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As Davutoglu Opens UN Turkish Lounge, Press Squeezed, Attacks by UNCA

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 17 -- Turkey's foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu came to the UN on Friday night, for the ceremonial opening of what's called the "Turkish Lounge" outside the renovated Security Council. Inner City Press photos here & here.

  He spoke about Turkey's desire to make Istanbul a "UN city," and to have a big UN building. He did not mention that this hyped up Turkish Lounge is taking over a space the press used to have access to, to actually cover the Security Council.

FM Davutoglu, DSG Eliasson, Turkish PM, (c) MRLee

  Inner City Press, which has raised the issue to numerous ambassadors both for itself closely covering the Council and for the new Free UN Coalition for Access, asked UN Capital Master Plan chief Michael Adlerstein about the issue back on April 25, video here, and see below.

  At the May 17 reception, Inner City Press raised the issue in detail to the affable Permanent Representative of the UK, Mark Lyall Grant, and to the Deputy Permanent Representative of one of the UK's largest former colonies. Both indicated that a table for the press to work at should not be impossible. But will it happen?

  Meanwhile this month's UN leader of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation told Inner City Press about a meeting earlier in the day about the Rohingya, predicted there would be more action for them. One can only hope.

  A person with close knowledge of the Turkish Mission said it is no longer up to Turkey what happens with their lounge; that the UN Department of Public Information has said it will depend on complaints by Security Council members. But that would be lowest common denominator: the most press unfriendly would win.

  Back on April 25, Adlerstein told Inner City Press, “we offered a series of rooms for gifting,” based on a resolution by the General Assembly.”

  Of the Security Council stakeout Adlerstein continued, “One of the areas we offered,” which he said “used to be a coffee bar... the Turks asked for that area. They furnished it, their architect came in.”

  Inner City Press asked, who decided that the press would not have the same access it had before?

  Adlerstein paused; there was laughter. Inner City Press said, “It's a press conference” -- albeit about the re-opening of the Trusteeship Council Chamber.

  Adlerstein then told Inner City Press, “this was a discussion which is still ongoing. As the building opens, I think that dialogue with the press will evolve.”

  While Inner City Press didn't say it, the UN's dialogue on press access, accreditation and other matters can no longer by limited to the old UN Correspondents' Association.

  UNCA has been ineffectual; worse, it has tried to get the UN to throw out media that the wire services that dominate the UNCA Executive Committee don't like.

Charbonneau of Reuters & UNCA shakes with Ban: on what? (c) Luiz Rampelotto of FUNCA

  That was Margaret Besheer of Voice of America, who wrote that Reuters (Louis Charbonneau) and Agence France Presse (Tim Witcher) supported here. Bloomberg did, but then was ordered off (it didn't stick). Pam Falk of CBS came in and defended all this, and worse. On the record audio here, and here, and here.

Pamela Falk of CBS & UNCA, courtesy UNTV

  Those individuals were present Friday night, some of them fresh off anonymous social media attacks on smaller media. That is disgusting, and triggers this footnote and soon more. UNCA has become, at least at the level of the Executive Committee, the UN's Censorship Alliance.

  Despite DPI knowing full well of UNCA's turn into censorship and anonymous attacks, they are given a large prominent space that others cannot use.  And, with their increasing and unchecked use of anonymity, the UN Cowardice Association. Even on this issue which they claimed to be working on, they cannot be relied on. Watch this site.

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