Protesters in Jaffna demand UN to restore media access to ICP at UN HQ

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 01 March 2016, 14:20 GMT]
Northern Provincial Councillors Ananthy Sasitharan and M.K. Shivajilingam along with the kith and kin of missing persons staged an emotional protest on Tuesday morning in Jaffna in front of UN's Sub Office (WFP office) demanding the United Nations Headquarters in New York to restore UN-accredited media access to Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press, who has been continuously revealing how human rights affairs of Eelam Tamils are being handled at the United Nations HQ at New York. “On behalf of the stateless nation of Eelam Tamils, I am urging you to resolve the dispute and restore UN accreddited media access to Matthew Russell Lee and take disciplinary action against the elements threatening free speech at the esteemed world body,” Ms Ananthy Sasitharan said.



NPC Councillor, missing persons families protest in front of UN office in Jaffna


Ms Ananthy Sasitharan, who has been addressing the UN Human Rights Council since being elected to Northern Provincial Council, in her open letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said she had found the historic contribution of Mr Lee accessible at the ICP website and at other sources to be immensely useful in shaping her insight on the workings at UN Headquarters.

NPC Councillor, missing persons families protest in front of UN office in Jaffna


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Full text of the open-letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon by Ananthy Sasitharan follows:



NPC Councillor, missing persons families protest in front of UN office in Jaffna
NPC Councillor, missing persons families protest in front of UN office in Jaffna
NPC Councillor, missing persons families protest in front of UN office in Jaffna
As a representative of the people in the Northern Province, who have elected me with an overwhelming 87,870 preferential votes in the elections to the Northern Provincial Council, I am writing to you to express the serious concern of the people in my constituency regarding the injustice committed by the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communication and Public Information against UN accredited journalist Matthew Russell Lee, who is well-renowned for investigative journalism for 10 years at the UN Headquarters in New York.

As you know, the Inner City Press (ICP) founded by Mr Lee has emerged as a key source of information during your term in office.

The ICP has been one of the important sources of information for the people in my constituency as it has been continuously revealing how our affairs are being handled at the United Nations.

We are shocked to learn that on February 19, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Communication and Public Information Cristina Gallach signed a letter giving only two hours to Mr Lee, summarily expelling him out of the UN premises revoking his UN accredited resident correspondent pass and his access to the press office.

We are also dismayed to learn that the episode has taken place without due process.

Mr Lee, who has a keen interest in upholding the mission of the UN, has extensively reported on corruption within the UN system.

He has also been very critical of UN affiliated personalities, who are alleged of sidelining with genocidal commanders involved in war crimes against the Tamil people.

Mr Lee has also exposed the dealings between certain UN Press Corps officials and the Sri Lankan diplomats who were alleged of bribing them.

He has consistently highlighted how the demand for international investigations on serious crimes against humanity and genocide is being diluted within the UN system.

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.

“The fact that an accredited journalist can be summarily expelled from the premises without review or recourse is a problem at an institution that purports to defend human rights around world,” was the reaction of Beatrice Edwards, the International Program Director of US-based Government Accountability Project (GAP), who has requested the UN to conduct a proper investigation into the incident and to restore UN accreditation and his media access including allocated office space.

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.

Yours truly,

Ananthy Sasitharan
Councillor,
Northern Provincial Council


Chronology:

 

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