Sri Lankan Safe Zone in Flames, UN Fiddles, War Crimes Charged
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, May 15 – As the Sri Lankan government says it will overrun
the so-called Safe Zone in 48 hours, at the UN in New York Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon met with China's deputy foreign minister, and
then attended a Republic of Korea-sponsored Buddhist event with,
among others, Myanmar's representative. At the UN's noon briefing,
Inner City Press asked about Ban's schedule, and for confirmation
that he got to know Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa while he
was a South Korean diplomat, and has privately described Rajapaksa in
glowing terms. Video here, from Minute 14:26.
“I don't know about that,” Ban's spokesperson
Michele Montas said. “I can try to find out.” As deadline six
hours later, no information had been provided.
the face of the Rajapaksa administration's final solution, Ban sent
his chief of staff Vijay Nambiar, for the second time, rather than
going himself. Nambiar's first trip was followed by accelerating
civilian death. As Inner City Press reported at the time, his brother
Satish served as a consultant to the Sri Lankan government, and went
on to write an
op-ed piece praising the government's deadly military
campaign in the North and the general who led it. Click here
Satish Nambiar's resume on the UN web site.
The UN has
on any of these issues, other than pointing out, on May 14, that
Vijay Nambiar is not Sri Lankan.
City Press asked if the World Food Program supplies which the UN on
Wednesday said was going to be delivered to the conflict zone had in
fact arrived. No, spokeswoman Michele Montas said, what WFP is doing
is delivering food to the refugees and IDPs. As we will report on in
more detail in the near future, the UN in Sri Lankan has a track
record of delivering its aid only when and where the government says
to, with the effect of ethnic cleansing.
Ambulance aflame in "No Fire" Zone, May 13, 2009
is on that note, complicity in war crimes, that we are reduced to
ending this dispatch. Ban Ki-moon this week got a message, cc-ed to
Inner City Press, which ended: see you at the International Criminal
Court. There is talk of an investigation of the UN's refugee agency,
for conspiring with the government to set up housing only where the
government wanted to move the Tamils. Eventually, with or without
effect, accountability will be apportioned. But right now in Sri
Lanka it is a crisis. We close with this message, from the conflict
Sir / Madam,
battle started since 5.30 am. Many wounded civilians were brought to
hospital and hospital is not providing services because hospital was
under shell attack. Few staff reported duty. nearly thousand patients
are waiting to get daily treatment. But even simple wound
dressing and giving antibiotics problems. So many wounded have to
die. In the ward among patients many death bodies are there.
Looking hospital seen and
hearing the civilians cry really disaster. Did
they make any mistake do the world by the innocent. But the
important sta[keholders] are just listening the situation and not
helping the people.
director of Health Services
(Now at No Fire Zone)
From the UN's
May 14 transcript:
Spokesperson Okabe: ...the very fact
that he’s sending his Chef de Cabinet again to underscore his message I
speaks loudly on what the Secretary-General in his personal capacity is
to do to bring an end to the situation on the ground.
A follow-up on the Chef de Cabinet. There
has been substantial criticism, not just that
because Mr. Nambiar
comes from India, but because his brother, an Indian
General [Satish] Nambiar
recently wrote an op-ed praising the offensive of the Sri Lankan Army
north and General [Sarath] Fonseca who’s led it.
Is the Secretariat aware of this criticism
and how does it address it? Also, that
Mr. Nambiar went before he got a commitment to visit an open conflict
it never took place. What’s the, I
guess, the response and why isn’t Ban Ki-moon himself going if he’s
the French and others have said he should go ASAP?
Spokesperson Okabe: Matthew, as you know
the Secretary-General’s position on going to Sri Lanka has been
this podium many times this week. And
the fact that Mr. Nambiar happens to be of a nationality does not in
get in the way of his work as a UN official. As
you know, everybody from the UN does come from
one country or
another; but once they sign on to work at the UN they go as UN
Isn’t there generally a sort of an unwritten rule of not, for example,
when Mr. Gambari was going to do Nigeria, are you unaware that they see
within diplomats in the UN often say that a person from a country too
a conflict is not the right person to be sent.
Spokesperson Okabe: Mr. Nambiar is not
from Sri Lanka.
he's from India which has a major stake in
the Sri Lanka conflict.
Watch this site.
May 7, Inner City Press
asked Associate UUN Spokesperson Farhan Haq:
City Press: I wanted to ask about this invitation that’s been made
to the Secretary-General to visit Sri Lanka. First I wanted to ask
if on Monday when he met with the Ambassador of Japan, whether he was
briefed on a visit by Mr. [Yasushi] Akashi to Sri Lanka and was urged
by Japan that he should take this visit. And I also wanted to know
whether he would be in New York 11 May for the Middle East debate,
and 15 May to meet with the Chinese diplomats, that in fact this is
one reason that he is considering not going, as I have been told by
senior Secretariat staff.
Spokesperson Haq: Well, first of all, we don’t announce the trips
of the Secretary-General until they are close to occurring. And in
that regard, I don’t have anything to announce about a trip to Sri
Lanka at this stage. At the same time, as Michèle told you
yesterday, and is still true for today, if the Secretary-General
believes that visiting Sri Lanka can have an impact in terms of
saving lives there, he will certainly try to go. So he is
considering that. But part of what he is studying is what the impact
of a potential trip would be.
City Press: But if he had that belief, that would be without regard
to attending the 11 May Middle East thing or the 15 May meeting with
the Chinese diplomats? I am told that’s a major factor in his
Spokesperson: Scheduling is a separate issue. What we’re talking
about is the decision of whether or not to go. And certainly if he
can make a difference and can save civilian lives, which is what his
priority has been on this case, then he will go. At present, we
don’t have anything to announce at all in this regard, though.
Question: Just one last
one on that. I wanted to know, can you at least
confirm that he met with Ambassador Takasu on Monday in his office
inside the Security Council? Can you give a read-out of that meeting
and say why it wasn’t on his public schedule?
Spokesperson: I can confirm that he met with the Permanent
Representative of Japan. He did that, yes. It was in his office in
the Security Council. We don’t provide readouts of meetings with
Question: And why wasn’t
it on the schedule?
Spokesperson: It came up all of a sudden when he had a bit of free
time in between other appointments on a fairly hectic day.
Ban Ki-moon is working on his issues as a trip to Manama, Bahrain,
after a news-less trip to Malta, the killing of civilians accelerates
in Sri Lanka. On Friday
May 8, Inner City Press asked Deputy
City Press: On the invitation by the Government of Sri Lanka to the
Secretary-General to visit, is there any progress in thinking? In
the alternative, is the Secretary-General, is he considering invoking
Article 99 or responsibility to protect or making some other move of
some type on the situation in Sri Lanka?
Spokesperson: I have nothing beyond what we’ve been saying from
this podium this week on Sri Lanka, including what the
Secretary-General himself has said earlier this week.
What Ban said
did not involve calling for a cease-fire, did not respond to the
invitation to visit Sri Lanka, or the accelerating rate of civilians
death over the weekend, during which no statement issued about Sri
Lanka. Watch this site.
4 in the UK with allegations of rape and
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
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12 debate on Sri Lanka http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/17772?in=11:33&out=32:56
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and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
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