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UN: Sri Lanka


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Letter from Sri Lanka Muslim Leader UNconfirmed, Noted in Colombo, Myanmar Contrasted, Cyclone on the Way

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 14, updated -- The UN gets a lot of mail, sure. And so it might take hours to go back and see if a particular letter was received. But some issues fall off the table of this UN that probably shouldn't.

Take Sri Lanka, for example. Take the specific issue of attacks on Muslims in Sri Lanka. At the May 13 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky:

Inner City Press: a Muslim leader in Sri Lanka, Azath Salley, he’s recently been arrested under anti-terrorism charges. He may be released having issued some kind of statement, but the news there is that he says that he wrote recently to Ban Ki-moon asking him and the UN system to look into the crackdown on Muslim community... was the letter received, is there any response or comment?

Spokesperson Nesirky: We’ll have a look. I think, as we have said many times — either I have said it or colleagues have said — many letters are received, and they are logged. I don’t automatically have immediate knowledge of the letters being received, but when people ask, we check whether they have been.

Inner City Press: Beyond just the letter, is there concern on the part, as about Myanmar…

Spokesperson Nesirky: No, I understand, but first of all, I would like to see if we have received the letter and then we can respond to it.

Inner City Press: Okay.

  This exchange took place at Monday's noon briefing, and three hours later Inner City Press was again told that it was being looked into. And perhaps there is already an answer (the UN says its review of Sri Lanka is important to it.) But none has yet been provided to Inner City Press.

  In the interim linking to the UN webcast (video here from Minute 23), the press in Sri Lanka have reported the question, and Nesirky's answer, here, under the headline, "UN unaware of letter from Salley."

  If the UN is in fact aware, it'd be nice if they'd say so, as quickly as they can.

On the reference to Myanmar and mistreatment of Muslims there, in Meiktila and of course Rakhine State, now another cyclone is bearing down, and the government is doing... almost nothing. Could this ethnic cleansing be blamed on global warming? Watch this site.

Update: On May 14, UN spokesperson Nesirky said of Salley's letter, if it has been received, "no, or not yet." Inner City Press asked about Cyclone Mahasen heading to Myanmar - we'll have more on this.

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