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November 20, 2017

UN Spox Runs From DSG Rosewood Qs, Now Guterres Is Petitioned by 62,000 to Probe, Recuse

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video I, II, III, IV, V

UNITED NATIONS, November 17 – The export to China of illegally harvested rosewood, reported on by Le Monde on November 3 with reference to UN Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed who signed the certificates, also involves "smuggling from Cameroon." See EIA video, here. On November 14, for the second day in a row, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about what Amina Mohammed knew, and when, and he again refused to answer. Nov 14 video here. But from the UN's resident coordinator in Kenya Sid Chatterjee, given the position by his father in law Ban Ki-moon and now or soon reporting to Amina Mohammed, the spin that the detailed Rosewood Racket report is "fake news." Is this? An environmental group has launched a petition to get Ban's successor Antonio Guterres to investigate Mohammed. Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Dujarric about the petition, now at 62,000 signatures, and about Mohammed recusing herself, on November 17, Periscope video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: Yesterday, I had asked you about… about some questions about this rosewood situation, and I want to say that yesterday, there were 46,000 people petitioning for the Secretary-General.  Now, there's 62,000.  But you had said to me, go and read Le Monde, so I did read Le Monde, and there's no mention of Cameroon in it, but, in fact, in the report by the Environmental Investigation Agency, there is… and in other reports, there are talk that some of these logs don't over come from Nigeria, which would make them outright illegal, signing any certificate for their export.  So, I wanted to… this is the kind of thing I would like to ask Amina Mohammed if she did a press conference, just what did she know about… I'm sure there's answers.  I'm sure there's many things that could be said. Spokesman:  Next time she's in front of the press, she will be… she has engaged with journalists who have written stories on this and has not been hiding from anything.  Quite to the contrary.  We have said what we've had to say.  I think any further questions on how this issue is dealt with should go to the Nigerian Government. Inner City Press: But just so you know, the petitioners are not writing to the Nigerian Government.  They’re saying that there’s inconsistencies… Spokesman:  I've answered the question about the petitioners. Inner City Press: This is kind of a related question that you may or may not like, but there's a lot of interest by… by Greenpeace and other environmental organizations in a… in a… in a move by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to end what's called an embargo on logging, or an embargo on new, you know, industrial logging concessions.  And so people… I could imagine a UN body or the Secretariat itself, since it relates to climate change, might have a position on this.  Sorry to ask you, but given the 62,000 signatures, would Amina Mohammed, otherwise, you know, responsible for sustainable development on many issues, would she be recused from deciding the Secretariat's position on logging matters until this logging matter is cleaned up? Spokesman:  You’re jumping over conclusions that, I think, that have… over facts that have been an Olympic record. Inner City Press: Read the petition. Spokesman:  I'm not talking about the petition.  I'm talking about your… the logic within your question.  I think Amina Mohammed has, in her past capacity, in her current capacity, has been a very strong advocate against illegal logging and has shown that through her actions.  Thank you." Then he ran off the podium.  Inner City Press had asked him on November 16, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press:  I want to ask you about, again, this rosewood situation. Yesterday I'd asked what I think is a simple question, whether the certificates, the thousands of certificates, that the Deputy Secretary-General signed were filed in real time with CITES [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna] as seems to be required.  I don't know if I'm going to get an answer to that, but I have a different, I guess, superseding question, which is that there's now online, launched by a group called Rainforest Rescue, a petition to Secretary-General António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres to investigate the allegations against Amina J. Mohammed.  The international community must prosecute criminals between timber trafficking.  And it has 46,000 signatures so far.  So what's this procedure… can I just finish the question?  What is the procedure in the United Nations for a civil society petition such as this which has garnered 46,000 requests in a very short period of time?  Will the Secretary-General actually compare the report to what's been said publicly by Amina J. Mohammed and consider these environmental people's deep concern about it? Spokesman:  First of all, we receive petitions all the time, and they're looked at and… Inner City Press: Is there a threshold? Spokesman:  We value as a matter of principle our engagement with civil society.  We have spoken and have said what we've had to say on behalf of the Deputy Secretary-General, including the fact that she has… she followed all the rules.  If there are questions about CITES and the workings of the Nigerian Ministry of Environment, I would encourage you to talk to the Nigerian Ministry of Environment.  The Secretary-General has full confidence and continues to have full confidence in the Deputy Secretary-General. Inner City Press: Separate question.  Separate question.  Was she aware… this is not about CITES.  Was she aware… the report says that much of the timber that was actually exported comes from Boko Haram territories, i.e., money would go to Boko Haram.  And some of it was illegally smuggled from Cameroon, so it's a question that's not addressed by any… Spokesman:  I think it is addressed… it's addressed in the statement.  I would also encourage you to read the lengthy Q&A she did with Le Monde." But the petition was launched after that. When will Mohammed answer Press questions? Will Guterres, as petitioned, investigate?

From the petition: "UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed has been implicated in rosewood trafficking. The former Nigerian Minister of Environment is said to have acted to facilitate the sale of 10,000 shipping containers of illegal rosewood to China. Tell the UN to prosecute the criminals behind timber trafficking. To: the UN Member States, the CITES Signatory States and the CITES Secretariat. The UN Deputy Secretary-General has been implicated in the illegal sale of rosewood. The UN must prosecute the criminals behind timber trafficking.... Chinese authorities played an uncharacteristically positive role in the incident by seizing no less than 10,000 shipping containers of illegal rosewood. The timber is valued at more than $300 million. According to the EIA, the Nigerian Ministry of Environment responded by simply issuing the missing documents retroactively. This allowed over 1.4 million illegal logs to be laundered, in violation of both Nigerian laws and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The traffickers allegedly bribed senior Nigerian officials – including ministers and members of parliament – with more than US $1 million. The scandal is an impressive illustration of the power wielded by the timber mafia. The then Minister of Environment, Amina J. Mohammed, appears to have personally signed the fraudulent documents as one of her last actions in office. She is currently serving as the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. Mohammed has since denied the allegations. Please call on UN Secretary-General António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres to investigate the allegations against Amina J. Mohammed. The international community must prosecute the criminals behind timber trafficking." Then again, Guterres and Mohammed have been ignoring a petition to end Press censorship, here. We'll have more on this. On November 15, Inner City Press asked Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq, video here, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: Rosewood Racket and the report that was put out by the Environmental Investigation Agency.  And it's a very detailed report.  And one… and I've read what was put out by the Secretary-General [sic] [ICP: it is unclear why the UN inserted "sic" here - Dujarric said the SG supports the DSG.]  I've read what her interview with the… of the Cab… the Pulse, the Cable.  And what I wanted to ask you is, when she signed these 4,000 certificates, CITES [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna] regulations require that they be filed with the Secretariat of CITES if they are, in fact, retroactive.  And so… it's not answered anywhere.  And I'd like you to either maybe get an answer from her or have her have a press conference when she comes back.  If that was committed to, that would seem to be the way to go.  Were these certificates ever filed with CITES, given the various pronouncements that it's made by this Secretariat about commitment to these regulations? Deputy Spokesman:  Well, I believe Stéphane [Dujarric] has already given you the details of where we stand on this.  I don't have anything further to add on this.  If the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES, has any actions, we can evaluate it at that time.  But, at this stage, we've said what we've said on terms of her actions.
Inner City Press: My question is, he said… I mean, I'm asking a question.  He said, your question is answered by the statement by the Secretary-General, but it's not answered.  It's a straight, factual question.  Were… she signed the certificates.  Were they, in fact, filed with the CITES Secretariat as required? It's just a yes or no… Deputy Spokesman:  The Deputy Secretary-General has made clear that she followed the procedures that were supposed to be followed in what she was doing. Inner City Press: The reason I'm asking you this is because the Resident Representative of the UN in Kenya, Siddharth Chatterjee, has today issued an interview saying that the whole report is fake news and she's a great person.  She may be a great person, but what I wanted to know is, is he speaking on behalf Amina Mohammed or the UN system when he says this detailed report of… of seeming violations is CITES regulations is fake news? Deputy Spokesman:  "I don't have to comment for him.  He's offering his personal view.  This is… that's outside of his particular area." Oh. Chatterjee says he too has been the victim - the reference is to nepotism in his promotions, from Iraq with Steffan de Mistura under Ban and forward from there, and IPKF war crimes in Sri Lanka.  Sid says: "having been a target of malicious and fake news myself for close to 10 years, let me just begin by saying that I feel very sorry for Amina Mohammed. It is most unfair. This is yellow journalism and premeditated mendacity." This is the response to detailed questions about retroactive CITES permits for rosewood, illegally smuggled from Cameroon. We'll have more on this. From the November 14 UN transcript: Inner City Press: I want to ask you about this rosewood situation.  I'd asked you yesterday.  You'd said that everything is answered in the statement... So, my question is as follows, and it's not answered by the Secretary-General's statement.  The allegation in the report, and it's documented by a guy holding up a sheet of paper that has bill of lading numbers on it, is that, at the time that Amina Mohammed signed thousands of certificates in January 2017, that this wood was already in China, that the state… that the… that the… the certificates were backdated, which is, under CITES [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna], a major problem.  So, I wanted to know… she says that there's no evidence of that, but the evidence is in the report, and I'm directing you to figure 33… Spokesman:  I've read the report. Inner City Press: Okay.  So what is her response to that? And how could the Secretary-General say “I back her up entirely” in advance of the CITES meeting that's coming up in late November? Given that the CITES is part of the UN system, will he defer to them? If they find wrongdoing, will he take action? Spokesman:  I think the statement that we issued is pretty comprehensive.  The… Ms. Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary-General, said the signing of the legal signing of export permits for rosewood was delayed due to her insistence that stringent due process was followed.  She said she signed the export certificates requested before the ban only after due process was followed and better security watermarked certificates became available.
Inner City Press:  Is it permissible to sign certificates when the wood is already in China? Spokesman:  You're making that assumption.  I think she's answered… she's… she's answered the question. Inner City Press: That's why I think she should do a press conference on it.  It's a major… given that you talk about the environmental SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals], here are many people who think that the answer is insufficient Spokesman:  She's answered the question." No, she hasn't. And the UN says she will stay on the road until November 20. On November 13, Inner City Press asked Dujarric to answer basic questions, but he refused. Video hereNovember 13, 2017

Rosewood Racket Signed Off On By UN's Amina J. Mohammed Has Cameroon Smuggling

By Matthew Russell Lee, Photos

UNITED NATIONS, November 10 – The export to China of illegally harvested rosewood, reported on by Le Monde on November 3 with reference to UN Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed who signed the certificates, also involves "smuggling from Cameroon." See EIA video, here. This may put a new light on the UN's inaction on the Cameroonian government's killings and Internet cut off in the Anglophone zones. Cameroon's Ambassador to the UN, while saying he'd call upstairs to ensure Inner City Press couldn't go there any more (the UN's Department of Public Information did threaten Inner City Press' accreditation for Periscope broadcasting in connection with photo ops on the 38th floor), also bragged that the DSG's opposition to separatism in Biafra led to the same position on Cameroon. And just as UN envoy Chambas went and preached One Nigeria, failing UN envoy Francois Fall called Southern Cameroons secessionists "extremists," on DPI's UN Radio no less. They say in journalism, Follow the Money. But in this case it may be, Follow the Rosewood, or Kosso.  In terms of money: Joe Biden appeared at the UN on November 3, and tables were sold for up to $50,000. One might think, after the proved corruption of the UN in the Ng Lap Seng / John Ashe trial for events in this same Delegates Dining Room, charging this kind of money for sitting with  a “senior UN official” would be a thing of the past. Or after Antonio Guterres was questioned after taking a golden statue from Paul Biya, the 35-year rules of Cameroon. But no. On November 6, Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed appeared, took an award and gave a speech at an event in Washington for which $25,000 sponsorships were offered, here, by a publication which covers and is promoted by the UN (while following up on November 9 on Le Monde's November 3 story, no mention of Cameroon.) On November 9, Inner City Press asked the UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press; as you know or you or Farhan [Haq] had said, she just recently received the Diplomat of the Year Award from Foreign Policy down in DC. Was she aware of this story being in preparation when she accepted the award? Often, to receive the award, you have to be present.  How long were the discussions? Spokesman:  I think some of those questions should be addressed to Foreign Policy.  She was fully aware that the story was going to come out when she received the award." No Cameroon. Ban Ki-moon allowed the corruption of Ng Lap Seng, and Antonio Guterres has done thing to reverse it. In fact, Guterres left through the same door Biden came in, one hour before, using public funds to fly to his home in Lisbon, using a 15 minutes speech there on Monday to justify a three day UN paid junket. And his spokesman refused to answer questions, even about his one on one lunches on the 38th floor, where Inner City Press' use of Periscope during photo ops has allowed Guterres' DPI under Alison Smale to threaten its accreditation. All of this takes place while Guterres covers up mass killing in Cameroon, and is prepared to be sold himself, on Wall Street no less. We'll have more on this. November 6, 2017

ICP Asks UN If Guterres Doctrine Is Quelling Secessionists for Old Rulers, Restricting Press

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video here

UNITED NATIONS, November 3 – What does today's UN under Antonio Guterres stand for? Denouncing secessionists as extremists, propping up 30-plus year presidents, and threatening and restricting the Press that asks about it? When this question was put to Guterres' spokesman Staphane Dujarric on November 3, video here, Dujarric claimed he had provided an answer to it on November 2 (he hadn't) then quickly left the podium of the UN Press Briefing Room, from which he previously evicted Inner City Press. This is today's UN. After major protests in Togo were cracked down on with authorities shooting and killed two or seven protesters, Inner City Press on August 21 and 22 asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' Spokesman Stephane Dujarric, what the UN's long time West Africa envoy Mohamed Ibn Chambas is, in fact, doing. Video here; UN August 22 transcript here, and below. Now, after giving his and Guterres' blessing to the bid by Togo's ruling Gnassingbe family to remain in power past 2030, Chambas has resurfaced in Nigeria, opposing the aspirations of many in Biafra. It is at odds with Guterres' claims about conflict prevention and good faith efforts to address root causes. Mis-identified as "Chambers," Chambas has now been quoted that "The Special Representative of the Secretary-General of UN for West Africa and the Sahel, Mohamed Ibn Chambers, spoke when he led a special delegation of the world body to the leadership of apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Enugu. Guterres said that UN was gratified by the mature role of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in quelling the recent agitations by some secessionist groups, and encouraged them to continue to adopt dialogue and constructive engagement in the resolution of issues. He said that Nigeria, like many other countries, is still battling with weak structures which require constant dialogue and deepening of democracy in overcoming the challenges. 'We indeed came to commend Ohanaeze Ndigbo for the leadership they have demonstrated. A few months ago we were all getting a bit worried with events and developments in South-east of Nigeria but thanks to their leadership and their initiatives they were able to bring together the chiefs and the political leaders and governors and respected persons of South -east and through this intervention we now see that calm is restored and all are working to advance the one Nigeria agenda. The Secretary-General believes in this one Nigeria project because he had always said that a united peaceful Nigeria is not only for the people of Nigeria, but indeed for the people of West Africa and for all of Africa." That's the plan: prop up dynasties like in Togo, portray secessions as extremists thereby justifying government crackdowns and killing as a form of counter-terrorism. It was Chambas, when Inner City Press asking him about Anglophones in Southern Cameroons, who said to focus on the "big ticket" item: Boko Haram. This mirrors the position of Guterres and another of his long time envoys Francois Fall who covers Central Africa and has said that in Cameroon secessionists are "extremists." It is also noteworthy that Cameroon's Ambassador to the UN has said he will work with Guterres' 38th floor to stop Inner City Press' access (Guterres' Department of Public Information under Alison Smale has threatened Inner City Press' accreditation and continues to confine it to minder unlike no-show state media) - and has bragged about Guterres' Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed assuring that the UN will oppose even Federalism in Cameroon in light of the Biafra issue in her native Nigeria. It is impossible to know what her and the 38th floor team's thinking is: she has not had a press availability in quite a while, Guterres is heading to his native Lisbon, and Smale's Kafka-esque accreditation threat after refusing to respond to detailed Press freedom petitions for weeks combine for a trifecta of UNtransparency. We'll have more on this.

October 30, 2017

As UNSG Guterres Stopped in Cameroon, Now UN Read-Out, Here, Destination UNdisclosed

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 28 – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres left the Central African Republic after four days and stopped over in Yaounde the capital of La Republique du Cameroun, meeting with Paul Biya to assess the situation in the Anglophone areas where Biya has killed hundreds since their last meeting. Even the next day the UN had issued no read-out or photo of the meeting, UNlike Biya's office here, complete with photos of Biya giving Guterres a statuette or award, like the one Ban Ki-moon received from the now discredited South South News, along with Francis Lorenzo who pleaded guilty to UN bribery. After Inner City Press asked for a read-out and where Guterres is, this came back, which we publish in full: "Dear Matthew, In response to your question, the Secretary-General and President Paul Biya discussed the situation in the Central African Republic; refugees in Cameroon; the situation in the Lake Chad Basin; and the situation in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon." So what might Biya have said about this region in which he has killed so many? And why didn't Guterres listen to any of those impacted? The UN still refuses even to say where Guterres was, until Monday, spending public funds in UNdisclosed amounts. In UN headquarters on October 28, where Guterres' Department of Public Information under Alison Smale has threatened Inner City Press' accreditation for reporting what Guterres' officials say, UN excutions expert Agnes Callamard said it would have been better if Guterres had issued a read out of his meeting with the Philippines foreign minister. But Guterres is untransparent, and more. This is today's UN. with his team of UN "storytellers" trying to make him and the UN look good. His spokespeople refused three times to confirm to Inner City Press that he would stop, if only for four hours, in Cameroon where hundreds have been killed by the government, which as repeatedly cut of the Internet to prevent exposure of its crackdown. Then Guterres handed the "news" to Agence France Presse, which never asked him about Cameroon at the UN. So on October 27, Inner City Press again asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about, as I have the last three days in a row, about the Secretary-General's stopover in Yaoundé.  I saw he was quoted by AFP [Agence France-Presse].  Quote, we're going to be able to… we are going to be able to assess the recent evolution of the situation in the Anglophone community.  So some people are wondering how a four-hour stopover in an airport and speaking with Paul Biya, who's actually the one accused of the killings and turning off the internet in the Anglophone areas, is going to make the Secretary-General able to assess the evolution.  Is he going to speak to anyone else on the other side of it?  And also, why was it so… why was it so difficult to confirm this trip, and why did he do it in the way that he did?  Deputy Spokesman:  The Secretary-General is the one who confirms when he will go to certain places.  He did announce it yesterday, and after which, we made it very clear that that's where he was going.  Up until then, it wasn't officially confirmed.  He will go there, and we'll try to get some details from his meeting.  But, of course, this is not the only way that we've been assessing the situation.  There have been efforts by other officials, including his envoy, François Lonseny Fall, to deal with the situation, and we'll continue with those efforts.  Innner City Press: So it was said right after 1 October and all the killings that Mr. Fall was going to go.  Now it's 27 October.  Has Mr. Fall gone? Deputy Spokesman:  He will, I believe, be accompanying the Secretary-General on this visit." But Fall is the one who, on UN Radio, calls secessionists in Southern Cameroons "extremists." We'll have more on this.

Guterres' head of Global Communications Alison Smale, as recounted and documented by Inner City Press, has said that positive stories by her Department during Guterres' trip will "show what we can do." And what's that? Smale's DPI has used public money to produce a vanity two-minute video of Guterres in CAR, complete with adoring crowds reaching out to touch his hand, in the background Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the fifth French head of UN Peacekeeping in a row. This amid a scandal of frightened people having to pay contractors to protect them as the UN peacekeepers won't. The previous day Smale was promoting a multimedia story about a poster-child peacekeeper in CAR - from Cameroon.

The story has the peacekeeper, Gladys Ngwepekeum Nkeh, helping a girl who has been raped (not as has often happened by a UN peacekeeper.) The UN for two days has refused to answer Inner City Press if it ever disciplined, and if Guterres is meeting with, Renner Onana who was criticized in the UN's own report on its sexual abuse in CAR, noted even in Smale's New York Times, here. (Renner has been shown in a tweeted photo in December 2016 with Fabrizio Hochschild, one of Guterres' advisers, more on which below.)

While the UN images, by a UN photographer flown from New York to Bangui days before Guterres and his spokesman Stephane Dujarric went, are welcome, the written story does not even mention the rapes by UN peacekeepers, much less the human rights record of the Cameroonian security forces.

Meanwhile, Smale's Department of Public Information on October 20 issued a threat to Inner City Press to "review" its accreditation for its reporting, including on Guterres' team on the UN's 38th floor. This is a clear conflict of interest, between the openly stated goal of making Guterres and the UN look good and the power to threaten the accreditation of, and continuing retaliatory restrictions on, the independent, critical Press. Smale herself has not answered repeated petitions to her in the seven weeks she has been on the job; the same is true to the top of the UN. This all is shameful. October 23, 2017

In Cameroon, Opposition March Banned in Douala as UN Parades in Yaounde, UNheard

By Matthew Russell Lee, Audio,  Video

UNITED NATIONS, October 21 – Amid the killings by Cameroon's Paul Biya government, Inner City Press on October 18 asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, "there have been hundreds of people killed there. Your envoy, François [Louncény] Fall, has said he was going to go but hasn't gone. People are extremely concerned. And I'm just wondering, are we missing something? Are you preventing conflict in this instance or, or what is the UN doing?" Video here. Guterres did not answer that part of the question. On October 19 UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Guterres told him he had not heard Inner City Press' Cameroon question. Now on October 21, after Guterres' UN threatened Inner City Press' accreditation, the Resident Coordinator in Cameroon Allegra Baiocchi is bragging about marching for UN Day in Yaounde. But in Douala the government had banned an opposition march, and detained two journalists. Today's UN has much more in common with those making the arrests than those seeking the truth.  We'll have more on this. n October 19 when Inner City Press asked another question, Dujarric had a statement ready, below. It welcomed Prime Minister Yang's trip and dialogue, and said Fall's visit is now only possible. On October 20 Inner City Press asked Dujarric's deputy (Dujarric was apparently in DC with Guterres who intoned about a "strong, reformed and modernized UN") about the failure of the dialogue, and to confirm that Guterres is advised by Khassim Diagne, previously close to the government in Yaounde when with UNHCR, the refugee agency Guterres ran. Video here. Haq called the "dialogue" a first step, and said Guterres gets information for example also from Francois Fall. How? The October 19 statement, video here, praised a visit to the west that is widely mocked, but noted the reporting killings. The UN put stock in Cameroon's self-investigation, again dubious and now referred to a visit by UN envoy Fall as merely "possible." Inner City Press told Dujarric it will have further questions, and it will. Watch this site. Inner City Press on October 11 interviewed the government's ambassador to the UN, Tommo Monthe. He contradicted what UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Inner City Press, that "Mr. [Francois] Fall and the Government are in discussion about when he can go.  The Government has expressed its willingness to welcome him.  It's now a matter of finding the dates." Inner City Press two days after Dujarric's quote - which Dujarric has twice refused to expand upon - asked Cameroon's Ambassador Monthe who replied of Fall,"Why he should visit Cameroon?” Audio here. While there is still no date for Fall to visit Cameroon, people are being summoned in to see the police, in a campaign of intimidation. There are new mass graves.October 16, 2017

In Cameroon Anglophones Tortured, ICP Requests UN Action, UNder Restrictions

By Matthew Russell Lee, Audio on Patreon

UNITED NATIONS, October 14 – Amid the killings by Cameroon's Paul Biya government, Inner City Press on October 11 interviewed the government's ambassador to the UN, Tommo Monthe. He contradicted what UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric told Inner City Press, that "Mr. [Francois] Fall and the Government are in discussion about when he can go.  The Government has expressed its willingness to welcome him.  It's now a matter of finding the dates." Inner City Press two days after Dujarric's quote - which Dujarric has twice refused to expand upon - asked Cameroon's Ambassador Monthe who replied of Fall,"Why he should visit Cameroon?” Audio here. While there is still no date for Fall to visit Cameroon, people are being summoned in to see the police, here, in a campaign of intimidation. Inner City Press asked the UN's Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, to inquire into torture in Southern Cameroons, video here, and then submitted to his office a formal request for action. (He said he can act on requests by journalists). Meanwhile Inner City Press' journalism on Cameroon is being hindered in the UN by restrictions continued by the UN Department of Public Information under Alison Small, see here and here and watch this site. October 9, 2017

As Cameroon Kills Civilians, ICP Asks UN & UK, Crackdown Continues, Failing Fall

By Matthew Russell Lee, Photo, video

UNITED NATIONS, October 7 – When Cameroon's President for the past 30-plus years Paul Biya came to meet Antonio Guterres on September 22, before he went back to the Hotel Inter-Continental in Geneva, he was accompanied by his state media and... Inner City Press. Biya, still in Geneva, directed his forced to use water cannons and more in Buea, as they shoot to kill from helicopters in North-West and South-West Cameroon. Now on October 7-8, despite belated calls from Geneva and an unapologetic Guterres, restrictions on movement and free association are being extended, for example in Manyu Division, Mamfe Town and elsewhere, see here. Will there be any follow through by the UN on its statements, or just more "welcoming" of Biya? When will the already postponed visit by the UN's Francois Fall occur, to where and with whom, and what will it accomplish? On October 5 Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, who earlier this year told Inner City Press the UK did not view the situation in Cameroon as a threat to international peace and security but would continue to monitor it, if the threshold has been reached and the UK will ask for a UN Security Council meeting. Periscope video here. He said no one has asked and the UK continues to weigh the pro and con of putting it on the Council's agenda (along with Myanmar, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, Colombia and others). Earlier Inner City Press asked Francois Delattre, the UN Ambassador of France and President of the UN Security Council for October, why he has not yet convened a Security Council meeting amid the killings of civilians and cutting off of social networks in Cameroon. Periscope video here. Delattre said the French Foreign Ministry's spokesperson has spoken earlier in the day, again calling for dialogue. We'll have more on this. Guterres' spokespeople have three times refused Inner City Press' request for the UN's estimate of how many people have been killed by Paul Biya's forces since Guterres offered him praise on September 22.October 2, 2017

Angered at UN Praise of Cameroon's Biya, Letter to UN Cites Genocide Threat, UN Corruption

By Matthew Russell Lee, Photo, video

UNITED NATIONS, September 30 – When Cameroon's President for the past 30-plus years Paul Biya came to meet Antonio Guterres on September 22, before he went back to the Hotel Inter-Continental in Geneva, he was accompanied by his state media and... Inner City Press. According to the UN read-out, the conversation was entirely positive and did not mention Biya's abuse of Anglophones, or human rights in any way. Since then Biya has again undermined the Internet and rights to communicate in Southern Cameroons, to which Inner City Press after asking the UN  four days in a row until exclusion now turns. Here is a letter sent not only to Inner City Press, but to the UN Office of the Spokesperson: "I am writing from Southern Cameroons. I am pleading you should use your high office to stop the genocide that President Biya wants to exercise on the English speaking Cameroonians. a lot of people have lost their lives already and yet the President of Cameroons is seriously planning to shed more blood.  The truth is clear, the people of southern Cameroons (English speaking ) was a country  of its own that legally voted to joint La Republic of Cameroon. But now La Republic of Cameroon are treating these people as if they colonize them or conquered them in a war. sir use your conscience, it could have been your family going through what we are going through. Where is human rights in the 21st Century where people of a particular nation turns to treat their fellow brothers and sisters as slaves and the whole world is reacting as if there is nothing happening Does it mean that if tomorrow if I'm in one top position in the world that has to deal with the society i will give deaf ears to a situation that has to do with millions of lives ? what is wrong with the world today? where is human right? there is no justice at all? is it that human lives no longer matters? Please kindly react to stop the genocide that is about to happen in 48 hours." No response from the UN. Here is another letter: "Dear Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press: Accept my greetings and that of those who can't write to you. I am writing to you from Buea, Southern Cameroons. Am reacting to your articles on September 28 concerning the crisis in Southern Cameroons. The approach of the UN concerning the Southern Cameroons and it people, proves time and again that the UN must be very corrupt, and have turned it back against in commitment to protect human rights freedoms, and states sovereignty. How can the Secretary General be talking of his to consolidate peace and the Territorial integrity of Cameroon, when knows very well that, the UN holds no legal treaty that binds the British Southern Cameroons with LA Republique DU Cameroun? I hereby want to inform you that, I, as well as an overwhelming majority have chosen to separate from la Republique DU Cameroun because of what we have gone through in 56 of forced union. If the government of la République du Cameroun, considered us Southern Cameroonians as a people with the same rights as Francophones, if the government wanted to make peace and resolve this problem from it core, I think the repression taking place now won't have been. While you published on the Cameroon crises yesterday, the government of la Republique DU Cameroun became violently repressive and attacked and beating people their homes, taking seizing money and smart phones, and taking them to jail. As am writing to you now, six people were shot yesterday in the town of Ekona, and a grandmother was killed by the military in her home. 14 years old kids are being arrested and detained in jails under very cruel conditions. Since the beginning of this crises since November last year, 112 people have been killed by the military of la Republique DU Cameroun. The la République du Cameroun's government have been using terrorism blackmail the peaceful protests. I hereby call on the Secretary General to read the the UN charter on human right and freedoms, and the right for self governance." Biya's renewed attacks on the Internet have ranged from Bamenda to Kumbo and Kumba, but are being circumvented by VPNs. Meanwhile Inner City Press is receiving video of protests in front of the Inter-Continental Hotel in Geneva where Biya is staying. Guterres praised Biya, then belatedly called on him to dialogue: while Biya is not even in the country. His landing in Geneva: "VP-CAL used by #PaulBiya, President of Cameroon (Boeing 777) on 2017/09/26 at 08:56:46." We ran this sample letter to Inner City Press: " woke up this morning and discovered Internet Services in Cameroon have somehow been limited. I am suspected the regime of Paul Biya have tampered with the internet service and Facebook, Twitter,  WhatsApp, VPNs, Vcontact  aren't working. I am sure many other social media have been cut off as well.
There have been plans to celebrate the symbolic independence of this region 'the Former British Southern Cameroons' on the 1st of October 2017. That is on Sunday and the region have been heavily militarized by the Biya regime, Homes of people invaded, beaten , some killed, many kidnapped and with this shutdown to major social media to  which it is where most of these crimes are exposed, many have been fearing a total Genocide that can be perpetrated on the people of that region. There were rumors that, the internet will be shutdown come 30th September. The Minister of Communications made a public communique two days ago to say, the internet won't be shutdown but I guess it was just a ploy as through some websites are working, major social medias ( Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter) have been cut off. Please, make the world know what is happening in this region. This is a sly move to blackout to the world what atrocities the Biya's regime is/will be perpetrating in these regions."  In Fiango, Biya's security forces have killed, reportedly Enogene Basile, following their September 28 killings in Ekona. Watch this site. Inner City Press on September 26, 27 and 28 asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric about these glaring omissions. The first time, Dujarric alluded to "private" diplomacy. Then on September 27 when Inner City Press asked ask, video here, Dujarric said that UN envoy Francois Fall will be going to Cameroon "next week." On September 28, Inner City Press asked Dujarric deputy Farhan Haq if this would be before or after October 1, and Haq said he didn't know. Hours later, Dujarric's office put out a statement of concern below, which many see as too little, too late, with its emphasis on territorial integrity. On September 29, Inner City Press asked Dujarric not only about the UN's surveillance of the Press, on which he refused to answer referring to the question to the UN Department of Public Information whose chief Alison Smale has refused to answer basic questions for a month, but also if Guterres' concern is at threats to those in Anglophone Cameroon to stay indoors or be treated as "terrorists," for citing UN General Assembly Resolution 1608. Video here. Dujarric replied that he doesn't have "granularity" about what's being done and said. But he put this out: "The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the situation in Cameroon, including with regard to the recent security incidents in Bamenda and in Douala, and mounting tensions in the South-West and North-West regions related to planned events on 1 October. The Secretary-General has encouraged the Cameroonian authorities to continue their efforts to address the grievances of the Anglophone community. He urges the authorities to promote measures of national reconciliation aimed at finding a durable solution to the crisis, including by addressing its root causes. The Secretary-General supports upholding the unity and territorial integrity of Cameroon and urges all parties to refrain from acts that could lead to an escalation of tension and violence. The Secretary-General believes that genuine and inclusive dialogue between the Government and the communities in the South-West and North-West regions is the best way to preserve the unity and stability of the country.  The Secretary-General stands ready to support these efforts, including through the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA). " We'll see. On September 26, Dujarric replied that Guterres would say there is a time for public diplomacy, and a time for private diplomacy. Video here. Some wonder, how many people have to die, or what kind of people, for it to be time for UN "public" diplomacy? Earlier on September 22 Inner City Press interviewed Southern Cameroonians out on 47th Street, then asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric about people killed that very day. UN transcript here and below. The crackdown is also financial: Biya's Minister of Finance has threatened the National Frincne Credit Bank in Bamenda with loss of its license for taking part in the "Ghost Town" expression of desire for independence, or in the first instance a referendum. See letter here. This politicization should trigger action by the "decision making phere" [sic] written about by Biya's state media, the kind of media that the UN and now its new head of Public Information favor over independent press. From the September 22 UN transcript: Inner City Press:  there’s a protest right now of Southern Cameroonians on 47th Street, but more importantly, there’s one in Southern Cameroon where five people have been killed today, as Paul Biya gave his speech, so I’m wondering…  I know the Deputy Secretary-General had some interest in the issue.  There’s Mr. [Francois Lonseny] Fall.  Are they aware of these protests? Spokesman:  "We’ve seen the reports I think we would definitely… we would call on the authorities to show restraint and ensure that people have the right to demonstrate freely." But on the UN's 27th floor, it was all smiles. And much later the UN put this read-out on its website: "The Secretary-General met today with H.E. Mr. Paul Biya, President of the Republic of Cameroon. The Secretary-General appreciated Cameroon’s hospitality towards the refugees.
They discussed the latest political developments in the country, as well as regional issues, including Boko Haram and the situation in the Central African Republic. The Secretary commended Cameroon for its efforts to combat Boko Haram, and reiterated the readiness of the United Nations to support the Government in all areas." No mention of the Anglophone areas, much less the day's killings. This is a new low, even for today's UN. UN Department of Political Affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman had left the floor with the Australian delegation; it was unclear if any UN Human Rights official was present. One of Biya's handlers even signed the UN visitors book in advance for him. When Guterres greeted his next visitor he did so in French then apologized, the last meeting was in French.



North Korea's Ri Yong Ho Meets UNSG Guterres, Asks For Impartiality, Conference

By Matthew Russell Lee, Photos, speech

UNITED NATIONS, September 23 – Days after the UN Security Council banned textile exports from North Korea, the country fired another missile over Japan's Hokkeido. On September 23, North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho delivered this speech in the UN General Assembly hall, then came to meet UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, USg Jeffrey Feltman and others. There was a photo op, well attended by wire services and largely Japanese and some South Korean photographers - and Inner City Press. Periscope video here. Inner City Press asked the North Korea Mission to the UN if the international legal conference they have been asking for was discussed; the North Korean Mission to the UN told Inner City Press its “Foreign Minister raised that issue during the meeting. He also told UNSG to be most impartial, not to take one-sided.” We'll see.September 18, 2017

On Myanmar, UNSG Guterres Resisted Calls To Act, Officials Tell ICP, Deference to "The Lady"

By Matthew Russell Lee, exclusive; video here

UNITED NATIONS, September 16 – 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.September 11, 2017

For UN General Assembly Week, List Here, UN Both UNprepared and UNfair

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 9 – The UN is both unprepared and unfair in the run-up to the 72nd General Assembly high level week, which the UN brags will include 90 heads of state, five vice presidents, 36 heads of government, 3 deputy prime ministers and 55 ministers. 

At a background briefing on September 8, a UN Department of Public Information official told Inner City Press that the current nearly-useless wifi Internet “should” be fixed in time, and that “there will be a secondary pass for RC to go to basement area, 1B, limited to resident correspondents” - a group of less than 200 of the several thousand journalist the UN says are coming. 

Inner City Press asked, Why are these passes limited in that way? The UN official said, “That's the arrangement with Security and with the UNCA [UN Correspondents Association] because we have to find some distinction.” 

So the UN let a group of at most 200 insiders limit the access of thousands of other journalists, with no transparency. This Department of Public Information has been headless since April 1; New York Times journalist Alison Smale was named by Secretary General Antonio Guterres as replacement but has apparently not arrived: she has not answered e-mailed questions about these elitist “distinctions.” Actually, the 200 UNCA insiders include numerous rarely seen state media, for example Akhbar al Yom from Sisi's Egypt, making the “distinction” all the more telling. 

Similarly, when Inner City Press was for assurance that at least the UN Press Briefing Room would be open to all journalists, the UN official said while missions are told that, there is no guarantee, the Media Accreditation office does not make the bookings. Those are done by the UN Spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, who has a history as noted by the Free UN Coalition for Access of "lending" the UN Press Briefing Room to the president of his native France, and to UNCA, evicting the Press which tried to cover the event with Periscope. 

The UN is closing in on itself, while bragging about all the important people coming to see it. The reformed needed at the UN go well beyond those alluded to in the pre-signed outcome document of the September 18 event. That reform event, tellingly, is not even mentioned on the UN's list so far of UNGA72 events: 

12 September: Opening of the 72nd Session of the General Assembly (Preliminary list of items in the provisional agenda); 

18 September: High-Level Meeting on the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse; 

19-25 September: General Debate of the General Assembly 72nd Session; 

20 September: Signing Ceremony of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons; 

20 September: Security Council High Level Meeting: Reform of UN peacekeeping, implementation and follow-up; 

26 September: High-level plenary meeting to promote and commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons; 

27-28 September: High -level meeting of the General Assembly on the appraisal of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons (resolution 71/287). 

Watch this site.

September 4, 2017

As ICP Pursues N Korea Story, UN Security Orders It To Stop, UNlike Others, Censorship for Corruption

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video here

UNITED NATIONS, August 29 – More than nineteen months ago, acting against Press coverage of Ban Ki-moon's links to UN corruption cases, the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) had Inner City Press physically ousted from the UN.  Audio here.

 Since then an UNrelenting campaign of harassment by UN Security (DSS) and the requirement that Inner City Press unlike other media have minders to stake-out public events in the UN has continued.  On August 29 as Inner City Press covered the UN Security Council debate in the run-up to an emergency meeting on North Korea, an Ambassador walked down the second floor. A slew of correspondents took off in pursuit, including "non resident correspondents" who only come in for North Korea meetings. While awaiting the end of the double standard between it and other UN-favored correspondents, it seemed obvious to Inner City Press it must be treated like other non-resident correspondents. But no - a UN Security officer in front of the ECOSOC chamber, after letting other non-resident correspondents by, stepped out and stopped Inner City Press. This is pur censorship, for covering the UN's (expanding) corruption. On August 28, as Inner City Press with its still required DPI minder / escort covering the UN General Assembly meeting on South South Cooperation, a UN Security supervisor had the DPI minder order Inner City Press to stop filming and covering - from a roped-in stakeout. When Inner City Press asked the UN Security officer for his name, he refused (so, this Vine video), finally saying "You talking to me?" then walking off. Further requests for the UN officer's / censor's name were not responded to when raised to DPI, including Darrin Farrant who's been at the right hand of three DPI Under Secretaries General in a row. Incoming USG Alison Smale is going to have to deal with this censorship, these double standards. August 28, 2017

After UN Sold Itself to Ng, Stonewall on Event By Guo Xiangang, Censors Demand, Canceled

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 23– After the UN was exposed as having been bought and corrupted by Macau-based businessman Ng Lap Seng, convicted less than a month ago on six counts of UN bribery, money laundering and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations, what has changed?

While the spokesmen for new Secretary General Antonio Guterres evade the questions asked by Inner City Press, for example about the UN rewarding Ng for his South South News' coverage of Ban Ki-moon's Central America trip in 2015, murky uses of the UN and its building, movement inside which Inner City Press is still restricted for its anti-corruption coverage, continue.

 For example, on August 23-24 the UN General Assembly Hall is still scheduled be taken over by an NGO named “World Development Foundation” headed by Guo Xiangang. Attended list and junket offer below; voice mail after UN refused to answer, here, UN Spokesman's one-quarter answer, below; second voicemail here. In a third voicemail, an interview of with the Ambassador of Suriname, just as he was interviewed by South South News in Macau, was offered here. But Inner City Press' questions were and are to the UN, how it vetted the NGOs - UNanswered. Now a fourth voicemail, here, asking that Inner City Press take down article(s) - and, on August 23, the event was not taking place in either the General Assembly Hall, nor Conference Room 4. We'll have more on this. Inner City Press first reported on this group in May 2016, noting that the UN Department of Public Information was partnering with a group that at that time did not even have a website. This came after DPI's then-chief Cristina Gallach did no due diligence of Ng Lap Seng's purchase of events in the UN lobby and even its slavery memorial, then evicted Inner City Press after it asked her about her links to Ng's South South Awards. The UN's holdover Spokesman Stephane Dujarric has been involved, including in both the eviction and continuing restrictions. On August 22, Inner City Press asked and e-mailed Dujarric about the August 22-24 event. Video here; UN transcript here: Inner City Press: there's an event this week in the General Assembly, and some of the sponsors are those who attended the Macau event sponsored and paid for by Ng Lap Seng in August 2015 just before he was indicted and arrested.  So, I wanted to know — maybe you can find this out today — it's said that it's going to be webcast.

Spokesman:  What's the event?  I don't, what's the event?

Inner City Press:  The event has to do with sustainable tourism.  It's sponsored by an NGO and two Member States, both of whom went to Macau.  So, my question to you is, you've said the things have radically cleaned up…What's the UN's role in the event…  Who's paying for the-

Spokesman:  I need… drop me off a piece of paper with information about the event and I will…

Inner City Press: I'm going to give you the email as well, the one about…

Spokesman:  Perfect.

Inner City Press: …Yiping Zhou and the one that you said you hadn't seen.

Spokesman:  Okay, thank you.

  Inner City Press immediately sent Dujarric as well as his top two deputies the Yiping Zhou email and some questions. Five hours later when he left, Dujarric had not answered nor even, as requested, confirmed receipt. After 8 pm one of the sponsors called Inner City Press, audio here. But the answer should come from the UN Secretariat, which had been asked eight hours previously. Inner City Press called the caller how to ask Dujarric, and Dujarric did respond to this NGO, emailing Inner City Press: "Dear Matthew, The event is sponsored that the Mission of Suriname. They are responsible for the content of the event and we have been assured that no one is being charged for this event. Sincerely, Steph." But this didn't answer the questions that Inner City Press had asked (while showing that Dujarric had received them - we'll have more on this, and this). Inner City Press had sent Dujarric the information about the event: "Sustainable Tourism development projects from other Member States will also be introduced. Special Guests Include: Mr. Carlos Vogeler, UN World Tourism Organization, Executive Director and Regional Director for the Americas; Ms. Shavani Vora, NY Times Travel Columnist, Invited' Ms. Alexandrine Wan, Sustainable Tourism Advocate, Entrepreneur
H.E. Ambassador Loreen Bannis-Roberts, Permanent Representative, Dominica Mission to the United Nations; Peter Claesson, Indigo Travel, Sweden; Neelam Melanie, Second Secretary, Kingdom of Netherlands Mission to the United Nations; Robert Watson, Noted Author and Tourism Strategist; Amir Dossal, President and Founder, Global Partnerships Forum; Peter Tichnsky, President and CEO, Business Council for International; Understanding; Laura Choi, Resort-wear Sustainable Fashion Designer, Invited
Vincent Fuentes, Director, WFUNA Tours
Dr. Joshua Weiss, Harvard faculty, Abraham Path Initiative; Suzanne Carlson, President, Carlson Maritime Travel; Anderson Pilgrim, Caribbean Travel Initiatives (CTO and CARICOM Report); Michelle Guelbart, ECPAT Report on Responsible Tourism; Edward H Hall III, Bureau of Indian Affairs Tourism Specialist Plus a SPECIAL FAMILIARIZATION TOUR TO GUYANA AND SURINAME will be announced for travel media, travel professionals and others.  October date... under the auspices of His Excellency Ambassador Henry MacDonald, Permanent Mission of Suriname to the United Nations and His Excellency Michael Ten-Pow, Permanent Mission of Guyana to the United Nations. The program is produced and developed by the World Development Foundation, Dr. Guo Xiangang, President. Patrick Sciarratta is the Conference Manager for the two-day proceedings; Conference Coordinator is Dominique Schwenner; Ms. Zephanii Smith is Public Relations Liaison. Cristina Fan is the Conference Administrator." Ng paid for the trip to Macau, which at least two sponsors and the vice president of the UN Correspondents Association attended. There are photos of DPI officials with Guo Xiangang. The cover, just as Ng Lap Seng used the Dominican Republic's Francis Lorenzo and a number of other states, in this case are Suriname and Guyana, both of whose Permanent Representatives attended Ng Lap Seng's Macau event in August 2015 and were interviewed by South South News, here and here. This week in attendance will be the Permanent Representative of Dominca, whose Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit was the only head of state who went to Ng Lap Seng's Macau event, along with the vice president of the United Nations Correspondents Association.

As Inner City Press reported and pursued, the UN Correspondents Association took payment from Ng' South South News for full page ads, then provided the venue for Ng's and Vivian Wang's photo op with Ban Ki-moon. It was for seeking to cover the UNCA event in the UN Press Briefing Room, “lent” without paperwork by Ban's and Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric, that Inner City Press was evicted and is still restricted.

New DPI chief Alison Smale will have to deal with all this - and clean it up. For now, this is how the UN under Guterres remains. Watch this site.

August 21, 2017

On Kenya, ICP Asked UN of Monica Juma Job, Blogger Alai Locked Up, UN Censors

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive on Juma

UNITED NATIONS, August 19 – After the murder of Kenyan electoral official Chris Msando, Inner City Press on August 1 put the question at the UN to Secretary General Antonio Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here and below.  After Kenya moved to de-register a second human rights group, Inner City Press asked lead UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric on August 15, UN transcript here and below. Inner City Press has learned, and exclusively reports, that Kenya(tta) foreign ministry official Monica Juma has been offered a top job in Jeffrey Feltman's UN Department of Political Affairs, to replace Taye-Brook Zerihoun. She was granted six months to "sit" on the job, to help Kenya(tta), as one source put it to Inner City Press. Now the dismissive or vague position of today's UN to press freedom is further exemplified by silence on the reported detention at gunpoint of blogger Robert Alai, here. The UN's resident coordinator in Kenya has for example blocked the critical Press on Twitter; UN Spokesman Farhan Haq on August 19 had no specific comment when Inner City Press asked about detentions by Morocco of citizen journalists reporting on the crackdown in Rif. (Lead UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric evicted Inner City Press and still restricts it, for its coverage in the Press Briefing Room of the UN bribery case against now-conficted Ng Lap Seng.) The UN is losing its way, including in Kenya. On August 18, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: Inner City Press:  In Kenya, now the EU has called for the making public of the local results.  There seems to be more and more question about the way they were conveyed, and a lot of international actors that don't have as big a presence in Nairobi as the UN does have called for this type of data to be produced.  I wanted to know what is the UN's… he's already… the Secretary-General's already, you know, congratulated and apparently, called the results final, President Kenyatta, but what is the UN's… does the UN join these calls for the release of those data, or what's their position?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, our position has been that any complaints need to be worked out through the established system.  Apparently, there are signs from the various parties that that is what's going on and we will monitor that process as it continues.

Inner City Press: And I wanted to ask.  I became aware yesterday that… that… and I would like you to confirm that the DPA position currently held by Tayé-Brook Zerihoun has been offered to a Monica Juma, who is a Kenyan Government official in the Foreign Ministry, and I would like to know… apparently, the position was given to her, and she was given six months to take it or not so that this process would take place.

What is the, what is the status of that second highest position in DPA currently, and why wasn't it advertised?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, at this, at this point, as you know, Mr. Zerihoun has the post.  When there's another appointment to be made, we'll announce that, but we have not made another announcement.

Inner City Press: But why wouldn't a position of that height be, be advertised for people to apply?

Deputy Spokesman:  We have processes that, that apply to all of the various high positions.  I believe we have competitive processes, including interview processes, for, for all of the senior position, and we'll make the announcement when it happens.  I wouldn't have any confirmation of how this process was carried about, but, and at this stage, like I said, I don't have an announcement for Mr. Zerihoun, even for any departure.  Once we have that announcement, we'll, we'll make that.

  On August 17, amid lack of transparency about the detention and itinerary of a UN official on leave, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: as you may know in Kenya, the former or future DPA (Department of Political Affairs) employee Roselyn Akombe, who has given a leave of absence to work on the Electoral Commission there, attempted to leave the country and was detained at the airport. It’s now said that she’s come to New York for meetings.  So, I wanted to know two things.  Number one, is she having any meeting with the UN, since you said she’s coming to New York on official business?  Number two, when she was given this leave of absence — it’s become quite controversial.  As you know, the commission is getting sued for being not less than impartial — did the Ethics Office look at this granting of a leave of absence?  What’s her current status with the UN?  And, also, it’s come up because she appealed to the US embassy there.  For purposes of UN, is she from Kenya or from the United States?

Deputy Spokesman:  I wouldn’t have any comment on her nationality.  I don’t comment on the nationality of staff members. But… [inaudible]

Question:  Given that the person was detained and… okay.

Deputy Spokesman:  But I am aware that she was on a leave of absence.  At some point, I believe, fairly soon, it will be expiring and then she will return to her duties in the Department of Political Affairs.

Question:  So she has no contacts in the UN during this week?  Because it’s a big story in Kenya that she’s come to New York and she says she coming to New York for work related to the election.  So, I guess my question to you is, does this New York visit have any UN connection?

Deputy Spokesman:  I wouldn’t comment on her work until she’s re-joined the United Nations.  She’s not… at the time that she’s on leave, she is a separate individual.  Ms. Akombe, at some point, will re-join the Department of Political Affairs, and then she’ll be a UN staffer.

  We'll have more on this - and on Juma.
August 14, 2017

On Yemen, UN Envoy IOCA Tweets of Churros Amid Airstrikes on Taizz & Sa'ada, Censorship

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 11 – When the UN Security Council belatedly met about Yemen on July 12, only three of the Council members spoke in the open meeting: Uruguay, Bolivia and Sweden. Uruguay cited an airstrike on a market and noted that the rebels don't have air support. Now on August 11 the UN's often invisible envoy on Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed has gone public on Twitter with his love of churros, tweeting an article in Cosmopolitan magazine urging readers to book a trip to California immediately. Inner City Press preserved the ice cream shot in a photograph, here, in part because IOCA has a pattern of blocking journalists on Twitter, which the Free UN Coalition for Access has questioned along with other UN censorship. On August 8, Inner City Press asked about the bombings, and the UN's envoy, to the UN Spokesman. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press:  You may have seen the International Committee of the Red Cross has issued deep concern about airstrikes on Sa’ada and Taizz in great detail.  They issued this today.  And so, inevitably people wonder, given that the UN has a Special Envoy on Yemen, is he equally as concerned, either well documented…?

Spokesman:  I think we have… The UN system, through its Resident Coordinator, expressed its concern at the airstrikes and the death of children and civilians over the weekend.  Anyone who works for the UN is obviously troubled and concerned about the continuing suffering of the civilians, and that's why the Special Envoy is continuing his work and trying… and keep… and not giving up on trying to get the parties around a political settlement.  And I think, if you… as I'm sure you do pay attention to the various Security Council briefings, I think our outrage at the continuing deaths and suffering of civilians is clear.