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UN Stonewalls As Sri Lanka Alleged War Criminal Silva Skips Advisory Meeting

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 28 -- Since UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon accepted an alleged war criminal onto his Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations, his Secretariat has tried to make it difficult or impossible to cover the process.

  Inner City Press went to the SAG meeting at 380 Madison Avenue to see if Sri Lankan general Shavendra Silva, who is depicted in Ban's own report on Sri Lanka as engaged in war crimes, attended. He did, but called UN Security who ordered Inner City Press to leave the area by the elevators in a UN rented building.

  Then the meetings moved to another UN rented building, where Inner City Press was not allowed upstairs. The Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit had said ask them in advance and they would facilitate coverage.

  But then they said it is not a UN meeting, and did not help. For the proposition that Inner City Press, even with just a pad and pen, could not stand outside the meeting, MALU cited its meeting with, and tacit agreement by, other correspondents.

  Still, for the SAG meetings of June 27 and June 28, Inner City Press has ascertained even from the sidewalk that Silva did not attend. Many of the SAG have said this is the right outcome, the alleged war criminal not coming. But Sri Lanka's Mission to the UN says it's only that "the General is out of town."

  So at the June 28 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky to confirm that Silva did not attend, and to state why. Nesirky said "I don't have any comment on that," saying that "evidently you spoke with the Sri Lankans." Video here, from Minute 13:18.

  Inner City Press followed up that Ban appointed SAG chairperson Frechette, who says she has no spokesperson, so the question was for Nesirky. (Top Peacekeeper Herve Ladsous had explitictly refused to answer Inner City Press questions, first about Silva as adviser, and now about any topic at all).

  Nesirky repeated that he had no comment, adding as a way of ending the exchange that if he got any information he would provide it.

  But it is easy: Ban appointed Frechette to chair his Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations. Did the alleged war criminal Ban accepted on the SAG attend or not, and if not, why not? Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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