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Sri Lanka Minister and Mob Hold UN Staff Hostage, Ban Remains Silent

[Inner City Press, Tuesday, 6 July 2010 14:17 No Comment]

The UN’s compound in Colombo has been surrounded, UN staff held hostage by a crowd led by Sri Lankan government minister Wimal Weerawansa. "We warn the U.N. to withdraw the (investigating) panel if they want to get the employees out," Weerawansa told the protesters.

The siege came six days after Weerawansa urged crowds to take UN staff hostage. Inner City Press on June 30 and July 2 asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s Associate Spokesperson Farhan Haq for Ban’s response.

On June 30, Haq said Weerawansa’s threat may have been misquoted, and was in any event merely “individual.”

Inner City Press asked a very senior UN official about the threat and was told it was a “Gandhian” threat.

On July 2, when Inner City Press asked why the UN would minimize a government minister’s threat against UN staff as “individual,” Haq claimed that an apology might be forthcoming from the government and told Inner City Press, "I will let you know if something like that comes through."

On July 3, Weerawansa made clear he was not misquoted, and the threat was not individual. Inner City Press published stories on July 3, 4 and 5. Ban Ki-moon, in Jamaica, said nothing. Haq and his Office sent nothing.

On July 6, UN staff were taken hostage, and the Sri Lankan government did nothing to stop it.

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UN’s Ban portrayed by Rajapaksas, staff as hostage not shown

   It is called a government endorsed and protected action against UN staff.

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