In The Bronx, Great Liberia Photos and Ambiguous Role of UN Failing on Cameroon and Censorship
6 months ago
By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR Letter PFT Q&A
UNITED NATIONS, October 26 – There is in The Bronx an exhibition of photographs from Liberia by two martyred journalists, Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros. Inner City Press went to see it – and an exhibition opening speech by senior UN official Amina J. Mohammed. This is, therefore, a hybrid review – but we’ll start with the photographs. They are stunning. Child soldiers, internally displaced people in a former Masonic Lodge in Monrovia, US Marines guarding the port.
Any positive UN role at the time of the photographs is harder to find. But people assume that the UN is good, or project on it all of their good feeling. And so Deputy Secretary General Mohammed, arriving characteristically later accompanied by unneeded security guards whispering into microphones that a question might be asked – was the keynote speaker, pitching her Nigerian government’s role in all these West African conflicts. But what about Biafra? What about Mohammed herself remaining silent less than a year ago about her Nigerian government illegally detained and sent to Cameroon UN-registered refugees, Ayuk Tabe and 46 others? This was beyond the scope of the (excellent) exhibit.
In full disclosure, Inner City Press has in the past known the organizer, Michael Kamber, when he photographed the Inner City Press homesteaders fixing abandoned buildings in the Crotona Park East area of the South Bronx for the now defunct Village Voice. Inner City Press made point of telling him afterward, I’m going to praise the exhibit but tell the truth about the UN. He said he understood, that is Inner City Press’ way. And so:
In 2017 it emerged that Amina Mohammed, just before she left her position as Nigeria’s Minster of Environment, signed thousands of back date certificates for illegally exported rosewood sent to China from Nigeria and Cameroon. Inner City Press, then in the UN, sought to question her about it. Soon Inner City Press was roughed up by UN Security and thrown out onto First Avenue on 3 July 2018, video here, and banned since.
In fact the UN of Mohammed and SG Antonio Guterres who nominated her – and whose son Pedro does UNdisclosed business in Angola, Namibia, Sao Tome and Cabo Verde – have a secret banned from the UN list, on which they have put Inner City Press amid its questions, and which their Security official Matthew Sullivan is telling NYPD not to disclose. No self respecting Bronxite would put up with such a scam, and Inner City Press is not different. As we told Amina Mohammed as she fast-toured the exhibition after her speech, the UN should belatedly take action on the slaughter of Anglophones in Cameroon, and UN Censorship must end. She could end it – but will she? The request is in. These questions might seem aggressive. But that is journalism. The UN cannot be allowed to rough up and ban the Press that asks the questions.
There was a speaker from the Office of the Mayor – which, when Inner City Press asked under the Freedom of Information Law for its knowledge of the UN’s secret banned list which includes “political activists” conferred with the UN and then seeks to delay response to 2019.
But, back the positive, the work of Bronx Documentary Center and Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues (RISC), training freelance war correspondents in emergency medicine, must continue. We recommend their work, and the exhibition. It is as 364 East 151st Street in The Bronx. Tell us what you think.