Eve of Sri Lankan Election, UN's Ban Is Silent on Abductions, Grenades
and Forced Pro-Rajapaksa Text Messages
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 25 -- On Sri Lanka, the UN simply will not follow
through. Since UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's statement last week
about pre-election violence, grenades have been thrown at opposition
supporters, cell phone companies have been forced to send out
messages supporting incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa, and media members
have been disappeared. But Ban Ki-moon has said nothing.
January 25, on
the eve of the election, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman
Martin Nesirky about these of these abuses: grenades, abductions and
manipulation of the airwaves with forced messages. Video here,
Nesirky has no
specific comment on any of these, but rather reiterated two previous
Ban Ki-moon positions -- elections should be free and fair and
violence is to be condemned. He noted that "we don't have a
presence on the ground for the election as such and therefore we are
not able to assess how the election will be conducted."
In Sri Lanka, UN's Ban pictured, virtual presence on the ground?
the UN was
asked to come and have a role in the election, to at least discourage
the worst violence and intimidation. Nesirky explained that Mr. Ban
had said "no," arguing that such an elections role would
require a General Assembly vote and would take too long.
January 25, Inner City Press asked about an upcoming election in
Sudan, and Nesirky's response was entirely different: that Ban thinks
the Sudanese elections are "crucial to the future of Sudan,"
and his "colleagues on the ground" will give "guidance."
apparently, there are no "colleagues on the ground," and
the election are less crucial. Watch this site.
Also on January 25, when the UN Mission in Haiti's principal deputy
Tony Banbury appeared by video link, Inner City Press asked him for
comparisons of the earthquake response in that country. Video here,
from Minute 32:28.
Banbury dodged the analogy of Myanmar, but instead
listed as UN successes the response to the tsunami in Aceh and in Sri
Lanka. But in the latter, much aid disappeared....
* * *
Ashton "Concerned" By Rights in Sri Lanka, On Election, No UN Ban
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 22 -- The European Union's new High Commissioner
Catherine Ashton appeared at the UN on Friday, and was asked by Inner
City Press about Sri Lanka in the run up to elections, and about the
GSP Plus tariff reduction program, whether the EU would curtail it
for Sri Lanka. Video here,
from Minute 4:05.
responded that, while she was Trade Commissioner, GSP Plus had been a
concern. "If we have a scheme, where we award the way we operate
directly because of... treatment of people and human rights, if that
falls short, it should be re-examined."
said that she
was "very concerned" and had recommended that GPS Plus
benefits for Sir Lanka "perhaps should be reconsidered."
however, comment on violence in the run up to the January 26
election, nor on reports that Mahinda Rajapaksa has required cell
phone companies to send out text messages supporting him.
if the UN's Ban Ki-moon had any view on the pre-election
violence and intimidation. Days later, Ban's spokesman read out a
statement that Ban remains concerned. But since the statement, a
major opposition supporter's house has been attacked with hand
grenades. At least five are dead and dozens injured. And from Ban,
EU's Ashton and UN's Ban: the former on GSP+, the latter now silent
wouldn't even allow a question on January 22:
City Press: Can I ask one more?
Nesirky: I’d like, actually, to see if there are others, and I
think I would ask Jean-Victor to join us. Just please do join. But,
one thing I did want to respond to was, you asked a question,
then gave an
answer on Haiti, the topic to which the UN has sought to confine
question for ten days now. And on and after the Sri Lankan election?
Watch this site.