Sri Lanka, Norway Worried by Camps, WHO by
Doctors, Bill Clinton on Tsunami
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, June 15 -- As the UN brags about it role in building more
and more permanent shelters in Sri Lanka's internment camps for
Tamil, on Monday Inner City Press asked Norway's Foreign Minister
Jonas Garh Stoere if his country is assisting with the camps. "Mostly
humanitarian," he said. "We don't get access as a country
to the camps, we support the ICRC and UN agencies... it's an uphill
City Press asked about the use of funds to lock up Sri Lankan
citizens for essentially political screening. "It's a great
dilemma," said Jonas Garh Stoere. "The war is over, but
there are almost 300,000 people in camps. If they are not quickly
resettled, normalized, our past experience shows us that temporary
camps can become permanent. That should not happen here."
the UN in New York seems to believe it is best not to criticize the
Rajapaksa government, and to downplay problems with the camps. In
that context, the World Health Organization's Margaret Chan has
gotten involved in pleading with Sri Lanka's government the case of
the doctors were remained in the "No Fire" Zone offering
treatment and casualty figures, it emerged Monday at the UN.
the Rajapaksa administration says that the doctors, detained since
last month, will be put on trial. Doctor Chan said told Inner City
Press that "the UN's position is very clear. Doctors working in
the humanitarian space should maintain neutrality, do their work and
be protected. And I, we have been following up with the regional
office on this issue." Video here,
from Minute 7:46.
UN's Ban and Norway's Jonas
Garh Stoere, one concerned by camps, the other proud of them?
have raised this issue with the Foreign Minister and President, and
also in the presence of many Cabinet ministers. So this has been
quite strongly raised by me. They assured me that they would be taken
care of properly and they will look into this matter. I am closely
following up; as you know, I have sent a letter to President
[Mahinda] Rajapaksa last week, urging him to implement all the
commitments he made during my visit, and which we have agreed to
Ban, along with Bill Clinton, will be receiving a humanitarian award
Wednesday in New York. They appeared Monday at a press conference
about Clinton's new Haiti mandate. Inner City Press asked about Sri
Lankan soldiers repatriated from Haiti charged with sexual abuse, a
question that Clinton declined to answer. Video here,
twice mentioned his work after the tsunami, also for the UN. Inner
City Press has interviewed Sri Lankan NGOs who worked with Eric
Schwartz and others in Clinton's
office, including in connection with Clinton's visit to Trincomolee and
Tamil NGOs there.
Would Sri Lanka's government bar Bill Clinton as it
recently did Canadian MP Bob Rae? A UN under secretary general on
Monday praised Rae to Inner City Press, but then asked that their name
not be used. The UN declined comment when asked about the stripping
of Rae's visa. Ban says he is closely monitoring and closely
following up on all this. We'll see.
* * *
Sri Lanka, UN Has No Comment on Prison Labor, New GA President Will
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, June 12 -- The UN at all levels demonstrates blindness with
respect to Sri Lanka, from the use of prison labor in the now emptied
out north to even recognizing the name of the country. Incoming
General Assembly president Ali Abdussalam Treki of Libya on Friday
took questions from the Press.
Inner City Press asked him about two
countries, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. To the latter, Libya agreed to a
$500 million loan, to make up for the $1.9 billion loan from the
International Monetary Fund delayed by reports of mistreatment of
civilians. Inner City Press asked Treki, since Libya was among those
blocking Security Council action, if he could imagine Sri Lanka being
taken up in the General Assembly, as Myanmar has been. Video here,
from Minute 17:46.
Treki latched on to the Myanmar part of the question, praising the
UN's envoy to that country Ibrahim Gambari, whom he said he knew when
Gambari was the foreign minister of the Sani Abacha administration in
Nigeria. He said he would meet with Gambari on Friday afternoon to
get a report about Myanmar. About Sri Lanka, Treki said nothing,
then moved on to another questioner.
City Press followed up, asking why Libya didn't view the conflict in
Sri Lanka as impacting international peace and security. Treki said
it "interests the world, the human rights aspect," but that
what "Asia says is very important, they tell us if what goes on
in Myanmar" effects peace and security. Video here,
had Treki simply refused to answer about Sri Lanka? He will be
president of the UN General Assembly from September 2009 through
UN's Ban and Libya's Ali Treki, action on Sri
Lanka and prison labor not shown
at the UN's noon media briefing on June 12, asked Ban Ki-moon's
Spokesperson Michele Montas had read out a statement that access to
the camps in Vavuniya in northern Sri Lanka is getting better and new
camps are being built -- internment camps, with UN money -- Inner
City Press asked for the UN's response to Sri Lankan authorities'
statement that they will use prison labor in the north.
said "no comment at this point, maybe later we will see how the
issue is being discussed." Video here,
from Minute 18:39.
Ms Montas' office sent Inner City Press the following response:
Response from OCHA on your question at the noon briefing
unspokesperson-donotreply [at] un.org
Inner City Press
6/12/2009 12:43:56 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
use of prison labour in reconstruction in Sri Lanka, we have not
heard these allegations and have no information.
the UN's "close monitoring" of Sri Lanka doesn't even read
from Colombo, with quotes from government officials:
inmates to be deployed for the redevelopment process in Sri Lanka's
Jun 11, 2009, 11:51 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.
11, Colombo: Sri Lanka government is planning to deploy prison
inmates for the redevelopment process in the liberated areas of the
Commissioner General, Major General V.R Silva told the media that
this would be an appropriate decision to develop the liberated areas
to statistics there are nearly 30,000 inmates are in the prisons at
the moment. Most of them are able bodied people with various skills,
the skills of those in jail, including for violent crime, are those
the Sri Lankan government is unleashing in the north. And the
They "have not heard these allegations and have no information." Watch