By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, November 3 — On Sri Lanka at UN headquarters in New York the disinterest and worse continues. In 2009 Secretary General Ban Ki-moon went on the Rajapaksas’ victory tour of the bloodbath on the beach. Inner City Press’ coverage is here.
In 2011 Sri Lanka’s denial of war crimes, “Lies Agreed To,” was screened inside the UN, hosted by the then-president of UNCA, become the UN’s Censorship Alliance.
On November 3, Inner City Press asked Ban’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric about a new development, transcript here, video here from Minute 29:50 –
Inner City Press: In Sri Lanka, a newspaper has reported that the Government is searching people down for having “blank human right complaints forms” to the inquiry of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. And since, obviously, there are people who are now charged with this and on the run, I wanted to know: Can you state from this podium or sometime today, are there even… do such forms even exist? Is there a blank form for this inquiry? And if so–
Spokesman Dujarric: I don’t know. You may want to refer that question to the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights here.
Inner City Press: Okay. Even if it were to exist, should people be hunted down for having these forms?
Spokesman Dujarric: Obviously, I can’t tell you… I don’t know of the existence of these forms or whether there is a police action against it. Obviously, it’s important that people have the right to cooperate, should they wish, with any UN human rights investigation
The article is easy to find; it is in The Island, which got leaked one of Ban Ki-moon’s wan reports on Sri Lanka. But eight hours later, nothing.
In the interim, the previous president of UNCA Giampaolo Pioli, who when Inner City Press reported on his screening of Rajapaksa’s war crimes denial film and the fact that Pioli previously rented one of his apartments to Palitha Kohona, still Sri Lanka’s Ambassador, tried to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN, made a new move.
Pioli is positioning himself to again head UNCA, posting his name as the only candidate, endorsed by Pamela Falk of CBS who filled in for his for two years. UNCA has not been reformed in any way since its kangaroo proceeding against Inner City Press resulted in death threats.
Inner City Press submitted requests under the US Freedom of Information Act to Voice of America, whose Margaret Basheer wrote at the time that the newspaper of UNCA’s president — Pioli — was preparing to sue Inner City Press for libel for the entirely true report that Pioli rented real estate to Kohona — pictured below with Pioli and Shavendra Silva.
It was pure intimidation and big media abuse, an attempt to censor. Inner City Press raised the death threats from Sri Lanka to Pioli’s private held newspaper in Italy — which allows Pioli to, for example, make campaign contributions to politicians he is supposedly covering — resulting in yet more threats of litigation, attempts to intimidate and censor. There are more more documents obtained under FOIA, and audio clips, most not yet published.
Since then, Inner City Press quit UNCA and co-founded the Free UN Coalition for Access. But Ban Ki-moon’s UN continues to prop up its UN Censorship Alliance, giving it a big room for free to hold screenings in, setting aside all first questions for it, using it to pretend to be doing a good job on press freedom and such issues as Sri Lanka war crimes. We’ll have more on this.