Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Ban criticizes Sri Lanka over official's visa

By Louis Charbonneau - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticized Sri Lanka on Tuesday for revoking the work visa of a spokesman for the U.N. children's foundation UNICEF, whom Colombo accuses of spreading rebel propaganda.

"The secretary-general strongly regrets the decision of the Sri Lankan government to expel Mr. James Elder, spokesman for UNICEF in Sri Lanka," U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters.

He said Ban would raise the issue with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa "at the earliest opportunity."

Sri Lanka's Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona said on Monday that Elder's visa had been revoked because he had spread Tamil Tiger propaganda. UNICEF denied the allegation.[ID:nCOL462279]

Last week U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice voiced "grave concern" about video footage aired by Britain's Channel 4 television showing what appeared to be the summary execution of unarmed, naked and blindfolded men in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka also said on Monday that it had analyzed the Channel 4 footage and determined it was faked in a way that was typical of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the rebels the government defeated in May after a 25-year war.

It was not immediately clear if there was any connection between the issue of the video footage, which has angered the Sri Lankan government, and the decision to force out Elder.

Philip Alston, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said last week that he hoped the United Nations would open an investigation to determine whether Sri Lankan soldiers did in fact summarily execute Tamils, which would be a violation of international law.[ID:nN01488204]

Ban has not called for a separate U.N. investigation of the Channel 4 video footage, though he did raise the issue with Sri Lanka's Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe.

The Channel 4 footage can be seen here: (

Sri Lanka has repeatedly denied that it committed multiple human rights violations during the final months of its war against the LTTE, who had retreated to a narrow strip of coast in northeastern Sri Lanka along with hundreds of thousands of civilians.

Western and U.N. officials said the Sri Lankan army was using heavy artillery to shell the LTTE, even though it knew the rebels were using the innocent civilians trapped in the area as human shields. The army rejected the charge.

U.N. officials say that thousands of civilians were killed during the last months of the war.

© Alertnet

Related Links:
Expulsion of UNICEF staff member brings dismay from UN - UN News Center

Aid worker James Elder 'supported terrorism': Sri Lanka - The Australian

Bookmark and Share

No comments:

Post a Comment

© 2009 - 2014 Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  © Blogger template 'Fly Away' by 2008

Back to TOP