WikiLeaks denounces UNESCO for banning WikiLeaks from conference about WikiLeaks (February 16-17, UNESCO Headquarters, Paris).
WikiLeaks denounced UNESCO for banning WikiLeaks from tomorrow’s international conference about WikiLeaks. The large two-day conference, which has 37 speakers listed, is to be held UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. US organizers have stacked the conference with WikiLeaks opponents and blocked all speakers from WikiLeaks, stating that the decision to censor WikiLeaks representation was an exercise in ’freedom of expression… our right to give voice to speakers of our choice’.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange denounced the conference: ’UNESCO has made itself an international human rights joke. To use “freedom of expression” to censor WikiLeaks from a conference about WikiLeaks is an Orwellian absurdity beyond words. This is an intolerable abuse of UNESCO’s Constitution. It’s time to occupy UNESCO.’
WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson expressed consternation in a letter to UNESCO about the exclusion: ’UNESCO has a duty to assure that fairness and balance is secured in important discussions carried out under the banner of the organization. It is obvious that this will hardly be the case, given the selection of speakers. This is both a disgrace to UNESCO and potentially harmful to WikiLeaks.’
Julian Assange calls for an immediate investigation “UNESCO must conduct a full, frank and open investigation as to how its constitution, which tasks it to promote freedom of expression, freedom of information and freedom of communication, has become a blunt instrument of censorship. UNESCO must demonstrate that cold-war style power-plays, by the United States, or indeed any other country, are no longer acceptable.”
The following hash tag may be used to follow the story: “#OccupyUNESCO”
Full details and a longer explanatory article follow.
Conference Details: - Livestream: The Media World after WikiLeaks and News of the World 09:00-16:45, 16-17 February 2012 mms://stream.unesco.org/live/room_4_en.wmv
Conference URL: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/media-…
Venue: UNESCO Headquarters 7 place de Fontenoy , 75352 Paris, France https://maps.google.com/maps/place?…
UNESCO Constitution: http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-…
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19: http://www.udhr.org/UDHR/ART19.HTM
WikiLeaks refused participation at UNESCO WikiLeaks conference
When WikiLeaks became aware that a two day conference about WikiLeaks’ impact was being hosted by UNESCO, WikiLeaks expressed its consternation that no-one from WikiLeaks had been approached to participate - and requested that WikiLeaks be given access to meaningful participation at the conference.
UNESCO forwarded WikiLeaks’ letter to Ronald Koven of the “World Press Freedom Committee”. The WPFC is based in Reston, Virginia, in the United States. UNESCO lists the organizers as the U.S. “World Press Freedom Committee” (WPFC) in cooperation with the UNESCO Communication & Information Sector. The WPFC board (http://is.gd/1bF0N3 ), is comprised of Washington insiders, cold war ideological allies (such as Freedom House and the disgraced IAPA) and U.S. mainstream media groups.
Although WikiLeaks has over 90 partner organisations and despite numerous other books having been published on WikiLeaks, UNESCO and the WPFC decided to exclude WikiLeaks and stack the UNESCO conference with a “who’s who” of WikiLeaks opponents and critics, no matter how insignificant or poorly informed. This includes speakers who are not merely critics, but four who have active legal conflicts with the organization. Tellingly, the key note is by a journalist who serialized her failed anti-WikiLeaks book in a U.K tabloid as “The WikiFreak: In a new book one author reveals how she got to know Julian Assange and found him a predatory, narcissistic fantasist”.
Ronald Koven is the WPFC’s spokesman on ’press freedom concerns’ at UNESCO. Koven has been monitoring UNESCO for the U.S. organizations for over 30 years. In recent years he has been a U.S. Embassy informant and is mentioned in WikiLeaks’ cables. Koven refused WikiLeaks participation due to what can only be interpreted as political considerations:
“I can only share in your attachment to freedom of expression. It must include our right to give voice to speakers of our choice.”
Koven went on to justify the exclusion:
“The main focus of this conference is not about WikiLeaks as such but about the implications of its actions for the future of professional journalism.”
This characterisation is at odds with the description of the aims of the conference on its website: “The conference aims to explore a wide range of new questions for traditional media and journalism posed by the WikiLeaks phenomenon” (that is, WikiLeaks).
WikiLeaks again contacted UNESCO’s Sylvie Coudray, who is in charge for Freedom of Expression, reminding UNESCO that it has a duty to ensure fairness and balance in conferences carried out under the banner of the organization, and in accordance with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. UNESCO’s legacy is at stake, and the political decisions driving this exclusion are yet another episode in the persecution of WikiLeaks.
UNESCO responded “We do not have intention to cause any polemic” and stated that WikiLeaks could attend the conference- as long as WikiLeaks did not demand to participate as speakers. She appears to deny WikiLeaks work as journalism:
“Mr Koven has already answered to some of your questions. May I underline that the conference is *about journalism* in light of the situations that occurred with Wikileaks and News of the World, and *not about the episodes themselves*.”
The full correspondence between WikiLeaks, UNESCO and WPFC is available at the end of this document.
Although the conference is meant to be about WikiLeaks and freedom of the press, there is nothing about the most serious attack on WikiLeaks and freedom of expression everywhere. The extrajudicial attack has wiped out 95% of WikiLeaks revenues and has been the subject of wide-spread condemnation, including from the UN and the EU. Since Dec 2010, US financial giants VISA, MasterCard, The Bank of America, PayPal and Western Union have been involved in an economic censorship war against this organization. A formal U.S. Treasury investigation found there were no grounds for the US to blacklist WikiLeaks. Despite this, the unlawful blockade continues.
MasterCard, along with the U.S. State Department, sponsored the WPFC organized the 2011, so-called, “UNESCO World Press Freedom Day”, during the start of the U.S. economic censorship campaign against WikiLeaks. It also conspicuously avoided discussion of extrajudicial banking blockade against WikiLeaks.
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