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Removing Silva as UN Adviser Addressed Feb 17, Pakistan PR Tells ICP; No Thanks to Ban Ki-moon

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, February 16 -- For three weeks Inner City Press has asked the UN how it could accept as a UN "Senior Adviser on Peacekeeping Operations" of General Shavendra Silva, whose Division 58 is repeatedly named in connection with war crimes in Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Panel of Experts report.

  Ban's lead spokesman Martin Nesirky has said Ban can do nothing, and that Inner City Press should "ask the Asia group."

  On February 13, Bangladesh's Permanent Representative Abulkalam Abdul Momen exclusively told Inner City Press that "we were surprised they sent a controversial participant... it's not fair."

  Adding that Silva "individually is not acceptable," Abulkalam Abdul Momen told Inner City Press, "I, India and Pakistan, we have requested Sri Lanka to fix it up."

  On February 14, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Eduardo Del Buey about this, and was again told that Ban can do and has done nothing on this.

  Outside the UN General Assembly meeting about Syria on February 15, the statement of Bangladesh's Momen was multiply confirmed to Inner City Press. Pakistan's Permanent Representative Abdullah Hussain Haroon told Inner City Press, "certainly we would like to see something beneficial happen, I think we are addressing the problem tomorrow."

  This appears to be a meeting smaller than the Asia group as a whole, as another Asia group member told Inner City Press that "it should be Sri Lanka that fixes it, then the group will affirm it."

   (Inside the GA, Haroon delivered one of the more nuanced speeches, that while some of Russia's amendments should have been accepted, Pakistan voted yes. Sri Lanka abstained.)

  Prior to this development, the Sri Lankan Mission's action was to sent a letter of complaint to Inner City Press, sending a copy to Ban's spokesman as well as to some in the UN press corps.

Inner City Press in less than 24 hours published and responded to the letter, citing only some of the many references to Silva's Division 58 in the report.

Then, after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told Inner City Press on February 13 she had expressed her "concern" about Silva to Ban, the Sri Lankan mission issued a statement -- not to Inner City Press -- calling the concerns "unethical," and got it reported.

Earlier on February 16, Inner City Press observed Silva on the UN North Lawn Building's second floor, and asked him what he was doing there. He said he had a meeting. Accompanied by what could only be a bodyguard -- the individual stood back, looking in all directions -- Silva met with a slight man, on chairs by the men's room on the North Lawn's second floor.

It is hard to identify any other Deputy Permanent Representative in the UN system who has a bodyguard. Will Silva even remain as Deputy Permanent Representative? We'll see.

Ban shakes with Silva, Kohona back to camera (c) MRLee

Footnote: a problem is that the "fix" offered by Sri Lanka to certain member states, according to these states, is to switch Silva for Permanent Representative Palitha Kohona, who is ALSO named in Ban's Panel of Experts report in connection with the so-called White Flag killings of people seeking to surrender. Watch this site.

From the UN's February 15 noon briefing transcript:

Inner City Press: A week ago, sitting where you are, Mr. [Hervé] Ladsous had said that on the appointment of this Shavendra Silva, the Sri Lankan general to be a senior adviser on peacekeeping, there was going to be further consideration. Martin said he’d ask him to see what he meant; he also told me to ask the Asian group, which I have, and the Bangladesh Permanent Representative has said that he and two other TCCs [troop-contributing countries] from Asia have told Sri Lanka to, quote “fix it”; that Mr. Silva is not acceptable. So, I wanted to know, is this what Mr. Ladsous was referring to and is the Secretariat playing no role whatsoever in seeking to fix having an alleged war criminal provide advice to Ban Ki-moon on peacekeeping?

Deputy Spokesperson: Well, I think Mr. Ladsous, and Martin and the Secretary-General have been very clear on this, it was a Member State decision. If Member States are taking actions, it is up to them to take whatever actions they see fit. But we are not going to comment on that because it is a Member State decision.

Question: So, just to be clear, if this does get fixed, the Secretary-General played no role whatsoever in blocking an alleged war criminal from advising him despite the advice of his own Human Rights Commissioner, Navi Pillay, just to quote you?

Deputy Spokesperson: Matthew, our position has been made very clear this is a Member State decision; it is for the Member States to decide.

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