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As It Attacks Free Press, UNCA Posts False Internal Letter, "Lies Agreed To"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 23 -- As questions mount about why a group of five big media representatives at the UN started a "Board of Examination" to investigate Inner City Press, in a process leading to one of them, Voice of America, directly asking the UN to review Inner City Press' accreditation at the UN, those who started this witch hunt now refuse to answer questions.

  Their "unique comment and position on the matter" is a letter from nine days ago, which they promised was "for UN Correspondents Association members only."

  On June 14, Inner City Press objected to the letter as full of misstatements. But it was pushed through, with the assurance that it would remain inside the organization. It was e-mailed to all UNCA members, but Inner City Pres was not allowed to reply.

  On the night of June 20, the same day Voice of America executive editor Steve Redisch wrote to the UN on June 20 to ask official Stephane Dujarric de la Riviere to review the accreditation status at of the UN of Inner City Press, an anonymous "Mundo111" posted the letter as a response to a story on the matter on the Guardian's web site.

   Then AFTER that, UNCA President Giampoalo Pioli sought a secret ballot vote, apparently to whitewash the violation of the UNCA members only pledge, and to muzzle other members:

"Dear Colleagues, Individual members of the UNCA Executive Committee are receiving requests for details and information from journalists outside the UN on the UNCA and Matthew Lee issue.

"A copy of the UNCA Executive Committe Letter to all members has already appeared on the Guardian Blog.

"I propose to send this letter to those journalists who are requesting information as our unique comment and position on the matter. Please send me your yes or no vote by email as soon as possible. Thank you, Giampaolo."

   Inner City Press challenged this, noting that "not only was the June 14 letter inaccurate when you voted on it, as I said at the time -- it is now entirely false in its claim that that there is not an UNCA official / officer (Treasurer) attempt to review and revoke my accreditation. The Voice of America request for just that cites not only the VOA correspondent but unnamed 'others' -- that would be you."

  Inner City Press has also formally asked the UNCA Executive Committee member, twenty hours before this publication to state who the anonymous "Mundo111" is or was. There has been no response, hence this story.

   Another inaccuracy in the June 14 "internal" letter then posted by anonymous Mundo111 is this:

"Matthew Lee was informed of the screening by email before it took place and never formally objected to the screening until after it took place. He verbally expressed his concerns about it to UNCA Vice President Louis Charbonneau, who responded that in his opinion there was no reason not to show the film."

   In fact, the first Inner City Press heard of the screening of the government propaganda film "Lies Agreed To" was a notice too all members that the screening had already been scheduled, not the normal email to Executive Committee members asking if something SHOULD be scheduled:

From: UNCA President <news [at]>
Date: Thu, Sep 1, 2011 at 4:20 PM
Subject: UNCA screening of Sri Lankan documentary "Lies Agreed Upon", Tuesday, Sept. 6th at 2PM
To: All members

Dear Colleagues,

UNCA is inviting all UN Correspondents to attend the screening of the documentary "Lies Agreed Upon", on Tuesday, September 6th at 2:00pm in the Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium.

Sri Lankan Authorities state "This video directly challenges the assertions contained in the CH-4 video, Sri Lanka's Killing Fields".

Ambassador Dr.Palitha Kohona and Ambassador Major General Shavendra Silva of the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka will be present for a Q&A session following the screening.

Giampaolo Pioli

  It is also false that Inner City Press "never formally objected to the screening until after it took place."

  In fact, before the screening, Inner City Press wrote to Pioli, Charbonneau, Voice of America's Margaret Besheer and others about "the UNCA screening of the Sri Lankan government's rebuttal to Channel 4's 'Killing Fields' -- I don't remember any email asking if that screening should happen in the UN auditorium, given that the underlying Channel 4 film not not shown in the UN."

  The June 14 "internal" letter that is now the UNCA Executive Committee's "unique comment and position on the matter" also claims that:

"UNCA had planned to screen 'The Killing Fields.' But the only time the producers offered UNCA coincided with the re-election of the Secretary-General, and they could not provide an alternate date. Instead the Executive Committee encouraged all UNCA members to attend a screening of the film across the street at the Church Center on June 21, 2011. Many UNCA members, including Matthew Lee, attended."

  Significantly, even before Pioli canceled the screening in the UN of "Killing Fields," he had made sure to invite as a speaker Sri Lanka's Ambassador Palitha Kohona, who had paid rent money to Pioli when Kohona was the head of the UN Treaty Section.

  By contrast, when Pioli and Charbonneau actually held in the UN the screening of the government "Lies Agreed To," the only speakers were Kohona and his deputy General Shavendra Silva, who is accused of war crimes and now advises Ban Ki-moon and Herve Ladsous on peacekeeping.

And Inner City Press did challenge to Charbonneau the decision not to show "Killing Fields" inside the UN:

Subject: Lou- wanted to make sure you see this from Cuba,  and why was Sri Lanka Killing Fields moved out of UN / UNCA? thanks
From: Matthew Russell Lee [at]
Date: Thu, Jun 16, 2011 at 9:15 PM
To: Louis.Charbonneau [at]

Lou - I'm sure you got the below, but since what was sent to me had some e-mail addresses but not yours, I wanted to send it to you to be sure. Would love to know what you think of Cuba's denial. I've spoken with them but they've been very cagey; have spoken with others in GRULAC, before writing story this morning.

Separately, why was Sri Lanka Killing Fields, instead of another time in UN, moved outside of UN, with no UNCA?

Here's what Cuba sent

"Today, June 16, Reuters reported from New York that, according to a 'Western diplomat', 'the Security Council of the UN delayed Thursday the voting to recommend Ban Ki-moon for a second mandate as Secretary General, after Cuba prevented the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States from supporting the candidacy of the former South Korean Foreign Minister.' The Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations firmly rejects this allegation, especially when the mentioned Group has not even met today, and in the previous occasion in which the GRULAC considered this issue,

Cuba was not among the countries that informed not having received instructions to support the Secretary General, nor has it been opposed to this re-election. It would be useful for the readers of Reuters to know the identity of the 'Western diplomat' that so happily spreads unfounded rumors on such a serious and important act as the election of the Secretary General of the United Nations."

  Charbonneau's response to this was "Give me a call." And Killing Fields was never shown inside the UN, and Inner City Press was unable to attend all of it, as it overlapped with the UN's noon briefing.

  There are other "lies agreed to" in the UNCA Executive Committee's June 14 letter. Watch this site.

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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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