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UN Sri Lanka Report Mistakes Basil for Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Stonewalling Continues

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 25 -- While the UN still has not released its Panel of Experts report on war crimes in Sri Lanka or committed to make the Panel members available for questions, the leaked copy obtained by Inner City Press has given rise to a sample question which exemplifies why a press conference is needed.

  The Report at Paragraph 171 states that “Defence Secretary Basil Rajapaksa provided assurances that their surrender would be accepted... following a particular route indicated by Basil Rajapaksa.”

  Inner City Press has asked the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, the following:

-Since Gotabaya Rajapaksa was and is the Defense Secretary, is this just a typo?

-Who is the Panel saying indicated the route: Basil or Gotabya Rajapaksa?

-Again, what was Mr. Nambiar's precise role in the assurances?

-And when specifically did the OSSG know about the Feb 22 meeting between Mohan Peiris and the Panel, as set forth in Annex 2 of the Report?

  Previously, Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky when Inner City Press asked if a meeting between Sri Lanka attorney general Mohan Peiris and the Panel had taken place said, you were there with a camera, you saw that it didn't.

  Nesirky has said, When I get the information, I give it to you.

  How about Nambiar's responses then? Watch this site.

Footnote: The Office of the Spokesperson has told select journlaists that the report would go on the UN website at 3:30. This is published past 4 pm, and it is not up.

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UN Report Says Sri Lanka Restricted Invitation then Took Back, Despite Ban Claims

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 25 -- The Sri Lanka war crimes report by the UN Panel of Experts says that the government of Sri Lanka in Decmeber 2010 said the Panel could visit the country only to make representations to the Rajapaksa appointed Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Commission, and then reversed even that invitation in January 2011.

From Paragraph 21: “The Panel notes that it reiterated its willingness to visit the country even after the Goverment insisted in a letter in December 2010 that the Panel could only make 'representations' to the LLRC. Yet the Government rejected this overture in a note in early January 2011 and never pursued the visit thereafter.”

  What then to make of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's public statement in December 2010 thanking Mahinda Rajapaksa for his “flexibility” in allowed the Panel to visit, and Ban in January 2011 repeating to Inner City Press that the Panel could visit?

Ban and Nambiar, Sri Lanka report now seen, no thanks to UN

  The Report in Annex 2 makes clear that Sri Lankan ambassador Palitha Kohona set up a February 22, 2011 meeting between Attorney General Mohan Peiris and the Panel.

  But Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky, when Inner City Press asked if Mohan Peiris had met with the Panel, said you where there with a camera, you saw it did not happen.

  On April 25, having seen the whole report, Inner City Press asked Nesirky to now confirm the February 22 meeting, and to explain why he had said it did not happen.

I give you the information when I get it, was his response.

Inner City Press asked if he had not been told of this meeting when he answered Inner City Press the first time.

I give you the information when I get it, he repeated.

But what about Ban's public claims in December and January that the Panel could go to Sri Lanka? These don't square with the report, which Nesirky now says will belatedly be released by the UN later on April 25. Watch this site.

From the leaked 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 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. 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.

* * *

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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