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On Sri Lanka, UN Has No Comment on Fonseka, Panel Still Not Started, Ban Book In Flux, Lee Kuan Yew Author Snubbed

[TamilNet, Saturday, 14 August 2010 09:05 No Comment]

As in Sri Lanka the government’s “Lessons Learnt” panel began, with a focus not on the civilians killed in 2009 but on how a ceasefire earlier broke down, Inner City Press on Friday asked UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky if the UN had any comment on Sri Lanka’s or its panel, or on the court martial of former General Sarath Fonseka, whose offer to testify about war crimes the UN has apparently turned down. Video here, from Minute 13:04.

Mr. Nesirky said the UN has no “new comment” on Fonseka, but had earlier urged due process. That was before the process and conviction, which Fonseka has called a sham.

  In the interim, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was burned in effigy during a blockade of the UN compound in Colombo led by government minister Wimal Weerawansa. Since then, the UN has said and done almost nothing.

Inner City Press asked whether Ban’s panel of experts on accountability in Sri Lanka has finally begun its work, triggering the start of the four month clock to turn in a report. Nesirky replied that he couldn’t “say when” the panel will start.

In fact, the reason being offered to Inner City Press is the illness of the spouse of one of the three panel members.

The week’s noon briefings were full of questions about author Tom Plate’s statement that he will profile Ban Ki-moon as the third in his series of “Giants of Asia.”

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UN’s Ban unfocused in Sri Lanka, panel’s start and book not shown

  At an August 10 book party near the United Nations, Plate read from his book about Singapore’s Lee Kwan Yew, who is quoted on page 55 of the book saying the

“example is Sri Lanka. It is not a happy, united country. Yes, they [the majority Sinhalese government] have beaten the Tamil Tigers this time, but the Sinhalese who are less capable are putting down a minority of Jaffna Tamils who are more capable. They were squeezing them out. That’s why the Tamils rebelled. But I do not see them ethnic cleansing all two million plus Jaffna Tamils. The Jaffna Tamils have been in Sri Lanka as long as the Sinhalese…[referring to Sri Lanka's president Mahinda Rajapaksa] ‘I’ve read his speeches and I knew he was a Sinhalese extremist. I cannot change his mind.’”

Plate was asked about this section of the book, and said that it was difficult to keep it in. Afterward, Inner City Press asked Plate to explain: how had wanted the section to come out? Of all that he said Tuesday night, this was the only time that Plate asked to go off the record. We respected that, just as we respected the request to omit from coverage the presence of at least one individual and entourage.

But later in the week, Ban’s spokesman Nesirky repeatedly insisted that Ban has made no commitment to Plate nor to anyone else for such a profile. Since Plate unequivocally said that Ban will be the third Giant of Asia, in Inner City Press’ presence and in writing, Inner City Press asked Friday if there was some meaning of the word “commitment” that it was missing.

[Full Coverage]

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