 23, because it is still unlike other UN correspondents required to enter through the metal detectors with tourists, Inner City Press was unable to cover the UN Security Council meeting beginning with UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, whom it wished to ask about the cut off of internet to Anglophones in Cameroon for more than 60 days. Call it double censorship, with the UN's role as shameful. Gallach's Department of Public Information claims that the press it has evicted is facilitated through the metal detectors, around tourists whom DPI propogandizes. This DPI claim is false, as are so many. Mend it or end it.

 On March 6, Inner City Press had to curtail coverage of an event in the UN General Assembly lobby about Sexual Violence in Conflict, including the rapes in Minova in Eastern Congo about which alone asked UN Peaekeeping's Herve Ladsous until he stopped answering, because of Gallach's ongoing curfew: 7 pm. After that hour, unlike other correspondents in the UN, Inner City Press' pass no longer opens even the first turnstile (it still does not open the second floor turnstile at any hour).  So Inner City Press had to suspend broadcasting amid the speech by new Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed.

   Quickly before having to leave altogether, Inner City Press went to the Ghana National Day it was invited to and Periscoped the Permanent Representative's speech, here, including on Security Council reform which Inner City Press asked Deputy SG Mohammed about and a dance afterward, here. And then it had to go, under Gallach's censorship order. Ghoulishly, Inner City Press is informed that Gallach may even be re-applying to keep the post that has been advertised. That would be a travesty: Gallach's unilateral decisions must be reversed. Watch this site.

  On March 1, 2017, Inner City Press was unable to cover an event on the UN Conference Building's second floor to which it had been invited. It informed the sponsor that due to Gallach's evicting order and reduction in Inner City Press' accreditation, it can still not get through the turnstile to the second floor. So the sponsor moved to put Inner City Press on the list of public guests to enter through the General Assembly lobby but was told not, that is not possible for the Press. So, entirely Banned - while the Egyptian state media to which Gallach is trying to give Inner City Press' long time shared office, Akhbar al Yom, rarely comes in, and asks no questions at all.

   Meanwhile, despite the top job of DPI that Gallach has so badly mishandled being opened for applications, on March 1 some said Gallach is trying to stay on in the job. That would be a travesty, not only in light of her no due process eviction of and continuing restrictions on the Press, but also her failure to do any due diligence on Ng Lap Seng, under house arrest for UN bribery. Gallach is responsible for DPI's "Wonder Woman as UN Ambassador" fiasco, and paid public funds for a trainer to tell DPI-accredited NGOs that Detroit, Michigan is a "third rate city" in "flyover country." Staying on at the UN even now reflects what's wrong and budget cut-worthy in today's UN. Anything past March 31, in any capacity, would just make it worse. Watch this site.

   The continuing hindrance of Inner City Press' coverage ranges from formal General Assembly meetings to February 20 events on "revitalizing the General Assembly" to the SDGs and even the death of Ambassador Vitaly Churkin.

  Inner City Press arrived early at the UN to cover revitalization or reform, but could only get to the area in front of the meeting when accompanied by an escort, and a watchful minder throughout. Several diplomats commented on it; some saying they'd like to talk with the Press, but not like this. This is censorship, targeted censorship. Other correspondents who do not cover the UN as closely or critically wandered by without any minders required.

  After news broke of the death of Ambassador Churkin, Inner City Press returned for a 3 pm meeting at which, because of the death, a handful of other correspondents also staked out. But while the UN correctly allow them to roam, Inner City Press was limited to a penned in area, even as the SDGs were discussed. Given what DPI under Gallach claims, this is hypocrisy, too. And it must end.

  Egyptian state media Akhbar al Yom's rarely present correspondent Sanaa Youssef to whom Gallach is trying to give Inner City Press' shared UN office was once again not present, and has yet to ask a single questions. This is a scam.

 On February 17 for the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

  Wanting to ask about disappearance from Kenya to Western Sahara, Inner City Press arrived early to get the still-required minder to accompany it to the area in front of the Trusteeship Council Chamber, where other journalists and it before the retaliatory eviction one year ago could go without any minder.  But there was a delay, and be the time Inner City Press was escorted, the sponsors and attendees had already gone in. A pen that several interlocutors called absurd was established.

  Inside, a Moroccan "inter-ministerial delegate" talked about armed conflict in "the southern part of our country" - that would be Western Sahara. France along with Argentina announced a pledge. But the delay and restrictions made it impossible to pursue these or other questions. This is a pattern.

  Back on January 24, there was an event ironically about "propaganda." Here was the definition given, in this tweeted photo.

 While the event went on, Inner City Press under Gallach's 11-month old eviction order was required to leave before 7 - its UN pass stops working in UN turnstiles at that time.

  On January 17, for an event involving Gallach herself as a speaker, despite having been invited -- not by the UN -- and having its RSVP confirmed, Inner City Press was stopped by UN Security and not allowed to enter. Video here.

     In any event, with the UN pass that Gallach has reduced, Inner City Press cannot get through any turnstiles to work after 7 pm. Gallach herself appears in the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services audit of the Ng Lap Seng / John Ashe (RIP) UN bribery case, at Paragraphs 37-40 and 20b, as having done no due diligence of Ng Lap Seng's buying of UN events and even its Slavery Memorial. Audit here.

   She and Ban Ki-moon, to punish and make more difficult coverage of their links to these cases, evicted Inner City Press and restrict it to this day, 11 months later. As to Ban, Inner City Press on January 17 appeared in a 19-minute interview about corruption and censorship on Seoul's TBS radio. On the lower profile, entirely unaccountable Gallach, we'll have more.

This is a litmus test of press (UN) freedom.

Gallach's censorship order of February 2016 prevented Inner City Press in December 2016, for the first time in years, from covering the UN budget process, including on human rights and Burundi, another of Ban Ki-moon's failures.

For years Inner City Press has been virtually alone in covering the late night Fifth (Budget) Committee session in which billions of dollars are carved up. But in 2016 for the first time, following Gallach's retaliatory eviction order and ghoulish restriction regime of minders and the putting off of pass, Inner City Press could not cover the budget.

   By seizing Inner City Press' long time office -- and awarding it to an Egypt state media Akhbar al Yom whose correspondents Sanaa Youssef rare comes to the UN and never asks questions -- Gallach and Ban have made so that Inner City Press cannot enter the UN after 7 pm. But that, of course, is when the budget process happens.

   In December 2016, for example, Burundi cut the funds for human rights observers and the UN mission the Security Council mandated but has yet to deploy. Inner City Press covers these, but was Banned from covering the process by Gallach. This is a cover up.

    Meanwhile Gallach is showing her true colors with article such as that “amateurs” killed journalism. Really? Energetic online media that actually covers UN corruption is a threat to deadbeat stenography or non-existent journalism like that of Akhbar al Yom's correspondent?

Gallach is the wrong person to have control of the UN Department of Public Information. She also did no due diligence on Macau based businessman Ng Lap Seng in the John Ashe case, and is responsible for the UN's Wonder Woman fiasco. She must go.


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