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UN Report Was Ready March 31 But Was Delayed for Sri Lanka, Kohona Says Don't Release, Silva Lobbies

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 19 -- The scanned portion of the UN Panel of Experts report on Sri Lanka war crimes leaked, presumptively by the government, to The Island newspaper has been obtained by Inner City Press and is being put online here.

It shows that the Panel's three members signed off on the report on March 31, 2011. Why was it only on April 12 that it was handed to Ban Ki-moon, who on April 13 gave it to Sri Lankan Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN General Shavendra Silva?

Inner City Press spoke both with Silva and with Permanent Representative Palitha Kohona on the evening of April 19, arriving uninvited at a reception at Kohona's residence. Despite statements by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesmen that the report would be released, Kohona argued that it should not be made available to the public.

Kohona emphasized, as it seems his government did to Ban Ki-moon, that because April 13 onward was a holiday in Sri Lanka, the UN should not release the full report. Kohona said that Monday was a lunar holiday, and the UN could not release the report -- giving a new meaning to Ban Ki-MOON.

   Those days were used to leak portions of the report to The Island newspaper, with President Mahinda Rajapaksa calling for mass protests against the UN report on May 1.

Ban, with Kohona looking on, with Silva, 196 pages & 36 hours not shown

At Kohona's reception, the Permanent Representative of Egypt -- Maged Abdelaziz, the same one as under Hosni Mubarak -- arrived and chatted with Silva and Kohona, Egypt, as head of the Non Aligned Movement, pressured Ban Ki-moon against any real investigation of war crimes in Sri Lanka.

   Abdelaziz left early, as did Inner City Press. Silva said he had two other events to attend -- part of a campaign about and against the Panel of Experts report. We'll have more on this.

* * *
On Sri Lanka, UN Gave 196 Pages to Silva, Asked 24 Then 36 Hours, Got Played

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 19 -- On Sri Lanka, with the UN Secretariat in seeming paralysis holding back the war crimes Panel of Experts' report five full days after portions were leaked, presumptively by the government, to The Island newspaper, sources have described the process to Inner City Press.

  The report, they say, is 196 pages long. On April 11, Inner City Press learned that it would be handed to Ban Ki-moon on April 12. After it was, it was also provided -- on hard copy only -- to Sri Lanka's Deputy Permanent Representative, General Shavendra Silva, who is himself implicated in war crimes in the final stages of the conflict.

The UN told Shavendra Silva that Ban would be releasing the report in 24 hours, sources tell Inner City Press. Silva responded that the Sri Lankan government wanted or needed “a little more time.” The UN replied that it would give 36 hours, tops.

But the 36 hours came and went. And by then a scan of the hard copy had been provided to The Island, a newspapers with agrees with President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The Island ran it, with typos as identified by Inner City Press.

Inexplicable to many, Ban and the UN Secretariat even then did not release the report. They held it over the weekend, and did not release it either Monday or Tuesday. They have, many say, undermined the report.

   The Experts, too, have done their part. Their report as excerpted says that all international staff left an area, then has international staff witnessing the shelling of a medical facility. This will be fodder for the government's response. But the government of Rajapaksa has already responded, with a call for mass protests against the UN report on May 1.

Why did Ban do this? Why did he never call for a ceasefire? Why did he send Nambiar as his envoy, and still allow him to be involved after his role in the so-called white flag killings of surrenderees? What will Ban discuss with Russia on his upcoming visit? How might this all be used to assure a second term as Secretary General? Watch this site.

Footnote: beyond misleading about the meeting of Attorney General Mohan Peiris with Ban's now invisible panel, it's reported that during that secret session, the UN agreed to give Sri Lanka some extra weeks before the filing of the report. It was extended to April 12, the day before the New Year in Sri Lanka, when all of the above then happened. One couldn't have done more to undermine a war crimes report.

* * *

As UN Security Council Hears of Sri Lanka Report, Russia Objects, Ban Ki-moon to Moscow, Sacrifice for 2d Term?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 19 -- Sri Lanka and the UN Panel of Experts' report were listed in advance as topics of the Security Council briefing on the afternoon of April 18 by UN Department of Political Affairs chief Lynn Pascoe. Click here for that exclusive Inner City Press report.

  The issues had been so listed even before the leak, presumptively by the government of Mahinda Rajapaksa, of a summary of the report to The Island newspaper.

But after the leak, that was the main topic inside the Council, multiple sources told Inner City Press afterwards. It was said, inside the Council, that the government was the likely leaker. But a range of Council members said it made no sense to have a discussion of a partial leak rather than the whole report.

Just as Russia opposed any Council discussion of Sri Lanka during the final, bloody stages of the conflict in 2009, on April 18, 2011 in the Council Russia raised a number of “procedural” objections, sources told Inner City Press afterward.

It should be noted that in the cases of Ivory Coast, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon took action, even military action, over Russian objections. Now, Ban is on his way to Russia, seemingly to try to smooth that over and seek to protect his chances at a second term as Secretary General, which Russia could veto.

Will meaningful action on the UN Panel of Experts report on Sri Lanka be sacrificed to Ban's drive for a second term? Watch this site.

Even as leaked, the report says that

“During the final stages of the war, the United Nations political organs and bodies failed to take actions that might have protected civilians. Moreover, although senior international officials advocated in public and in private with the Government that it protect civilians and stop the shelling of hospitals and United Nations or ICRC locations, in the Panel’s view, the public use of casualty figures would have strengthened the call for the protection of civilians while those events in the Vanni were unfolding....

“Considering the response of the United Nations to the plight of civilians in the Vanni during the final stages of the war in Sri Lanka and the aftermath.. The Secretary-General should conduct a comprehensive review of actions by the United Nations system during the war in Sri Lanka and the aftermath, regarding the implementation of its humanitarian and protection mandates.”

But how is this Secretary General, with a chief of staff whose role in the so called white flag killings in Sri Lanka, and who withheld his own Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs casualty figures which were subsequently leaked to and published by Inner City Press, to credibly “conduct of comprehensive review” of his own behavior, and that of his senior advisers?

 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.

* * *

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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