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Pillay Slams Ukraine Hate Speech, Ban Silent When Poroshenko Said "Parasites"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 4 -- UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Ukraine on July 4 belatedly noted that "there has been strong hate speech from all sides."

  But on July 1 after Petro Poroshenko said, "we are fighting to free our land from dirt and parasites," and Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it, Dujarric had no comment.

  Given the echo of Rwanda and the term "cockroaches" (inyenzi), why didn't the UN Secretariat then condemn Poroshenko's reference to parasites?

  Apparently for this UN Ukraine is different. Dujarric said he'd have a statement soon. Inner City Press asked, on the use of the word parasites?

  No. When Dujarric read out the statement, taking no questions on it, it went like this:

“The Secretary General is following with grave concern reports of renewed fighting in Eastern Ukraine. He is extremely disappointed that the unilateral ceasefire dec by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko never achieved the momentum needed to end the violence. He renews his call on all sides in Ukraine not to give up the idea of a function ceasefire and work toward a definitive cessation of violation through a continued political and diplomatic process. The Secretary General reiterates that a continuation of hostilities can only exacerbate an already precarious situation.

"He strongly condemns the persistence unlawful violence at hands of armed militia groups and enjoins them to lay down their weapons and express their grievances peacefully and in accordance with international law.”

  What about parasites? What about killed journalists?

When Ukraine's Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev held a UN press conference on June 20, Inner City Press asked him about the killing and alleged beating of journalists, among other topics. Video here

   Later on June 20, Inner City Press asked Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin about Sergeyev's answers. UN Video here, from Minute 26:18.

   Now on June 23, Ukraine's Mission to the UN has responded, as to the journalists with this:

"Lie: Russian 'Zvezda' correspondents were bitten and injured before they confessed to the TV cameras and apologized for being regularly lying on the real situation in Eastern Ukraine
Truth: 90% of all Russian so-called journalists working in Ukraine are instructed by their Kremlin patrons to produce anti-Ukrainian fake TV pictures only for internal Russian consumption. No physical or moral violence was used against two 'Zvezvda' correspondents."

  Beyond the dispute about the journalists being beaten -- or "bitten" as the response has it -- there is a problem with this logic, combated by the Free UN Coalition for Access.  This is the same type of accusation that Egypt is using against the Al Jazeera journalists: that they are agents.

  It is the same logic that outgoing French Ambassador Gerard Araud used on April 15, 2014, when he told a Lebanese reporter, "You are not a journalist, you are an agent." In that case, the UN's in-house United Nations Correspondents Association Executive Committee continues to "drag its feet" in offering a defense for its dues-paying member from Lebanon. We will have more on this.


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