Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Setting the record straight

The United Nations Security office is now on the offensive. There is an Associated Press story that says UN has a policy against commercial sponsorship and has a no poster policy. Duh. The ONI / opennet.asia book reception is not for commercial purposes. We were not even selling the book then as the book is yet to be published.

If the UN really has a no poster policy then what the hell was this banners doing there at the main hall. This was taken Tuesday morning by one of the IGF delegates.

I am cross-posting Ron Deibert's points of clarification on the ONI poster confiscation incident that happened last Sunday.

1. We were told that the banner had to be removed because of the reference to China. This was repeated on several occasions, in front of about two dozen witnesses and officials, including the UN Special Rapporteur For Human Rights, who asked that I send in a formal letter of complaint.

2. Earlier, the same officials asked us to stop circulating a small invite to the event because it contained a mention of Tibet. They even underlined it in showing it to me. Because the event was just about to start, we said that we would not be distributing any more of these invitations so it was a moot point.

3. We asked repeatedly to see any rules or regulations governing this act. They did not give us any, only referring to the "objections of a member state."

4. There were in fact many posters and banners in many of the rooms that I attended, including others in our own. The video itself shows us, at one point, taking one of the other posters we have and offering to cover up the original one. They objected to that and told us this banner must be removed.

On another matter of clarification:

The UN officials did not throw the banner on the ground. They asked us to remove it and one of our staff placed it on the ground for us to consider what to do. That's where we had the discussion. When we refused to remove it, their security guards bundled it up and took it away.

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