Sri Lanka Hostage Taking of its Staff, Ban Has Not Called
July 6 -- The UN continued
running scared of Sri Lanka's
Rajapaksa, even after its staff in Colombo were held hostage by a
led by a minister in Rajapaksa's government, Wimal Weerawansa.
Inner City Press asked the Associate Spokesman for UN Secretary General
Ki-moon, Farhan Haq, what he made of Weerawansa's
cell phone call to
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, after which police pulled back and allowed the
mob to continue to trap UN staff. Video here,
from Minute 6:28.
dispute or deny the call, responding rather that the “bottom line”
was that late in the day, staff were able to leave, while the mob
remained in front of the UN building.
repeated spoke of
contacts with and assurances from “officials to the highest level,”
the highest he listed was the (non-Rajapaksa) Prime Minister speaking
with the UN's local representative Neil Buhne.
himself, Inner City Press asked, be speaking with Mahinda Rajapaksa?
“At this stage I don't have anything to say about the Secretary
General making any such calls,” Haq replied.
On part of demonstation, UN's Ban phone call not shown
returned from Montego Bay, Jamaica. At 10:30 on Tuesday he had a
meeting with the head of the UN Mission in Afghanistan, then nothing
listed until 2:50 p.m..
hostage taking of UN staff is not important enough? When it takes
place in Sri Lanka? Watch this site.
* * *
Minister and Mob Hold UN Staff Hostage, Ban Remains Silent
July 6 -- The UN's compound in Colombo has been surrounded,
UN staff held hostage by a crowd led by Sri Lankan
minister Wimal Weerawansa. "We warn the U.N. to withdraw the
(investigating) panel if
they want to get the employees out,"
Weerawansa told the protesters.
siege came six
days after Weerawansa urged crowds to take UN staff hostage. Inner
City Press on June 30 and July 2 asked UN Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon's Associate Spokesperson Farhan Haq for Ban's response.
June 30, Haq
said Weerawansa's threat may have been misquoted, and was in any
event merely “individual.”
asked a very senior UN official about the threat and was told it was
a “Gandhian” threat.
July 2, when
Inner City Press asked why the UN would minimize a government
minister's threat against UN staff as “individual,” Haq claimed
that an apology might be forthcoming from the government and told Inner
City Press, "I will let you know if something like that comes through."
Weerawansa made clear he was not misquoted, and the threat was not
individual. Inner City Press published stories on July 3, 4 and 5.
Ban Ki-moon, in Jamaica, said nothing. Haq and his Office sent nothing.
July 6, UN
staff were taken hostage, and the Sri Lankan government did nothing
to stop it.
UN's Ban portrayed by Rajapaksas, staff as hostage not shown
called a government endorsed and protected action
against UN staff.
and some Sinhalese activists are calling on Ban to be “impeached”
for his belated and begrudging naming of a panel to advise him on Sri
Lankan war crimes, others including UN staff and supporters point to
other reasons: the inexplicable delay, and this failure to perform
the most basic part of the UN S-G job, to protect or at least speak
up for UN staff in the field. Watch this site.
* * *
Army Claims Dutch Ambassador Support Despite EU Human Rights Cut of GSP
July 5 -- As the European Union cut off Sri Lanka's
concession on human rights grounds, the Sri Lankan Ministry of
Defense claimed that EU member (and World Cup semi finalist) The
Netherlands “appreciates the diplomatic and strategic position
upheld by the Government of Sri Lanka with respect to the pressure
exerted by certain countries in connection with the internal
political issues of the country.”
was sourced to Leoni Cuelenaere, The Netherlands' Ambassador to Sri
Lanka in a July 2 meeting with Sri Lankan Prime Minister D.M.
Jayaratne, and was placed on the government's
web site and numerous
a strange position for an EU member to express, email inquires were
made with Leoni Cuelenaere, resulting in an electronic reply that “as
you can imagine, I said nothing of the kind!”
why, then, has
not The Netherlands and the EU more publicly sought a retraction from
the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defense and the other sites which have
carried and are carrying this presentation of The Netherlands'
Leoni Cuelenaere and
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, no correction shown
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Jamaica, he has said nothing about
Sri Lankan Minister Wimal Weerawansa's threat to take UN staff in
Colombo hostage. Ban's Associate Spokesman has said that Weerawansa's
call was only as an individual, despite his position with the
But now that Weerawansa
has said he was
officially speaking for a political party that is part of the
Rajapaksas' coalition, the National Freedom Front, one expects at
least a correction, and more substantively some defense of UN staff,
from the Secretary General. We're still waiting.
* * *
Lanka Party in Power Threatens UN Staff, Ban Stays Silent, DPR To
July 4 -- The UN said it was an “individual opinion,”
when Sri Lanka's Minister for Housing and Construction Wimal
Weerawansa last week called for UN staff in Colombo to be taken
hostage to forestall any consideration of war crimes.
Press inquired a second time, and the same UN spokesperson, Farhan
Haq, said “we have received some indications that an apology might
be in order... I’ll let you know if something like that comes
has said he was and is speaking for a political party that is part of
the Rajapaksa coalition, the “National Freedom Front.”
hasn't clarified or amended its obfuscation of the threat against its
staff. In fact, a senior UN official tried to call the threat
“Gandhian,” a sort of non-violent hostage taking. Talk about the
Stockholm syndrome, one wag mused.
fact, the UN's
hopeful or intentionally misleading statement of receiving
indications - from whom? - that “an apology might... come through”
was shot down the next day, with the UN on vacation:
asked by Daily Mirror online if he was under any pressure regarding
his comment after it had created a lot of controversy, Weerawansa
said there was no such pressure as the position was that of his
party. 'We should surround the UN office in Colombo and put pressure
on UN Secretary General Ban ki-moon to reverse his decision to
appoint a panel on Sri Lanka. I am saying this as the leader of the
Ban, who was
spending a full eight hours in a pro-Kabila parade in Kinshasa when
the first threat came in from Colombo, is now headed to Jamaica. Will
he address the clarified and sharpened threat to UN staff?
Mahinda Rajapaksa and Bandula Jayasekara, threats not shown
so do Sri Lankan diplomats. It was only in April that Sri Lanka's
Permanent Representative to the UN Palitha Kohona invited Inner City
Press to a reception to greet his incoming Deputy Bandula Jayasekara.
In the Sri Lankan residence high over Second Avenue and the UN,
Jayasekara told Inner City Press he was a “new school” diplomat. Indeed.
than a month
later, Jayasekara began hand delivering threatening and repetitive
letters to Inner City Press. The first -- non threatening, tied to a
quote and therefore the only one we published - read as follows:
Matthew.Lee [at] innercitypress.com
Date: Mon, May 10, 2010 at
[sic] Russell Lee, Report, Inner City Press
find attached, a letter addressed to you by Mr. Bandula Jayasekara,
Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka.
PA to DPR
[sic] Russell Lee, Reporter
Inner City Press, Room: S-453A
UN Headquarters, New York N.Y. 10017
to the question posed by you to Mr. Martin Nesirky,
Spokesperson for UNSG at the UN daily noon briefing held on 7.5.2010
“In the last 24 hours the Defence Minister, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, has
said that anyone that would seek to testify about war crimes by the
Sri Lankan Government should be put to death. It’s a capital
offence and it’s treason”.
inquired into this matter and Mr. Rajapaksa has not, I repeat
not, made such a statement. Your question is not based on fact, and
is patently mischievous, misleading and incorrect.
request you to reproduce this letter for the sake of fair
play. As a man of integrity, in the media, you should not mislead
the people who read your blog. You should not abuse the position of
blogging privilege. I sincerely hope you would uphold the ethics of
was no problem
with publishing the letter -- the goal of the letter and its cc to a
journalists' group were not
clear -- but there was and is equally no problem with providing the
the question: it was on the Sri Lanka
Ministry of Defence's own web
Deputy Permanent Representative
comes word that
Jayasekara is being recalled to Colombo. We hardly knew ye... Kohona,
a fixture on the UN social scene, has not been seen for weeks, ever
since his ironic service on a three person panel investigating
possible war crimes in what the UN calls Western Asia. At a recent
reception for Colombia, Sri Lanka's number three wandered around.
Inner City Press greeted him, but he did not respond. So much for
diplomacy. Watch this site.
the UN's June
Press: in Sri Lanka the Minister for Housing and Construction,
Wimal Weerawansa, has been quoted as saying, urging the, under the
headline “Take UN Lanka staff hostage”, he said, urging the
public to surround the UN office in Sri Lanka and trap the staff
inside with regard to the panel and any consideration of war crimes
in the country. First of all, what’s the UN’s response to a
Government minister saying to keep UN staff hostage, what
preparations are being made and what’s your response to it?
Haq: Well, in terms of that, on the various levels. First of all, on
the security level, our security officials are aware
of these remarks. They would certainly try to check whether this
official was quoted correctly and what he meant by that. The
Government has assured us this is an individual opinion
is not been corrected. Watch this site.