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After Ban Ki-moon Meets Sri Lanka AG & General Silva, UN Won’t Say If First Time, No Trip or Panel in UN Read Out

[Inner City Press, Friday, 25 February 2011 08:53 No Comment]

After months of controversy regarding if Sri Lanka will allow UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s Panel on Accountability to visit the country and interview officials like the Attorney General if not President, Ban himself met on February 23 with with Attorney General Mohan Peiris and the Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, former General Shavendra Silva.

But when Inner City Press asked on February 24 for a read out of the meeting — and if this was Ban’s first meeting with Silva, himself accused of war crimes — Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky said the “courtesy call” was about “reconciliation and reconstruction efforts."

Inner City Press asked how it could be that Ban’s Panel, President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Lessons Learnt Commission could not be in the read out — was this, Inner City Press asked, a mutually agreed statement with the Sri Lankan government?

No, Nesirky insisted, he was providing a read out for the UN Secretariat.

When Inner City Press has asked Ban Ki-moon to explain why his Panel has not gone to Sri Lanka, despite his claim on December 17 that they could due to Rajapaksa’s “flexibility,” Ban said that they still would go, adding confusingly that he was “still trying.”

But his read out of his meeting with Sri Lanka’s Attorney General does not mention any trip, or even his Panel.

The Sri Lankan government, after denying Inner City Press’ report that this meeting would take place, then called the Daily Mirror on behalf of External Affairs Ministry Secretary Romesh Jayasinghe to admit it took place — and said it concerned “legal issues.” This is not a topic mentioned in the UN’s read out.

  Inner City Press asked Nesirky to confirm that the Panel’s already extended deadline is the end of February, as had been reported. Nesirky replied that “the Panel will let us know when we can let you know.”

  So when, Inner City Press repeated, is the deadline? Nesirky wouldn’t say.

On whether this was Ban’s first meeting with former General Shavendra Silva, described by widely read New York press as a war criminal, Nesirky said he has “no idea” – and wouldn’t even say he would ask or find out.

This is the transparency and commitment to accountability for war crimes of which Ban has spoken?


Lanka 4 incl Silva, Ban & Nambiar, Panel not shown -or even mentioned? (c) MRLee

Also attending the February 23 meeting but standing off to the side during the handshaking was Ban’s chief of staff Vijay Nambiar. Inner City Press nevertheless took a photograph of him standing by the side, and later sitting at Ban’s right hand for the meeting.

In recent days, Inner City Press has asked Ban’s spokesperson’s office for a response to the inclusion of Nambiar in a filing with the International Criminal Court, which asserts

“a basis to question whether Vijay Nambiar was in fact an innocent neutral intermediary or in fact a co-perpetrator within the negotiation related community.”

The filing, which has been reported in the Australian press, recites that

"NAMBIAR again through the United Nations-24 hour dispatch center in New York. NAMBIAR replied to COLVIN that MAHINDA RAJAPAKSE, GOTABAYA RAJAPAKSE, AND PALITHA KOHONA had assured NAMBIAR that the LTTE members would be safe in surrendering to the SLA and treated like “normal prisoners of war” if they “hoist[ed] a white flag high.”

Ban’s lead spokesman Martin Nesirky would not say he would seek a response from Nambiar or the Executive Office of the Secretary General to these descriptions.

[Full Coverage]

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