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On Sri Lanka, Ban Hasn't Moved to Review Actions of UN & Nambiar, Get Rajapaksa Support for 2d Term

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 6, updated -- In the past forty days, Ban Ki-moon has apparently done no review of Sri Lanka after he said on April 25 that he would act on the Panel of Experts' recommendation for a “review of the United Nations’ actions regarding the implementation of its humanitarian and protection mandates during the war in Sri Lanka – particularly in the last stages."

  Inner City Press asked Ban if he supports the call by Navi Pillay for a independent probe into the war crimes alleges in the Panel of Experts report on Sri Lanka, and what action he has taken on the above quoted recommendation for a review of the actions of the UN and Ban's own chief of staff Vijay Nambiar, particularly in connection with assurances given to surrenderees who were then killed.

  Ban said it is up to member states, and did not answer the second part of the question. He said he continues to wait for Sri Lanka's response, checking every day, he said.

Pillay & Ban previously in Geneva, Sri Lanka Report not shown

These answers were given at a press conference in which Ban announced that he had met with the Asia Group and they support him for a second term as UN Secretary General.

After Ban's press conference, Inner City Press interviewed a Deputy Permanent Representative who attended the meeting. He said that no vote was taken, but rather “acclamation.” Inner City Press asked if Sri Lanka spoke, and the DPR said yes. So, the Rajapaksa government now supports Ban for a second term. Draw your own conclusions.

From the UN's June 6, 2011 transcript:

Inner City Press: You commissioned that Panel of Experts report; then you said that you couldn’t do any investigation unless an intergovernmental body orders you to. Ms [Navenethem] Pillay has said that such a body should be set up. Do you follow in that? And what steps have you taken on this idea that you would review the UN’s own performance in the final stages of the conflict? Even your Chief of Staff has been described in a still murky incident of the killing of surrendering fighters. So I was wondering: have you taken any steps in the forty days since you said that to do that?

SG Ban Ki-moon: You must have read all the recommendations of the Panel’s report. Most of the recommendations of the Panel’s report concern steps which the Sri Lankan Government needs to take. Beyond what I can do within the UN to review its actions during the final stage of conflict, much will depend on the Government of Sri Lanka and the Member States who have been studying this report. Addressing the issue of accountability will be an essential step towards lasting peace and stability in the country. And I will continue to discuss this matter with the Sri Lankan leadership so that they will implement fully the recommendations in this Panel’s report. First and foremost, proper action is needed to be taken by the Sri Lankan Government. That’s what the international community really wants. Again, another one is that I am still awaiting the response of the Sri Lankan Government. I am checking almost every day, every week so that they will send their response as soon as possible. That can give me further review on their response.

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On Sri Lanka, As Pillay Supports UN Report, Ban Merely Says It's Out There

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 31 -- Even after UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Navi Pillay said in Geneva she supports that an international mechanism on Sri Lanka be established, as Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Panel of Experts recommended to him, Ban has not supported the recommendation.

Inner City Press on Tuesday asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky if Ban agrees with what Pillay said, and if he has any comment on the video depicting extrajudicial executions by Sri Lankan soldiers.

Ban's spokesman said that “in the first instance it is the responsibility of sovereign states to conduct a credible investigation,” and that the Panel's recommendations are “there are all to see.” But does Ban support them? Nesirky said, “There should either be consent from the SL authorities or a mandate from an intergovernmental body.”

Even regarding the video, Ban's spokesman said “we are certainly aware of it,” and that it underscores the need for a “national” accountability mechanism. But Ban's own Panel concluded that the Rajapaksas' Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Commission is deeply flawed.

There is as yet no action even on the one thing Ban said he would do, review the UN's own actions on Sri Lanka, presumably including with regard to the so-called White Flag killings of surrenderees.

Ban Ki-moon, having just returned for the weekend from a trip including Nigeria and Deauville, now leaves again on from June 1 to 3 to Italy. And so it goes.

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On Sri Lanka, Ban Claims UN Couldn't Assess Casualties, Leak Shows UN Did

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 27 -- On Sri Lanka, UN “staff were not in the position to assess” the number of casualties in 2009, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky told the Press on April 27, as they had to withdraw because the Government said security could not be guaranteed.

But as Inner City Press reported and published on March 27, 2009, a detailed UN document it obtained reported that the "minimum number of documented civilian casualties since 20 January 2009, as of 7 March 2009 in the conflict area of Mullaitivu Region [is] 9,924 casualties including 2,683 deaths and 7,241 injuries.”

Click here for the leaked document, and here for Inner City Press' report which exclusively published it.

Ban's UN refused to confirm its own Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs casualty figures. It now appears, including based on statements by staff who have since left the UN, that Ban's UN consciously decided to withhold and once leaked deny the casualty information it WAS in the position to compile.

Nesirky on April 27, when Inner City Press followed up on questions it put to Ban the previous day, said that this topic and others will now be reviewed by the UN, by Ban and his senior advisers.

Inner City Press asked Nesirky if Ban's chief of staff Vijay Nambiar, who was involved in the White Flag killings which appear in the UN report at Paragraph 171, will be one of the senior advisers involved in the review.

“There are many senior advisers,” Nesirky said, adding that the review “will look at the full range of topics contained” in the report.

The question remains: should a senior adviser like Nambiar be allowed to play any role in the review of an incident he was involved in? The answer should have been, and should be, no -- but hasn't been.

Inner City Press asked if this review will be made public. Nesirky would not say, but acknowledged that there is a public interest in it. With 40,000 civilians reportedly killed, yes there is a public interest.

Amazingly, after Ban said he “is advised” that the report's recommendations can only be investigated if the Rajapaksa government consents or members states vote for it in an intergovernmental forum, Ban when he reported on Sri Lanka to the UN Security Council on April 26 did not even ask them to schedule a vote on the recommendation for an investigation of war crimes. We'll have more on this.

From the Panel of Experts report:

The "White Flag" incident

170. Various reports have alleged that the political leadership of the LTTE and their dependents were executed when they surrendered to the SLA. In the very final days of the war, the head of the LTTE political wing, Nadesan, and the head of the Tiger Peace Secretariat Pulidevan, were in regular communication with various interlocutors to negotiate surrender. They were reportedly with a group of around 300 civilians. The LTTE political leadership was initially reluctant to agree to an unconditional surrender, but as the SLA closed in on the group in their final hideout, Nadesan and Pulidevan, and possibly Colonel Ramesh, were prepared to surrender unconditionally. This intention was communicated to officials of the United Nations and of the Governments of Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as to representatives of the ICRC and others. It was also conveyed through intermediaries to Mahinda, Gotabaya and Basil Rajapaksa, former Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona and senior officers in the SLA.

171. Both President Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Basil Rajapaksa [sic?] provided assurances that their surrender would be accepted. These were conveyed by intermediaries to the LTTE leaders, who were advised to raise a white flag and walk slowly towards the army, following a particular route indicated by Basil Rajapaksa.[sic?]  Requests by the LTTE for a third party to be present at the point of surrender were not granted. Around 6.30 a.m. on 18 May 2009. Nadesan and Pulidevan left their hide-out to walk towards the area held by the 58th Division, accompanied by a large group, including their families. Colonel Ramesh followed behind them, with another group. Shortly afterwards, the BBC and other television stations reported that Nadesan and Pulidevan had been shot dead. Subsequently, the Government gave several different accounts of the incident. While there is little information on the circumstances of their death, the Panel believes that the LTTE leadership intended to surrender.

  On the morning of April 21, Inner City Press asked Ban's top two spokesmen to "please state the role of Mr. Nambiar in reviewing the report." No response has yet been received, more than 60 hours later. We will have more on this. 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.

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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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