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On Sri Lanka, UN Panel 5 Months Late, Threat to Press Copied to Okabe Ignored?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 11 -- The UN under Ban Ki-moon does not follow through on Sri Lanka accountability, nor on Sri Lankan threatens against journalists which emanate from inside and are even copied to the UN.

  On June 11 Inner City Press asked Ban's lead spokesman Martin Nesirky two questions about Sri Lanka. First, what ever happened to the four-month panel named in September 2011, headed by Thoraya Obaid, to review the UN's own performance in the bloody final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka?

  And, Inner City Press asked, what is the UN's response to a sample threat sent to Inner City Press on June 9, copied to the UN's official in Washington Marie Okabe and two others in the UN, that this reporter should "swim like a brick" -- does the UN acknowledge any role in the creation of this climate, given that Ban advisers are known to have spread rumors Inner City Press is funded by the LTTE, just because Inner City Press questions make Ban look bad?

  Nesirky said he was not aware of the threat copied to Okabe, that it wasn't sent to him. On the panel, he said its work continues. But it has already been nine months and not the stated four, Inner City Press followed up.

  Nesirky said that Charles Petrie, an official Inner City Press has written about in Myanmar and Burundi, is leading up the panel.

  When did Petrie replace Obaid? Inner City Press asked. One wondered: why didn't the UN every announce the change?

  Nesirky said that Obaid never took up the post. One wonders: why didn't the UN every announce that? And what WILL they do about the threats, and their role? Watch this site.

From the UN's June 11, 2012 noon briefing transcript:

Inner City Press: in September it was said that, that, that this panel will be reviewing the UN’s own performance in the final stage of the conflict, when up to 40,000 people were killed. Ms. [Thoraya] Obaid was named the head of the panel to look at three issues, it was said that it would be completed in four months and it’s now, I am counting, it seems like it’s nine, maybe it is eight; anyway I am wondering, what’s the status of that review? And also, I am compelled to ask you this: I’ve received a copy, I have received some of these, but this is a threat that I’ve received from it seems to be a Sinhalese or Sri Lankan extremist, saying I should "swim like a brick," and the reason I am asking you about it is because it was cc'd to Marie Okabe and two other UN personnel. And I am wondering, what is the UN’s response when you receive this type of a threat? What do they do with it, what happens, and I want to know what they are actually going to do in this case?

Spokesperson Martin Nesirky: Well, I am not aware of that last one, Matthew. I don’t think I was copied on that one. On the first point, the review as recommended by the panel of experts is under way, and once --

Inner City Press: Is there some explanation?

Spokesperson Nesirky: I beg your pardon?

Inner City Press: Is there some explanation for the four-month period being more than doubled now?

Spokesperson Nesirky: This is something that is quite complex and quite important. And the review is under way, as I say. It is being headed by Charles Petrie, and it is in full swing, and when we have something to say further, I will let you know; but we don’t at the moment.

Inner City Press: And on this, when did Ms. Obaid leave, leave the post?

Spokesperson: She did not take the post; there are a number of difficulties of a personal nature for her taking it and someone else has taken the post, Mr. Petrie, who is extremely well-qualified and is heading that review right now.

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

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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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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