UN, A Call for An Envoy for Sri Lanka, Murder as Diagnosis, Footage
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, August 25, updated
-- People in Sri Lanka expected more from the UN
than a couple of phone calls and a Joint Statement with President
Rajapaksa, Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu of the Colombo-based Center for
Policy Alternatives told the Press on Tuesday. Following Dr.
of an anonymous death threat last week, a
press conference was hastily organized inside the UN in New York.
Roughly half of the questions asked by journalists concerned the
death threats. Others concerned Saravanamuttu's assessment of the
performance of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his chief of
staff and enjoy, Vijay Nambiar.
Diplomatically, Saravanamuttu called
both of them "disappointing." He noted that no UN Security
Council member had pushed hard to get the bloody conflict onto the
Council's agenda. A European Council member staffer was in the audience
did not disagree, but afterwards argued to Inner City Press that even
Sri Lanka were on the agenda, action could have been blocked by a
veto. The staffer also confessed to knowing little about the GPS Plus
tariff dispute that triggered the death threat to Saravanamuttu.
Saravanamuttu mentioned the roles
of Russia and China, and
non-Council member India. Asked why the UK, France and U.S. had not
pushed harder in the Council, Saravanamuttu said "I guess we
are not that important."
described a case pending before the Sri Lankan Supreme Court seeking
to assert the human rights of the Tamils in the government's
internment camps in the north. Again diplomatically, he said that the
court does not share the "urgency" of the situation. An
audience member, a journalist from India, asked about the recent
extraordinary rendition of successor Tamil Tiger leader K.P. from
Malaysia. Saravanamuttu said that little is known about how the
seizure was done. Could one bring a habeus
corpus like petition
before the court? The Supreme Court, he said, would have to give
leave to proceed.
of the attendees expressed surprise at how "moderate" Saravanamuttu
was. He repeatedly criticized the LTTE, he called
Mahinda Rajapaksa "his Excellency." He said he expected the
government of Sri Lanka to protect him. He is on his way, after
another UN visit on Wednesday, to a U.S. State Department event about
Sri Lanka in Washington, an another session at the U.S. Institute of
in the audience Tuesday were representatives of Human Rights Watch
and Amnesty International, as well as Oxfam which asked if
Saravanamuttu was meeting with any UN officials while in town. I've
met some in the past, Saravanamuttu said. This time, apparently not.
Ban Ki-moon, who just returned from holiday in South Korean, leaves
Thursday for Vienna and Norway.
Mahinda Rajapaksa in Myanmar, June 2009
humanitarian John Holmes, who
once spoke of the blood bath on the beach, is on vacation. "Bloody
Mary on the beach," one wag snarked, while the UN-funded camps
are full of excrement and the monsoons are coming. Saravanamuttu's
great hope seemed to be that Ban will, as he's done with Jean-Maurice
Ripert in Pakistan, name a special envoy. Let's see if he does. Watch
Perhaps triggering an end to full impunity for the outrages of
earlier this year, now video has emerged of soldiers shooting
blindfolded unarmed men, click
here to view. But will any tribunal or
anyone in the UN system take action?
Update of 10:37 p.m.
-- as the Channel 4 clip of a filmed war crime by Sri Lankan military
is forwarded, Inner City Press understands that the question will arise
at the August 26 U.S. State Department press briefing: watch this site.
the death of Mahinda Rajapaksa's nephew Shyamlal Rajapaksa in Tanzania,
yesterday quoting UN Spokesperson Michele Montas that
the preliminary finding is that he was murdered has been picked
the Sri Lankan press, including some denunciation
publication. For the record, the quote that "he was murdered"
is directly from UN Spokesperson Michele Montas. Video here,
from Minute 10:03; transcript here
City Press: A cousin of the President of Sri Lanka, Rajapaksa, died
in Tanzania. Was apparently an employee, or a prosecutor for the
court on the Rwandan genocide. His mother has said that the UN is
somehow covering it up and that there is some UN investigation of his
death and some issue around the payment of the insurance. What’s
the UN’s response to this, I guess, response by a relative of the
President of Sri Lanka?
Michele Montas: Well, in this specific case, as you
know, he was working for … as a prosecutor. We could only confirm
that he was found dead in his home and that there were preliminary
findings, police findings is that he
has been murdered. This is all we know. The investigation is being done
Tanzanian and Sri Lankan law enforcement officials. So, I really
don’t have anything more to say, as long as they have not really
reported to us on exactly the facts of the case.
City Press: She seems to say something about insurance. Is there any
difference in the payment of UN insurance based on the cause of
that I know of, and I can… check that. At any rate, it is
Spokesperson: …to the
extent that we don’t have yet the result of the