Who Cut Sri Lanka's GSP Plus, Says Rajapaksa Blocks
Inquiries, While Ban Praises His "Flexibility"
February 8 -- While UN Secretary General Ban
Sri Lanka president Mahinda Rajapaksa's “flexibility,” even as
Ban's Panel on Accountability is blocked from traveling to Colombo,
the EU's Catherine Ashton on Tuesday was more direct when Inner City
Press asked her Tuesday about the removal of GSP Plus tariff benefits
for the country.
“It's me that
did the GSP Plus removal from Sri Lanka,” she said. “It's
important if you have a program that says, this is conditionality, if
you don't do it or you do something in breach of it that there are
consequences. I stand by that completely. We did our own independent
look into what had been going on. I'd like to see Sri Lanka make
asked her about the UN's position, saying (before being cut off by
her spokesman) that “the government is not going to allow.”
“the government usually doesn't allow things like that. The
President took the power to prevent independent inquiry, wouldn't
allow someone in to do the inquiry into GSP Plus, which meant that it
was much more complicated. So the words 'the government doesn't
allow' are not unusual.”
Catherine Ashton at the UN, previously, on
Rajapaksas, All in the Family
Ki-moon cites a 2005 visit while he was South Korean foreign minister
as somehow pushing for accountability, and praises Rajapaksa's
“flexibility.” Seven weeks later, with the UN now offering Sri
Lanka a mere video conference call, will Ban explain his statements?
Watch this site.
also asked Ashton about Myanmar. She said she and ASSK are exchanging
letters, and that she hopes the EU will be able to send someone to
visit her soon, as well as others in the opposition. We'll see.
* * *
War Crimes, UN's Ban at Oxford Listed 2005 Trip for S. Korea, Now
His Panel Offers
Mere Video Call
7 -- “I visited Sri Lanka twice” UN Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon said on February 2 at Oxford, answered a question
about the UN failing to protect Tamils and failing to pursue
accountability for those who ordered them killed.
had covered Ban's May 2009 trip to Sri Lanka, but was unaware of any
other trip Ban made to the country since he became UN Secretary
General. So for five days Inner City Press has asked Ban's
spokesperson Martin Nesirky for the date of the second trip, without
February 7 at
the day's UN press briefing, Inner City Press asked Nesirky if Ban
might paradoxically have been referring to a trip he made in 2005,
when he did not yet work for the UN but was South Korea's foreign
“I think your
analysis is correct,” Nesirky said, “he was referring to a trip
he made when he was foreign minister.”
remains, what was accomplished for accountability during that trip?
Some in fact tie that 2005 trip, which included a detour to President
Mahinda Rajapaksa's Southern hometown of Hambantota where late a
Chinese port was built with South Korea involvement, with Rajapaksa
convincing Sri Lanka's candidate for Secretary General to withdraw in
favor of Ban.
UN's Ban & M. Rajapaksa in 2010, specifics of
2005 trip not shown
reported the 2005 trip at the time:
Minister of the Republic of Korea will be in Sri
Lanka today and tomorrow... The Prime Minister will be accompanied by
a high level delegation including Ban Ki-moon, Minister of Foreign
Affairs and Trade, Kang Dong-suk, Minister of Construction and
Transportation and Cho Young-taek, Vice Minister for Public Policy
Co-ordination in Prime Minister's Office... The relief supplies will
be later distributed by the Korean NGOs operating in Sri Lanka.
Together with Prime Minister Rajapakse, Prime Minister Hae-chan will
travel along the western coast to have a first-hand view of the
destruction to lives, livelihoods and property and will make a
stop-over in Hambantota.
to this trip an answer to this question, asked at Oxford?
has failed to protect and prevent in such countries as Sri
Lanka, where over 40,000 innocent civilians were massacred in 2009.
Will you ensure, during your term, that those responsible are brought
to justice? Will you ensure there is a proper investigation of war
this last, Ban
on February 2 said
Lanka twice and I had very serious talks with the
President and Government leaders. After a lengthy, very difficult,
almost turbulent course of negotiations, I was able to convince the
Sri Lankan Government that a group of experts would be established.
Still, it has not yet been able to complete its mission. They are
still negotiating with the Sri Lankan Government.
February 7 asked Ban's spokesman to confirm or
deny that the UN is
now offering Sri Lanka a mere video conference call or even just
written questions, rather than a visit. The discussions continue,
Nesirky said, repeating that a visit to Sri Lanka is “not
essential.” Nesirky's Deputy Farhan Haq said that a visit to Sri
Lanka is “desirable.” So what is a video conference, or written
questions? Watch this site.
* * *
Lanka, UN Panel Now Offers Video Conference or Written
5 -- Seven weeks after UN Secretary General Ban
Ki-moon told the Press that his Panel on
Accountability could travel
to Sri Lanka due to President Mahinda Rajapaksa's “flexibility,”
the UN has sunk so low as to propose a conference call by video, or
even just written questions and answer, instead of any visit, Inner
City Press has learned.
interviews with different sides, Inner City Press has learned that a
series of options has now been proposed, starting with a visit to New
York by Sri Lanka's Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Commission.
it will only speak with the Executive Office of the
Secretary General, not Ban's panel -- the Panel would “sit in” on
the talks, was the Sri Lankan proposal.
UN has also
proposed a video conference call, or answers to a series of written
questions about accountability. All in all, strikingly different than
what Ban claimed on December 17 -- that his panel could go to Sri
Lanka -- and that Ban repeated to Inner City Press on January 14.
UN's Ban and his Panel: office of video conference not shown
after Ban's Spokesperson's Office refused repeatedly to answer
questions about Ban's statement and who he'd spoken with before
making them, while on his current ongoing trip Ban gave a speech at
Oxford, after which he replied to a question by saying that his Panel
“has not yet been able to complete its mission. They are still
negotiating with the Sri Lankan Government.”
Inner City Press asked Ban's
spokesperson's office in writing and in
person to explain this statement (as well as Ban's statement that he
had been in Sri Lanka twice since May 2009).
UN did not
answer the written questions -- and still hasn't -- so at the February
4 noon briefing Inner
City Press asked how Ban's statement squares with the previous
statement that travel to Sri Lanka, which has been blocked by the
government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa is “not essential.”
Farhan Haq answered that Ban's Panel “has been discussing
the proper arrangements to see if they can have such arrangements
said that of
the Panel that “they do believe it is desirable to travel to Sri
Lanka, but not essential.”
it seems that
the UN would settle for a mere video conference call, or even written
answers to questions. How could that constitute “completing the
4, 2011 transcript:
I want to ask on Sri Lanka; there was some quotes given
out of Ban Ki-moon’s responses at his Oxford speech afterward. He
was asked a question about Sri Lanka, and he said that his panel,
quote, “has not been able to complete their initial stage”. I
just wanted to know if that’s actually what he said and if that,
how that squares with the idea that it’s not essential to go to Sri
Farhan Haq: In terms of what he actually said,
it’s available in our — if you go to the off-the-cuff part of our
website, the questions and answers that he had at Oxford are posted
there. So, you could see it that way.
How does that square with the idea that travelling to Sri
Lanka is not essential? Why have they not been able to complete
their work, if that’s not the thing missing?
As you are aware, the panel has been discussing
proper arrangements, to see whether it can have such arrangements
made. The panel has made it clear that they do believe that it is
desirable to travel to Sri Lanka, but not essential. And that has
been their consistent position.
it consistent to
now be offering video conference or written questions? Watch this