Tuesday, September 19, 2017

On Hurricane Irma, ICP Asked for UN PGA View of (No) IMF Debt Moratorium, De Niro


By Matthew Russell Lee


UNITED NATIONS, September 18 – While the UN system's International Monetary Fund has yet to announce any debt moratorium for countries impacted by Hurricane Irma, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric gave the press a mere three minutes to sign up to attend the UN's September 18 meeting about Irma, see below. As the meeting began, Inner City Press asked not Dujarric but the spokesman for the President of the General Assembly for the PGA's view of the IMF's position on (no) debt moratorium. From the PGA Office's summary: "Asked for the President’s reaction to comments by an International Monetary Fund (IMF) official, in which the official allegedly said that the IMF would not be open to instituting a debt moratorium for hurricane-hit Antigua and Barbuda, the Spokesperson replied that the President would not want to second-guess the comments of an IMF official in an area of the IMF’s expertise. The Spokesperson reiterated that the President was committed to the recovery of Antigua and Barbuda, which is why he had convened the high-level meeting on Hurricane Irma and invited the Government of Antigua and Barbuda to speak there." In the meeting, Achim Steiner of UNDP told even Caribbean nations they could not speak, so that Robert De Niro could. You talkin' to me? When the IMFre-started its biweekly embargoed press briefings on September 14, Inner City Press submitted a question about Hurricane Irma and moratoria: "On Antigua and Barbuda, and Hurricane Irma impacted countries more generally... will there be no moratoria? What is the IMF doing?" IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice said, "There's a question from Matthew Lee on moratorium... on that, I would refer to what Mme Lagarde said a few days ago, of course the IMF has tremendous sympathy. She also said we stand ready to help. There are a number of options we can look at in that context. At the moment we are still trying to make an assessment. As a factual member, none of our members including Antigua and Barbuda have formally requested assistance from the Fund." Oh. On September 15, when Inner City Press at the UN asked Patti Smith about it, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric cut off the question saying he would answer it at his forthcoming briefing. He did not. Instead, with a mere three minutes' notice, at 3:57 pm on September 15 he told the Press it had until 4 pm to request a seat to cover the UN's meeting on Irma. He also excluded Inner City Press from information about his "background" briefing on UN General Assembly week. Here's Dujarric's Irma e-mail, with invitees: "From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply
Date: Fri, Sep 15, 2017 at 3:57 PM
Subject: Media Advisory: Meeting on Hurricane Irma
To: MEDIA ADVISORY
Meeting on Hurricane Irma United Nations, 15 September 2017 — On 18 September 2017, the President of the seventy-second session of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajèák, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Mr. António Guterres, will co-host a High-Level Meeting on Hurricane Irma at United Nations Headquarters. The meeting will be an opportunity to draw political attention to the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma. It will aim to increase solidarity with those affected and highlight the need for building communities that are more resilient to natural disasters and climate change. Information will also be shared on what is being done at the national, regional and global levels to respond to the disaster. The event will bring together United Nations Member States, United Nations agencies and other relevant stakeholders. WHAT High-Level Meeting on Hurricane Irma WHO expected speakers to include:
·        H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajèák, President of the General Assembly
·        H.E. Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General
·        H.E. Mr. Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda
·        H.E. Mr. Darren Henfield, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Bahamas
·        H.E. Mr. Bert Koenders, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
·        The Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP, Minister of State for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, United Kingdom
·        Mr. Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator
·        Mr. Mark Lowcock, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs
·        Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, Chief Executive Officer of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and International Development Association, World Bank  WHEN Monday, 18 September; 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm EDT WHERETrusteeship Council Chamber HOWThere is limited seating at the event. UN journalists wishing to cover it can request special passes from the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit.  External print journalists must register here by 4pm EDT on Friday, 15 September" - this is, in three minutes...

On Cameroon, As Biya Comes to UNGA, ICP Asks of His Torture and Secret Prisons


By Matthew Russell Lee, interviews IIIvideo

UNITED NATIONS, September18 – From Cameroon, officials of Paul Biya's more than 30 year government August 8 met with the UN's Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed to spin Biya's abuse of Anglophone Southern Cameroons, including cutting off the Internet for 94 days during which the UN stayed largely silent. On September 18, four days before Paul Biya is to give a UN General Assembly speech, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: on Cameroon, there was a statement about the release of some Anglophone prisoners, but there's since been… even the country's own National Commission on Human Rights was denied access to prisons.  And there's a video circulating of 12 people in an underground prison, Anglophones, is the UN continuing to follow this, or do they feel that with the release of some Anglophone prisoners, the issue is solved? Spokesman:  "The issue is not solved, and we continue to follow it." Follow it how? Inner City Press followed up by ask the European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmstrom, about torture by Cameroon, video here. Now with Paul Biya's army using force including live fire in Kumbo and elsewhere to try to force Anglophone children back into the schools the Biya government has destroyed, the UN is still silent. Through its belated and far too upbeat statements, the UN helps cover this up. On September 5, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Antonio Guterres' three top spokespeople in writing: "In Southern Cameroons, Paul Biya government forces have used live fire, deadly in Kumbo, to try to force Anglophones back into the schools the Yaounde government has alleged destroyed. What is the UN's comment and action, by the Resident Coordinator, Mr Fall, the DSG and SG?" More than a day later, no answer at all. So at the September 6 briefing Inner City Press asked lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Kumbo - nothing - and something it first tried to ask UNHCR in writing: a self-described UNHCR "Community Protection Officer" Nadine Njoya born in Yaounde calling Anglophone protesters and urging a "harder repression." Inner City Press then tweeted the photos, here.
View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter
On , Inner City Press has asked UN system about self-described UNHCR staffer calling for crackdown on Anglophones


Dujarric said he would look into it. But when Inner City Press asked again on September 7, he passed the buck to UNHCR - and the UN transcript, below, edited out Inner City Press saying it HAS asked, or tried to ask, UNHCR (by emailing the photos to Antonio Guterres former spokesperson and adviser Melissa Fleming). So Inner City Press emailed not only Ms. Fleming, the long time spokesperson for now-Secretary General Antonio Guterres, but also three other UNHCR spokespeople, and has just received the response below: "Dear  Matthew, The comments posted were not a UNHCR position and were done in staff member’s personal capacity. Please note that the staff member has since deleted the post, after realizing it was inappropriate and also receiving death threats. We are sharing with you below her response on the issue. “…..I do confirm that I did a comment on Tuesday 05/09 on my personal Facebook account. That comment was to give my opinion on the content of some flyers carrying threatening messages that are currently dispatched by unknown people in my country (Cameroon). I have attached the flyers here to and as you will notice, parents are warned not to send their children to school and the unknown persons behind the flyers, clearly promise to kill the children that would be sent to school or anyone who will not comply with their “ghost town” instruction. Therefore, my comment was to condemn the authors of those 2 flyers, as I felt that the rights of the Cameroonian children to safety, life and education were violated and fear/terror among the population was disseminated! It’s unfortunate that my words were taken out of their context. I do take note of your advice and please be informed that I had to delete my Facebook account yesterday……” 

At UN, Uganda's Museveni Stuck in Traffic, Zuma Takes His Place for SG Grip & Grin


By Matthew Russell Lee, PhotosVideo


UNITED NATIONS, September 18 –  UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was to have met Ugandan President  Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, trying to get Presidential age limits in his country removed, at 4:40 pm on September 18. Inner City Press went, with UN Security, to the 27th floor for the photo op. But moment before, the Security said to change the flag from Uganda to Denmark, or really just UN blue. Then they said to switch it to South Africa for Jacob Zuma. This was attributed to New York City traffic. Alamy photos here. UN Department of Political Affairs official Taye Brook Zerihoun, there for the Uganda meeting, stayed on as he has in his post. Would he stay for Denmark, or South Korea's Moon? Periscope video here. When Italy's Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano took media questions at the UN on September 18, they were all in Italian except for a final chosen question about Donald Trump. Inner City Press insisted and asked, in English, if Italy funds militia in Libya to detain migrants and refugees. Alfano's answer was in Italian, but a handler from the Italian Mission offered a translation: that Italy has denied it. So what due diligence does Italy do, over the funds it gives to the UN-propped up government in Libya? We'll have more on this. Alamy photos here. When US President Donald Trump gave his UN reform speech on September 18, he noted that UN staff have doubled since 2000, but we haven't seen the results. He could have said more: what HAS been seen includes inaction on mass killings in Sri Lanka and Yemen, Myanmar and Cameroon. Not mentioned in Secretary General Antonio Guterres' speech, nor in his answers the two times Inner City Press has asked him, is the UN bribery guilty verdicts in the case of Ng Lap Seng / John Ashe. The UN was shown, only this summer, to be for sale. And nothing has changed. As UN General Assembly week started up on Sunday, the US announced that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would meet with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov at 9 pm, at Russia's Mission to the UN. Inner City Press after asking Cote d'Ivoire president Alassane Ouattara a question about Myanmar - without answer - biked up to that Mission on 67th Street. There in the half light were dozens of reporters and photographers, waiting for Tillerson to leave. In the street were US body guards with machine guns. Tillerson emerged and said nothing, driving away. Video here. Most of the Western wire service correspondents, one a photographer who'd been at the UN photo op with Ouattara but not the stakeout with Ivorian media, turned and left. Then the spokesman for Lavrov, and before him for now deceased Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, emerged and briefed in Russia. Inner City Press was informed second hard that she said the topics had been Syria, Ukraine and Minsk implementation, and “North Africa.” Later the US State Department said, “U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met this evening in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. The two recommitted to deconflicting military operations in Syria, reducing the violence, and creating the conditions for the Geneva process to move forward, pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254.” So what about North Africa? Peacekeepers in Ukraine? Watch this site.

Monday, September 18, 2017

On Libya, Inner City Press Asks FM Alfano If Italy Funds Militia To Detain Migrants, He Denies


By Matthew Russell Lee, VideoPhotos


UNITED NATIONS, September 18 –  When Italy's Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano took media questions at the UN on September 18, they were all in Italian except for a final chosen question about Donald Trump. Inner City Press insisted and asked, in English, if Italy funds militia in Libya to detain migrants and refugees. Alfano's answer was in Italian, but a handler from the Italian Mission offered a translation: that Italy has denied it. So what due diligence does Italy do, over the funds it gives to the UN-propped up government in Libya? We'll have more on this. Alamy photos here

When US President Donald Trump gave his UN reform speech on September 18, he noted that UN staff have doubled since 2000, but we haven't seen the results. He could have said more: what HAS been seen includes inaction on mass killings in Sri Lanka and Yemen, Myanmar and Cameroon. Not mentioned in Secretary General Antonio Guterres' speech, nor in his answers the two times Inner City Press has asked him, is the UN bribery guilty verdicts in the case of Ng Lap Seng / John Ashe. The UN was shown, only this summer, to be for sale. And nothing has changed. As UN General Assembly week started up on Sunday, the US announced that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would meet with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov at 9 pm, at Russia's Mission to the UN. Inner City Press after asking Cote d'Ivoire president Alassane Ouattara a question about Myanmar - without answer - biked up to that Mission on 67th Street. There in the half light were dozens of reporters and photographers, waiting for Tillerson to leave. In the street were US body guards with machine guns. Tillerson emerged and said nothing, driving away. Video here. Most of the Western wire service correspondents, one a photographer who'd been at the UN photo op with Ouattara but not the stakeout with Ivorian media, turned and left. Then the spokesman for Lavrov, and before him for now deceased Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, emerged and briefed in Russia. Inner City Press was informed second hard that she said the topics had been Syria, Ukraine and Minsk implementation, and “North Africa.” Later the US State Department said, “U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met this evening in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. The two recommitted to deconflicting military operations in Syria, reducing the violence, and creating the conditions for the Geneva process to move forward, pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254.” So what about North Africa? Peacekeepers in Ukraine? Watch this site.

As Trump Notes Doubling Of UN Staff, Press Notes Inaction on Slaughter, UN Bribery Case


By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon with more


UNITED NATIONS, September 18 –  When US President Donald Trump gave his UN reform speech on September 18, he noted that UN staff have doubled since 2000, but we haven't seen the results. He could have said more: what HAS been seen includes inaction on mass killings in Sri Lanka and Yemen, Myanmar and Cameroon. Not mentioned in Secretary General Antonio Guterres' speech, nor in his answers the two times Inner City Press has asked him, is the UN bribery guilty verdicts in the case of Ng Lap Seng / John Ashe. The UN was shown, only this summer, to be for sale. And nothing has changed. As UN General Assembly week started up on Sunday, the US announced that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would meet with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov at 9 pm, at Russia's Mission to the UN. Inner City Press after asking Cote d'Ivoire president Alassane Ouattara a question about Myanmar - without answer - biked up to that Mission on 67th Street. There in the half light were dozens of reporters and photographers, waiting for Tillerson to leave. In the street were US body guards with machine guns. Tillerson emerged and said nothing, driving away. Video here. Most of the Western wire service correspondents, one a photographer who'd been at the UN photo op with Ouattara but not the stakeout with Ivorian media, turned and left. Then the spokesman for Lavrov, and before him for now deceased Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, emerged and briefed in Russia. Inner City Press was informed second hard that she said the topics had been Syria, Ukraine and Minsk implementation, and “North Africa.” Later the US State Department said, “U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met this evening in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. The two recommitted to deconflicting military operations in Syria, reducing the violence, and creating the conditions for the Geneva process to move forward, pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254.” So what about North Africa? Peacekeepers in Ukraine? Watch this site.

For UNGA, UN Claims No Assigned Space in Media Center, Then Tells ICP to Move, AP Has Paid


By Matthew Russell Lee, Audio

UNITED NATIONS, September 18 – As UN General Assembly week began, the UN escalated its two-tier reduction in access and accountability. On September 17 the UN Department of Public Information said publicly that there would be no assigned spaces in its Media Center, where Inner City Press following its eviction from its long time shared office in the UN for covering UN corruption went on the morning of September 18. It sent up in an open desk but was quickly told to move. “We're Associated Press, we paid for this,” Inner City Press was told. So Inner City Press moved forward one row. But before it could download a single video of its questions and answers, it was told, You can't stay here. Inner City Press asked, does that apply to AP too? No, the DPI staffer said - they are AP, they are big.  So why claim there are no assigned or grab-and-hold spaces? Audio here. The UN gives AP and other wires (and several no-show state media like Egypt's Akhbar al Yom) office space. It is used as a carrot and stick so that UN corruption and incompetence and worse is not covered. These issues have been raised, repeatedly, to DPI chief Alison Smale, without response. Later on September 18, a staffer of French President Macron, who previously assisted by "UN" Spokesman Stephane Dujarric ordered Inner City Press out of the UN Press Briefing Room, took over a full row in the UN Media Center. No assigned spaces? The UN is limiting access passes during UN General Assembly week to what it calls “resident correspondents,” many of whom rarely even come into the UN, some whom have never asked any questions. Meanwhile the investigative Press asking the UN every day about UN reform and corruption, Cameroon, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Burundi and elsewhere, will be banned from the passes. It has already begun. On September 15, as Inner City Press worked in the small booth it's confined to since being evicted from the UN Press Briefing Room and its UN office by UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, it saw some insider correspondents passing by and into the Briefing Room. To not fall into a trap, Inner City Press asked UN Media Accreditation what the event was, of which it was not informed. You can go in, it was told. Inside, three senior UN officials we'll leave unnamed were giving a background briefing about Secretary General Antonio Guterres' schedule for the General Assembly week. Inner City Press asked why there are no events about Yemen and Burundi, and told the officials to tell Guterres to ensure that all journalists are treated fairly. Dujarric cut that off and said, "You're here, aren't you?" Only because the other venue he'd tried to invite his friends to was too small and the event was moved. This is how today's UN is working - or not working. New DPI chief Alison Smale has changed nothing, has not even responded to a petition on the issues. Retaliation for coverage continues, and exclusion or attempted exclusion from UN "Communications." Reform was discussed and even, for once, asked about, but only vaguely. The UN and its affiliates were bribed by Ng Lap Seng, as shown in a trial this summer. No answers. Back last Friday an UNnamed UN speaker in what was declared a background briefing not made available to media coming to cover the GA week told Inner City Press that while it is not a “resident correspondent” - it was evicted while covering the Ng Lap Seng / John Ashe corruption scandal - it could perhaps stakeout for example the Yemen meeting, but only with an “escort.” That is a UN minder, some of whom ask Inner City Press who it is trying to speak to. This is UNacceptable, the Free UN Coalition for Accesssays, as it the weakened wi-fi and lack of LAN lines for any but the insider correspondents of UNCA. The UNnamed speaker said that the limitation of the access passes was agreed to, or requested by, UN Security and this UNCA (UN Correspondents Association a/k/a UN Censorship Alliance). It was for seeking to cover this group's event in the UN Press Briefing Room, presumptively open to all journalists, to see if they would address having received funds from then indict, now convicted Ng Lap Seng that Inner City Press was evicted and still restricted. We'll have more on this, and access issues before, during and after #UNGA72. The access briefing should have been webcast to journalists coming; UN Security should have been there, and the Department of Public Information leadership reportedly beginning work on September 8 - they have been asked, for reforms. When UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres gave a speech to honor fallen UN staff on September 8, he took the opportunity to say that if the sacrifices of UN staff were known by unnamed UN critics, they wouldn't say what they do. But the UN is in need of reform, which requires critique. And, frankly, sometime UN staff and experts are killed with some role played by UN negligence, for example in Kasai in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The problem with what Guterres said is that it emboldens others in the UN system to simply shout down or vilify critical voices, sometimes to the point of outright physical eviction and restriction, and sometimes short of that. Only the previous day, the acting head of the UN Department of Public Information Maher Nasser on his last day in the post allowed a heckler to block Inner City Press' questions about the UN's duty to the Haitian families impacted by the cholera it brought to the island - then when Inner City Press asked a legal immunity question, to say loudly, It's always about you. Well, DPI did evict Inner City Press with no hearing or appeals, and has restricted it every day since. But speeches such as that on September 8, UNcorrected, validate targeting and censorship. Nasser's successor Alison Smale has been written to, for reversal. And Guterres did tell a moving story about staff in Chad's Abeche - which Inner City Press covered, before DPI's eviction meant it was no longer notified of or allowed to cover UN Security Council trips. Here was from the UN Staff Day Parade of Nations. We'll have more on this. For weeks the UN had promoted its book event about New York City and the UN, featuring author Pamela Hanlon. 
But when Inner City Press went and asked about the UN having brought cholera to Haiti and paid nothing, and whether Haitians in Brooklyn had been able to get any accountability from the UN, there was no answer. 
A heckler in the audience said loudly that the question was not appropriate. Video here. So Inner City Press followed up on Ms. Hanlon's statement that the land under the UN is still US territory. If so, what of John Ashe selling diplomatic posts from inside his UN General Assembly President's office, and Inner City Press for covering the scandal being thrown out onto First Avenue by eight UN Security officers? Audio here. (NYPD told Inner City Press it has no jurisdiction to take criminal complaints, even for assault, for anything east of the First Avenue curb.) 


That question wasn't answered, either, including by Penny Abeywardena, Commissioner of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Office for International Affairs. 
Instead Maher Nasser, in charge of the UN Department of Public Information from April 1 until tomorrow, said “it's always about you” and ended the event, encouraging those present to buy books for signing. And so it goes at the UN.

On Myanmar, ICP Asks UK of Ministerial Meeting, Relation to Slaughter of Rohingya


By Matthew Russell Lee, DRCIVPhotos

UNITED NATIONS, September 18 – The day before the UN reform speech by US President Donald Trump, it emerged that the UK intends a ministerial meeting about Myanmar. Inner City Press immediately asked the UK Mission to the UN, online, to disclose more about the meeting, here. The UK "holds the pen" in the Security Council on Myanmar, and has even now shown such deference to, even continued reverence for, Aung San Suu Kyi as to be, some say, nearly complicit in the slaughter of the Rohingya there. We'll have more on this. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on September 17 held a meeting and short photo-op with Cote d'Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara. Alamy Photos here. Afterward when Ouattara told an Ivorian reported he wouldn't answer about Soro because he doesn't answer domestic question when abroad, Inner City Press asked Ouattara about the crisis in Myanmar. Video here. Ouattara did not answer this one, either, even though his country is joining the Security Council. We'll have more on this.
Myanmar's abuse of the Rohingya has suddenly become a major topic for the UN of Secretary General Antonio Guterres. But senior UN officials exclusively tell Inner City Press that in the prior months, Guterres repeatedly rejected detailed recommendations made directly to him by some of his officials to become more active on the crisis. The officials tell Inner City Press that Guterres responded that for the UN to become more active might create problems for "The Lady," Aung San Suu Kyi, and the military. So the UN stood by, as it did in Sri Lanka in 2008-2009 and in Rwanda before that, always with an excuse. There was even a ten point plan presented early on to Guterres, on which he never acted. On September 15 Guterres spokesman arranged a background briefing for his favored correspondents, with senior UN officials we will leave UNnamed - but did not inform or invite Inner City Press, who asks him many questions, including about Myanmar. To this has the UN descended. The UN Security Council's September 13 meeting on Myanmar was a closed affair, after which the President of the Council, Ethiopia, read a statement that "acknowledg[ed] the attack on the Myanmar security forces on August 25," as if the problem began then. It goes back decades. And even in April of this year, this memo was sent to Secretary General Guterres: "The United Nations in-country presence in Myanmar continues to be glaringly dysfunctional. Strong tensions exist within the UN country team, the humanitarian parts of the UN system find itself having to confront the hostility of the development arm, while the human rights pillar is seen as complicating both. The impact of this dysfunctionality is a growing irrelevance of the UN in guiding and defining the international community’s efforts to address the challenges confronting Myanmar." After that, the UN in June 2017 said that Resident Coordinator Lok-Dessallien was being rotated out and the position advertised. But this week Inner City Press asked and found that she is still there; on September 14 Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric why didn't happen and he said she it does, he'll say. The UN's hands are not clean, either, some say. To the Ethiopian ambassador on September 13, Inner City Press asked if there was talk of UN envoy, without answer. Periscope video here. In terms of the UN Secretariat, while it said in June that dubious UN Resident Coordinator Renata Lok-Dessallien was being rotated out and the position advertised, when Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric on September 12 who the Resident Coordinator in Myanmar is, he first said he didn't know, then after the briefing his Office e-mailed this: "Regarding your question on Myanmar at today's noon briefing, the Resident Coordinator is Renata Lok-Dessalien." So despite saying she was being rotated out and the post advertised, and despite Guterres saying how concerned he is about Myanmar and the Rohingya, three months and thousands of dead later, she's still in. And the Spokesman, Dujarric, didn't even insert this answer into "his" transcript. On September 13 Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft about criticism of Lok-Dessallein and the country team. From the UK transcript: Inner City Press: There is talk of the country team at the UN being too close to the Government over time. There was criticism of the resident co-ordinator. Does the UK feel comfortable that the country team has been on top of this issue, even prior to this August “terrorist attack” that was referenced in press elements? Amb Rycroft: Well one of the points I made was that several of us around the table, including the UN, have very good and close relationships with various parts of the establishment in Myanmar. Some of us with Aung San Suu Kyi, others with the military, and my point is that it’s time now to be using those relationships to get action and to get an end to this deterioration, rather than allowing those relationships to become an end in themselves and to prevent us from taking action. Periscope video here. We'll have more on this.

When Tillerson Met Lavrov, US Says Syria, Russia Adds Ukraine and N. Africa, Read-Out


By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon with more


UNITED NATIONS, September 17 – As UN General Assembly week started up on Sunday, the US announced that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would meet with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov at 9 pm, at Russia's Mission to the UN. Inner City Press after asking Cote d'Ivoire president Alassane Ouattara a question about Myanmar - without answer - biked up to that Mission on 67th Street. There in the half light were dozens of reporters and photographers, waiting for Tillerson to leave. In the street were US body guards with machine guns. Tillerson emerged and said nothing, driving away. Most of the Western wire service correspondents, one a photographer who'd been at the UN photo op with Ouattara but not the stakeout with Ivorian media, turned and left. Then the spokesman for Lavrov, and before him for now deceased Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, emerged and briefed in Russia. Inner City Press was informed second hard that she said the topics had been Syria, Ukraine and Minsk implementation, and “North Africa.” Later the US State Department said, “U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met this evening in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. The two recommitted to deconflicting military operations in Syria, reducing the violence, and creating the conditions for the Geneva process to move forward, pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254.” So what about North Africa? Peacekeepers in Ukraine? Watch this site.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

On Myanmar, ICP Asks Prez Ouattara of Cote d'Ivoire, Joining UNSC, UNanswered


By Matthew Russell Lee, DRCIVPhotos

UNITED NATIONS, September 17 – The day before the UN reform speech by US President Donald Trump, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on September 17 held a meeting and short photo-op with Cote d'Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara. Alamy Photos here.Afterward when Ouattara told an Ivorian reported he wouldn't answer about Soro because he doesn't answer domestic question when abroad, Inner City Press asked Ouattara about the crisis in Myanmar. Video here. Ouattara did not answer this one, either, even though his country is joining the Security Council. We'll have more on this.

Myanmar's abuse of the Rohingya has suddenly become a major topic for the UN of Secretary General Antonio Guterres. But senior UN officials exclusively tell Inner City Press that in the prior months, Guterres repeatedly rejected detailed recommendations made directly to him by some of his officials to become more active on the crisis. The officials tell Inner City Press that Guterres responded that for the UN to become more active might create problems for "The Lady," Aung San Suu Kyi, and the military. So the UN stood by, as it did in Sri Lanka in 2008-2009 and in Rwanda before that, always with an excuse. There was even a ten point plan presented early on to Guterres, on which he never acted. On September 15 Guterres spokesman arranged a background briefing for his favored correspondents, with senior UN officials we will leave UNnamed - but did not inform or invite Inner City Press, who asks him many questions, including about Myanmar. To this has the UN descended. The UN Security Council's September 13 meeting on Myanmar was a closed affair, after which the President of the Council, Ethiopia, read a statement that "acknowledg[ed] the attack on the Myanmar security forces on August 25," as if the problem began then. It goes back decades. And even in April of this year, this memo was sent to Secretary General Guterres: "The United Nations in-country presence in Myanmar continues to be glaringly dysfunctional. Strong tensions exist within the UN country team, the humanitarian parts of the UN system find itself having to confront the hostility of the development arm, while the human rights pillar is seen as complicating both. The impact of this dysfunctionality is a growing irrelevance of the UN in guiding and defining the international community’s efforts to address the challenges confronting Myanmar." After that, the UN in June 2017 said that Resident Coordinator Lok-Dessallien was being rotated out and the position advertised. But this week Inner City Press asked and found that she is still there; on September 14 Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric why didn't happen and he said she it does, he'll say. The UN's hands are not clean, either, some say. To the Ethiopian ambassador on September 13, Inner City Press asked if there was talk of UN envoy, without answer. Periscope video here. In terms of the UN Secretariat, while it said in June that dubious UN Resident Coordinator Renata Lok-Dessallien was being rotated out and the position advertised, when Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric on September 12 who the Resident Coordinator in Myanmar is, he first said he didn't know, then after the briefing his Office e-mailed this: "Regarding your question on Myanmar at today's noon briefing, the Resident Coordinator is Renata Lok-Dessalien." So despite saying she was being rotated out and the post advertised, and despite Guterres saying how concerned he is about Myanmar and the Rohingya, three months and thousands of dead later, she's still in. And the Spokesman, Dujarric, didn't even insert this answer into "his" transcript. On September 13 Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft about criticism of Lok-Dessallein and the country team. From the UK transcript: Inner City Press: There is talk of the country team at the UN being too close to the Government over time. There was criticism of the resident co-ordinator. Does the UK feel comfortable that the country team has been on top of this issue, even prior to this August “terrorist attack” that was referenced in press elements? Amb Rycroft: Well one of the points I made was that several of us around the table, including the UN, have very good and close relationships with various parts of the establishment in Myanmar. Some of us with Aung San Suu Kyi, others with the military, and my point is that it’s time now to be using those relationships to get action and to get an end to this deterioration, rather than allowing those relationships to become an end in themselves and to prevent us from taking action. Periscope video here. We'll have more on this. 

UN Guterres Met Greek FM Kotzias, Echoes of Crans Montana Failure, DR & Lithuania


By Matthew Russell Lee, DRGreekPhotos

UNITED NATIONS, September 17 – The day before the UN reform speech by US President Donald Trump, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on September 17 held a meeting and short photo-op with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias. Alamy photos here. Present was the UN's long time envoy on the "name issue" (FYROM / Macedonia), Matthew Nimetz. Kotzias signed the visitors book first; Guterres told him no one else could be in the room while he signed. So that he could, if needed, write that he was taken hostage? On the agenda, one imagines, is Cyprus and the Crans Montana failure. 

Before that was the president of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina Sanchez, who insisted despite Guterres' resistance on signing the visitors' book before the grip and grin. Alamy photo here. When the read-out comes out, we bet Dominican deputy ambassador Francis Lorenzo, who pleaded guilty to UN bribery in the Ng Lap Seng / John Ashe case, is not mentioned in it.  Before that was Jordan's King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein. Photos on Alamy here. Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric showed up just before the meeting, but even of the Saudi meeting an hour before there was still no read-out. [Then this update.] It was not at his office on the 38th floor, but rather in a suite on the 27th floor with an Oriental rug, two flags and a small stand on which to sign the UN Visitors' book. Under Guterres the UN has become (even) less media friendly, with the investigative Press restricted to minders and, on September 16, barred from entering to cover a UN Media Alert-listed even on Guterres' signature issue, refugees. Guterres' head of Global Communications Alison Smale, petitioned on these issues since September 1, has done nothing to reverse them. UN is both UNprepared and UNfair - including on such issues as MyanmarYemenBurundiand Cameroon. Next up,on September 18, US President Trump, Ambassador Nikki Haley and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in the UN's ECOSOC Chamber.  On September 12, Guterres was scheduled to take the credentials of four countries' new Ambassador to the UN. But a fifth one, Cote d'Ivoire, was added without any notice; then the International Sea Bed Authority's representative, for whom Inner City Press was asked to leave. As Norway's Tore Hattrem left, he told Guterres he would be working hard next week. Guterres responded that it was a "merry-go-round." Earlier in the day Guterres gave a job, the Oceans Envoy post, to just-former President of the General Assembly Peter Thomson. It's not only a merry-go-round, it's a revolving door. Here are Inner City Press' Alamy photos of the new Ambassadors of Ecuador (Diego Fernando Morejon Pazmino)NorwayGuinea Bissau(Fernando Delfim Da Silva) and Iraq(Mohammed Hussein Bahr Aluloom). The UN is getting more and more murky; Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric has refused to say how NGO(s) purchasing an event in the UN General Assembly Hall on August 23 were vetted, even after the Ng bribery verdict. On August 18 Guterres said that the UN's principles are those of humanity; he made much of Miroslv Jenca being from Slovakia. Meanwhile his spokesman wouldn't confirm that Jenca's colleague Taye-Brook Zerihoun is leaving, to be replaced by Kenya's Monica Juma. We'll have more on this. There were: Gabon PR Michel Xavier Biang, Lithuania PR Audra Plepytë, Slovakia PR Michal Mlynár, Slovenia PR Darja Bavdaž Kuret, NZ PR Craig John Hawke, Ireland PR Geraldine Byrne Nason, PR, Ireland and Francophonie PO Narjess Saidane. On August 16 Guterres schmoozed correspondents about Croatia and his vacation; after a stakeout in which he refused to comment on the Ng Lap Seng verdict, photos here, he had a 4:30 pm photo op with meeting with Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic. Photos on Alamy here; Inner City Press Periscope here; it was the only media there other than a lone Serbian cameraman. Guterres called Dacic young and the latter replied that he is 51. Then the press was ushered out. Before Dacic arrived, Guterres squired out a duo who was not on his schedule. As noted, a diplomat complained Guterres is "just bringing in people he knew in Geneva, nothing new, no improvements." On Press freedom, Inner City Press must concur: it remains restricted for covering now convicted Ng Lap Seng's bribes; the Egyptian state media the UN is trying to give its office wasn't even present for Egypt's August 2 press conference, has never asked a question. And on transparency: the sources said seven day, but when Inner City Press asked Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric on July 31, Dujarric said for two week, Guterres will be "in Europe." Periscope video here. He is on leave, on vacation. On August 1, Dujarric repeatedly said the Secretary General thinks this, feels that - and Inner City Press asked, how do you know? At briefings in Washington reporters routinely ask, did you speak with your principle about X, Y or Z. But the UN feels it doesn't have to answer. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: in the answers you were giving about the Secretary-General believes this on Venezuela, thinks this, can… given what you have said yesterday about his schedule, is this based on, is this a DPA statement, is it actually something they run by him, how does it work?

Spokesman:  It works that it comes out of my mouth.  That’s how it works.  Next question.  Next question.

 Yes, we will have more questions. On July 31, Inner City Press asked if there is any press pool - no - and if Dujarric will at least in the future announce week-long absences by Guterres in advance. Dujarric did not say yes (he did, however, repeat that claim that the UN was the victim in its corruption case, saying that Yiping Zhou is gone. But what about Navid Hanif, who went to Macau? What about Meena Sur, who helped Ng? Both of them, and others involved, are still in the UN). This lack of transparency stands in contrast to the executive branch in Washington and even New York routinely disclosing travel including vacation travel. But the UN has no press protections either - Guterres has been asked. Meanwhile his spokespeople says the UN should get paid for the UNreformed corruption shown in the Ng trial and verdict. We'll have more on this. When UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on July 27 had a brief meeting with Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Qatar state media and other UN based photographers went up. Alamy photos here. There were complaints how short the handshake was; Inner City Press noted that on the UN side of the table were only four people, all men, including Jeffrey Feltman. Periscope video here. Guterres was scheduled to be at another meeting in 25 minutes time. So will the UN help solve the stand-off in the Gulf? It seems unlikely. The UN never answered Inner City Press' questions of if Feltman had visited Saudi Arabia and if not, why not. Back on July 19 Guterres.had a meeting and photo op with Spain's Foreign Minister Alfonso María Dastis Quecedo. Inner City Press went to cover it, Alamy photos here, Periscope video here including of whether Dastis should write "una poema" in the UN visitors' book. Inner City Press barely arriving on time due to the crowd of tourists at the UN's visitors entrance. It has been this way since Spain's now-gone Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach had Inner City Press evicted from and still restricted at the UN after Inner City Press asked her about attending indicted Macau-based businessman Ng Lap Seng's South South Awards, and allowing Ng fundees improper events in the UN. Although Guterres did not continue Gallach's contract - she lobbied to stay, but failed - her negative impacts are still in evidence. The Spanish Mission to the UN, now off the Security Council, likewise did nothing to reign Gallach in. But surely they are lobbying Guterres to get another Under Secretary General position, even as their Fernando Arias Gonzalez runs against six others to head the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. We'll have more on this. The day before on July 18 Guterres had a meeting and photo op with the Dominican Republic's Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas Maldonado (Alamy photos here,Periscope video here); it came one day after in the UN bribery case against Ng Lap Seng a video of then 
then-President Leonel Fernandez Reyna visiting South South News near the UN was discussed. That video is here. South South News was a bribery conduit, its funds used for gambling by Dominican Deputy Permanent Representative Francis Lorenzo in Las Vegas and Atlantic City while the UN's Department of Public Information let SSN's content into UNTV archives and let Ng fundees have impermissible events in the UN. On July 18, Guterres' Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq refused to answer Inner City Press' yes or no questions about South South News and the UN. After the July 18 photo op, Inner City Press had nowhere to edit - for seeking to cover an event in the UN Press Briefing Room in pursuing the UN / SSN corruption story, Inner City Press was evicted and still restricted. And in the DR there are protests about corruption. So what did the minister and Guterres discuss? Haiti?