Sri Lanka, UN's Ban Declines To
Call for Cease-Fire, Double Standard Unexplained
Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, May 5 --
With the UN counting the dead civilians in Sri Lanka in
the thousands, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is still not calling
cease-fire, nor prepared to send a special envoy to the conflict. Inner City
Press asked Mr. Ban on Tuesday why the UN has, for example,
casualty figures and satellite
photos of bomb craters in the supposed No Fire
Zone. In a three-minute response, Ban described a "quite lengthy
call with President Rajapaksa covering all the pending issues." Video
from Minute 46:11.
The issues, however, did not included any call for a
limits his request to a "humanitarian pause;" Tuesday he did not
address why the UN
withheld the casualty figures until they were leaked to
Inner City Press, nor why UNOSAT
has still refused to publicly release
satellite photos of the kind it released about Gaza, during that
(Inner City Press obtained and was first to publish the UN's
summary report on
Gaza Tuesday morning, click here for that.)
Inner City Press asked if Ban is thinking of sending
a dedicated envoy
to Sri Lanka, as witnesses say last month's Security Council president
Heller asked him to do at a closed door lunch meeting in late April.
"That, we can discuss later," Ban said. It was unclear if by later he
meant after what some are calling the final "solution" in the
conflict zone, or later in the day or week.
UN's Ban, Bob Orr and Vijay Nambiar, call for
cease-fire not shown
The temporary or
one-time envoy Ban Ki-moon did send, his chief of staff Vijay Nambiar,
has a brother
Satish Nambiar who was quoted that week by the Sri Lankan army that
Army Commander Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka has displayed the
a great military leader nations are blessed with from time to time...
from the grave as it were after the attack on him some years back, he
displayed a single-mindedness of purpose in pursuing his goal of
LTTE. Needless to say, he has been able to achieve his objective
because of the
full support and encouragement provided by the political establishment
President Rajapaksa... As someone who was briefly involved with the
process in Sri Lanka in 2002-2003, I have already acknowledged the
performance of the SL security forces and the efforts of General
person I met on a number of occasions during my visits to Sri Lanka
2002-2003 and developed great respect for, both as an individual and as
While perhaps Vijay Nambair -- who refused
to speak with the Press after his brief visit to Colombo -- and his
sibling Satish are not as close as the three brother who run Sri Lanka,
still the above highlights the need for the UN to send another envoy,
and fast, among other actions. Watch this site.
Here is the UN's
transcript of Ban Ki-moon's response, to Inner City
Press' questions(s) --
Press: Mr. Secretary-General, I appreciate the number of calls you've
the President of Sri Lanka. Some questions have arisen about the UN's
objectivity and protection of civilians there. What people are saying
for example, the number of civilian casualties were compiled by the UN,
released. Recently there have been satellite photos that were taken by
but, unlike in Gaza and Sudan, weren't released.
When UN staff were detained in IDP camps,
nothing was said until the question arose here. NGOs were driven out of
northern part of the country and nothing was said. I guess what people
wondered is why in this conflict you didn't call for a ceasefire, only
humanitarian pause. Mr. [Vijay] Nambiar went, and you said there was a
commitment to a humanitarian assessment team. I don't mean to make a
here, but why is this conflict different?
Are you, in fact calling for a ceasefire? If
the Security Council can't discuss it, would you invoke Article 99?
view of civilians standing there getting bombed from the air – it seems
you're treating it differently than you have from the situation in Gaza
and Darfur, on humanitarian grounds.
Ki-moon: Thank you
very much for your question. It is very important and useful that the
this issue of Sri Lanka should always be kept as a high priority on the
of the international community. That is why I have been spending,
a significant time in addressing this issue. This morning, I had a
lengthy telephone call with President [Mahinda] Rajapaksa covering all
pending issues. The highest priority is on the humanitarian issues -
how we can
protect the civilians still caught in the war zone. The situation is
worrisome at this time, where we have not been able to see much
evacuating people trapped there. We have been trying to provide,
[International Committee of the Red Cross] and our UN Mission, to
humanitarian assistance, but it is far [too] short to feed them.
As far as UN staff detained, I was told this
morning that all the people whose names have been provided by us have
released. This is what he told me this morning. That was encouraging. I
again and again urged him to allow the UN humanitarian team into the
zone, not only these IDP camps. John Holmes was able to visit the IDP
humanitarian teams were able to visit there. Since they are still
militarily, this is a very difficult situation, even for the Sri Lankan
Government to ensure safety and security. While the Sri Lankan
allowing us to approach by ship through ICRC, my position was that it's
enough – they should be able to land and deliver all humanitarian
and assess the exact situation; how many people are trapped and how the
international community can help them evacuate safely to a safe zone. I
working on that, in close coordination with many members of the
community. As you know, already, many European leaders, Foreign
have visited - some parliamentarians from Europe are going to visit. We
continue to do that until we can see the end of this, a resolution. I
it quite clear to President Rajapaksa that the United Nations stands
provide any post-conflict facilitation.
Press: Have you thought about sending an envoy?
will discuss later on.
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
12 debate on Sri Lanka http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/17772?in=11:33&out=32:56
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.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017
earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.
2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request
reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]