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UN nods ‘fight to the finish’

[TamilNet, Saturday, 28 February 2009 08:48 No Comment]

The position taken by UN Security Council Friday indicating no go beyond ‘hearing’, and the considerate briefing of John Holmes largely endorsing and trusting Colombo’s agenda and assurances for civilians, are read between the lines by international political observers as a ‘knowing wink’ at Colombo to pursue its offensive. Alternatively, the UN stance either paves way for intervention by interested powers outside of the UN or perhaps reveals an actuality that the UN can be shaken not when people face genocide, but only when ground realities endanger the Sri Lankan state, observers said.

While the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Tuesday called for a suspension of fighting and beginning of political discussions, John Holmes, Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, who briefed the Security Council Friday spoke of tackling underlying political issues only after the end of fighting.

“It appears that the UN Secretariat’s public call is undermined by a more private green light to the Sri Lankan military’s offensive in north Sri Lanka”, reported Inner City Press on Friday.

In British Parliament Wednesday, Liberal Democrat MP Edward Davey questioned British Foreign Secretary David Miliband why Britain’s representative in UN earlier failed to support a briefing on Sri Lanka while ministers in London call for ceasefire.

Miliband replied: “I am sorry to hear the hon. Gentleman talk in that way, because he knows that a failed resolution—one that faces a veto—is worse than no resolution at all, and it would strengthen precisely the forces that he and I oppose. I can assure him that our diplomats, whether in New York or in the region, are all working off the same script, which is one that has been set by the Prime Minister and me.”

The British silence at UN on Friday may mean that the UN Security Council is still not seasoned to consider the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

At the beginning of the UN briefing Russia said that it is only a ‘one-time hearing’.

The permanent representative of US was not present during the briefing.

The British representative at UN, John Sawers, who earlier said that the LTTE’s long ‘blighting’ of Colombo should be brought to an end, neither demanded a presidential statement of the council after the briefing nor answered questions put on Sri Lanka by the media, according to Inner City Press.

Interestingly, John Holmes admitted his ‘knowing’ stance on events.

When asked by Inner City Press on reportedly mischievous translations he received while visiting civilians in Vavuniyaa, he replied, “you should credit me with enough intelligence to assess what people told me, surrounded by the military’s armed guards”.

 

 

 

Holmes briefed the UN on the variations in the number of the trapped civilians: Colombo claiming 70,000, UN estimating 200,000 and Tamil sources putting it to 300,000.

Colombo and its war-partner New Delhi claiming only 70,000 has evoked fear in Tamil circles that the bulk of the civilians may ‘disappear’ either in war or in screening, if things are allowed to continue in the same way.

On 18 February India’s Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee in a statement in the Indian parliament put the number of civilians at 70,000.

[Full Coverage]

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