As Sri Lanka Ignores UN's Call
for Cessation of Hostilities, Detention Camps UNcommented On
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, February 24 -- A
day after the UN's Ban
Ki-moon belatedly called for a "cessation of
hostilities" in Sri Lanka, his Deputy Spokeswoman declined to
respond to that country's foreign
minister's statement that Ban has never
called for a ceasefire, and never conveyed any similar request to Sri
Lanka. "You heard what he
said," the UN's Marie Okabe told Inner City Press. "You asked him the
But what about Sri Lanka ignoring the UN's call for a cessation
of hostilities? "Listen to his remarks," Ms. Okabe repeated. When
asked if Ban, who has left for a trip to Africa including to view the
Mount Kilimanjaro, had conveyed his call to stop the fighting to Sri
Okabe declined to comment. Video here,
from Minute 10:22.
By contrast, Ban has convened to his office the
Ambassadors of, among
others, Sudan and Israel, to tell them directly when he is calling for
government forbearance. In these disparate conflicts, in which
military action has killed civilians like in Sri Lanka, the UN has
the term ceasefire, and conveyed it to the foreign service of each
not in Sri Lanka?
A senior Ban administration official tells Inner
City Press that Ban's
"private notes" to Sri Lanka's president Mahinda Rajapaksa have
"been tough." Why then allow Foreign Minister Rohita Bogollagama to
so publicly contract what is supposedly the UN's position? Sri Lanka is viewed as "delicate," the
official said, adding that Team Ban's view is that the Tamil Tigers
support with their own people, even that some things must be accepted
name of nation-building. He predicted
that Mahinda Rajapaksa will call for elections soon, "to further
The official says the the UN Country Team was
consulted and was asked if
those Tamil fleeing the shelling in the zone of conflict are "leaving
along with their men," and whether the government was separating out
men once they are retained in the camps that are under construction.
no, he said the Country Team told him, adding that "unless they have
native... things are not that bad." He compared this account to the
separation and beating of male refugees in the Balkans.
UN's Ban and Sri Lanka's foreign minister,
cessation of hostilities call not shown
While the Gaza conflict differs in that while Israel
offensive, it closed all border crossing, effectively sealing civilians
zone of conflict, the ad hoc
litmus test the UN is now using differs markedly
from its approach to Darfur. There, the government's resistance at
calls, for example earlier this year in a town in South Darfur,
detailed and insistent public statements by the UN. In the case of Sri
wan and too-lat call for a cessation of hostilities has been made, and
Rohitha Bogollagama was quoted
that "I appreciate the call made by
Sir John Holmes, UN Under Secretary General [for] the LTTE to free
Before Holmes left on his government-controlled trip to Sri Lanka,
Press asked him if the UN will be providing financial support for what
call concentration camps. Holmes said of course not.
Now, after acknowledging that he relied on the
government's Minister for
Relocation for translation, Holmes and his spokesperson have declined
hours to comment on detailed first-person accounts of violations of
international humanitarian law in the camps the government is setting
Friday, Okabe preempted questions by saying that after his
trip to Colombia, Holmes will be back at the UN this Friday. We will
on these topics at that time.
12 debate on Sri Lanka http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/17772?in=11:33&out=32:56
Click here for Inner City Press' Jan.
16, 2009 debate about Gaza
Click here for Inner City Press'
review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate
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City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger
Click here from Inner City Press'
December 12 debate on UN double standards
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City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics
Click here for Inner City
Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo
Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on
UN, bailout, MDGs
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
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