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On Sri Lanka, UN's Ban Drops Call for Suspension of Fighting, Vague on Aerial Bombing

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, April 3 -- Weeks after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for a suspension of fighting in Sri Lanka, his Office's follow-up statement on April 3 omitted the request. Rather, apparently implementing the UN's new strategy of putting more pressure on the Tamil Tiger rebels than the government, Ban's Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq read out a statement that the Tamil Tigers are violating international humanitarian law, while the government is merely "reminded of its obligations."

  Inner City Press asked, what happened to the call for a suspension of fighting? Video here, from Minute 15:45. Mr. Haq pointed to the statement he had just read out, which did not refer to a suspension of cessation of fighting, much less to a ceasefire. When Inner City Press first asked Ban about the killing in Sri Lanka, Ban said he could not call for a ceasefire because Sri Lanka was not on the Security Council's agenda.

  After then-President of the Council Yukio Takasu told Inner City Press that Ban's statement is not what the UN Charter says, Ban called for a suspension of fighting. But Sri Lanka's president has said he will not give in to international pressure and that the fighting will continue. Inner City Press asked for a reply from Ban, but none was given. Then on April 3 there issued a prepared statement omitting any call for a suspension of fighting.

Ban Ki-moon in car on phone, call for suspension of fighting not shown

  Ironically, Haq then read out a statement by the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs which described "aerial bombing of the No-Fire Zone" in northern Sri Lanka. Particularly given the reports that the Tamil Tigers' rag-tag air force has been destroyed, to say "aerial bombing" is to say "Sri Lankan government," but to omit saying those words. Why? To jibe with Ban's new strategy of accusing the Tigers of law-breaking and merely reminding the government of obligations?

  A senior UN official has told Inner City Press that this is the UN's strategy, since the government of Sri Lanka has so openly ignored Ban's calls: to pressure instead the Tamil Tigers and their supporters overseas, threatening prosecutions, and to "lay off" the government.  Given the number of deaths that have been caused by shelling and aerial bombing by the government, to "lay off" is to be complicit.

  Click here for a new YouTube video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

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.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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