On Sri Lanka, UK's for UN
Council Session Upon Holmes' Return, "Shocking," Robinson Calls It
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, February 20 -- As
the UN's top humanitarian John Holmes continues
his government-controlled visit
to Sri Lanka, at the UN in New York the Ambassadors of France and
expressed concern, and former Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson
Inner City Press that the killing
of civilians there, including by the
government, is "shocking."
Outside a Security Council meeting about Myanmar on
Friday morning, Inner
City Press asked UK Ambassador John Sawers for the second time if the
for a briefing on Sri Lanka in the Council. Sawers
replied that the UK "supports a
briefing of the Security Council on John Holmes return." Video here,
But at the UN's noon briefing an hour later, Ban
Michele Montas said that Holmes will be traveling to Colombia
his trip to Sri Lanka. Inner City Press asked Ms. Montas about the
of Colombo by the Tamil Tigers. "John Holmes is there," she said,
"he is better able than anyone to answer." But, conveniently, he will
not be available to the Security Council after his trip. When Inner
asked about this, Ms Montas said she would try to make him available to
"between trips, or before another trip." Video
here, from Minute
Mary Robinson, at the UN for an event on social
justice, took questions
at a press conference on Friday afternoon. Inner City Press asked for
views, as former High Commissioner on Human Rights, of the current
Sri Lanka. Video here,
from Minute 43:30.
She analogized it to Darfur and the Democratic
Republic of the Congo,
saying "we diminish the value of life... if we don't question the
use of force." Video here,
from Minute 45:52. This last is a phrase much
used in the UN during Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip in an
Inner City Press asked Ms. Robinson to explain why
not only Gaza, but
Darfur and the DRC, are on the Security Council's agenda, and received
fire calls from Ban Ki-moon. Ms.
Robinson answered that that it appears that Sri Lanka's government was
convincing that it was on the verge of victory. Video here,
from Minute 47:15.
But does the plane-bombing undermine even that claim?
Mary Robinson on Feb. 20, free to call Sri Lanka "shocking" as others
at UN don't
Japan's Ambassador Yukio Takasu, this month's
president of the Council,
told Inner City Press it is difficult to separate his nation's position
his role as president. He decried the Tamil Tigers for "using
humanitarian" issues " to promote their military offensive."
from Minute 12:22. He seemed to be implying that any focus on
humanitarian suffering only helps the Tamil Tigers. But wouldn't
government make similar statements? Didn't Israel's?
Takasu said "I don't want to say human shields," but
Jean-Maurice Ripert used the term, when asked by Inner City Press for
from Minute 5:45. He said France is very concerned about
"violations by both parties."
Inner City Press asked, should it be discussed in
the Council? I don't
know, Ripert said, we'll see when Holmes gets back.
In the UN, certainly, he said. We'll see.
Note: while Inner City
Press continues to receive entreaties, including from people it
respects, to not ask about civilian casualties in Sri Lanka "because it
only helps the Tamil Tigers," there must be a way to respond to
civilians deaths that is not dismissed as support of terrorists. The
questions will continue.
a senior UN official,
speaking to Inner City Press on condition of anonymity, said the
what level of civilian death is acceptable. One thousand was deemed too
Gaza, but 2000 for now seems deemed okay in Sri Lanka. Watch this site.
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
Click here for Inner City
Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo
Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on
UN, bailout, MDGs
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
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