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On Sri Lanka, Qatar Votes Against HRC Draft, Kohona on AJE Unrebutted on Whitewash

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNdisclosed Location, March 21 -- Back during the bloodiest part of the conflict in Sri Lanka in 2009, the Al Jazeera television network ran a piece in which their reporter was embedded (or em-boated) with the Sri Lankan navy, hunting the Tamil Tigers -- and surely Tamil civilians as well.

  On Thursday with the Rajapaksa government's impunity for the 40,000 people killed back in the news, Al Jazeera interviewed Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the UN Palitha Kohona, and proudly tweeted out the clip -- for what it's worth, with no way to comment on it. Click here to view.  Embedded below. To comment on this, via Google+, click here.

  But in it, Kohona makes an argument at odds with Sri Lanka's argument earlier in the day at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, where it argued that so many other abuses have taken place since 2009, why is little Lanka being targeted?

  Kohona on Al Jazeera said that four years is not enough time to assess if Sri Lanka is allowing impunity. Unmentioned is that Sri Lanka sent one of its most controversial military leaders, Shavendra Silva, to ostensibly be Kohona's Deputy at the in New York. Silva was accepted as an adviser to Herve Ladsous' UN Peacekeeping.

  Al Jazeera allows Kohona unrebutted to brag for example that not only the UN Development Program but also “a number of Ambassadors from New York” have favorably reviewed Sri Lanka's progress.

  Kohona is not questioned about either claim.

 But the “number of ambassadors” refers to the whitewash report which Japanese Ambassador Nishida handed over to Ban Ki-moon on February 22. Other than UNTV, Inner City Press was alone in covering the hand-over, then asking on what basis Ban praised the Sri Lanka and the report without at least releasing the report.

There is a background. Nine months ago the UN Correspondents Association Executive Committee, including Al Jazeera, went after Inner City Press for its reporting on Sri Lanka, subjecting it to death threats from extremist supporters of the Rajapaksa government.

  Al Jazeera's Marcelle Hopkins, for example, was shown pro government media stories in June 2012 saying that the UNCA proceeding she pushed forward could put Inner City Press out of the UN and in jail -- an extremist called to wish jail rape on Inner City Press.

  Al Jazeera's Hopkins response was to say she was “offended” that Inner City Press would blame the UNCA proceeding -- cited in the Sri Lanka media accounts -- for the threats. Audio here.
Audio here.

 It was a bogus response then, and is a bogus response now.

  On March 18, Hopkins walked right on by as the UN raided Inner City Press' office and conducted a non-consensual search of its papers.

  She and another Al Jazeera producer tweeted Thursday about Sri Lanka -- but the interview produced is remarkably like the government's “Lies Agreed To” which (some in) the UNCA Executive Committee screened in the UN in September 2011, aftermath here.

At Thursday morning's vote in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Qatar which owns Al Jazeera voted against the already weakened resolution on Sri Lanka. Now an ill-informed platform for Sri Lanka's Kohona. What's next? Watch this site.

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