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Genocide a Secret at UN, Call for Timor Justice Spurned, Crimes in Bangladesh, UN Won't Help a Trial

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 27 -- The UN deals with genocide in secret, and demands an end to impunity only sporadically. On Timor Leste, just as human rights groups call for an UN international criminal tribunal to get to the bottom of ethnic violence there, the UN Security Council issued a press statement praising the government's efforts in this regard. Inner City Press asked the Council president for August, UK Deputy Permanent Representative Philip John Parham, if there was any discussion in the Council of an outside tribunal. No, he said, I have been authorized to praise the governments own efforts. Video here, from Minute 3:18.

  Inner City Press also asked his about a meeting held in the UK Mission to the UN this week, of all 15 Council members with the UN's expert on genocide Francis Deng. On August 26, UK Ambassador John Sawers said that Parham had chaired on. On August 27, Parham said it was an "informal informal" and therefore a closed meeting. The UN and genocide, shouldn't it be public?

Training in Timor per UN, accountability for crimes not shown

  Meanwhile, long after the question was asked, the following answer has been received on the UN and Bangladesh:

Subj: Your question on Bangladesh
From: unspokesperson-donotreply [at]
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 8/26/2009 12:16:25 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time

The UN has responded positively to a request from the Government of Bangladesh for technical assistance in its national efforts to address the issue of the 1971 war crimes. The UN has offered to provide the most suitable form of assistance - not to the trials but to help the Government make an informed decision on the issue, and is in discussion with the Bangladesh authorities on the subject.

  Why not to trials? Inner City Press has been told by sources that UN Development Program chief Helen Clark, in one of her first meetings upon assuming the post, met with Pakistani representatives. It's Pakistan accused in the 1971 war crimes, and sources inside UNDP tell Inner City Press that the agency's interest in helping Bangladesh has gone down.

  UNDP claimed it didn't understand the question, and since then has refused to answer it. The above is from the Secretariat, and is less than helpful. Watch this site.

Footnote: Francis Deng, it's understood, will hear about Sri Lanka on September 1. But will the Security Council ever hear?

* * *

As UN Mulls Sri Lankan Murder Video, Report on Camps Withheld, UK Passes Buck

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 26 -- When a war crime is filmed and presented to the UN, will it take action? On August 26, Inner City Press asked three officials at the UN about the now widely circulated video clip depicting Sri Lankan soldiers shooting naked, blindfolded victims in the head.

  At the noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesperson Michele Montas about "footage of what appears to be Sri Lankan soldiers shooting naked, bound, unarmed people [inaudible]. Is there any response by the UN to that footage?" There was not.

   Later another UN official said that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is considering how to authenticate the footage, perhaps with outside experts, in order to act on it. But how?

   At the Security Council stakeout, Inner City Press asked the president of the Council for this dwindling month, the UK's John Sawers, if he'd seen the footage and what the UK proposes to do about it. He replied that "first," he was appearing as President of the Council. He said he hadn't yet seen the footage but had read about it. It does seem "disturbing," he said, adding that it should be investigated "in the first instance by the Sri Lanka authorities." Video here, from Minute 6:12.

   But the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration has already curtailed its investigation into the killing of 17 aid workers of Action Contre La Faim, and declared that its soldiers committed abuses. (Others in the administration have said that winners are never tried for war crimes.) So at this late date to defer to Sri Lanka to investigate the snuff film seems misplaced.

UN's Ban views Manik Farm camp in May, deaths not shown

  Among NGOs working in Sri Lanka, the level of disappointment at the UN and Ban Ki-moon has grown. The groups are meeting one last time with UN country representative Neil Buhne, to urge him to go public with the evidence the UN has compiled. They say that Tamil females in the camps are being used as comfort women. They say that UN has a report showing that many people will die when the monsoon season comes if they remain trapped in the camps. The UN is not releasing this report, they say, asking why Ban Ki-moon appears so beholding to Rajapaksa.

  In Sri Lanka, the administration is said to be concerned on this by only three things: Delhi's reaction, an upcoming report to the U.S. Congress, and how Rajapaksa is received at the UN General Assembly next month. Watch this site.

* * *

Inner City Press' June 18 debate on Sri Lanka, click here

  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.

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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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