UN Resident Coordinator lies to NPC Councillor: Inner City Press

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 23 March 2016, 13:11 GMT]
Northern Provincial Councillor Ananthy Sasitharan was the first one to react in the island after the journalist of Inner City Press (ICP), Matthew Russell Lee, who is renowned for reporting on the inner workings of the UN system was expelled on two-hour notice from the UN Headquarters on 19 February. The UN Under-Secretary-General for Communication and Public Information had revoked Mr Lee's resident correspondent pass and his access to the press office. On Tuesday this week, Ms Ananthy, who came back to Jaffna after addressing the Human Rights Council session in Geneva, received a written reply from Una McCauley, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNICEF Resident Representative in Colombo that Mr Lee is now provided non-Resident Correspondent access. ICP Journalist Matthew Russell Lee, after seeing the letter received by Ananthy, commented it as an “untruthful and Kafka-esque response”.

Matthew Russell Lee, Ananthy Sasitharan
“The UN / UNICEF letter ignores that Inner City Press under Gallach's order is being Banned from covering the Security Council, for example this week on Western Sahara,” the ICP said providing video evidence.

The letter from UN Resident Coordinator was in response to the open letter by Ms Ananthy in which she had stated: “On behalf of the stateless nation of Eelam Tamils, I am urging you to resolve the dispute and restore UN-accredited media access to Matthew Russell Lee and take disciplinary action against the elements threatening free speech at the esteemed world body.”

“Since my election to office in 2013, I have been continuously involved in addressing the plight of our people at the UN Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva and outside. During this engagement I have found the historic contribution of Mr Lee accessible at the ICP website and at other sources to be immensely useful in shaping my insight on the workings at UN Headquarters. The people in my constituency have high regards to the investigative journalism practiced by the renowned journalist Matthew Russell Lee,” Ms Ananthy had noted in her initial letter.

The reply letter from UN Resident Coordinator in Colombo, dated 14 March 2016 said: "I am pleased to inform you that after careful consideration by the Under Secretary General for Communication and Public Information the status of Mr Matthew Russell Lee's accreditation has been changed. He now has the status as a non-Resident Correspondent and continues to attend UN Media briefings. This status will be reviewed in four month period."

The ICP responded with following observations after seeing the response sent to the NPC Councillor:

It is precisely this downgrade that the Northern Provincial Council and others have been protesting - so it is disingenuous at best to begin "I am pleased to inform you."

Second, the decision USG Gallach took was taken without once speaking to Inner City Press - it cannot be considered "after careful consideration." In fact, it is USG Gallach who should be reviewed and disciplined for totally ignoring due process and censoring the Press.

Third, the UN / UNICEF letter ignores that Inner City Press under Gallach's order is being Banned from covering the Security Council, for example this week on Western Sahara. Video here. Just because the Security Council failed as tens of thousands were killed in Sri Lanka does not mean that Banning Inner City Press from covering it can itself be covered up.

This disingenuous response is a new low for the UN in Sri Lanka, for DPA in New York -- whose USg Jeffrey Feltman is aware of the ouster of the Press and the letter -- for Ban Ki-moon and perhaps for USG Gallach (there are more and more low points for her - watch this site.)

The underlying incident, which Gallach never describes in her February 19 letter, involves Inner City Press principled stand that the Press has a right to be in the UN Press Briefing Room, particularly to cover an event by an organization which has taken money from several of those who indicted (and some pleading guilty) to bribery in the UN and which gave one of the indicted, Ng Lap Seng, a photo op with Ban Ki-moon.

Collusion with genocide - from Sri Lanka to Burundi to beyond - and escalating corruption: this is today's UN. We'll have more on this.

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External Links:
ICP: UNICEF Lies to Sri Lanka Official for Ban & Gallach As ICP Banned from UNSC, Office



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