At UN, Sri Lanka Accused of Shelling Civilians,
"Friendly Censure," LTTE Condemned
Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
March 26 -- The UN Security
Council's second session in a month on the conflict in Sri Lanka was a
"friendly censure" of the government, according to Jorge Urbina, the
Ambassador of Costa Rica, a member of the Council. Following a closed
session at which Sri Lanka's Mission to the UN showed pictures of the
zone, U.S. Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo said that Sri Lanka has been
areas with civilians, near to hospitals. She said that the camps for
displaced people, which she called interment camps, would only be
funded by the
UN for three months. Video here.
Humanitarian John Holmes, on the other hand, said he "wouldn't like to
a time" frame on how long the UN would fund these camps, from which
cannot leave or receive visits, even from family members. Likewise, he
again to confirm his own agency's figures
of 2,683 civilians killed from
January 20 to March 7, a number that only came out because the document
leaked to Inner City Press.
equivocation, combined with UN Resident Coordinator Neil Buhne's even
pronounced placating of the government -- which has led senior UN
New York to say Buhle has been "captured" -- have led the Sri Lankan
government to claim that no one in the UN has criticized their conduct
conflict, neither from the UN Secretariat nor from UN member states.
most pointedly, the public on-camera statements of U.S. Ambassador
that claim has been debunked.
Press asked Sri Lanka's representative after the meeting to explain his
Minister's claims. He said he would have to look into them. Asked when
newspaper editor locked up during the conflict would be put on trial or
released, he said "I am not an astrologer." He said the Army is
closer than one kilometer from the zone, but is holding back.
UN official on March 25, the day before the Council meeting, said that
internally is increasingly worried of a "nightmare scenario" in which
the government makes a final push, tens of thousands of civilians end
and "everyone blames the UN." At
least in its worries, the UN shows foresight. Perhaps the beginning of
wisdom is to worry about the right things.
Sri Lanka soldiers in UN blue berets,
"nightmare scenario" not shown
Ambassador DiCarlo said the number of civilians trapped between the
the government number from 150,000 to 190,000. The UN's Holmes added
Lankan government's figure, 70,000. We note that he also
wryly stated, on his way into basement Conference Room 7, that "this
meeting doesn't exist," a reference to its strange location, title and
format, a concession by the Council to its members who wanted no
briefing at all. Holmes has to deal
with politics. The question is, when must humanitarian principles
unequivocally win out?
Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert, who spoke as he rushed out of the
meeting, said that "both sides must comply with international
law." He added that the Sri Lankan government is asking countries with
Tamil diaspora populations
to make sure money is not donated or exported from their soil to the
Tigers. How this would be implemented by
the UK is not clear. UK Ambassador Sawers spoke briefly to the Press,
on this point. Video through here.
UN official who spoke to Inner City
Press spoke of a strategy of making Tamils outside of the country aware
could be charged with crimes. If this is the UN's plan to help the
the UN-enunciated "responsibility to protect" should begin at home.
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN debate
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]