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Sri Lanka Falls Off Radar of UN and US, Despite Rapp Report and Disappearances

[Inner City Press, Thursday, 10 December 2009 21:23 No Comment]

obama1hilrice How far the plight of the Tamils and other minorities in Sri Lanka has fallen off the radar of the United States and United Nations was made clear on Thursday. After US Ambassador Susan Rice made remarks to the press about human rights day and accountability, Inner City Press asked her about "the State Department report on Sri Lanka that seemed to allege war crimes, what [are] the next steps for the State Department on Mr. Rapp’s report?"

Ambassador Rice answered, "with respect to Sri Lanka, and frankly other instances of alleged and definite human rights abuses, we will examine these with seriousness internally, and look at what steps we might take bilaterally to reflect those concerns, with respect to any nation. And the President in his remarks in Oslo mentioned today Zimbabwe, Sudan and Burma specifically." Video here, from Minute 6:15.

Last week, as Stephen Rapp walked into the UN Security Council, Inner City Press asked him about the Sri Lanka report he had signed. "We are pushing hard on that," Rapp said. But what exactly is being done? Another report authored by Senator John Kerry urges rapprochement with Sri Lanka. So what was that about accountability?

The UN, too, spoke of accountability of one of three things necessary in Sri Lanka. On December 10, Inner City Press asked the UN official who has most visited Sri Lanka, John Holmes, about reports of people released from the Manik Farm camp only to be put in other closed camps, and about additional disappearances. Video here, from Minute 20:15.

Holmes said he wouldn’t call those disappearance, rather that people who previously worked with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam were "still being identified" and put into "rehabilitation camps." Video here, from Minute 21:31. Holmes put the number at "ten to eleven thousand," fewer that those the Red Cross has been allowed to visit. Again, what about accountability? Watch this site.

From the US Mission’s transcript:

Inner City Press: Parliamentarians from 29 countries have written to the Council asking for them to setup a commission of inquiry on what the call crimes against humanity committed by the military government of Myanmar/Burma. I’m wondering if you received that and what you think of it. And the State Department report on Sri Lanka that seemed to allege war crimes. What’s the next steps for the State Department on Mr. Rapp’s report? What steps are going to be taken?

Ambassador Rice: I have not seen the letter you reference on Burma so I won’t comment. With respect to Sri Lanka, and frankly other instances of alleged and definite human rights abuses, we will examine these with seriousness internally, and look at what steps we might take bilaterally to reflect those concerns, with respect to any nation. And the President in his remarks in Oslo mentioned today Zimbabwe, Sudan and Burma specifically. And obviously we will continue our discussions here in the United Nations and in Geneva at the Human Rights Council on what action might be desirable and feasible multilaterally. Thank you.

[Full Coverage]

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