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UN Ban Confined Mention His Sri Lanka War Crimes Panel to Secret Unsummarized "Tete a Tete" Meeting with Rajapaksa

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, September 29, 2010 -- Five days after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa met and then issued different summaries of their meeting, Inner City Press asked Ban adviser Nicholas Hayson to explain the discrepancy.

Haysom admitted that after the “open” meeting between the two men, which included advisers including Haysom, there was a “tete a tete” meeting, one on one, which the UN did not include in its purported summary of the meeting(s).

Inner City Press asked how many of Ban's bilateral meetings include separate one on one discussions. One in ten, Haysom estimated. Inner City Press asked, why not include the contents or at least topics of these rare addendum to meetings in the UN's summaries? Haysom defended the omissions, saying that these tete a tete meetings often included “staff issues” or other private issues.

While Ban's Spokesman Martin Nesirky pointedly cut off follow up questions, it is amazing that the UN would now claim that the issue, even the name, of its panel on accountability in Sri Lanka is a private or secret issue.

The "open" meeting

And if it is so secret, why allow Rajapaksa to publicly make representations about the “private” portion of the meeting, and then have no response? Inner City Press wrote about the discrepancy over the weekend, and asked about it on Monday, September 27. Nesirky declined to comment on what the President said, despite the fact that it calls into question the completeness and even accuracy of the other summaries his Office has issued -- or at least one tenth of them. Watch this site.

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As Sri Lanka Quotes UN Ban Undermining His Panel on War Crimes, UN Questioned

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 26 -- Shortly after the spokesman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a “read out” of Ban's September 24 meeting with Sri Lanka's Mahinda Rajapaksa which did not mention the UN panel on war crimes in Sri Lanka, Rajapaksa issued a statement that Ban told him the UN panel is “in no way empowered to investigate charges against Sri Lanka.”

  Three obvious questions at least arise. First, if Ban did in fact say this to Rajapaksa about the UN panel, why did Ban's read out mention only Rajapaksa own commission, and not the UN's? Can one believe in and rely on the UN's summary of Ban's meetings?

  Also, if Ban said what Rajapaksa attributes to him, isn't this totally undermining any power the panel had?

   Third, if Ban didn't say this, when is the UN going to request a retraction or correction from the Sri Lankan government?

  As Inner City Press reported on September 24, the UN's summary of Ban's Sri Lanka meeting took significantly longer to issue than their summary of their meeting with the President of Nigeria, Ban's meeting just before Rajapaksa.

  Inner City Press' understanding of the process, from the shifting explanations given by UN officials, is that if a summary only includes what Ban said, it is issued without conferring with the government he met with.

  If the summary, like the September 24 UN summary of Ban's meeting with President Rajapaksa, includes something that the President said, it is a “joint” statement, negotiated and agree to with the government. In these cases, both sides -- UN and government -- are supposed to issue the same agreed to statement.

But as it has done before, Sri Lanka got Ban to issue an inordinately positive, some think inaccurate “joint” summary -- and then nevertheless issued their own summary, including a quote in which Ban undermines the mandate of his own panel.

How will the UN respond? Watch this site.

 Compare this

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had yesterday told President Mahinda Rajapaksa in New York for the sessions of the UN General Assembly that his committee on Sri Lanka ``was in no way empowered to investigate charges against Sri Lanka, but was solely to advice him on matters relating to Sri Lanka,’’ according to a news release from the president’s office.”

 to Ban's own summary:

Subject: Readout of the Secretary-General's meeting with President Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply <>
To: [Inner City] Press
Date: Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 4:42 PM
Subject: Readout of the Secretary-General's meeting with President Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka

Readout of the Secretary-General’s meeting with President Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka

The Secretary-General’s discussion with President Rajapaksa focused on the need to move forward expeditiously on outstanding issues covered in the joint statement of May 2009, particularly a political settlement, reconciliation and accountability. The Secretary-General underlined that the President’s strong political mandate provided a unique opportunity to deliver on his commitments to address these issues. The President underlined that development and education in the North were integral to national reconciliation. He gave examples of progress made on reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in this regard.

The President updated the Secretary-General on the work of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.

  And what about the answers promised long ago by Ban's spokesman Nesirky about Ban's personal relationship with Rajapaksa, including prior to becoming Secretary General? Watch this site.

* * *

As Ban Meets Sri Lanka Rajajaksa, UN War Crimes Panel Not Mentioned

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 24 -- When Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka met with the UN's Ban Ki-moon on Friday morning, Ban did not raise the slow starting UN panel of experts on war crimes in the country.

  Five hours after the meeting, the UN issued a terse summary of what was discussed. It mentions only Rajapaksa's own “Lessons Learnt” panel, and not the UN's.

  Inner City Press, covering the meeting on Sudan later on Friday with a “free range” UN pass, noted Sir Lanka's Minister of External Affairs G.L. Peiris seated on the North Lawn's second floor, reading.

In his previous trip inside the UN, Peiris refused to take any questions from the Press. In Washington, he walked out of a session at the National Press Club when he thought tough questions might be asked.

  Neither he nor Rajapaksa have scheduled any press availability at the UN, unlike, only on Friday, the Presidents of Bolivia, Cyprus and Nigeria, to all of whom Inner City Press asked questions.

While Ban met with Nigeria's Goodluck Jonathan before he met with Rajapaksa, the UN's summary of the Nigeria meeting was issued hours before the Sri Lanka one. Does this reflect greater checking with or push back by Sri Lanka? Or, some ask, ineptitude in the UN's Sri Lanka team?

 Its last read out about Sri Lanka came out at 10 p.m. When Inner City Press asked if it had been checked with the government, spokesman Martin Nesirky said no, there had just been a technical snafu. But how come a snafu on Friday as to Sri Lanka, and not Nigeria? Watch this site.

* * *

At UN, Ban's 1st Meeting with Sri Lanka Panel Omitted From Schedule, Links Undisclosed

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 16 -- The panel of experts on war crimes in Sri Lanka, which UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced in March, is supposed to complete its work within four months of formally beginning. On September 14, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky why the panel had not yet even begun. Nesirky replied that it would begin later in the week, by meeting with Ban.

Ban's published schedule for Thursday September 16, while listing a meeting with a Grand Master of the Urasenke Tradition of Team, did not list any meeting with the panel. Inner City Press asked Nesirky about it. Video here, from Minute 22:38.

Nesirky replied Ban's meeting with the panel would occur “today, this afternoon.” Inner City Press asked, why wasn't it listed on Ban's schedule?

Not everything is on the schedule,” Nesirky replied.

What is the purpose of publishing the schedule that, if a meeting about war crimes is not listed?

There are any number of reasons some things are on the schedule and some things are not,” Nesirky said. “Internal meetings typically are not.”

But Ban's meeting with, for example, the panel on the assault on the Gaza flotilla was listed.

Nesirky replied, “who's panel is it?” Good question -- some now think it is Mahinda Rajapaksa's panel.

  On September 14, Inner City Press asked Nesirky to describe Ban's experience with Rajapaksa prior to becoming Secretary General of the UN, and to confirm that Ban's son in law Siddarth Chatterjee, while an Indian army officer, served in the Indian Peace Keeping Force in majority Tamil areas. Nesirky said he would “get back” to Inner City Press on these.

More than 48 hours later, Nesirky has provided no information in this regard. Watch this site.

UN's Ban and tea, previously, Sri Lanka accountability (panel meeting) not shown

From the UN's September 14, 2010 transcript:

Inner City Press: On Sri Lanka, I wanted to ask this, since, recently there has been a removal of term limits on the president Mahendra Rajapaksa, saying that he can run forever, and The Economist magazine said that Rajapaksa has “preferred to put the consolidation of his family’s power ahead of solely needed national reconciliation.” The Government has now banned The Economist, this edition from the country. Since the Secretary-General, you know, has referred a lot to his May 2009 joint statement with Mr. Rajapaksa that includes references to accountability for war crimes and reconciliation, one — does he have any comment either on the extent that the elimination of term limits or on the banning of a publication? Two — the panel that he announced in March and that sort of convened once in July has it yet begun? Has the four-month clock begun? And just relatedly, two questions, can you describe the personal relationship of the Secretary-General with Mr. Rajapaksa, including prior to becoming Secretary-General? And, can you confirm that the Secretary-General’s son-in-law served in the Indian peacekeeping force that occupied Tamil areas of Sri Lanka during previous peace negotiations? Just as a factual matter to know what the Secretary-General’s connections to Sri Lanka are?

Spokesperson Nesirky: On the term limits, that’s an internal matter for Sri Lanka. I don’t have any comment on that. On publications and the banning thereof or the difficulty of receiving in any place, our general view would be that freedom of the media is an essential part of, an essential ingredient for democracy in any country. You ask about the panel of experts — the panel members and support staff have been conducting intensive preparatory work, and indeed the panel will meet with the Secretary-General this week, marking the formal commencement of its activities. And as the final two questions, I will get back to you.

We're still waiting. 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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