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On Sri Lanka, After Ban's UN Silent on Attack on Newspaper, Arson Ensues

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 14 -- After the Tamil newspaper Uthayan in Kilinochchi was attacked on April 3, and the UN said nothing, on April 8 Inner City Press asked UN Security General Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey about the attack:

Inner City Press: on Sri Lanka, last week, there was an attack on a pretty well-known newspaper there, Uthayan, which is a Tamil newspaper, who is right in the zone in which there was the so-called bloodbath on the beach, named by John Holmes at the time, and I am wondering, given the Secretary-General’s involvement in the area, does he have any comment on what seems to be a direct attack on an opposition newspaper in the former war zone that he visited?

Deputy Spokesperson Del Buey: Well, I don’t have a comment on that particular attack, but as you know, the Secretary-General’s position is quite clear: all journalists must be allowed to carry out their work free of violence and free of intimidation.

Beyond the generic statement, nothing more came out of the UN.

  Now on April 13, after reports that access to Uthayan was blocked on the Internet in Sri Lanka, the newspaper's headquarters in Jaffna has been torched by arsonists equipped with automatic weapons.

  Way to speak up, Ban Ki-moon. His interlocutors in the Sri Lankan government have now claimed that the attacks are only to tarnish the image of the government. Kind of like the bloodbath on the beach?

Footnote: at a much lower level, inside the UN itself on March 18, Ban Ki-moon's Department of “Public Information” entered Inner City Press' office without notice or consent, then allowed others in, rifled through papers and took photographs including of Inner City Press' desk and bookshelf. Post-raid video here.

Right after Ban's spokesman was asked by about the raid, suddenly the photos were leaked to BuzzFeed through an anonymous “Concerned UN Reporter” e-mail address.

  Inner City Press and the new Free UN Coalition for Access have asked repeatedly how this happened, who was let in, why this year's president of the UN Correspondents Association, Pamela Falk of CBS, was allowed to take pictures. No answers, only legal threats to Inner City Press. This is how it works, in this UN. Watch this site.

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