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As Sri Lanka Issues Ultimatum, UN's Ban Raises Other Issues, "No Fire" Zone in Peril

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

UNITED NATIONS, April 9 -- As the Sri Lankan Army broadcasts a "final ultimatum" and reportedly fires shells into the supposed No Fire Zone, UN Security General Ban Ki-moon spoke by phone with President Mahinda Rajapaksa. After Ban's spokesperson's bland read-out of the call -- they spoke of "their shared concerns about the civilians still trapped in the area" -- Inner City Press asked if Ban had asked about the ultimatum. "Not on that specific issue that you mention," spokesperson Montas said. They discussed civilians, but not the government's threat that puts them as risk?

   Inner City Press asked if President Rajapaksa had made any commitment not to send his troops into the No Fire Zone, as some say is slated to happen over this weekend. Video here, from Minute 16:37. "I am not at liberty to tell you details of what was said," replied Ms. Montas. But are any commitments being obtained on these calls? Or as some say are they only window-dressing?

    Click here for audio of one phone call out from the No Fire Zone, with voiceover on violations of international humanitarian law by Tamil Tigers as well.

Protest in front of US Mission to UN on April 9, (c) M.Lee: Rwanda sign, Obama poster: Samantha Power, where are you?

 Thursday in New York there were fasters and protesters in front of the U.S. Mission to the UN on 45th Street, asking to meet with U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice. They never saw her; an organizer told Inner City Press they would be reduced to faxing their petition to Rice. They delivered a petition to Mexico's Ambassador Claude Heller, this month's Council president, but not to Ban Ki-moon. Have they given up on him?

  The level is despair in the crowd was palpable. One protest organizer asked, "Obama, where is the change you promised?" Others held signs with the words "genocide," "Not another Rwanda" and "Responsibility to Protect." There were all topics of meetings inside the UN this week -- unlike the carnage in Sri Lanka.

  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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