Lanka, UN's Holmes Speaks of Gov't Shelling, Casualties, 2 Sides'
August 26 -- Asked about Sri Lanka
on his final day as UN
Humanitarian Coordinator, John Holmes offered a defense of his
department's funding of the government's internment camps while
admitting the government may have “deliberately shelled”
civilians and hospitals. Video here,
from Minute 17:29.
asked Holmes about criticism of his and the UN's actions in Sri
Lanka, for example pulling out of Kilinochchi, funding the internment
camps and failing even now to get to the bottom of the murder of the
Action Contre La Faim humanitarian workers. Video here,
the “ACF massacre,” and said it has still not been explained or
even investigated. He did not explain the Kilinochchi pull out, which
has been criticized including the International Crisis Group.
there's a need to know how many civilians were killed, when it was
his OCHA unit which stopped reporting on civilians casualties when
one of their reports was leaked to and published by Inner City Press.
answer by referring to the “heavy propaganda claims on both sides.”
It was not clear if, beyond side of the the government and “Sinhalese
extremists” -- to use Singapore's Lee Kwan Yew's description of
Mahinda Rajapaksa -- Holmes meant the LTTE Tamil Tigers, or the Tamil
Press reported at the time, during Ban Ki-moon's trip to Sri Lanka in
May 2009, Holmes during an on the record briefing on the UN plane
said that he got lots of email from the Tamil diaspora alleging for
example bias by Ban's chief of staff Vijay Nambiar. I just delete it,
Holmes said of the e-mail.
John Holmes in the UN auditorium, accountability not shown
complaints, Inner City Press tried to soften the story. But that is
what he said. And since he said it, information has emerged about
Nambair's still unexplained role in telling LTTE leaders who wanted
to surrender to come out with white flags. They were killed, and the
leader of the unit which did the killing is now reportedly coming to
the UN as Sri Lanka's Deputy Permanent Representative.
to a think tank of sorts, Ditchley Hall. Perhaps he will write a book
-- and perhaps it will address these issues. We'll be watching.
* * *
Sri Lanka Move to Place Alleged War Criminal As Ambassador Questioned
August 25 -- Sri Lanka's Deputy Permanent Representative to
the UN post, vacant following Bandula Jayasekera's department
triggered by a sexual harassment scandal, is now reportedly slated to
be filled by Major General
Shavendra Silva, who “was allegedly
among those mentioned by MP Sarath Fonseka in a media interview where
he had said that the former 58 Division Commander had received orders
to shoot at sight LTTE suspects who came with white flags to
surrender to the army during the final stage of war.”
the UN on
Wednesday, Inner City Press asked Martin Nesirky, the spokesman for
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, about this reported appointment and
that of General G.A. Chandrasiri to replace Palitha Kohona as
Permanent Representative. Video here,
from Minute 53:36.
he wouldn't comment on hypotheticals, when Inner City Press asked if
Ban would have some discretion to not accept credentials when
presented, Nesirky said he would look into it.
is clearly a witness to the war crime events about which Ban has
appointed a (stalled) three member panel to advise him. Would
appointing him an ambassador give him de facto or de jure diplomatic
UN's Ban takes credentials from Kohona- is acceptance automatic?
also asked Nesirky if the four
month “clock” of Ban's panel of
experts had finally begun. No, Nesirky said, the clock has not
started but it is being wound. But why so slowly? Watch this site.
Wednesday Inner City Press asked a Sri Lankan diplomat about the
reported new Deputy Perm Rep and Perm Rep. “It's not yet
confirmed,” he answered, adding that the entire staff of the
mission in New York might be replaced.
* * *
UN Has No Comment on Fonseka, Panel Still Not Started, Ban
Book In Flux, Lee Kuan Yew Author Snubbed
13 -- As in Sri Lanka the government's
Learnt” panel began, with a focus not on the civilians killed in
2009 but on how a ceasefire earlier broke down, Inner City Press on
Friday asked UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky if the UN had any comment on
Sri Lanka's or its panel,
on the court
of former General
Sarath Fonseka, whose offer to testify about war crimes the UN has
apparently turned down. Video here,
the UN has no “new comment” on Fonseka, but had earlier urged due
process. That was before the process and conviction, which Fonseka
has called a sham.
interim, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was
burned in effigy during a blockade of the UN compound in Colombo led
by government minister Wimal Weerawansa. Since then, the UN has said
and done almost nothing.
asked whether Ban's panel of experts on accountability in Sri Lanka
has finally begun its work, triggering the start of the four month
clock to turn in a report. Nesirky replied that he couldn't “say
when” the panel will start.
reason being offered to Inner City Press is the illness of the spouse
of one of the three panel members.
briefings were full of questions about author Tom Plate's
that he will profile Ban Ki-moon as the third in his series of
“Giants of Asia.”
UN's Ban unfocused in Sri Lanka, panel's start and
book not shown
At an August
10 book party near the United
Nations, Plate read from his book about Singapore's Lee Kwan Yew, who
is quoted on page 55 of the book saying the
is Sri Lanka. It is not a happy, united country. Yes, they [the
majority Sinhalese government] have beaten the Tamil Tigers this
time, but the Sinhalese who are less capable are putting down a
minority of Jaffna Tamils who are more capable. They were squeezing
them out. That's why the Tamils rebelled. But I do not see them
ethnic cleansing all two million plus Jaffna Tamils. The Jaffna
Tamils have been in Sri Lanka as long as the Sinhalese...[referring
to Sri Lanka's president Mahinda Rajapaksa] 'I've read his speeches
and I knew he was a Sinhalese extremist. I cannot change his mind.'”
about this section of the book, and said that it was difficult to
keep it in. Afterward, Inner City Press asked Plate to explain: how
had wanted the section to come out? Of all that he said Tuesday
night, this was the only time that Plate asked to go off the record.
just as we respected the request to omit from
coverage the presence of at least one individual and entourage.
later in the
Nesirky repeatedly insisted that Ban has made
no commitment to Plate nor to anyone else for such a profile. Since
Plate unequivocally said that Ban will be the third Giant of Asia, in
Inner City Press' presence and in writing, Inner City Press asked
Friday if there was some meaning of the word “commitment” that it
responded that like any piece of information, it
could change. Video here,
Minute 15:48. Watch this site.