On Sri Lanka, US' Rice Joins Call for
UN Council Briefing, ICC's Ocampo
Queried, UNESCO Silent
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
March 20 -- With the plight of
than 100,000 civilians trapped in Sri Lanka's conflict zone worsening,
UN on March 20 U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told the Press that "the United States feels strongly about and
concerned about Sri Lanka and we support the provision of it to the
full and updated information on the humanitarian situation." Transcript here,
Inner City Press had asked, at the Security
Council stakeout microphone after a US-requested meeting on Darfur, if
was considering evacuation of the civilians trapped in fighting between
Lanka government and the Tamil Tigers, being "fired on from both
sides." Ambassador Rice did not
directly address this point, but rather expressed support for a
On March 19, UK Ambassador John Sawers told Inner
City Press that the
"European Union members" of the Council have made a request for a
meeting in the Council on the topic of Sri Lanka. The Mexican and Costa
Ambassador have indicted they are actively supporting the request.
described as "vehemently" opposing any Sri Lanka briefing, was said
Friday by a Western diplomat to be asking for more time, "delaying the
of the Council note that even if China remains opposed, a meeting can
by a procedural vote, on which China's veto rights would not prevail.
and UK have used this procedure before, for example as noted by one
the case of Zimbabwe, which China and Russia likewise called only an
matter, as they call Sri Lanka.
UN's Susan Rice outside the Council, Sri Lanka
meeting not yet shown
One wag noted that this standard of only
meeting on "threats to international peace and security" give a
perverse incentive to groups like the Tamil Tigers to internationalize
conflicts, by striking outside the national borders.
takes place two days after the UN involuntarily admitted counting 2,683
civilian killings in Sri Lanka from January 20 to March 7 of this year,
in a UN
document leaked to and published by Inner City Press. The document,
is now in the possession of the numerous Council diplomats and
Ambassadors, and of senior UN political and human rights officials.
Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay recently said that war crimes
being committed in Sri Lanka by both the Tamil Tigers and the Sri
government. Outside the Security Council's
meeting Friday on Sudan, whose president Omar al-Bashir has been
war crimes by the International Criminal Court, Inner City Press got
to ask ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo if, following Ms. Pillay's
he is considering action on Sri Lanka. They are not a state party [to
Rome Statute], Ocampo replied. He has been criticized, most recently by
President of the UN General Assembly Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, for
crimes indictments only in Africa.
staffer traveling with Ocampo told Inner City Press that following Ms.
public statement about war crimes in Sri Lanka, the ICC opened a file,
database. But she repeated that Sri Lanka not being a member of the ICC
jurisdiction problems, and noted that the Tamils have not even, as for
the Palestinians have, made a formal request for jurisdiction.
Security Council members headed from their meeting to a weekend retreat
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has previously without effect called
suspension of fighting. They will be back for Council meetings on
Footnote: at the
UN noon briefing on March 18, nner City
Press asked UNESCO's Assistant Director-General
Education Nicholas Burnett why his agency, while condemning crackdowns on the
the Philippines and elsewhere, has said nothing about the newspaper
locked up during the current conflict in Sri Lanka, and journalists
Burnett said, I can get you an answer. Video here,
from Minute 18:36. Three hours later his
Inner City Press to email the questions, which was done:
As I asked at the briefing
earlier today, what has UNESCO had to say about the recent imprisonment
journalists in Sri Lanka, on which RSF is requesting
This is a specific request, also, for comment
the killing of a
journalist described at http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=30312
and 2) on
the comments which the Sri
Lankan President’s brother, Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa made
Vithyatharan in an interview
for ... Australia's Special Broadcasting Service
(SBS). “He is involved in the recent air attack
am telling you if you try to give cover-up for that person you have
your hands,” Rajapaksa said. “And if someone says he is arrested
because he is
in media, that person also has blood on his hands.”
not received in the two days the question was asked at noon, will be
site after they are received.
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.
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