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Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


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Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

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At UN, Guterres Cites Staff Deaths To Silence UN Critics, Day After Press Haiti Qs Dismissed by DPI

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video

UNITED NATIONS, September 8 – When UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres gave a speech to honor fallen UN staff on September 8, he took the opportunity to say that if the sacrifices of UN staff were known by unnamed UN critics, they wouldn't say what they do. But the UN is in need of reform, which requires critique. And, frankly, sometime UN staff and experts are killed with some role played by UN negligence, for example in Kasai in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The problem with what Guterres said is that it emboldens others in the UN system to simply shout down or vilify critical voices, sometimes to the point of outright physical eviction and restriction, and sometimes short of that. Only the previous day, the acting head of the UN Department of Public Information Maher Nasser on his last day in the post allowed a heckler to block Inner City Press' questions about the UN's duty to the Haitian families impacted by the cholera it brought to the island - then when Inner City Press asked a legal immunity question, to say loudly, It's always about you. Well, DPI did evict Inner City Press with no hearing or appeals, and has restricted it every day since. But speeches such as that on September 8, UNcorrected, validate targeting and censorship. Nasser's successor Alison Smale has been written to, for reversal. And Guterres did tell a moving story about staff in Chad's Abeche - which Inner City Press covered, before DPI's eviction meant it was no longer notified of or allowed to cover UN Security Council trips. Here was from the UN Staff Day Parade of Nations. We'll have more on this. For weeks the UN had promoted its book event about New York City and the UN, featuring author Pamela Hanlon.

But when Inner City Press went and asked about the UN having brought cholera to Haiti and paid nothing, and whether Haitians in Brooklyn had been able to get any accountability from the UN, there was no answer.

A heckler in the audience said loudly that the question was not appropriate. Video here. So Inner City Press followed up on Ms. Hanlon's statement that the land under the UN is still US territory. If so, what of John Ashe selling diplomatic posts from inside his UN General Assembly President's office, and Inner City Press for covering the scandal being thrown out onto First Avenue by eight UN Security officers? Audio here. (NYPD told Inner City Press it has no jurisdiction to take criminal complaints, even for assault, for anything east of the First Avenue curb.)

That question wasn't answered, either, including by Penny Abeywardena, Commissioner of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Office for International Affairs.

Instead Maher Nasser, in charge of the UN Department of Public Information from April 1 until tomorrow, said “it's always about you” and ended the event, encouraging those present to buy books for signing. And so it goes at the UN.


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