War Crimes Filing with ICC Names UN Nambiar Along With Kohona
February 21 -- Charges filed with the International Criminal
Court concerning war crimes in Sri Lanka name not only that country's
Permanent Representative to the UN Palitha Kohona, based on his joint
Australian citizenship, but also UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's
own chief of staff Vijay Nambiar.
filing, which Kohona refused to “dignify” to the Australian
Broadcasting Corporation, describes “a basis to question whether
Vijay Nambiar was in fact an innocent neutral intermediary or in fact
a co-perpetrator within the negotiation related community.”
again through the United Nations-24 hour dispatch center
in New York. NAMBIAR replied to COLVIN that MAHINDA RAJAPAKSE,
GOTABAYA RAJAPAKSE, AND PALITHA KOHONA had assured NAMBIAR that the
LTTE members would be safe in surrendering to the SLA and treated
like “normal prisoners of war” if they “hoist[ed] a white flag
Press has asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky to describe Nambiar's
role in the so called white flag killings in May 2009, Nesirky at
first refused to answer, then referred to an interview Nambiar
belatedly gave to Al Jazeera, the transcript of which Nesirky would
Press arranged to view the entire footage, most of which never aired
on Al Jazeera, and wrote a
story based on it:
Nambiar's belated defense is that they may have been killed in
crossfire or by the Tamil Tigers. He says he was given assurances of
"normal" treatment by Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gotabaya Rajapaka
and Palitha Kohona -- to whom Mr. Nambiar continues to communicate on
the very topic and composition of the group of experts on
accountability in Sri Lanka. This is a total conflict of interest.
On May 24,
Ki-moon reacted "angrily" when Inner City Press
asked about this and three ICG allegations, saying, "I totally
reject all that kind of allegations." Video here,
in response to a second question from Inner City Press about the ICG
report, Mr. Ban said, "I rejected it? I don't know I ever said I
reject it." Video here,
May 25, Ban's
Martin Nesirky said that Ban was rejecting the allegation
that went beyond the ICG report: the question about his chief of
staff Vijay Nambiar. So Inner City Press asked:
City Press: Philip Alston has said that a number of LTTE [Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam] leaders who were, came out to surrender after
having spoken with Vijay Nambiar, the Chief of Staff, were in fact —
he believes, Alston believes — summarily executed by the Sri Lankan
Government. So the question is... what was Chief of Staff Vijay
Nambiar’s role in encouraging them to come out?
Nesirky: The Chef de Cabinet has talked about this publicly and made
clear that this was, that he had no direct contact with the people
who were being asked to surrender. He had no direct contact with
them. He spoke to the Sri Lankan leaders and was conveying a message
that was relayed to him not by someone from the Tamil community. I
will be able to give you the exact ins and outs if you need it, but
he has spoken publicly about it.
City Press: I really try to cover it very closely. I’m not, I’m
yes he has. He did so quite recently in an interview with Al
to summarize what Nambiar had said, or to make Nambiar
available for questions. He said, "Ask Al Jazeera." So
Inner City Press did.
transcription sent to Inner City Press on this point. We will have
more on this.
UN's Ban and a pensive Nambiar, transcription now shown
Q: ...role you played in negotiations for
the surrender of many of the
Tamil leaders at the time. What was agreed?
Nambiar: As you know both in April and May of last year the UN had
made strenuous efforts in order to try and see that the civilian
population would be safeguarded from some of the difficulties, the
tragedies of the conflict that was taking place. Now, when I went in
May during my second visit, the extent to which I was involved in
this was a telephone conversation, a telephone message I got from a
Sunday Times correspondent through the UK Foreign Office and through
the UN headquarters where I was asked to check with the Sri Lankan
authorities regarding the possible protection could be given to two
of the Tamil leaders... When I received this call, I said that I will
make an effort and contact the government authorities, which I did,
the same day that is I think it's the 17 and 18 of May. I went and I
spoke to the foreign secretary at that time, Mr. Palitha Kohona, the
defense secretary, and subsequently I spoke to the president also. So,
I raise this question …the Sunday Times correspondent talked
about their wanting to surrender…they may want to do it to a third
party…afraid for their lives…so I raised this with them and
suggested …the response from them was that they would be treated
likes normal prisoners of war, if they raised the white flag they
would be allowed to surrender. Now that is the extent to which I was
This is what President of Sri Lanka told you..
Yes…the president also in response to my statement, he said the
same thing, as did the foreign secretary and the Defense Secretary.
They specifically said they would treat them…
They just made…they just responded in the manner, they would be
treated like ordinary prisoners of war.
Q: Since you spoke to so many people and
parties that were involved,
why do you think things went wrong?
I might add that this is only one of the issues that I
raised…discussing a whole…the question was that the what happened
in the heat of the war I am not aware of, it was something which we
had no first hand knowledge about…there have been discussions of
this in the press and subsequently there have been some comments make
by the Sri Lankan leaders also about whether or not they could have
been killed in the crossfire, there was one person who also suggested
they said perhaps he could have been killed by LTTE themselves who
were not interested in their people surrendering..it could have been
killed by the Sri Lankan forces, we are not in a position to make any
assessment, certainly I am not.
Also speculation …coordinated execution while trying to get rid of
other remaining leaders of Tamil Tigers…
I am not in a position to comment on that, because I don’t have any
All these are possible…
I don’t have any information on that…
Maybe then investigation is necessary?
This is of course not for me to mention, there has been calls for
this kind of investigation and it's for the member states to decide…
is more. For now it should be noted that a television interview is
not an investigation. It is easy to say that they were "killed
in the cross fire" or by the LTTE.
This is what an investigation
is for -- also, to determine how Mr. Nambiar conveyed back the
assurances he received from Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gotabaya Rajapaka and
Palitha Kohona -- to whom Mr. Ban continues to converse, as does Mr.
Nambiar, on the very topic and composition of the group of experts on
accountability in Sri Lanka.
confronted Inner City Press on the walkway behind the UN and disputed
Nambiar's account, leading to another story.
are before the International Criminal Court. Kohona refuses now to
“dignify” the stories. But what about UN high official Nambiar -
what does he have to say? And what about Ban's panel on
Sri Lanka, blocked from entering that country even after Ban praised
Mahinda Rajapaksa's "flexibility"? Watch this site.
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