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On Sri Lanka, UN’s Haq Insists His Denial Meant Nambiar Isn’t Target of ICC Complaint, Is Only Called a "Co-Perpetrator"

[Inner City Press, Saturday, 12 March 2011 09:12 No Comment]

On Sri Lanka, a complaint filed with the International Criminal Court against Palitha Kohona states of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s chief of staff that there is “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.”

Inner City Press on February 21 published a story containing that quote, and this paragraph from the complaint:

"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.”

Days later Ban’s Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq sent a reporter an on the record statement that

“The Inner City Press story is inaccurate; there has been no complaint formally filed at the International Criminal Court.”

Inner City Press asked Ban’s lead spokesman Martin Nesirky to explain Haq’s statement, but Nesirky refused, saying that Haq had sent it to another journalist, not Inner City Press. But it was an on the record response. Still, no answer, including from Nambiar.

On March 11, for the first time in weeks Haq and not Nesirky took questions at the UN’s noon briefing. Alongside questions about the vetting of Ban’s envoy to Libya and UN actions in Sudan, Inner City Press asked Haq to explain his statement.

After attempting the evade the question by calling it "all of your personal things"  and saying it could be addressed outside of the briefing room — Inner City Press has asked outside of the briefing, without answer — Haq now argued that he had been asked if the ICC complaint named — that is, was against — Nambiar.

But Haq’s statement in his e-mail, which Inner City Press published on February 23 and is reproduced in full below, did not refer to whether Nambiar was the named target, which he couldn’t be as a citizen of India, which is not a member of the ICC. (Kohona is named because he is a joint citizen of Australia, which IS an ICC member.)

UN’s Haq in briefing room, belated e-mail spin not shown

Rather, Haq’s statement called inaccurate “the Inner City Press story,” which quoted directly from the ICC filing, as set forth above. The story was not inaccurate.

  It appears, including to the journalist who received the e-mail from Haq, that the goal was to convince other media to ignore any link between Nambiar and the ICC complaint, and the underlying killing including “white flag murders” in Sri Lanka.

Even many of those closest to Ban Ki-moon have questioned why Ban sent to Sri Lanka former Indian ambassador Nambiar, given India’s interest in Sri Lanka especially after the murder of Rajiv Gandhi, and with Nambiar’s brother Satish writing publicly in praise of the Rajapaksas military campaign in Northern Sri Lanka which has given rise to the war crimes charges.

  One Ban insider says, “It’s not really Nambiar’s fault, Ban should just never have made him the envoy to Sri Lanka.”

But the mistakenly-given role of Nambiar for the UN in Sri Lanka has so distorted the Ban administration’s and the UN’s response to the events in Sri Lanka that the spokespeople act as described above, and won’t even answer with whom Ban’s Panel on Sri Lanka met. It is a low point in Ban Ki-moon’s tenure as UN Secretary General.

[Full Coverage]

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