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UN Insists Its Sri Lanka Panel Would Not Only Talk to LLRC, 4 Questions Refused

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 30 -- Responding to the Sri Lankan government's claims to the contrary, the UN insisted on December 30 that “it is NOT the case that the Panel would only talk to the LLRC,” President Mahinda Rajapaka's Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Commission.

  Earlier on December 30, Inner City Press asked UN spokesmen Farhan Haq and Martin Nesirky four questions about Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's panel on accountability for presumptive war crimes in Sri Lanka in 2009:

Martin & Farhan -- On Dec 23 and at the beginning of this week I asked you about the Panel's trip to Sri Lanka which Ban Ki-moon announced on December 17. My Sunday question was very specific and easy to answer. But it has not been answered...

Now it is reported that “Cabinet Spokesperson Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said the government would grant visas to the members of the Panel only to go before the government appointed LLRC and not to conduct any investigations on their own. Rambukwella said that the government initially objected to the Panel's visit to Sri Lanka, as it was to conduct an inquiry. However, the government has decided to grant visas to the Panel since it has been stated that the members only wished to meet the LLRC.”

The failure to answer, or to have noon briefing, is now more problematic than ever. Before 12:30 today, please state:

1) did or will the staff of the Panel go to Sri Lanka?

2) what agreements or understanding have been reached about with whom the Panel will speak in Sri Lanka?

3) with whom in the Sri Lanka government did Ban or the UN speak before his Dec 17 announcement, talking into account that the External Affairs Minister Peiris later said he learn of it in the media?

4) why have you refused to answer these questions? On deadline.

  While still not answering any of the four questions, Haq responded with the following:

From: Farhan Haq [at]
Date: Thu, Dec 30, 2010 at 12:20 PM
To: Inner City Press, Nesirky [at], Soung-ah Choi [at]
Subject: Re: Press Qs on deadline re Sri Lanka & OSSG failure to answer, 13 still outstanding

As I made clear to you at the time, the panel has not confirmed travel to Sri Lanka yet. The arrangements would need to be right. It is NOT the case that the panel would only talk to the LLRC. The panel made clear to me that their work is broader than simply dealing with the LLRC. That's all we have to say on it for now.

  Comparing this to Cabinet Spokesperson Minister Keheliya Rambukwella's reported statement about the visas and limits on the Panel, it seems that either the UN is belatedly standing up to the Rajapaksa government or that the UN doesn't read cited news reports, or both.

UN's Ban & Panel, answers to week old basic questions not shown

   Perhaps Cabinet Spokesperson Minister Keheliya Rambukwella is negotiating through public statements. Perhaps the Panel's staff is in or traveling to Sri Lanka to scope out a possible trip by the Panel -- which Ban Ki-moon announced as a fact on December 17.

  Was Ban Ki-moon himself only negotiating publicly with his December 17 statement?

The four questions Inner City Press has asked are simple and should be answered. Watch this site.

* * *

After UN Backtracks on Sri Lanka Visit, Snow Job Even on Secretary's Trip

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 27 -- The UN's bungling of Sri Lanka continued Monday, when a snow storm because a snow job. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on December 17 announced that his Panel ostensibly on Accountability in Sri Lanka would travel to that country.

  But on December 23, when Inner City Press asked Ban's acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq about such travel, after he was quoted that it might in fact not take place, all Haq would say is that an announcement would be made later.

  Then he announced that there would be no opportunity for in person question and answers during the entire week beginning December 27.

   Inner City Press asked why the noon briefings were canceled, when the UN is ostensibly open. Haq claimed that journalists had asked for less information, so that they would not have to come in. But he said that questions would be answered by lead spokesman Martin Nesirky, who has said that he speaks for the Panel.

  On December 26, Inner City Press sent the following simple question to Haq and Nesirky, with a deadline of 12:30 pm on December 27:

"Confirm or deny that the Secretariat / chief of staff of the S-G's panel on Sri Lanka is traveling to that country, and if so, with what goals?”

  At 11:30 am on December 27, Haq responded with five words: "UNHQ is closed on Monday."

UN's Ban and Mahinda Rajapaksa, clarity re visit (& Panel) not shown

 Rather than a simple answer to a simple question, Haq sent this:

From: Farhan Haq [at]
To: Inner City Press, Martin Nesirky [at]
Date: Mon, Dec 27, 2010 at 11:32 AM
Re: Press Qs on Cote d'Ivoire, Darfur, Sri Lanka and Kosovo (and old questions... reiterated re [26] days ago

UNHQ is closed on Monday. Thanks.

Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb .26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

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

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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