Sawers Becomes Top UK Spy, New Light on Secrecy, Sri
Lanka and Sudan
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, June 17 -- After representing the United Kingdom at the UN
and its Security Council, John Sawers has been tapped to head the
UK's intelligence agency MI6. It triggers a selective review of his
at the UN, perhaps more critical than the BBC's "Sawers
Perhaps to his credit, Sawers was recently
called "an amateur diplomat" by his Sudanese counterpart.
The charge can after Sawers was quote that the Council bypassed Sudan
during its recent trip across Africa, in order to avoid meeting with
its indicted war criminal president Omar al-Bashir. "The UK and
Sawers have blood on their hands," Sudan's Ambassador replied.
Then came the promotion.
before the announcement, in an on the record sit-down with the UN
press corps, Inner City Press asked him to assess his and the
Security Council's performance on Sri Lanka, where tens of thousands
have been killed this year. Sawers said that the votes had been there
to put Sri Lanka on the Council's formal agenda, but that he'd
thought the unity of the Council more important.
Therefore, after a
few informal meetings without outcome in the UN basement, Sri Lanka
is not on the Council's agenda, as internment camps continue to grow
and critical voices are denied visas or deported. Was Sawers' the
right judgment? Apparently this UK government thinks yes. And if
intelligence and "anti-terrorism" are the priorities, the choice seems
John Sawers at stakeout, Sri Lanka strategy and
dance moves not shown
Sawers, the UK mission to the UN displayed, at least in the view of
this reporter, a bent for secrecy. Most Wednesday mornings, Sawers
would brief select journalists who cover the UN. It was called a
background briefing, but from the stories that would be written, it
was obvious who had spoken. Once what Sawers said on background over
breakfast differed notably from what he had told Inner City Press on
the record at the stakeout.
reflection, Inner City Press wrote story noting this one incongruous
aspect of Sawers' presentations, leaving others out. (Inner City Press
attends other countries' briefings, applying this same standard without
incident.) But Sawers then-spokesman
responded that Inner City Press had no right to even mention the
briefings, and grilled the participants on who had told Inner City
Press what had been said. He tried to drive a wedge, and all to
protect what: the right of a powerful country to anonymously snark at
the smaller and less powerful? Call it intelligence.
Sawers was aiming for higher postings seemed clear, for example when
during the Council's visit to a refugee camp in Darfur, Sawers left
the other Ambassadors sweltering off camera in a meeting with camp
elders, and set off alone with the press to meet and greet the IDPs.
Some other Ambassadors grumbled. But as the early bird gets the worm,
the intrepid Ambassador leaves many of his colleagues behind.
was always attentive during the visits to the UN of Gordon Brown,
David Miliband and even Mark Malloch Brown. To his credit, Sawers in
less formal settings was usually gracious, and often funny. At the
farewell party for his next spokesman, Michael Hoare, Sawers joked
about among other things Hoare's fascination with the James Bond
films and dressing in tuxedos.
Such events were nearly always held in
the Park Avenue digs of the UK's Deputy Permanent Representative,
then Karen Pierce. Perhaps Sawers' place was filled with intelligence
equipment. Or might it have been a practice dance floor?
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Sri Lanka Cancels Its Self-Investigation, Ghoulish IDP Services for
Fee, Where's UN?
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, June 16 -- The Sri Lankan government has canceled
investigation of crimes and abuse during its conflict with the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, including of the murder of 17
workers of the non-government organization Action Contre la Faim. The
commission of inquiry of President Mahinda Rajapaksa was supposed to
get to the bottom of 15 other cases as well. But despite the
accumulation of yet more accusations of abuse, including by the Army,
the commission was allowed to expire.
UN's top humanitarian John Holmes has been asked and has spoken about
the investigation of the ACF killings. Now that the investigation is
itself being killed off by the government, Inner City Press directed
a request for comment to the e-mail addresses of Mr. Holmes and his
spokeswoman on Tuesday morning. It was reiterated with an additional
request for response and action on a ghoulish ad, below, offering
services related to those interned. By close of business, no response
at all had
been received. One will continue to be sought.
note that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was quoted calling for Sri
Lanka to investigate itself. Now that Sri Lanka has ended the
investigative commission that it had, what is Ban Ki-moon saying?
UN's Holmes questioned on way to Sri Lanka,
comment on ACF and ad not shown
UN agency which has provided a response, a day after questions
were asked, is UNICEF. Citing a June 5 OCHA report that "a total
of 217 child surrendees have been identified and registered in IDP
camps in Vavuniya. 58 of them were transferred to Ambepussa
rehabilitation center," Inner City Press asked, "Is UNICEF
aware of any other locations where surrendees or suspected LTTE
supporters have been taken?" UNICEF responded:
are other centres for adults. These include Nellukulam Technical
College, Gamani Maha Vidalayam, Rambikulam Girl College, Pampamadul
Campus Girls Hostel, Coop Training College, Poonthotam School,
Vavuniya Tamil MV and Omanthai Maha Vidiyalam. UNICEF notified
relevant authorities on the children in Nellukulam and is presently
working with Government for their transfer to a child rehabilitation
center, and to ensure that no other children have been placed in
City Press has also asked for OCHA's response and action on an ad
circulating worldwide on the Internet offering insider knowledge of
where IDPs are locked up for a fee of $25 dollars. The ad says
DISPLACED PEOPLE (IDP) SERVICES Do you have any of your family
persons Internally Displaced (IDP) pre/during/after the war in Sri
Lanka?Are they displaced? Do you want to find out where they are? OR
Some Information We try to find out IDPs: whose-who? In direct
contact / communicate with the law enforcement authorities. Please
inform us the full details. Do you have any of your family
lands/houses/ or any immovable property belong to you or your family
in the war zone / catchment's area/s? We try to search and assist you
in finding those assets. Recently it was announced that the
government was taking control over all the lands in the war zone
vicinities. If any one has/had a property with the legal ownership,
we should be able to assist you or find reliable information provided
you give us reliable details....
these work what we do are with the
government officers and law authorities namely forces/security
personal, ministries, our personal contacts, SMS, Telephone calls,
lawyer's fees etc., involves travel and stay in the North or East
(permit areas). So the expenses incur on case by case basis. Do you
want to build a monument for your loved ones'? If you want to
organize a thanks giving mass for lost family friends/relatives or
another person of any race, or build a monument. Please let us have
the details. ...Contact us for professional services.
Registration fee: USD 25.00 first come first served basis.
Registration please send your family details for registration. Type
on a ward document and send. Indicate the service you need and will
communicate the details with you. Please forward this email to those
who need these services, if you are not interested in. L. Jude
Perera Consultant IDP Services
What's sad is that people are so desparate that ads such
as this are viewed as a good business model. As
simply one response, to the issue of monument or memorial service,
it's said that many Tamils are afraid even to grieve for family
members killed, for fear of being profiled as separatism supporters.
What is the UN doing about any of this? We'll have more on this.
* * *