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On Sri Lanka, UN’s Ban Was Lied To, But Pascoe Trip Delay, of Job Requests

[Inner City Press, Thursday, 4 March 2010 09:38 No Comment]

The UN’s failure to follow through even on what few commitments it made about Sri Lanka became clearer this week. So too did the UN’s refusal to answer about the perception of conflict of interest by the Secretary General’s chief of staff Vijay Nambiar, named in an Australian documentary, even as he reportedly fielded a request from Sri Lanka’s foreign minister to give a job to his son.

In the week of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s arrest of opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka, Inner City Press had asked for the UN’s response. The response was that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s top political advisor Lynn Pascoe would be sent to Sri Lanka by the end of the month, February.

But as the month was almost over, Inner City Press asked, what of the visit? Spokesman Martin Nesirky said he would check. Days later on March 2, Inner City Press asked again:

Inner City Press: I know time is limited. So, I wanted to ask you the question about Sri Lanka, if I could. It has been… the President there, [Mahinda] Rajapaksa, has extended emergency rule even though this is months after the internal war is supposedly over. He has extended emergency rule. Former UN spokesman Gordon Weiss has been quoted in an Australian TV programme that just aired as saying essentially that the Secretary-General was lied to by the President. What he says, and it seems important to nail this down, he says, for months the Secretary-General was told by the President, of heavy weapons: “We are not using them. There are no heavy weapons used. When one leader speaks to another you speak in good faith and accept assurances. If you are told a barefaced lie, it is very difficult to work against that.” What I am wondering is, given that the Secretary-General has said he’s considering appointing some panel for accountability, he was considering, I believe, if I understand you correctly, in February, sending Mr. [B. Lynn] Pascoe there. Where do things stand, particularly given the UN’s own former spokesman for Sri Lanka saying that the UN was lied to, essentially?

Spokesperson: Where things stand [are] where they were before, and what I mean by that is that, firstly, the Secretary-General has indeed made it clear that he is looking into the possibility of there being an independent commission to help [advise the Secretary-General and] the Sri Lankan authorities to look into the allegations that there are. The second is on Mr. Pascoe’s announced visit, as it were. We’re still waiting to find out exactly what the dates are for that.

Inner City Press: Is there any response to what Gordon Weiss has said, that the communication to the Secretary-General turned out to be patently false?

Spokesperson: I am not going to comment on that.


Mahinda Rajapaksa also spoke with Ban Ki-moon about investigating war crimes, but nothing has been done. Still, Ban has done nothing about it.

Now comes a report in the Colombo media that "a senior Cabinet minister who has been interacting with the UN during the recent confrontations has written to a high-ranking UN official — and on an official ministry letter head — soliciting a job for his son in the UN secretariat."

Inner City Press has spoken with sources extremely informed about that above quote, who say it was Sri Lanka’s foreign minister, writing to Vijay Nambiar. On March 3, spokesman Nesirky made a point of disallowing Inner City Press a second question.

[Full Coverage]

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