Alleged War Criminal Silva of Sri Lanka Is At UN Adviser Meeting, "Doesn’t Speak," Statement Promised
Twenty six days ago Inner City Press began asking the UN and then various countries’ missions to the UN how they could accept as a member of the UN "Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations" General Shavendra Silva, whose Division 58 is repeatedly named in connection with war crimes in Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s Panel of Experts report on Sri Lanka.
In the past week, multiple Ambassadors have told Inner City Press that there is a "fix." But to see if this was true, Inner City Press went on February 22 to cover the meeting of the Senior Advisory Group. It was not listed in the UN Journal, nor on the electronic sign boards in the UN North Lawn building.
Update of 3:34 pm — after this story, the following was sent to all UN press:
Chairperson of the Special Advisory Group to consider rates of reimbursement to troop contributing countries and other related issues
In its Resolution 65/289, the General Assembly asked the Secretary-General to establish a Senior Advisory Group (SAG) to consider rates of reimbursement to troop contributing countries and other related issues.
Following careful consideration and consultation with other SAG members, the Chair, Louise Fréchette, has advised Major General Shavendra Silva of Sri Lanka, that his participation is not appropriate or helpful for the purposes of this Group. He will not participate in its deliberations.
22 February 2012
Inner City Press sent a formal question to the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, about where the meeting was and who attended, which DPKO did not answer or respond to during the morning and after.
Mid-morning, however, Inner City Press learned that the meeting was taking place in five blocks west in 380 Madison Avenue, a building that UN is renting while its headquarters is renovated. Inner City Press went up to the 16th floor, to the area outside the meeting room, and prepared to cover the meeting.
Soon there are arrived two and then three representatives of the Sri Lankan Mission to the UN, including one who appeared to function as Silva’s bodyguard during a recent meeting in the North Lawn building. It is rare at the UN for Permanent Representatives, much less Deputy Permanent Representatives like Silva, to have their own body guards.
A woman from the Sri Lankan mission glared at Inner City Press and went down to the lobby. He returned with a UN Security officer, who asked, "Matthew, are you covering this meeting?"
After an affirmative answer, the officer went into the meeting room. He returned and said that "they" said the press should not be allowed even outside the meeting room, in this building paid for by the UN and thus by publics. "Do you want them to speak to you?" Inner City Press was asked. Of course.
But no one would come out to explain. Rather, the UN Security officer said that the "UN staff" of the Senior Advisory Committee, one Amy Maung Maung Kyaw, had made the decision.
While being escorted from the hallway outside the meeting, Inner City Press asked the woman from the Sri Lankan mission who was inside the meeting for the Asia Group, Silva or Kohona?
"Silva," the woman responded.
Down on the sidewalk in front of 380 Madison Avenue, a UN senior staffer told Inner City Press it was "shocking" a UN correspondent was ousted at the request of Sri Lanka. A UN Peacekeeping deputy showed up, but he was looking for the so-called Teachers Building some two blocks away.
Finally attendees began to leave. One told Inner City Press that Silva had been admonished, and had not said a single word during the two hour long meeting.
Also exiting were among others the Permanent Representatives of India and Egypt, as well as the "Number Three" of Japan, Jun Yamazaki. Earlier on Wednesday US Ambassador Susan Rice said she wasn’t on the Senior Advisory Group, it was another American diplomat "not from the Mission." The UK said it sends a diplomat who has represented it in Sweden.
Another prominent Ambassador told Inner City Press that the chairwoman of the Senior Advisory Group, Louise Frechette, was issuing or had issued a press statement. Inner City Press immediately wrote to Ban Ki-moon’s two top spokesmen to ask for the statement on this issue it has been asking about for more than three weeks. For an hour and counting, there was no answer.
Silva did in fact come out, accompanied by the body guard and two other staffers. Grim faced he got into a BMW — a source tells Inner City Press it costs "$100,000 while Sri Lankans who served their country aren’t be paid their pensions" — and drove away. Video here and below:
The body guard and another staffer remained right next to Inner City Press on the sidewalk. Finally at 1:42 pm the two men left, and soon thereafter Inner City Press did as well, returning to the UN to write this.
Prior to these developments, the Sri Lankan Mission’s action was to send a letter of complaint to Inner City Press, sending a copy to Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky as well as to some in the UN press corps.
Inner City Press in less than 24 hours published and responded to the letter, citing only some of the many references to Silva’s Division 58 in the report.