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Ban's UN Ignores Murder of Press in Sri Lanka, UNCA Stokes Hate Media

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 29 -- The position of freedom of the press and freedom of speech at the UN and its partners is declining daily.

  Thousands of miles from UN headquarters in Sri Lanka, journalists rallied to protest the killing of reporters Lasantha, Sivaram, Nimalarajan and Sugeedarajan, and the disappearance of Prageeth.

   Inner City Press has repeatedly asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokespeople about these cases, particularly that of Prageeth, since Ban went to Sri Lanka in May 2009.

  But the UN has said little, and done less.

   Meanwhile Ban's Secretariat continues to "partner" with the UN Correspondents Association, which became known by some as the UN's Censorship Alliance after it sought to expel and dis-accredit Inner City Press for its reporting on UNCA's screening of a Sri Lanka government film denying war crimes.

 Click here for the story from the Sri Lanka Campaign, with among its leaders Edward Mortimer, the chief of communications of Ban's predecessor.

   UNCA "leaders" from Reuters (Louis Charbonneau), Agence France Presse (Tim Witcher) and Voice of America tried to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN as a whole.

   UN official Stephane Dujarric thanked VOA's Steve Redisch for his June 20, 2012 request to dis-accredit Inner City Press.

   Only because the attempt was exposed, including by use of the US Freedom of Information Act, was Inner City Press informed of the complaints and arguments against it. The UN provides no due process.

   Since UNCA is no longer in any position to defend the rights of journalists, a new organization has sprung up: the Free UN Coalition for Access.

   It has petitioned the head of the UN Department of Public Information Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal to allow space for another organization, and his indications have not been unpositive.

  But Stephane Dujarric, in a January 17 meeting and since, has suggested that DPI wants to continue to work, exclusively it seems, with UNCA.

  But here is what UNCA has become: it continued Tuesday defacing and counterfeiting FUNCA flyers which raise substantive issues about journalists' rights at the UN, from due process to the nitty-gritty of non-resident correspondents' right to equal access to information including in the Delegates' Lounge.

   While FUNCA last week asked Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal and Dujarric to either open the glassed in "UNCA" bulletin board for posting by all or to permit a FUNCA board, no answer has been provided. 

   Launsky-Tieffenthal was asked about this, repeatedly, on Tuesday, after earlier it had been posed, not anonymously but without any response, in reply to Dujarric's post of a cartoon of the French President.

  This can't be bad form: Dujarric tweeted-at Inner City Press in December, defending the UN and Security Council.  At least in those cases, no one was anonymous.

    Now UNCA "leaders" have created counterfeit social media accounts and used them to subcribe to or follow Permanent Missions to the UN and other journalists, hoping for reciprocity.

  Several UN journalists on Tuesday told Inner City Press this disgusts them. But the new president of UNCA, Pamela Falk, has done nothing as the organization had become even worse under her less than one month tenure.

  Falk was present at an exhibit opening about Libya on Tuesday night, chatting with UNCA's (censorship?) partners in DPI, at an event featuring among other Ban's Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson, who is supposedly studying the UN's inaction in Sri Lanka in 2009.

  What is he doing -- including on press freedom and multiparty democracy issues?

   To come full circle, the UNCA "leaders" in their counterfeit social media account have raised, as was done in an UNCA Executive Committee meeting in 2012, fueling Sri Lanka hate media and death threats, the spurious issue of funding by the Tamil Tigers, which don't even exist anymore.

   It's false -- but that a supposed "journalists organization" would try to link competitors with such a group, and continue for now to be partnered with by Ban Ki-moon's UN, is telling. Watch this site.

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