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As UN Delays on War Crimes in Sri Lanka, New Ambassador Criticizes Press and "Blogging Privilege," Colombo Style

[Inner City Press, Tuesday, 11 May 2010 06:56 No Comment]

Sixty six days after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he would name a panel of experts to advise him about possible war crimes in Sri Lanka, Inner City Press on May 10 asked Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky about reports that the panel would only be named, if at all, after his political advisor Lynn Pascoe is allowed to visit by the government. Video here, from Minute 7:44.

Nesirky responded that the UN’s "wheels are still in motion." Inner City Press asked if the Sri Lankan government has put the brakes on the UN’s wheels. Nesirky said, "Ask the government of Sri Lanka."

Barely an hour later, Sri Lanka’s new Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN wrote a letter to Inner City Press, cc-ing a UN reporters’ group:

From: PA2DPR
To: Matthew.Lee [at] innercitypress.com
Date: Mon, May 10, 2010 at 1:25 PM

Mr. Mathew [sic] Russell Lee, Report, Inner City Press

Dear Sir, Pl. find attached, a letter addressed to you by Mr. Bandula Jayasekara, Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka.

Hemantha Perera, PA to DPR

10th May, 2010

Ref. Media/2010

Mr. Mathew [sic] Russell Lee, Reporter
Inner City Press, Room: S-453A [sic]
UN Headquarters, New York N.Y. 10017

Dear Sir,

This refers to the question posed by you to Mr. Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for UNSG at the UN daily noon briefing held on 7.5.2010 “In the last 24 hours the Defence Minister, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, has said that anyone that would seek to testify about war crimes by the Sri Lankan Government should be put to death. It’s a capital offence and it’s treason”.

We have inquired into this matter and Mr. Rajapaksa has not, I repeat not, made such a statement. Your question is not based on fact, and is patently mischievous, misleading and incorrect.

We kindly request you to reproduce this letter for the sake of fair play. As a man of integrity, in the media, you should not mislead the people who read your blog. You should not abuse the position of blogging privilege. I sincerely hope you would uphold the ethics of blogging.

Thank you,

Bandula Jayasekara
Deputy Permanent Representative

There is no problem with publishing the letter — the letter’s and its cc’s goal are not clear — but there is equally no problem with providing the basis of the question: it is on the Sri Lanka Ministry of Defence’s own web site.

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