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On Sri Lanka Rapes, Shavendra Silva Denies Everything At Canada UN

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, May 6 -- Rapes in Sri Lanka, about which the UN's Zainab Bangura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, publicly expressed concern on April 24, were the subject of a session at Canada's Mission to the UN on May 6.

   Multiple sources tell Inner City Press that at the meeting, controversial Sri Lankan military figure, now Deputy Permanent Representative Shavendra Silva sought to deny the reports of rape by the Army.  He said for example that "certain organizations are propagating false allegations, they are repeated by different organizations and form an opinion."

   Soldiers under Silva's command were depicted engaged in war crimes in the UN's own Sri Lanka report; here is a story of Silva spinning at the UN, and some aftermath.

  At the May 6 session, Inner City Press is informed, Canadian Permanent Representative Guillermo Rishchynski spoke of a risk of further violence in Sri Lanka as none of underlying causes of conflict have been dealt with. He particularly regretted the harassment of civil society in wake of Navi Pillay's visit. (The Canadian Mission's spokesperson declined to comment when asked before the meeting by Inner City Press, saying the meeting was closed.)

  Also in attendance were representatives of Norway, the United States and United Kingdom, Nigeria, Japan, Pakistan, Montenegro and South Africa. The last of these said they would refer the concerns back to their capital to determine next steps. An attendee noted that the French Mission to the UN, which talks much about sexual violence in conflict, was not in attendance.

  It is a doubly-timely topic at the UN, the day after the 130 rapes at Minova by two Congolese army  units which still receive support from the UN's MONUSCO mission resulted in a mere two convictions and three dozen exhonerations. Inner City Press questions on how this relates to the UN stated Human Rights Due Diligence Policy, like its questions about the rapes for month to UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous, were met May 6 by UN stonewalling, video here.

 The rapists in Sri Lanka have not even been prosecuted, or are being facilely cleared, as were the Sri Lankan "peacekeepers" repatriated from Haiti. We'll have more on this.

   Back on April 24 Inner City Press asked Bangura about the rapes in Sri Lanka and what if anything the UN is doing about it. UN video here from Minute 15:15, Inner City Press video here and embedded below.

   Bangura replied that she is "concerned, worried" and has spoken with Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative, Palitha Kohona, about it, urging him that Sri Lanka designate a "focal person" on the issue. It is not Kohona slated to attend on May 5, but his deputy Shavendra Silva.

  Inner City Press asked about the report authored by Yasmin Sooka, who previously served on one of the UN's panels looking at war crimes in Sri Lanka and who will give a briefing at the May 5 meeting, along with Kirsty Brimmelow. Here is a link to the report.

  Earlier in April, Inner City Press asked yet another former UN panelist on Sri Lanka, Marzuki Darusman, if he thought the UN's response to his report had been successful. Darusman cited the example of Cambodia, for the proposition that justice can take a long time. But how long?

  The UN can't even keep track of its own statements. On alleged rapes by UN peacekeepers in Mali, the UN told Inner City Press in January that the investigation was finished. Then on April 23, the UN's Mali envoy Bert Koenders said it won't be finished for two or three weeks, but predicted or pretold that the UN peacekeepers will be cleared.

  Bangura, when Inner City Press asked, didn't know which was true, or any update on the rape charges against UN peacekeepers themselves.

  Combined with the UN's refusal to be accountable for, or even acknowledge service of legal papers on Ban Ki-moon about, bringing cholera to Haiti, how can the UN effectively push for accountability by anyone else? We'll see. Watch this site.


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