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UN Takes Sides on Syria, Rwanda & Free Speech, Bans Signs of Dissent

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 17 -- On issues ranging from Sri Lanka to Syria, Rwanda to reform, France to freedom of speech, the UN openly favors one point of view and tries to marginalize the other.

  Moving in that order, after Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was accused of being too quiet as 40,000 Tamils were killed in Sri Lanka in 2009, his UN Censorship Alliance, still known by some as the UN Correspondents Association or UNCA, arranged to screen inside the UN a government film denying war crimes.

  When Inner City Press, at that time an elected UNCA board member, wrote about how the film screening came about, the powers within UNCA asked that the article be taken off the Internet, and ultimately tried through Voice of America, which said it had the support of Reuters and AFP, to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN. (Instead, Inner City Press quit UNCA and co-founded the Free UN Coalition for Access).

  On Syria, by the UN giving UNCA's president Pamela Falk of CBS the first question, on June 14 one of only two questions to Ban Ki-moon, the position of some in the West that a no fly zone should be established over Syria was promoted.

  That same day, Ban's Department of Public Information demanded that a mere sign for FUNCA be taken down off Inner City Press' door, while UNCA would be left with two signs at the entrance to the UN press floor.

  On Rwanda, the UN's new consensus seems to be to blame the country that it abandoned to a genocide of one million people for the UN's own failings in the Eastern Congo.

  There are moves to marginalize or stonewall any one that questions against that narrative, like Inner City Press asking why France's Herve Ladsous should now head UN Peacekeeping despite having for France argued for the escape of the genocidaires in 1994.

  So here is a first initial take on who runs UNCA, and their politics. The president for 2013 is Pamela Falk of CBS News, present most recently on June 17 pressing to see what it would take to get Ban Ki-moon, through deputy spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey, to agree to a no fly zone over Syria that she characterized as "limited" and "only twenty five miles in." Video here.

  UNCA's first vice president is Louis Charbonneau of Reuters, seemingly a pass through for the UK mission on many positions and documents, rabidly anti-Iran to the point of festooning Reuters' office door with documents mocking Iran. These would apparently be permitted by the Department of Public Information rules agreed with UNCA, setting off a witch hunt against even signs of FUNCA.

  Much of the rest of the Executive Committee is either rabidly or reflexively anti-Assad; Agence France Presse's Tim Witcher goes beyond that to be so pro-Ladsous that he even filed a complaint with the UN on March 8, 2013 leading with how Inner City Press asked a question to Ladsous.

  In this context, for the UN to be trying to outlaw even a sign of the Free UN Coalition for Access, while leaving up two big UNCA signs is a total violation of the principle of free speech, freedom of association, and multi-party systems. And those on UNCA's board who, having been listed as supporting the rule, stand by as it is applied to ban free speech? Watch this site.

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