(By Matthew Russell Lee) When the Sri Lankan government bans families of the disappeared from traveling from Vavuniya to Colombo to petition the UN office there, one might expect the UN to be concerned, at least as much as some member states, if not as “deeply concerned” as about, say, North Korea.
But as to Ban Ki-moon’s UN, you’d be wrong.
Thirteen days after Ban accepted a “whitewash” report about Sri Lanka and went on to praise it in Geneva, without releasing the report, Inner City Press asked Ban’s chief spokesperson Martin Nesirky:
Inner City Press: There was a group of families of disappeared people seeking to go to Colombo, it said to actually go to meet the UN country team with information, see about their relatives, and they were stopped by the Government in Vavuniya, not allowed to reach Colombo or to speak to the UN, and I am wondering if the UN [is] saying that they shouldn’t have been blocked. Is the UN aware of this? Do they believe people should be able to pass this whatever information they have to the UN, and what’s going to happen with them?
Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, there would be other conduits to be able to provide information if people feel they have information that they wish to hand over to the United Nations. There are other ways to do it if they cannot reach Colombo. So I am sure that that would be possible, to be able to receive information and not just via the country team in the country.
From this answer it sounds like blocking or banning the families of the disappeared up in Vavuniya, keeping them from access to the UN Country Team, is fine with the UN.