Amid Reports of Sri Lanka Cover Up & Executions, UN Tells ICP, Probe
By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, February 6 -- In the wake of a detailed report that Sri Lanka forces concealed mass graves and executed surrenderees as in the White Flag cases, Inner City Press on February 6 asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq if the Secretariat was aware of the new report, and when should happen next. http://www.piac.asn.au/news/2014/02/new-evidence-war-crimes-sri-lankan-civil-war Haq replied that there should be investigation to find all the facts of what happened in the final stages of the conflict.
Inner City Press asked, International investigation? In Geneva? Haq said that would be up to member states. Ironically, while the new report is from experts in Australia, now the Australia government which calls loudly at the UN for investigations into Syria has indicated it would not support a resolution for investigation at the UN Human Rights Council in March. We'll have more on this.
As to the United States, from which Sri Lanka has blocked a diplomat's visa, the Rajapaksa government's lobbying lunch in Washington on January 28, reported on by Inner City Press, has so far been unsuccessful.
On February 1 in Colombo, Nisha Biswal the US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, criticized the lack of accountability, religious intolerance and even corruption of the Rajapaksas' Sri Lanka. But how strong will the resolution at the UN Human Rights Council in March be?
Back on January 28 lobbyists for Sri Lanka's Rajapaksa government made a pitch on Capitol Hill. Registered foreign agents Thompson Advisory Group invited members of Congress and staffers to hear President Mahinda Rajapaska's chief of staff or Permanent Secretary Lalith Weeratunga and Central Bank of Sri Lanka Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal (pitcher of bank mergers such as between NDB and the DFCC) at an hour and a half lunch in the Members' Dining Room.
Former Congressman from Oklahoma Ernest Istook, the invitation said, would be helping them make the (impunity) pitch, along with another government video, "Sri Lanka: Rebuilding and Reconciling," narrated by a former CNN anchor, Gene Randall. Inner City Press obtained (or intercepted) the pitch and put it online here. http://www.innercitypress.com/sri1dclobbyicp012814.pdf
At the US State Department's briefing on January 27, spokesperson Jen Psaki asked about the visit, and said she'd venture to send something around after the briefing:
MS. PSAKI: You had one on Sri Lanka?
QUESTION: I do, yeah. Apparently, there's a delegation in town today, and they're -- one of the things I believe they're talking about is a potential U.S. plan to sponsor a resolution in the UN Human Rights Council this March. I believe it has something to do with concerns about calls for an international inquiry into allegations of war crimes during their civil war. And so I'm wondering if the U.S. is planning some kind of resolution, and if the U.S. does support an inquiry for war crimes.
MS. PSAKI: I believe -- I know I've seen that report. Let me see if I have anything on that in particular. And if not, I'm happy to get you all something on where we stand after the briefing....Unfortunately, I don't have anything new on that here, but let us venture to send something all around to all of you.
Inner City Press asked; a polite interim response was received. But as of February 1, no real answer, now to other questions submitted as well, including concerned the withdrawal of the nomination as US Ambassador to the UN on Management and Reform of Leslie Berger Kiernan. At the UN, now-gone US Ambassador for reform and management Joe Torsella worked behind the scenes on the outrage of Sri Lankan military figure Shavendra Silva being accept by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous as an advisory on peacekeeping operations. Torsella is gone, now his nominated replacement has been withdrawn.
Inner City Press has submitted to the State Department a Freedom of Information Act request about the Administration's Atrocities Prevention Board -- expedited processing was denied, but responses and disclosures should be coming, surely, some day. Watch this site.