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As Sri Lanka Defense Minister Meets UN Deputy Eliasson, Any Transparency?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 16, updated -- Sri Lanka defense minister Gotabhaya Rajapaksa appears this morning on the schedule of UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson.

  Given his role in the killings in 2009, Inner City Press once it spotted the appointment on DSG Eliasson's schedule has this morning asked "Why?" and for a read-out. Below is the refusal.

  Only a week ago, when the UN sponsored an event about the Genocide Convention on Monday, amid talk of the Holocaust, Rwanda and Srebrenica there was an obvious question: what about Sri Lanka, where the UN stayed silent as 40,000 civilians were slaughtered in 2009?

Inner City Press from in front of the UN Security Council raised the question; inside the event the Security Council was blamed. But in 2009, unlike say on Syria, the Western Permanent Three barely tried to raise Sri Lanka. These moves were by Elected Ten members Mexico and Costa Rica. The P3 never put forward a resolution, as they did three times on Syria.

  Now, Inner City Press can exclusively report, supporters of Sri Lanka's Rajapaksa government are concerned about Jordan as last minute replacement for Saudi Arabia on the Security Council.

  As Inner City Press also exclusively reported, Jordanian Permanent Representative Prince Zaid as a member of the Asia Pacific Group took a principled stand against Sri Lankan military figure Shavendra Silva serving with him on the UN Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations, something that UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous never spoke against. We'll have more on this.

  In last Monday's session, Deputy Secretary General Eliasson made reference to the UN's new "Rights Up Front" plan, which Inner City Press obtained and exclusively published (and was then told that the document "may or not not exist").

  Inner City Press asked about it again at last Monday's UN noon briefing, and was later directed this UN web page with Ban's November 22 speech to staff, saying that after the "failure" in Sri Lanka,

We will be vigilant in identifying emerging risks and will ensure that our actions are guided by more effective use of the information that is available to us from UN human rights and humanitarian mechanisms and other entities.

We will inform national authorities of violations and support them in taking essential early action.

We will bring violations to the attention of the appropriate United Nations organs and regional organizations when national authorities are unable or unwilling to respond.

We will work to help Member States reach agreement on early actions and play our role in implementing their decisions.

We will speak out publicly where violations are ongoing.

But will they? Did they, during the crackdown surrounding the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka last month, when media was blocked from traveling North, and families of the disappeared were banned from traveling south to testify?

  Now, this Monday, Eliasson is meeting with Gotabhaya Rajapaksa at 10:45 am , and Inner City Press has asked for a read-out. Ban Ki-moon does a Q&A press conference at 11 am. Watch this site.

This response was received, which we publish in full:

Subject: Gotabaya Rajapaksa
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 2:10 PM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

Regarding your emailed question: There is no readout of the Deputy Secretary-General's meeting with Gotabaya Rajapaksa, which is part of our regular interaction with Member States.


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