Siddharth Chatterjee’s Response to Mr Matthew Lee’s accusations on his blog, Inner City Press

Mr Matthew Russell Lee, who runs a blog called Inner City Press. Over the last 10 years he has repeatedly published malicious, false and libelous allegations about me. This started in 2007 and continues till date. I finally wrote to him to state all the facts, which I am sure he was aware of. 

He has published my response however the link is difficult to find on search engines. So for the sake of clarity I am also publishing my response on my own blog site.


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Here is a message for Mr Lee.

“If you want truth to go round the world you must hire an express train to pull it; but if you want a lie to go round the world, it will fly; it is light as a feather and a breath will carry it.” Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1855)



Here is my full response to Matthew Lee.

Matthew,

For a decade now, you have been on a protracted campaign to publish allegations against me, accusing me of various wrongs including perpetrating war crimes and benefiting from nepotism. 

You are a journalist and that is your right and your prerogative.

I am convinced based on your writings that you pursue the truth and therefore you are  interested in presenting facts to your audience. Therefore I hope you will publish this response in its entirety with the same prominence as you have placed your accusation against me over time.

Let me start by stating unequivocally that it was a privilege and an honor for me to serve my country India, in a Special Forces unit. My alma mater the National Defence Academy and my time with my unit prepared me for taking on every challenge intellectually, physically and emotionally. I attribute my personal growth to the foundation that were laid in these two fine institutions, inspired by the credo of, “service before self”

Your accusations against me about my role in Sri Lanka are utterly false and I believe misinformed. I was a young Lieutenant when I joined my unit in Sri Lanka where there is a chain of command. The credit/responsibility you attribute to me are just impossible in the military command structure. 
  
The fact is that I arrived in Sri Lanka having cut short a specialized combat under water diving course with the Indian Navy on October 16, 1987. The raid at Jaffna University took place on 12 October 1987. That in itself means I was not present with my unit on that day where Indian Peace Keepers from another unit took many casualties. 

You have also alleged that I drove tanks over civilians. Please understand this, I have never been trained to operate a tank and have never attempted to operate one. My unit was nowhere near Jaffna Hospital and besides I come from a Special Forces unit and not a tank regiment. There was no question of my driving tanks over civilians, because our unit had no tanks and no ability or right to have one.

You allege that you got information that I stood over dead Tamil Tigers and took pictures. Again this is an absolutely baseless allegation.  If you have the proof please publish such images. The ethos of the Indian Army is about honor, integrity and service, which my unit and all parts of the Indian Peace Keeping Forces (IPKF) in Sri Lanka upheld. No such incident ever happened. This violates the Geneva conventions and above all good soldierly conduct. The Indian military chain of command gave significant emphasis on good conduct.

My commanding officer in Sri Lanka, Major General Dalvir Singh, a highly decorated and widely respected general officer, has responded to your allegations, in his article, titled Siddharth Chatterjee is a man of honour.

I have my own views about the entire Sri Lanka event and this I have stated publicly. Please refer to my article, ‘ A Good Neighbor.

The above are the facts.

As regards my appointment as the UN Resident Coordinator to Kenya, perhaps a bit of background may help. Every Resident Coordinator has to pass a UN Resident Coordinator Assessment. Failure rates at the assessment are quite high. A private human resources company from Canada undertook the assessment during my time. I passed the assessment in 2008 and was proposed by UNICEF (the agency I served with) to become the UN Resident Coordinator to Namibia in 2009. I declined that opportunity and instead opted to go to UNOPS, where I was selected to become the Regional Director for the Middle East and Europe. As the Regional Director in UNOPS I also turned down an opportunity for a promotion to D 2(the positions of Regional Director had been reclassified as D2s by the Executive Board effective from 01 January, 2010)  and opted to stay at the D-1 level, the rank at which I was recruited.

Forbes a reputable and reliable news source published this article following a thorough analysis on the accuracy of articles purporting that my success in the UN was due to nepotism. Misread Nepotism in the UN: Why Siddharth Chatterjee’s well Earned Appointment Deserves Explanation.

I applied for the UN Resident Coordinator role to Kenya in 2016 having got the support of UNFPA (I was the UNFPA Representative to Kenya) to do so, and went through a selection process called the Inter Agency Appointments Panel. Regardless of the decision being taken, the final decision rests with the Government of the country where an RC is being proposed to. Here is the announcement of my appointment in the Inter Press News Agency, once the Government of Kenya gave the green light following a request for an Agrément

I am honored the Chair of the UN Development Group Ms Helen Clark, the UN system in Kenya and the Government of Kenya found me suitable for this role. 

I have served 20 years in the UN system having started as an IFLD 4 in the UN mission in Sarajevo in 1997( 10 years before Mr Ban joined the UN) and became a P-5 in November 2004, as UNICEF’s Deputy Representative. 

I met my wife in 2004 in Sudan during the Darfur crisis and married in 2006. This is well before Mr Ban became the United Nations Secretary General. 

Here is my full and complete bio. This bio also includes a confidential and personal 360 degree performance review of my role as UNFPA’s Representative to Kenya since 2014. 

I know that since 1997, when I started my UN career, there are some I may not see eye to eye within the UN. But as Winston Churchill once said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.” And I have, without fear or favor.

Finally, you allege that, I have remained silent regarding human rights issues.  I have always spoken out, publicly and privately. Here is the proof.

I have pressed the Government of Kenya on civil society space and passing of the Public Benefits Organization Act. Here is my speech.



Here are some of my articles in the public domain.







Here is a recent profile of my work to uphold human rights done by Forbes in Kenya.


And here is a piece by the Star newspaper in Kenya.



Let me address a few specific issues you have raised in your articles:

1. My trip to Addis during the AU summit in late January 2017. I was in Addis at the specific invitation of the Government of Kenya to debrief on the ongoing Kenya-Ethiopia cross border initiative. I was not there to lobby for the Foreign Minister of Kenya and that is not my role as the UN Resident Coordinator. My trip to Addis was fully approved by my line managers.
2. On the issue of the two South Sudanese, I have raised this in private with the Government of Kenya interlocutors. A formal letter was also sent to the Minister of Interior in Kenya by UNHCR Kenya as one of them had a refugee status. Here is a press release by OHCHR which was done in full consultation. 
3. Job Offer: In your most recent article you mention that I made a job offer to someone to take off the internet any information about a promotion and about my time in Sri Lanka. This is a ludicrous allegation. I would urge you to please authenticate your sources.  

I count on your sincerity and integrity as a journalist and hope you will publish this response as it is, and without any edits. I respect the work you do to hold people accountable. I expect the same of you.

If you need further clarification, I will sit down with you for a live TV/Facebook live interview when I come to New York.

Best regards,

Siddharth Chatterjee
UN Resident Coordinator Kenya

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