Lanka, UN Says Bragg Had Visa Without Restriction, Unlike Ban's
January 26 -- On Sri Lanka,
Inner City Press has belatedly
gotten some UN answers to questions about humanitarian issues it
asked more than a week ago.
The UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs in the answers it provided today says it “cannot
second guess the government” on the fairness of aid distribution,
and won't comment on the government ordering the International
Committee of the Red Cross out of Northern Sri Lanka, or imposing a
burdensome registration process on other NGOs in the country.
provided answers to today were a subset of the Sri Lanka questions
Inner City Press initially asked the Office of the Spokesperson for
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, OSSG.
Martin Nesirky said he wouldn't answer any more questions
from Inner City Press unless it acted “appropriately,” apparently
meaning not asking about compliance with UN rules, he said “ask
OCHA.” So on January 17, Inner City Press emailed the questions to
back from OCHA or Nesirky and his Deputy Farhan Haq to whom Inner
City Press reverted with the questions, on January 26 Inner City
Press asked OCHA deputy Catherine Bragg and them her spokespeople.
OCHA said it had given answers to the OSSG. But, perhaps in
implementation of Nesirky's threat, the OCHA answers were never given
to Inner City Press.
re-sent its capitalized answers directly to Inner City Press:
[the UN] say to the protests in east Batticaloa about allegedly
inequitable distribution of aid?
SECOND GUESS THE AID PROVISION OF THE GOVERNMENT, PARTICULARLY
AS IT IS PULLING TOGETHER A COMPREHENSIVE POST DISASTER NEEDS
ASSESSMENT. IN MAJOR DISASTERS, IT IS NOT ABNORMAL FOR SOME OF THOSE
AFFECTED TO WISH AID PROVISION WOULD OCCUR IN A DIFFERENT MANNER THAN
IT HAS DONE.
OCHA's Bragg, second guessing of Sri Lanka aid
distribution not shown
previously asked-- Does the UN have any comment on Sri Lanka's
government ordering the International Committee of the Red Cross out
of Northern Sri Lanka?
THAT ICRC IS CURRENTLY DISCUSSING THE FUTURE OF ITS
OPERATIONS IN SRI LANKA WITH THE AUTHORITIES, AND HAVE NO FURTHER
COMMENT AT THIS TIME. PLEASE REFER TO ICRC FOR MORE INFORMATION ON
previously requested, on the new rules requiring NGOs and INGOs
tonregister with the Department of Defense, etc
HAS A RIGHT TO KNOW WHICH NGOS ARE OPERATING WITHIN A
COUNTRY, AND TO REQUIRE REGISTRATION. OUR CONCERN HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE
ABILITY TO ACCESS POPULATIONS IN NEED OF HUMANITARIAN AID.
Ms. Bragg apply for a visa to Sri Lanka, when was it granted and
are there any conditions on the visa, regarding where to travel, whom
to speak with, etc?
NOT AWARE OF ANY DIFFICULTIES IN OBTAINING THIS VISA NOR OR ANY
TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS ON IT.
Office, despite Ban's December 17 and January 14
statements that Ban's Panel on Accountability in Sri Lanka could
travel to the country due to President Mahinda Rajapaksa's
“flexibility,” has been unwilling to answer specific questions
about visas for the Panel and conditions the government would impose.
Now they have been asked other questions. Watch this site.
* * * *
* * *
Called Weak on Sri Lanka, UN Claims Unfair to Judge, Unanswered
January 24, updated -- With Human Rights Watch today critiquing Ban
Ki-moon for “undue faith” in his so called “quiet diplomacy”
with Sri Lanka's Mahinda Rajapaksa, the UN's canned response is that
Ban "appointed an advisory panel, which will present its report to the
Secretary-General soon. It would not be proper to prejudge the
value of its work in promoting accountability and, more importantly,
preventing human rights violations in Sri Lanka and other countries in
future. But certainly, we are at work on that."
been blocked from going to Sri Lanka, despite Ban's December 17 and
January 14 statements to the contrary and even praise of Rajapaksa's
fact, is worse that “quiet diplomacy” - he has actively praised
Mahinda Rajapaksa, even as his government blocks any inquiry into the
tens of thousands of Tamil civilians it killed in 2009, as detailed
for example in The New Yorker magazine.
Press has asked questions about Ban's December 17 and then January 14
statements about Sri Lanka, Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky declared
on January 21 that he would not answer any more questions from Inner
City Press until it somehow “acts appropriately” -- apparently
meaning not to ask questions, which is all Inner City Press did on
January 21 prior to Nesirky's extraordinary statement.
UN's Ban and his Panel: supposedly UNfair to
judge, but where are they?
then submitted to Nesirky and his deputy Farhan Haq a series of
factual questions, including about Sri Lanka. Only one question --
not about Sri Lanka, and even then only with a peacekeeping mission's
pre-existing and dubious press release -- has been answered. Nesirky
did not show up for the January 24 UN briefing, leaving Haq to read
out the above quoted response.
to what HRW
calls Ban's weakness on human rights, and what many call his weakness
in opposing corruption, Ban and his team, represented by the
seemingly silent Nesirky, will be called on to respond. Watch this
* * *
Panel Blocked by Sri Lanka, Is Not Asked
About Ban's Claims: No More
The UN, after moving to refuse to
Press questions about Sri Lanka, has decided to publicly
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Accountability Panel is no longer
slated to travel to Sri Lanka.
As Inner City Press reported on January 18, this is contrary to
Ban's December 17 praise of President Mahinda Rajapaksa's "flexibility"
in allowing the visit, and to Ban's January 14 answer to Inner City
Press. But the UN does not want to explain, or even be asked about,
these accumulating discrepancies.
On January 18,
with UN insiders who insisted they not
be named because if so they would be fired or further marginalized,
Inner City Press reported
late on January 17 told Inner City Press that despite Ban's
statement, his Panel will now probably NOT visit the Island. Despite
Ban's December 17 announcement praising President Mahinda Rajapaksa's
'flexibility,' since then Rajapaksa's government has written to the
UN to say not only that the Panel should not come, but that neither
the government nor its Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Panel will
speak with the UN Panel of Experts. It is expected now that
representatives of the Rajapaksa government will, in New York only,
speak with Ban Ki-moon's Office, not his Panel.”
news, Inner City Press publicly
Nesirky about it at the January 18 UN noon briefing:
does not go to Sri Lanka. That in fact
letters have been exchanged and that a letter from Sri Lanka says
that there’s no intention to speak to the Panel.
can tell you is that Ms. Bragg’s visit it obviously a
humanitarian visit. It is not related to work of the Panel. It is
not. And I think that’s quite clear.
What will she do with it, as a humanitarian
talking about humanitarian matters.
rains, not about what caused the need to return?
... there’s some question about
the visas for an accountability purpose, what the relation of this
visa would be…
the two are not connected. This is clearly a
humanitarian matter. Last question.
carry this out, making that the “last
UN's Ban & Nesirky in 2011: no questions allowed
next day on
January 19, Nesirky twice cut off Inner City Press from asking
questions at the UN noon briefing, claiming he would answer questions
put to him in writing.
Press posed a number of Sri Lanka
questions about the visas and Ban Ki-moon, none of which Mr. Nesirky
Nesirky walked out of the briefing room while Inner City Press was
still posing questions about the white flag killings in connection
article including the role of Ban's chief of staff Vijay
Nambiar, who has said he got assurances from Sri Lanka Permanent
Representative Palitha Kohona that those with white flags would not
of a reply from Mr. Nambiar, which has yet
to be provided.
told Inner City Press at the noon briefing that
“I will take questions from you when you behave in an appropriate
manner,” and refused to take any more of questions Inner City Press
had prepared, including Sri Lanka and Ban's statements about his
Panel. Colloquially, this "sucked,"
Press quickly wrote about it.
in what is still labeled an “exclusive,” FP ran this quote:
Sri Lankan mission had initially indicated they would be amenable to
the panel meeting with it to make whatever representations it may
wish to make, but it seems now that such a visit has still not been
decided,' said a senior U.N. official. 'I am not sure if this is a
simple matter of the Sri Lankan side prevaricating. The panel is
nevertheless open and keen on any appropriate interaction with the
LLC. The Sri Lankans have sought to keep their interaction through
the secretariat, specifically the EOSG [the executive office of the
secretary general],' the official said. 'We have, however, been
asking them and the panel to deal with each other directly and shall
continue to do so.'”
especially but not only Ban's Spokesperson's Office, operates.
still unanswered, but repeatedly asked by Inner City Press publicly
in the noon briefings at which Nesirky on January 21 said he will
take no more questions from Inner City Press, is why Ban Ki-moon
claimed on December 17 that his Panel would go to Sri Lanka.
that time, Ban
went out of his way to praise President Mahinda Rajapaksa's
“flexibility.” Nesirky has repeated refused to answer Inner City
Press' factual questions about Ban's, his entourage and family's
contacts with Sri Lanka and Rajapaksa.
press conference, at which Nesirky did not
take any questions from Inner City Press, Inner City Press waited at
the entrance to the briefing room and asked Ban why his panel wasn't
going to Sri Lanka, and minutes later published
Secretary General, you said your Panel is going to Sri Lanka,”
Inner City Press asked, “what happened?”
Ki-moon replied, “They are now working very seriously on finalizing
the dates of visiting Sri Lanka.”
City Press asked about “the government has said they can only talk
to the LLRC, that they can't investigate anything.”
Ki-moon replied, “They will be able to... They are now discussing
publicly asked and wrote about the letters between Sri
Lanka and the UN which contradict what Ban has said, and after
Nesirky said he will not take any more questions from Inner City
Press, a “senior UN official” issues the above-quoted, without
any reference to Ban's December 17 (and January 14) claims. Watch