from Sri Lanka, UN's Holmes Admits NGO Killings and Restrictions Not
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, May 26 -- Just back to the United Nations from Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon's surreal tour of Sri Lanka, Inner City Press
asked UK Ambassador John Sawers if the UN paying for interment camps
for Tamils rounded up from throughout northern Sri Lanka compiles
with international humanitarian law.
Ambassador Sawers, rather than
answer, said that there has been a "high level of attention"
to the issue by the UN, by envoy Vijay Nambiar, humanitarian chief
John Holmes and the visit of the Secretary General over the weekend.
There's been not report to the Security Council yet, Sawers said, we
look forward to that and "we'll have to consider steps after
that." Video here,
from Minute 6:15.
Ki-moon is still out of New York. John Holmes took questions by
phone, since he was outside of the UN (some said in Upstate New
York). Inner City Press asked Holmes about the people looked up in
the camps who were not in the final conflict zone. "I was not
aware of that," Holmes said, arguing that "the whole Vanni"
or jungle area was under Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam control "so
in a sense was the conflict zone." Video here,
in the camps, even under the watchful eyes of Sri Lankan soldiers and
seemingly pro-government UN personnel nevertheless revealed that
people were swept into the camps. The goal, if not to move members of
the Sinhala majority into the now-vacated areas, is to screen anyone
who lived under the LTTE for whether they support Tamil separatism or
autonomy. Should the UN be assisting in such ideological if not
insisted that "there is no question of the UN funding the
sweeping up," the UN is "only providing emergency relief in
the camps." But if the camps are being used, not as a temporary
fix to a natural disaster but to ethnic and ideological screening,
providing food and money -- and in the case of UNOPS, planning the
camps and helping build them -- makes the UN's role more direct, and
City Press asked Holmes if Ban Ki-moon, in his meeting with President
Mahinda Rajapaka, has raised the issue of press freedom, including of
the editor will last year, and other reports who have been harassed,
arrested and disappeared, and of the aid workers, including from
Action Contre la Faim,
who have been killed, allegedly by
pro-government militias. No, Holmes said, neither issue was raised
by Ban in his meetings. He did not say, why not?
government's proposed Memorandum of Understanding it wants NGOs to
sign would require them to provide information on all their clients,
which these NGOs don't do anywhere in the world. Since NGOs have told
Inner City Press that they are not in the best position to fight the
proposed MOU, as they are working in Sri Lanka; they would to see
John Holmes and OCHA take the lead in fighting back the intrusive
NGO. Holmes admitted that the "MOU was not raise by the
Secretary-General," and said that the issue had been set on the
side. He did not say, by whom?
Tamil IDPs in Manik Farm await UN's Ban with baited
breathe, May 23 (c) M.Lee
some NGOs have expressed concern about the publication statements
about what they expect from Holmes' OCHA -- to fight back against the
MOU, for example -- and in light of major NGOs' summary from last
week that John Holmes "had objected to the trip, as many of you
know," Inner City Press asked Holmes about this position, and to
explain it. Holmes replied that "I did not say to the NGOs that
I was against the visit, I simply said that there were some tricky
presentational aspect about which we were very well aware and that we
would be dealing with while there, and which I think we did
Holmes was comfortable with the "presentational aspects" of
children in the camps being forced to sing "Ban Ki-moon" to
the Secretary General, and of Ban acceding to Rajapaksa's demand that
they meet not in the capital but in the Buddhist shrine town of
Kandy, which many say was a message to Tamils, we win, you lose. In
fact, there are reports of Tamil shopkeepers in Colombo being
besieged by Sinhala mobs and told to pay money, since "you
lost." The UN should be countering such trends, not covering
them up or, worse, stoking them.
Pascoe was also at the briefing, but said less. When Inner City Press
asked about reports that Tamil MPs were barred by the government from
entering the Colombo airport's VIP lounge for the meeting they had
been promised with Bank Ki-moon, Pascoe said he is investigating
those reports and will "pass on to Maria" [Okabe, the
Deputy Spokesperson] what he learns. Inner City Press asked about the
symbolism of the visit to Kandy. Pascoe said it was a misperception
and that "when a government says where, it's their decision."
City Press asked both Pascoe and Holmes if they thought the forcing
children in the camps to sing to Ban Ki-moon was appropriate. Pascoe
said that he's seen children waiting in the sun for longer than he
could put up with, and not only in camps. Video here,
34:34. Holmes did not answer about the appropriateness of the forced
signing and flag waving in the UN-funded camps. Watch this site.
as the Human Rights Council in Geneva takes up the question of Sri
Lanka, not only is there a pro-Rajapaksa resolution, now there is a
Swiss proposed compromise, which would ask the Rajapaksa
administration to investigate itself...
N. Korean Test, Eyes Turn to Empty UN, Ban At Interment Camp Builder
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
May 24, updated NYC 6 pm --
As North Korea bragged about its underground nuclear test,
attention shifted to the United Nations in New York, which was closed
on Monday for the American Memorial Day holiday but where an
emergency session of the Security Council is to expected later Monday.
2 a.m. Monday in New York, the Japanese mission sent the following to
24 May at approximately 23:50, H.E. Mr. Yukio TAKASU, Permanent
Representative of Japan to the United Nations requested the President
of the Security Council to convene an urgent meeting of the Security
Council to consider the nuclear test by the Democratic People’s
Republic of Korea, under the Council’s agenda item entitled
'Non-proliferation / Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.' The
time of the urgent meeting is planned tomorrow afternoon, but as soon
as it is set it will be communicated."
after 2 a.m., the White House issued a statement by President Obama,
concluding that "We have been and will continue working with our
allies and partners in the Six-Party Talks as well as other members
of the U.N. Security Council in the days ahead."
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, previously South Korea's
foreign minister, was not in New York but rather Copenhagen, set to
give a speech before a relatively obscure UN agency, the Office of
Project Service, and then to fly to Finland.
had arrived in Denmark Sunday morning on a UN plane from Sri Lanka,
where he toured interment camps ringed with barbed wire and soldiers,
planned and built by UNOPS, and was flown over the shattered "No
Fire" zone in a military helicopter. (Click here for Inner City
Press' eye-witness account.) Perhaps, said one wag, Ban would soon
selectively tour the UN's dubious projects in North Korea, where UN
Development Program funds were diverted to dual use technology with
North Korea in 2006 shot off a missile, the Security Council met
until it passed a sanctions resolution. Earlier this
launching of a rocket that North Korea called a satellite yielded a
far weaker statement. Nevertheless, North Korea reacted by
the Six Party Talks and vowing further tests.
and after the rocket / missile test, the UN's Ban Ki-moon was
strangely silent about North Korea, including its arrest of
journalists as alleged spies. In the month of April, he told the
Press, he was in New York only three times, for a total of five days.
To be fair, perhaps no UN Secretary General, even one from the
Peninsula, could have an effect on the situation in North Korea. But,
some ask, should one at least pretend to try?
The Graduate: UN's Ban on May 21,
before Sri Lanka and UNOPS, N. Korea not shown
Hanoi at an ASEM meeting discussing among other topics Myanmar, the
Japanese foreign ministry spokesman vowed that his country would
request Security Council meeting and actions. Ban, according to
senior official and now reportedly himself, will travel to Myanmar in
early July, what ever the outcome of Aung San Suu Kyi's kangaroo
trial now underway. No time for North Korea, but time for UNOPS and
Finland? We will be covering the response to North Korea from the
UN, Security Council and Secretary General, watch this site.
Update on May 25, 6 pm, UN in NYC:
After 2p.m., 12 hours after Obama's statement in his own name on the
DPRK's test, Ban Ki-moon in a statement attributable to his
spokesperson said he "will remain in close consultation with all
concerned." Does that include the DPRK? The Security Council met at 4,
and barely an hour later broke up, issuing a short press statement that
they will work toward a formal resolution. Watch this site.
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