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Ban Ki-moon Withholds Sri Lanka Report, UN Spox Bans Qs, FUNCA Erased

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 1 -- Amid death threats to journalists seeking to go to Sri Lanka and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting there, and just after Action Contre La Faim slammed the Rajapaksa government for impunity in the murder of aid workers in Muttur, Inner City Press went to the August 1 UN noon briefing to ask about Sri Lanka.

It was high time. Back on July 5 Inner City Press asked Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson about the report he was to hand to S-G Ban Ki-moon, lessons learned from the UN's inaction and worse as 40,000 civilians were killed in Sri Lanka in May 2009. Would the report be made public?

  Eliasson said it would be up to Ban Ki-moon. So Inner City Press went on August 1 to ask Ban's spokesperson Martin Nesirky about the CHOGM death threats, about impunity and the report.

  But Nesirky wouldn't take the question. While giving others two rounds of questions, including Pamela Falk the 2013 president of the UN Correspondents Association (history here), Nesirky cut Inner City Press off when it said, quite audibly, where is the Sri Lanka report?

  Nesirky refused to take the question; the UN Television webcast does not even have the question, as Inner City Press' microphone got turned off. This is the UN's new system. Video here at Minute 14:34 and 20:46.

Many have said that inaction and worse on Sri Lanka is the lowest point of Ban Ki-moon's tenure so far as UN Secretary General. The question should be taken, it should be answered.

  Previously, after UNCA's Executive Committee sought the removal from the Internet of Inner City Press' reporting about their screening in the UN, in a room given by the UN to UNCA, of a Sri Lanka government film denying war crimes, UNCA's first vice president Louis Charbonneau of Reuters immediately gave to the UN's top accreditation official an internal anti-Press document he promised, three minutes prior, not to give.

  Story here, audio here, document here. Neither UNCA nor the UN have explained or taken action on this.

  Inner City Press quit UNCA, to the Executive Committee of which it had been repeatedly elected, and co-founded the Free UN Coalition for Access. The UN's Department of Public Information has threatened to suspend or withdraw Inner City Press' accreditation for merely hanging a sign of the Free UN Coalition for Access on the door of its shared office.

  Meanwhile the UN has given UNCA Room S-310 to hold more "UN briefings" which it publicizes only to those who pay it money; Nesirky's office has refused to answer the simple financial question Inner City Press asked about this on July 26.

  When Eliasson gave his briefing on July 5, after UNCA was given the first question (which it reserves only, again, to those which pay it money), Inner City Press perfectly audibly when called on thanked Eliasson for the briefing, and asked for more, "on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access."

  In a form of censorship which has been raised to the penultimate level of the UN without any explanation, this "on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access" was cut out from the transcript of the briefing. The US Mission to the UN, as simply one example, leaves it in. What is wrong with Ban's UN? The Sri Lanka experience was and remains telling. Watch this site.


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