Sri Lanka, Nambiar Believed
President, Ban's Briefing Unnoticed, UN
Studies Prosecution of Press
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, June 4 -- Days after the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
denied he and the UN were downplaying civilian casualties and
problems in Sri Lanka, on June 4 his Spokesperson Michele Montas had
nothing to say about the government's
media minister's threat to
prosecute journalists for not being sufficiently patriotic.
Montas read into the record an admission of Mr. Ban's envoy Vijay
Nambiar's role in an attempted surrender that turned into murder,
said there is not way for the UN to know who killed whom. Ban will
speak to the Security Council in the UN basement Friday afternoon, in
event not even listed in the day's UN Media Alert. The meeting,
the Turkish Ambassador emphasized, is "unofficial."
the June 4 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked, video here
City Press: Sure, Michele. I have two questions. One is, in Sri
Lanka, the Media Minister has been quoted that the Government is now
preparing to bring charges against journalists it considered to have
either been supportive of the LTTE or not sufficiently supportive of
the Government’s charge. Human Rights Watch has spoken out against
this. Does the UN have anything to say about that?
Well, it was an intention stated. We don't... We are
following the situation. The same thing for the doctors, who are ,
as you know, accused also of collaboration. We’re following the
situation closely. That’s all really I can say at this point.
"we don't," which can plainly be heard in the recording of
the briefing, video here from Minute 14:54, was not included in the
We don't comment on
intentions, is what it appears Montas was going
to say. No, the UN lets them do it first. That is why their "never
again" is not credible.
day after Inner
City Press asked about Nambiar's role, Montas came to
the briefing with a day-old answer and read it aloud:
In response to questions I received yesterday, as he had confirmed
while in Sri Lanka, Mr. Vijay Nambiar had indeed communicated to the
Sri Lankan Government the conditions for the surrender of a specific
group of LTTE members. This had been passed onto him, first through
a Western journalist, Marie Colvin, and subsequently through an LTTE
interlocutor, before he arrived in Sri Lanka.
in turn, relayed
the insistence of the Sri Lankan Government that any surrender would
have to be to the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and not through or to a
third party. In response to a subsequent request received during the
last hours of the fighting for the surrender of two individuals,
Nadesan and Puleedeevan, in the presence of parties other than the
Sri Lanka Armed Forces, he relayed the Government’s earlier
response, and the assurance given to him, that this group need only
display a white flag to the Armed Forces to safely effect their
last request conveyed to him through Ms. Colvin was
also apparently transmitted directly to several other persons,
including Colombo-based diplomats and politicians. These were, in
turn, we understand, communicated to high governmental levels and
were responded to with similar assurances.
did not state what happened. Since despite the white flag they were
killed, does the UN still believe and pass on the Sri Lankan
Government's (and President's) assurances?
UN' Ban in Denmark at wind farm, UN's hot air on Sri
Lanka not shown
Inner City Press followed
City Press: And what you read about Mr. Nambiar, I mean, thanks for
getting an answer. What left me unclear is that it said he passed on
the assurances. Is it the UN’s understanding that the individuals
to whom he passed on the assurances are now dead, and, if so, has the
UN conducted any inquiry to find out who killed them?
Well, there is nothing we can do. As you know, there was no way for
Mr. Nambiar [to go to the conflict area]. And it was a decision by
the Sri Lankan Government [to give access or not to that area].
City Press: Has the UN continued to ask for access to what was called
conflict zones, given reports that there are still bodies being
buried or otherwise being concealed?
We have been [asking] over and over again. As you know, we cannot
ourselves decide to go there.
have joked, macabrely, that while waiting outside the UN Security
Council's closed door meeting on Sri Lanka on Friday, one should have
and wave a white flag -- and a flak jacket. We'll see.
at another briefing Thursday about the International Criminal Court's
indictment of Sudan's President al Bashir for war crimes, Inner City
Press asked Omer Ismael of the Washington-based Enough Project to
comment on the lack of prosecution, and even criticism, of Sri
Lanka's war in and on the North.
Ismael responded by saying that
the United States and Israel invaded Iraq and Palestine,
respectively, while in Sudan "my government is killing its own
people." He said that in Sudan, the justice system will not
investigate government war crimes. Video here,
from Minute 52:30.
Inner City Press asked if he was really distinguishing Sri Lanka. I
don't know Sri Lanka, he said. That's said a lot at the UN.
Sri Lanka, No Answer on Nambiar's Role in Deadly Surrender, IDP
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, June 3 -- As doubts grow about what the UN did and didn't do
in Sri Lanka's killing fields, the UN left a simple factual question
June 3. Inner City Press asked, at the day's UN media
briefing in New York
City Press: There are media reports quoting Vijay Nambiar on 17 May
as having said that he spoke with these two LTTE leaders, not the
founder, but the two that tried to surrender, that he spoke to them
through this one person called KP and conveyed it to the Government
and conveyed back through KP that they should come out with a white
flag. By all accounts, they were then shot. And what I am wondering
is whether… In this media account it says that Vijay Nambiar was
invited to go and witness this surrender, somehow to go to northern
Sri Lanka and become more involved. Can you confirm that these
communications, you know, there are quotes that are out there, so the
UN can either deny or confirm them? But did it take place and what’s
Michele Montas: Let me… I’ll ask Mr. Nambiar.
hours later, no response has been provided. The UN's Vijay Nambiar
has been quoted that "as for the insinuations in a section of
the Press about me and my brother, I do not deem it warrants even a
response." While Vijay's brother Satish has written an op-ed
praising the Sri Lankan general who conducted the controversial
offensive in northern Sri Lanka, the more fundamental question is
whether given Sri Lankan history Ban Ki-moon should have sent a
former Indian diplomat as his envoy. Even some of Ban's closest
advisers think not.
UN's Kofi Annan in 2004 with Vijay Nambiar,
then India's Ambassador
now, no answer in nine hours about possible involvement in a
violation of the Geneva Conventions, to whit, the shooting of people
surrendering waving white flags. Some UN sources describe the
additional involvement of presidential brother Basil Rajapaksa, who
met with Ban Ki-moon in January in New York and on May 23 in Kandy,
the Buddhist shrine town where Ban consented to meet President
June 3, Inner
City Press also asked
City Press: on Sri Lanka, there are these OCHA reports they put out,
you know, situation reports. And the one
of 30 May says that, you
know, in essence it says that, it decreases the number of IDPs in the
camps by 13,000 and it says, in a single line it says this decrease
is associated with double-counting. In the previous
report [27 May], which
had 13,000 more IDPs, it said that the system was improved systematic
registration. So what is the UN doing to make sure that people
aren’t actually disappearing from the camps when its own numbers
reflect 13,000 people missing?
Montas: Well, I have to say that it is a rather an unusual
situation. There is such a massive influx of people, which can
explain that the registration process -- which is still ongoing, by
the way -- there was some double counting that was involved. And, as
soon as they found out they rectified the numbers to reflect that. So,
the UN can, you know, we’re there… They’re not our camps,
you know. We’re there to assist for better treatment of the IDPs.
City Press: Since the numbers were so specific, can the… is the UN
then by saying that the entire 13,130 that are missing are just
double counting, is it saying that no one has been taken out of the
Montas: That is what OCHA is saying. It is double counting, they
went through it several times, and it is double counting. It is not
about people missing.
see -- watch this site.
Sri Lanka, Ban Will Brief in UN Basement June 5, Of "Missing"
IDPs and Ms. Butenis
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: Exclusive
NATIONS, June 2, 11
Two weeks after his fly-over the shattered "No Fire" Zone
in Sri Lanka, on June 5 Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will finally
brief the UN Security Council, albeit in the basement, on par with
Sri Lanka's ambassador. The format will be an "informal
interactive dialogue" of the Council, of the type held before
Mr. Ban's one-day trip.
with public reports of the number of civilian dead climbing past
20,000 and Mr. Ban fending off allegations in mainstream newspapers
that he and his envoy Vijay Nambiar downplayed the carnage in Sri
Lanka, Ban will descend to the basement and give a closed-door
briefing, as Mr. Nambiar previously resisted.
In Sri Lanka, UN's Ban's banner, some IDPs not shown
UN seems to hope that this will be the final briefing, at least at
the Security Council. But with the UN now on the hook to fund what
some call ethnic cleansing camps, and a new controversy about over
13,000 camp detainees suddenly gone "missing" in the UN's
own reports -- click here
for Inner City Press' exclusive story --
the UN will be under pressure to do something, anything. If the
recent past is any guide, it will try to resist this pressure, and
even to attack the messenger.
President Obama has put forward a nomination for the next US Ambassador
to Sri Lanka, Patricia A. Butenis of Virginia. More on to follow --
watch this site.