Taiwanese journalists were once again denied press accreditation by the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) to cover the World Health Assembly (WHA), as the UN does not recognize passports issued by the Taiwanese government, which is not a member of the UN.
It marked the fourth consecutive year the UN had banned Taiwanese reporters from covering the annual WHA meeting in Geneva, which starts tomorrow, by refusing to issue press accreditations to journalists holding Taiwanese passports.
"It's not possible for us to give you media accreditations because you have a Taiwan passport," Ponoma Reva, Information Service Chief of the WHO, told the Taipei Times by telephone on Tuesday night when asked about the status of its correspondent's application.
Repeating that the procedures and requirements to apply for WHA press accreditations had never changed, Reva said Taiwanese passports are simply "not acceptable" to the WHO and DPI when applying for the granting of press accreditation.
Asked whether Taiwanese journalists could file a complaint with the health organization regarding the situation, Reva said there was no room for argument for Taiwanese journalists, while reiterating they could obtain accreditation by using passports from other countries.
"But you know what? You can read all speeches and debates of the WHA on the Web site of the WHO," she added.
The UN requires applicants to present a valid ID which must include "a current passport from a State recognized by the UN General Assembly" in order to obtain press accreditation.
The Association of Taiwanese Journalists sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and WHO Director-General Margaret Chan (陳馮富珍) to condemn the organization for ignoring press freedom for political reasons.
"Journalists are independent individuals and should not be seen as representatives of their country of origin," president of the association Chen Hsiao-yi (
"It is important for Taiwanese journalists to enjoy the freedom to cover all major events including the WHA," the letter said.
Besides garnering signatures from Taiwan's 31 media organizations, the association also launched a campaign calling on all citizens to write letters to Ban and Chen to defend their own right to "know the truth."
The campaign will run through Sept. 18, when an annual meeting of the UN General Assembly will open.
Reporters without Borders and the International Press Institute (IPI) also extended their support to Taiwanese reporters.
IPI secretary-general Robert Menard wrote a letter to Chan earlier this month, urging the WHO not to bow to Beijing's pressure and sacrifice the rights of Taiwanese journalists.
Hedayat Abdel Nabi, president of Press Emblem Campaign, founded in 2002 in Geneva and which represents 5,500 journalists around the world, yesterday called on the UN to recognize Taiwanese journalists holding press cards of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
"The UN should allow Taiwanese journalists holding IFJ press card, instead of on the basis of nationality," she said yesterday during a meeting with Taiwanese and foreign press in Geneva.
DeJean Paul, an UN-based reporter from a German newspaper, said passports should not be the reason for the issue of press accreditation.
"The UN condemned any violations of human rights, but it is violating human rights by denying Taiwanese journalists press cards," he said.
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