Sri Lanka Expels Journalists and Raids Opposition, UN's Ban Relieved
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 29 -- As Sri Lankan soldiers surrounded opposition
candidate Sarath Fonseca on January 27, UN Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon told the Press he was "relieved" by results in Sri
Lanka. Inner City Press had asked about irregularities in the
results asserted from many quarters. Mr. Ban did not comment on
the two days
since, the incumbent Rajapaksa administration has moved forward to
expel and deny visas to journalists asking about election
irregularities, and has raised Fonseca's office while making threats
Inner City Press asked the UN's Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq if Ban
is still relieved, in the face of the expulsion of journalists and
raiding of political opponents. Video here,
from Minute 12:03.
relieved," Haq said, that election day went relatively
peacefully. Haq then read out the same canned "appeal to abide
by rules" which Ban delivered in person in response to Inner
City Press' question on January 27.
"appeal" had no effect, as the administration of Mahinda
Rajapaksa, whom Ban calls a friend, has since then further cracked
down on opponents and independent media.
the contrary, it
would appear that Ban's January 27 statement that he was "relieved,"
the same word used by Rajapaksa, served as a green light to move from
relief to further repression.
UN's Ban shakes with M. Rajapaksa, crackdown on
press not shown
has set sail
to London, Cyprus and Ethiopia. It is unclear if he will take
questions on, or unprompted speak about, Rajapaksa's crackdown in Sri
Lanka. Watch this site.
the UN's Ban
Ki-moon is "still relieved," according to RSF:
today arrested Chandana Sirimalwatta, the editor of Lanka...The
president’s brother, defence minister Gotabhaya Rajapaksa,
threatened to burn the newspaper down a few days ago.
took up position on 26 January around and inside the buildings that
house two privately-owned TV stations, Sirasa and Swarnavahini, in
men using a car with the license plate 32/ 84 32 placed seals
yesterday evening over the entrance to the office of the Lankaenews
website. Men searched the office earlier in the day. The website
itself has been rendered inaccessible for the past few days by the
state telecommunications company Sri Lanka Telecom.
Karin Wenger of the Swiss public radio station DRS is facing possible
deportation on 1 February following the withdrawal of her press
accreditation. She said, “I think this decision is linked to the
questions I asked an official during a news conference after the
results were announced.”
roughed up photographers working for foreign news agencies when they
tried to attend a news conference given by Gen. Fonseka yesterday.
One was forced to delete the photos on his camera’s memory card.
Soldiers also prevented journalists from working freely near a hotel
being used by Fonseka the previous day.
to follow this, watch this site.
* * *
Sri Lanka, UN's Ban Expresses Canned Relief as Opposition Candidate
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 27 -- As in Colombo, Sri Lankan security forces
surrounded opposition candidate Sareth Fonseka, in New York UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appeared to speak to the Press before
heading on a trip to London, perhaps Cyprus, and Ethiopia.
of Afghanistan -- confirming his nomination of Staffan de Mistura as
his envoy -- Sudan and Haiti. Inner City Press asked, "do you
have any comment on the Sri Lankan election of yesterday in which the
main opponent, Mr. [Sarath] Fonseka, has been essentially detained by
the armed forces and is challenging the result?" Video here,
from Minute 13:18.
Mr. Ban had
chosen not to include it in his remarks, he had a prepared statement
on Sri Lanka, which largely dodged the question that was asked.
UN's Ban in Manik Farm internment camp on May 23, 2009
the Sri Lanka issue, I realize that the election has been quite a
hard fought one, as stated by my Spokesperson a week ago. I had been
concerned at the level of violence during the campaign. I am relieved
that the vote yesterday appears to have [been] relatively peaceful,
despite some violence incidents. The Election Commission of Sri Lanka
has declared the results, and I once again appeal for parties to
abide by the decision and rules and regulations, including addressing
any electoral grievances. I truly hope that all sides will see the
wisdom of acting with restraint and responsibility in the interest of
the nation. This would bode well for future elections and national
canned statement was only deployed in response to the question from
the Press, the UN's state media UN News put out a story headlined,
"Ban voices relief at relatively peaceful conclusion to Sri
Lankan presidential poll." One awaits Ban's letter of
congratulation to Mahinda Rajapaksa, whom he has described as a
friend. Watch this site.