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On Sri Lanka, As GL Peiris Trashes Report, UN Moves to Release It

[Inner City Press, Thursday, 21 April 2011 13:24 No Comment]

The UN of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon waited two weeks after its Panel of Experts report on Sri Lanka was finished before handing it to the country’s deputy ambassador General Shavendra Silva, but not to the public.

  After a week of selective leaking of the report, presumptively by the Sri Lankan government of Mahinda Rajapaksa, foreign minister G.L. Peiris this morning said the Panel went beyond its mandate by including war crimes issues in its report.

  Ban’s UN, having done everything possible to undermine the Panel’s report, and with Ban on a visit in Rajapaksa-supporting Russia, moves belatedly to release the report.

  The back story to the report puts Ban and his chief of staff Vijay Nambiar in an even worse light. Ban sent Nambiar, India’s former ambassador at the UN, to Sri Lanka as his envoy in 2009.

  As since described in a filing with the International Criminal Court, Nambiar told surrendering Tamil Tiger LTTE leaders to come out with a white flag, they would be treated in accordance with international humanitarian law. Then they were killed.

  Nambiar has never explained its role. Yet Ban has allowed Nambiar to be involved in, even to lead, the UN’s review of and action on the report. Inner City Press has asked if Nambiar would be recused, but this has not happened. Nor has Nambiar taken questions on the topic.

  The Panel’s report calls for Ban to order an inquiry into the UN’s own behavior, including the decision under Ban and Nambiar not to release casualty figures during the final “bloodbath on the beach” stage of the conflict.

  How can a person credibly linked to these actions being allowed to decide to investigate themselves, or not?

  Only belatedly did Ban even name the Panel. Then in December 2010 Ban thanked Rajapaksa for his flexibility, and said the Panel could travel to Sri Lanka. Under Inner City Press questioning, Ban repeated this twice in January.

  But such a trip never took place, now allowing the Rajapaksa government to say the Panel relied on second hand accounts. The trip was apparently replaced by a meeting between Sri Lanka’s attorney general Mohan Peiris and the Panel (as well as Ban’s top political adviser Lynn Pascoe).

  When Inner City Press asked Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky about this meeting, Nesirky said, you were there with a camera, you saw it didn’t happen.

Now Nesirky’s deputy Farhan Haq, who also denied the existence of the ICC filing detailing Nambiar’s role in the white flag killings, claims that Nesirky never denied that the Mohan Peiris meeting with Ban’s Panel took place. Things are looking worse and worse.

  Pro government press in Sri Lanka after that meeting reported that the UN had agreed to hold off the report for several weeks. In fact, this entailed waiting from at latest March 31, when the Panel signed the report as obtained by Inner City Press, to April 12 to Ban and April 13 to Silva.

  As Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the UN Palitha Kohona bragged to Inner City Press this week, the UN still had to wait, as April 13-15 was a new year holiday in Sri Lanka, and April 18 was a “moon holiday.” Make that a Ban Ki-MOON holiday, one might call it.

  Sri Lanka chose the time when the report would be given to it, then told the UN it had to hold off based on holidays it knew about in advance. The UN never followed through on its 24 then 36 hour deadline, instead allowing the government to pre-leak and pre-criticize the report.

  Now in the Security Council Russia has criticized the report, and Ban is now visiting Russia. Inner City Press asked Haq the obvious, whether Sri Lanka and the report would be agenda items during Ban’s time in Russia. Haq said subsequent readout was answer this — but the UN’s readouts, especially but not only on Sri Lanka, are in the view of many not credible.

[Full Coverage]

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