Ban Remembers Flying and Dining with Rajapaksa, Roots in NAM and
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
PLANE, BAHRAIN, May 22 -- Parked on a runway in Bahrain refueling on
his way to Sri Lanka, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the Press
he had been to Sri Lanka only once before, in the early 1980s as part
of South Korea's diplomatic unit on the UN. He said that North Korea
was making inroads with the Non-Aligned Movement, which he tried to
counter on behalf of Seoul. Inner City Press asked, weren't you also
in Sri Lanka after the tsunami?
right, Mr. Ban said sheepishly. I had forgotten. He recounted how he
and now-President Mahinda Rajapaksa flew in a helicopter over the
then-destroyed port of Hambantota, where now the Chinese are
constructive a massive port as part of their String of Pearls
strategy. He described another dinner, this time in Seoul, with
Mahinda Rajapaksa. Ban said he gets along well with President
Rajapaksa. More on this shortly.
said that in April he was only in New York three times, for a total
of five days. Inner City Press asked where he does his laundry, and
if he'd seen the previous day's Wall Street Journal expose of the
UN's questionable handling of sexual harassment cases. Ban nodded and
acknowledged that the topic had come up in his visit to Washington
just prior to the Sri Lanka trip. We have a zero tolerance policy, he
City Press asked what he would do about making public what Troop
Contributing Countries do when their soldiers are repatriated from UN
Peacekeeping missions charged with sexual abuse or exploitation. Ban
said that whole groups of soldiers are sent home. Like to Sri Lanka,
Inner City Press said, referring to the charges against more than 100
Sri Lankan soldiers while in Haiti with the UN.
Ban in Sri Lanka after plane, Vijay Nambiar over
shoulder, (c) M.Lee
this particular repatriation shouldn't be asked about at this time.
He mentioned the Moroccans, who were repatriated from the UN Mission
in Cote d'Ivoire.
looked around the plane and said this is the second largest group of
journalists to accompany him. There would have been more, Inner City
Press told him, if he had come before the No Fire Zone was over-run.
Concluding the conversation on a high note, Ban said he had read in
the Press the story of the Security Council ambassadors who had to
travel by bus from Congo to Rwanda after a UN staffer shot his pistol
in this same white UN plane while trying to show that his weapon was
empty. I read about that, Ban said. And then he returned to the front
of the patched-up plane.
here for a short list, compiled on the plane, of other issues Ban might
look into in Sri Lanka
/ full disclosure: this reporter has been granted a visa, albeit for
only two days, gratis by the
Sri Lankan mission to the UN. A request for more
than two days resulted in instructions to write a letter, which will
be considered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombo “after a
background check.” Watch this site.
May 13 Inner City Press debate on Sri Lanka, here
Ambulance aflame in "No Fire" Zone, May 13, 2009
In the final week of
fighting we ran this message, from Dr. Sathiyamoorthy
Sir / Madam,
battle started since 5.30 am. Many wounded civilians were brought to
hospital and hospital is not providing services because hospital was
under shell attack. Few staff reported duty. nearly thousand patients
are waiting to get daily treatment. But even simple wound
dressing and giving antibiotics problems. So many wounded have to
die. In the ward among patients many death bodies are there.
Looking hospital seen and
hearing the civilians cry really disaster. Did
they make any mistake do the world by the innocent. But the
important sta[keholders] are just listening the situation and not
helping the people.
director of Health Services
(Now at No Fire Zone)
From the UN's
May 18 noon briefing transcript:
City Press: on Mr. Nambiar. Can you say whether while he is there
the issue...there are some saying that there are many people that are
now injured in the (inaudible) care in what had been called the no
fire zone; and that the ICRC has no access. Is this something
that...is this in the case there some doctors who used to report on
the casualty figures who have gone missing as reported in the
Guardian and the Independent. Are these issues, I mean you mentioned
he’s talking about the IDPs instead of post-conflict; what about
people that are actually at this moment sort of dying without medical
Spokesperson Okabe: Well, that’s the subject that I think John
Holmes is going to come and talk to you about right now.
City Press: Burt can you say whether Mr. Nambiar, I guess I am just
wondering... -- John Holmes is not there, Mr. Nambiar is -- is this
an issue that the UN is urgently raising with the Government or not?
Spokesperson Okabe: The Chef de Cabinet’s visit, as we mentioned
to you, focuses exactly on the same issues that I just mentioned;
which are the United Nations’ and the Secretary-General’s
concern. Now, obviously the immediate humanitarian needs on the
ground are the utmost priority for all of us.
what about the doctors?
May 7, Inner City Press
asked Associate UN Spokesperson Farhan Haq:
City Press: I wanted to ask about this invitation that’s been made
to the Secretary-General to visit Sri Lanka. First I wanted to ask
if on Monday when he met with the Ambassador of Japan, whether he was
briefed on a visit by Mr. [Yasushi] Akashi to Sri Lanka and was urged
by Japan that he should take this visit. And I also wanted to know
whether he would be in New York 11 May for the Middle East debate,
and 15 May to meet with the Chinese diplomats, that in fact this is
one reason that he is considering not going, as I have been told by
senior Secretariat staff.
Spokesperson Haq: Well, first of all, we don’t announce the trips
of the Secretary-General until they are close to occurring. And in
that regard, I don’t have anything to announce about a trip to Sri
Lanka at this stage. At the same time, as Michèle told you
yesterday, and is still true for today, if the Secretary-General
believes that visiting Sri Lanka can have an impact in terms of
saving lives there, he will certainly try to go. So he is
considering that. But part of what he is studying is what the impact
of a potential trip would be.
City Press: But if he had that belief, that would be without regard
to attending the 11 May Middle East thing or the 15 May meeting with
the Chinese diplomats? I am told that’s a major factor in his
Spokesperson: Scheduling is a separate issue. What we’re talking
about is the decision of whether or not to go. And certainly if he
can make a difference and can save civilian lives, which is what his
priority has been on this case, then he will go. At present, we
don’t have anything to announce at all in this regard, though.
Question: Just one last
one on that. I wanted to know, can you at least
confirm that he met with Ambassador Takasu on Monday in his office
inside the Security Council? Can you give a read-out of that meeting
and say why it wasn’t on his public schedule?
Spokesperson: I can confirm that he met with the Permanent
Representative of Japan. He did that, yes. It was in his office in
the Security Council. We don’t provide readouts of meetings with
Question: And why wasn’t
it on the schedule?
Spokesperson: It came up all of a sudden when he had a bit of free
time in between other appointments on a fairly hectic day.
May 8, Inner City Press asked Deputy
City Press: On the invitation by the Government of Sri Lanka to the
Secretary-General to visit, is there any progress in thinking? In
the alternative, is the Secretary-General, is he considering invoking
Article 99 or responsibility to protect or making some other move of
some type on the situation in Sri Lanka?
Spokesperson: I have nothing beyond what we’ve been saying from
this podium this week on Sri Lanka, including what the
Secretary-General himself has said earlier this week.
What Ban said
did not involve calling for a cease-fire. Watch this site.
4 in the UK with allegations of rape and
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
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
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16, 2009 debate about Gaza
Click here for Inner City Press'
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City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger
Click here from Inner City Press'
December 12 debate on UN double standards
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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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