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Asma Jahangir Had Place in Sri Lanka Probe & Criticized Attempts to Silence By the UN, SG Here

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 11 -- In the hours following the death of Asma Jahangir, tributes and memorials have been published but some aspects of her interactions with and at the UN have not been touched - including many hours later still when Secretary Antonio Guterres issued a statement, below. In 2014 Jahangir was named, by then-leaving UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay, to a panel on war crimes in Sri Lanka, here along with attempts within the UN to cover up the crimes and the housing of Sri Lanka's figure Palitha Kohona:

With Navi Pillay slated to leave as UN High Commissioner on Human Rights on August 31, on June 25 she made an announcement about the HRC Panel on Sri Lanka...Some in the UN even tried to censor Sri Lanka coverage, here. Here's from Pillay announcement:
"Three distinguished experts have agreed to advise and support the team set up to conduct a comprehensive investigation of alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka, as mandated by the Human Rights Council in March:

Ms Asma Jahangir, former President of Pakistan’s Supreme Court Bar Association and of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, previous holder of several Human Rights Council mandates and member of a recent fact-finding body into Israeli settlements."
 The UN has entirely stonewalled Press questions about the new White Flag killings report and the light it sheds on current UN official Vijay Nambiar and former UN official, now Sri Lankan Ambassador Palitha Kohona.
  It was about a past financial relationship between Kohona and the president of the UN Correspondents Association, who then agreed to an UNCA screening of a Rajapaksa government movie denying war crimes that UNCA tried to censor.
When Inner City Press reported on the background to Kohona getting the Rajapaksa government's denial of war crimes, “Lies Agreed To,” screened in the Dag Hammarjkold Library auditorium, the reaction from the then-president and executive committee of the United Nations Correspondents Association are summarized here. One wag wondered whether the 2009 Bloodbath on the Beach has now been echoed as Blowhards on the Beach, here. In Sri Lanka now the Rajapaksa government blocks websites it doesn't like.

  Jahangir opposed these things. As Inner City Press reported, Jahangir was in the running to succeed Pillay - but Prince Zeid of Jordan, now himself to leave, was handed the post. Who will follow Zeid? (Jahangir had also been in the running in 2012 for the UN's Children and Armed Conflict post, here). Antonio Guterre issued this: "We have lost a human rights giant. News of the death of Asma Jahangir today is echoing within her native Pakistan and across the world. She was a tireless advocate for inalienable rights of all people and for equality – whether in her capacity as a Pakistani lawyer in the domestic justice system, as a global civil society activist, or as a Special Rapporteur. Asma was brilliant, deeply principled, courageous and kind. I convey my heartfelt condolences to Asma’s family, friends and colleagues, including in the United Nations and civil society within which she was such a leader. Asma will not be forgotten." In October 2017 Inner City Press asked Jahangir about a stand-off between representatives of Syria and Saudi Arabia during her presentation on Iran to the UN's Third Committee. Alamy photo here. She called it “disappointing,” see here along with account of censorship in the UN, in the midst of this chronology: During the UN Third (Human Rights) Committee's presentation on Iran by Special Rapporteur Asma Jahangir on October 25, Saudi Arabia complained that Syria was talking about it, and not Iran. When the chair of the committee asked Syria to "focus" on Iran, the Syrian representative began to contest if Saudi Arabia had appropriately made a point of order. Things grew heated and soon the Syrian representative had his microphone cut off - leading him, predictable, to speak louder - and face a threat that UN security would be called. Finally the meeting was suspended for ten minutes. Inner City Press, which due to UN censorship had to get a UN minder to reach the meeting it was covering on the second floor, could due to the same restrictions not get down to the Third Committee right away. When it did, this Periscope video from the photo booth shows the scene. On October 26, Inner City Press asked Asma Jahangir what she thought of what happened. She said she was "disappointed," that the UN is a "house of diplomacy." Well, the UN is willing to physically remove the investigative Press and throw its files out onto First Avenue, here. When UN Special Rapporteur David A. Kaye held a short press conference at the UN on October 25, he called for the UN to institute an access to information policy. Inner City Press asked him to specify what the UN Secretariat of Antonio Guterres can and should do on its own, without waiting for or blaming the General Assembly. Inner City Press also asked him about the UN new October 20 threat to review its accreditation, including for ill-defined violations on an unspecified date on the UN's 38th floor. Video here.  Rest in peace.


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