Sri Lanka Shelling of No Fire Zone Noted at UN, Claims
Pillay is Not UN
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
March 24 -- While in the UN
Security Council the request of Mexico, the United States and the
Union members for a briefing on Sri Lanka remains
pending, top UN Humanitarian
John Holmes on Tuesday told the Press there is evidence of government
of the supposed No Fire Zone which, along with Tamil Tiger firing,
to stop." Video here,
from Minute 49:45.
City Press asked Holmes about the document leaked to
Inner City Press from his
Office describing 2,683 killings of civilians between January 20 and
"You've seen that internal document," Holmes conceded, noting that
the figures used by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay
has said there is evidence of war
crimes by both the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government. Within the UN, surprise at some Security
Council members' opposition to even hearing a briefing about the
over 2,600 deaths continues to mount.
Lanka, Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona has been quoted
in a pro-government
"the UN has never come out
with any allegations against the government on how it conducts the war.
are 193 countries in the UN and we haven’t heard any one of these
anything to that effect either. It is wrong to make these statements as
reflective of the UN. Ms. Pillay is only the High Commissioner for
Rights. She is not the UN."
Ki-moon's spokespeople say he has told Sri Lanka's president, in
conversations, that the killing of civilians must stop. At the UN, when
asked the spokespeople for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon certain
they refer the question to their "colleagues" at the Office of the
High Commissioner for Human Rights. As recently as March
23, Inner City Press
asked Ban's Associate Spokesperson
Inner City Press: There are
increasing reports that in the Gambia up to 1,000 people have been
charged with witchcraft. Some of them
disappeared. Amnesty International has
issued a report about it. I haven’t seen
this either from the Human Rights Commissioner or from the Secretariat. Has anyone from the UN system taken note of
this development and had anything to say about it?
Associate Spokesperson: We’re
aware of those developments. We don’t have
any comment on that. If you want anything
further, you might want
to follow up with our colleagues in the Office of the High Commissioner
claim that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights "is not
the UN" is ludicrous.
UN's Ban and UN(HCHR) Pillay, Sri Lanka spin not shown
Secretary Palitha Kohona further claims that as long as one of the five
permanent members of the Security Council wants to block a briefing on
Lanka, a briefing cannot happen. This is not true, as the Council's
on Zimbabwe for example show.
has said that
"There is no way you can
compare our situation to what happened in Zimbabwe, and the situation
have to be so dire and every other option eliminated before one would
that. The main mandate of the UN is of international peace and
the member countries have expressed confidence that the situation in
doesn’t call for such concern. The situation in Sri Lanka is not
a threat to international peace and security. The only one posing such
is the LTTE."
On the civilian
killed figures, Sri Lanka already surpasses Zimbabwe, which was deemed
to international peace and security. Much less deadly Haiti, too, is on
Security Council's agenda. It is the "situation" that is considered,
and if even one party, as conceded above, is called such a threat, the
threshold is met.
which Inner City Press asked last week about funding for government-run
detention camps, has now responded:
Subj: Sri Lanka
From: UNICEF spokesman
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 3/24/2009 1:24:43 P.M.
Eastern Daylight Time
In response to your oral questions about Sri Lanka
late last week, UNICEF’s
focus at present is on providing assistance to thousands of children
who are in
need of humanitarian support. UNICEF is working with partners to ensure
the 40,000 IDPs who have left the conflict zone have access to:
* safe water and proper sanitation;
* nutrition support for children and pregnant and
* temporary learning spaces, so children can
continue their schooling;
* psychosocial support for children who need it; and
* urgent assistance for unaccompanied or separated
Many of these children have been
difficult experiences. Some have been
displaced multiple times in the past 12 months. UNICEF
currently has access to children in the
The issue of freedom of movement was raised by USG
Holmes last week and is
being discussed with the Government by the UN's Country Team in Sri
Whilst these discussions continue, UNICEF will continue its efforts to
emergency needs of a growing number of children.
understanding UNICEF's logic, the fact remains that the agency is
in what many called internment camps. Watch this site.
mail received, and for example Foreign
Secretary Palitha Kohona's above-quoted statements, one infers a
not unlike from some in another recently conflict, that any focus on
deaths only helped a group called terrorist. It is ironic that some of
supporting the Sri Lankan government's attempt to block any UN Security
hearing of the issue were loudly concerned with the other situation,
the UN for not doing enough.
Rights Watch, citing Inner City Press' publication of the leaked
20-March 7 UN casualty figures, reported an updated that "a copy of the
patient list from the makeshift hospital in Putumattalan on file with
Rights Watch contains the names of 978 people brought to the hospital
March 1 to March 10. According to the list, 79 adults and 40 children
while 646 adults and 213 children were injured."
through the prism of another conflict, while the UN due to pushing from
and UK and others was quick to release casualty figures for Darfur, it
tried to withhold its Sri Lanka casualty figures, until they were
Inner City Press. Does this mean that the UK and US are, despite public
to the contrary, not pushing very hard? Watch this site, including on
surrounding the proposed IMF loan to Sri Lanka, including to “continue
resettlement, rehabilitation and reconstruction work in the Northern
The Sri Lankan government has asked the IMF to finalize negotiations on
loan by March 31...
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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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.
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