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Sri Lanka Says Silva Was Out of Town, Frechette Says He Can't Come

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 28 -- Since UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon accepted an alleged war criminal onto his Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations, his Secretariat has tried to make it difficult or impossible to cover the process.

Inner City Press went on June 27 and June 28 to stand outside a UN rented building on Third Avenue to see if Sri Lankan general Shavendra Silva, who is depicted in Ban's own report on Sri Lanka as engaged in war crimes, attended the SAG meeting.

Previously, the UN had said Inner City Press could not wait outside the meeting room as it would in the North Lawn building. Still, on June 27-28 Inner City Press did not see Silva enter.

  The Sri Lankan mission to the UN argued to Inner City Press that it is only that Silva is out of town.

  So at the June 28 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky to confirm that Silva did not attend, and to state why. Nesirky said "I don't have any comment on that," saying that "evidently you spoke with the Sri Lankans."

  Inner City Press followed up that Ban appointed SAG chairperson Frechette, who says she has no spokesperson, so the question was for Nesirky. (Top Peacekeeper Herve Ladsous had explitictly refused to answer Inner City Press questions, first about Silva as adviser, and now about any topic at all).

  Nesirky repeated that he had no comment, adding as a way of ending the exchange that if he got any information he would provide it. See below.

  On July 1, the government aligned Sunday Observer carried another story against Inner City Press:

The United Nations Correspendents Association has expressed displeasure that Inner City Press blogger Matthew Russel Lee is attacking the UNCA and the members of the Board of Examination set up against him, in a reportage which they claimed 'one sided and a distortion of facts'.

In the face of his intense attacks, one of the five members of the Board of Examination has resigned forcing the UNCA to fill up the vacant post with a new member, authoritative sources told the Sunday Observer yesterday.

Lee is investigated by the UNCA for unethical reporting and unprofessional behaviour among other things.

He is being accused of using his website as a weapon for attacking and character assassination of his colleagues who has offended or come to disagreements with him, the sources said.

Lee, writing in his blog on June 21 accused the UNCA examination a 'set up' to get an investigative journalist which he called himself, expelled from the UN, a claim UNCA Executive Board has denied.

Refuting Lee's accusations that the Association has attempted to suspend his UN accreditation, the Executive board has requested Lee to post a full apology in his website for the personal attacks he had made against the on going investigation and the members of UNCA including its President Giampaolo Pioli.

Inner City Press began its attacks on UNCA President following its sponsoring of a screening of Sri Lanka's film, countering the Channel 4's Killing Fields.

That's the pro government view - the same government which on June 29 raided the offices of two websites and arrested nine journalists, seizing seven computers. Inner City Press asked Nesirky about this at the noon briefing on July 2, and at least got a response, how ever generic.

Then this came in:

Subject: On the Senior Advisory Group on peacekeeping.
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Mon, Jul 2, 2012 at 12:58 PM
To: Matthew Russell Lee [at]

In response to your question at the noon briefing on Thursday, 28 June: The Chair of the Senior Advisory Group has already previously indicated some time ago that General Silva is not participating in the Group and has notified the Secretary-General to this effect. We do not have anything to add.

But if Silva had been in New York and physically gone to attend, what would have happened? 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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