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No Comment by UN on Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, UK Speaks of Accountability

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 15 -- The day after the premiere of an hour long documentary showing UN staff in Sri Lanka who called in the GPS coordinates of a UN hub that was then shelled by the government, the spokesman for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told Inner City Press "I haven't seen this documentatry, I don't have any comment on it." Video here, from Minute 9:43.

  Inner City Press asked about the appearance in the documentary of General Shavendra Silva, now on Ban's Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations, calling a "frontal assault" on Putumattalan which killed 1500 civilians "very successful" - how can Ban accept his as an adviser? Again there was no response.

Click here to view: for Silva from Minute 21:56, for UN staff from 5:50.

  Minutes earlier Inner City Press asked UK Permanent Representative to the UN Sir Mark Lyall Grant, this month's Security Council president, about the film:

Inner City Press: on UK Channel 4 last night there was a broadcast called “Killing Fields” which [is] about Sri Lanka, this seems to have caused quite a storm in the UK, depicting what they call war crimes, and depicting the DPR of Sri Lanka here, who’s now a UN Senior Advisor on Peacekeeping, as being at the scenes of one of the crimes and saying it was highly successful. I wanted to know what’s the UK Government’s reaction to this new showing, and both within the UN and elsewhere, what’s the response?

Amb. Lyall Grant: in my national capacity, you asked about Sri Lanka. Our view has always been that accountability is extremely important, including in Sri Lanka. There have been a number of international commissions, there have been some Sri Lankan commissions. We believe that all allegations of human rights abuses should be investigated, and those who are held accountable and are found to be guilty of those crimes should be brought to justice. That remains our position but I’m not going to comment on certain individuals against whom allegations may have been made and I haven’t seen the report that you mentioned last night on British TV.

  Video here, from Minute 22. Minutes later the UK Mission informed Inner City Press that Alistair Burt had issued a statement, which is now on the web, here.

  Burt cites to a weak resolution pending in the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Within the UN, almost always on background, there are suggestions at the UN that l'affaire Silva can be solved by substituting Palitha Kohona, who was also involved in the so-called White Flag killing of surrenderees and has overseen the Sri Lankan Mission's vituperative defense while not producing Silva to answer questions.

  Ban Ki-moon shook Silva's hand, and berated his own staff in front of Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa. War crimes unpunished, indeed.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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