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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 30th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS), the world’s leading provider of information on global issues, is backed by a network of journalists in more than 100 countries.
Its clients include more than 3,000 media organizations and tens of thousands of civil society groups, academics, and other users.

IPS focuses its news coverage on the events and global processes affecting the economic, social and political development of peoples and nations.

Visit Inter Press Service at www.ipsnews.net

Rome, Italy, is where the headquarters are. Much of the news come from the 4th floor of the UN Headquarters in New York.


Today’s News from IPS in its Media Section – MEDIA: IPS Has New Chairman.

By Sabina Zaccaro

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Federico Mayor


ROME, Jun 25 (IPS) – The IPS International Association has chosen Federico Mayor as new chair of its Board of Directors. He replaces Mario Soares, former President of Portugal (1986-1996), who has been guiding the IPS Board since 2002.

IPS also elected its Board of Trustees, which includes two former U.N. secretaries general, Kofi Annan and Boutros Boutros-Ghali; two former presidents, Mario Soares (Portugal) and Martti Ahtisaari (Finland); two former prime ministers, Toshiki Kaifu (Japan) and Inder Kumar Gujral (India); and IPS founder Roberto Savio.

Federico Mayor, born in Spain in 1934, served as Director General of the Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) from 1987 to 1999.

Mayor was earlier a member of the Spanish Parliament (1977-1978), Minister for Education and Science (1981-1982) and member of the European Parliament (1987).

After deciding not to run for a third term at UNESCO, he returned to Spain in 1999 to create the Foundation for a Culture of Peace. In 2005, the United Nations Secretary-General designated Mayor as Co-President of the High Level Group for the Alliance of Civilisations.

He is also member of the Honorary Board of the International Coalition for the Decade for the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence.

Mayor, who has worked on peace-related issues for more than 30 years, says the role of a news agency such as IPS in promoting peace is “essential, because the media power today is enormous, and we receive much partial and biased information.

“It is time for action and change, and to transform reality we must know reality in-depth,” he told IPS.

During his 12 years as head of UNESCO, Mayor’s work focused on the promotion of peace, tolerance, human rights and peaceful coexistence. Under his guidance, UNESCO created the Culture of Peace programme aimed at education for peace; human rights and democracy; the fight against isolation and poverty; the defence of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue; and conflict prevention and the consolidation of peace.

Access to independent information can make a strong contribution to handling the world’s conflicts, he said. “It has been misleading information that has led to war and invasions such as the one of Iraq.

“The present crisis shows how far unrestricted freedom of expression and media pluralism are crucial to overcome the present situations, particularly the food crisis, and start the process for the other possible world of which we dream,” Mayor said.

As new chair of the IPS Board of Directors, he said he will aim “to follow exactly the objectives of IPS, which are transparency, accuracy and farsightedness.”

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Mario Lubetkin

The recent triennial election of the IPS International Association appointed Mario Lubetkin Director General of IPS for a third term. A Uruguay born journalist, Lubetkin has served as correspondent for several Italian and Latin American print media, and as communications adviser for various U.N. agencies and regional integration organisations in Latin America.

“The key challenge before IPS today is to strengthen its role as a leading news agency covering all development and civil society issues. But our aim is also to get deeper analysis of globalisation’s impact, particularly from the South perspective,” Lubetkin said.

The IPS International Association also elected a new 16-member Board of Directors, with a geographical and gender balance. The Board includes journalists, academics, communications experts, and specialists in international cooperation.

———————

But when it comes to reporting about areas of conflict, IPS journalism is not imune of physical search:


MIDEAST: Israelis Assault Award Winning IPS Journalist.

By Mel Frykberg, IPS, June 30, 2008

GAZA CITY, Jun 28 (IPS) – Mohammed Omer, the Gaza correspondent of IPS, and joint winner of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, was strip-searched at gunpoint, assaulted and abused by Israeli security officials at the Allenby border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank on Thursday as he tried to return home to Gaza.

Omer, a resident of Rafah in the south of Gaza, and previous recipient of the New America Media’s Best Youth Voice award several years ago, was returning from London where he had just collected his Gellhorn Prize, and from several European capitals where he had speaking engagements, including a meeting with Greek parliamentarians.

Omer’s trip was sponsored by The Washington Report, and the Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv was responsible for coordinating Omer’s travel plans and his security permit to leave Gaza with Israeli officials.

Israel controls the borders of Gaza and severely restricts the entrance and exit of Gazans allegedly on grounds of security. Human rights organisations accuse the Israelis of using security as a pretext to apply collective punishment indiscriminately.

While waiting in Amman on his way back, Omer eventually received the requisite coordination and security clearance from the Israelis to return to Gaza after this had initially been delayed by several days, he told IPS.

Accompanied by Dutch diplomats, Omer passed through the Jordanian side of the border without incident. However, after arrival on the Israeli side, trouble began. He informed a female soldier that he was returning home to Gaza. He was repeatedly asked where Gaza was, and told that he had neither a permit nor any coordination to cross.

Omer explained that he did indeed have permission and coordination but was nevertheless taken to a room by Israel’s domestic intelligence agency the Shin Bet, where he was isolated for an hour and a half without explanation.

“Eventually I was asked whether I had a knife or gun on me even though I had already passed through the x-ray machine, had my luggage searched, and was in the company of Dutch diplomats,” Omer said.

His luggage was again searched, and security then proceeded to go through every document and paper he had on him, taking down the names and numbers of the European parliamentary officials he had met.

The Shin Bet officials then started to make fun of the European parliamentarians, and mocked Omer for being “the prize-winning journalist”.

The Gazan journalist was repeatedly asked why he was returning to “the hell of Gaza after we allowed you to leave.” To this he responded that he wanted to be a voice for the voiceless. He was told he was a “trouble-maker”.

The security men also demanded he show all the money he had on him, and particular attention was paid to the British pounds he was carrying. His Gellhorn prize money had been awarded in British pounds but he was not carrying the entire sum on him bodily, something the investigators refused to believe.

After being unable to produce the prize money, he was ordered to strip naked.

“At first I refused but then I had an M16 (gun) pointed in my face and my clothes were forcibly removed, even my underwear,” Omer said.

At this point Omer broke down and pleaded for an end to such treatment. He said he was told, “you haven’t seen anything yet.” Every cavity of his body was searched as one of the investigators pinned him down on the floor, placing his boot on Omer’s neck. Omer began vomiting, and fainted.

When he came round his eyelids were being forcibly opened and his eardrums probed by an Israeli military doctor, who was also armed. He was then dragged along the floor by his feet by the Shin Bet officials, with his head repeatedly banging on the floor, to a Palestinian ambulance which had been called.

“I eventually woke up in a Palestinian hospital with the doctors trying to reassure me,” Omer told IPS.

The Dutch Foreign Ministry at the Hague told IPS that Foreign Minister Maxime Zerhagen spoke to the Israeli ambassador to The Netherlands and demanded an explanation.

The Dutch embassy in Tel Aviv has also raised the issue with the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which in turn has promised to investigate the incident and get back to the Dutch officials.

Ahmed Dadou, spokesman from the Dutch Foreign Ministry at the Hague told IPS, “We are taking this whole incident very seriously as we don’t believe the behaviour of the Israeli officials is in accordance with a modern democracy.

“We are further concerned about the mistreatment of an internationally renowned journalist trying to go about his daily business,” added Dadou.

A spokeswoman at the Israeli Foreign Press Association said she was unaware of the incident.

Lisa Dvir from the Israeli Airport Authority (IAA), the body responsible for controlling Israel’s borders, told IPS that the IAA was neither aware of Omer’s journalist credentials nor of his coordination.

“We would like to know who Omer spoke to in regard to receiving coordination to pass through Allenby. We offer journalists a special service when passing through our border crossings, and had we known about his arrival this would not have happened.

“I’m not aware of the events that followed his detention, and we are not responsible for the behaviour of the Shin Bet.”

In the meantime, Omer is still traumatised and in pain. “I’m struggling to breathe and have pain in my head and stomach and will be going back to hospital for further medical examinations,” he said

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