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As Sri Lanka Minister Blocks 150 UN Staff, UN Nambiar Assured by Kohona

[Inner City Press, Thursday, 8 July 2010 03:00 No Comment]

With 300 UN staff kept out of work in Sri Lanka due to Tuesday’s hostage situation, the UN on Wednesday told Inner City Press it had gotten assurances “at a high level” that this would not continue.

  Before Inner City Press could ask if the UN had yet spoke with any of the three Rajapaksa brothers who run the country, UN Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq specified the “high level” meeting: it was between the “chef de cabinet” of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Vijay Nambiar, and Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative at the UN, Palitha Kohona. Video here, from Minute 9:37.

To some, this is more than a little ironic. After questions about his objectivity and even involvement in the killing of surrendering rebels holding white flags, Vijay Nambiar rather than hold a press conference gave a single TV interview.

In footage never aired by seen by Inner City Press, Nambiar said he was given assurances that those surrendering would be treated in compliance with international law. These assurances were given by two Rajapaksas — and by Palitha Kohona.
That assurance, as described by Mr Nambiar himself, didn’t work out. Why will this one?

Vijay Nambiar, SG Ban and DSG Migiro, protection of UN staff in Colombo not shown

Kohona, it must be noted, approached Inner City Press to deny the timing that Nambiar described. Kohona says he spoke to Nambiar AFTER assurances were given to the surrenderees.

Either way, both Nambiar and Kohona are at least witnesses for any inquiry into this war crime. How can they be the two sides of a conversation meant to protect UN staff from a hostage taking threatened and led by a Sri Lanka government minister?

   Some wonder whether Mr. Ban keeping Mr. Nambiar as his point-man on Sri Lanka, despite the questions raised, doesn’t explain why the rest of Ban’s staff is seemingly unaware of the troubling scene in Colombo, and why the Ban Administration’s excuses for the hostage taking of UN staff by a government minister have been so noticeable, and different from Ban’s approach to Sudan or Zimbabwe. Watch this site.

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