Army teaches Sinhalese to Tamil schoolchildren

The Sri Lankan Army has been teaching Sinhalese to children in Kilinochchi, boasted the Ministry of Defence earlier this week. In an article entitled “Serving the People”, the Ministry of Defence wrote on how the Army was conducting Sinhala lesson to Tamil schoolchildren, as part of their “Scouting, Sinhala and Road Sign awareness programmes”. The seminars were organised by the 5 Sri Lanka Armoured Corps troops and held in the Security Forces Headquarters Kilinochchi. See more of the Sri Lankan Army schooling Tamil schoolchildren in earlier post: Only in Sri Lanka (28 October 2012)

Report on UN actions in Sri Lanka released

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon receives a copy of a report on the actions of the United Nations in Sri Lanka on Wednesday morning. Picture courtesy of Inner City Press. A report detailing the “grave failure of the United Nations” in Sri Lanka has been officially handed over to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, on Wednesday morning and released publicly later in the evening. The full report can be downloaded here . In a statement , the UN Secretary General said, "I am determined that the United Nations draws the appropriate lessons and does its utmost to earn the confidence of the world's people, especially those caught in conflict who look to the organisation for help," He went on to say that the report had been released publically as, "transparency and accountability are critical to the legitimacy and credibility of the United Nations". However sections of the report had attempted to have been blacked out. The blacked out portions of the report could still be accessed and have been reproduced further below. See here . Ex tracts from the report (On February 7th 2009) Some UN staff in Colombo expressed to the UNCT leadership their dismay that the UN was placing primary emphasis on LTTE responsibility when the facts suggested otherwise , and urged a more public stance.

Attempted censoring of UN internal report

Several sections of the recently released report United Nations report into the actions of the organisation in Sri Lanka during the final stages of the armed conflict were blacked out when the report was made public. However, these sections of the report could still be accessed and have been reproduced in full below. See our feature on the report here . Page 1 1 : several USG participants and the RC did not stand by the casualty numbers, saying that the data were ‘not verified’. Participants in the meeting questioned an OHCHR proposal to release a public statement referencing the numbers and possible crimes. Page 15 : Several participants noted the limited support from Member States at the Human Rights Council and suggested the UN advocate instead for a domestic mechanism, although it was recognized that past domestic mechanisms in Sri Lanka had not led to genuine accountability. One participant said that “[i]t was important to maintain pressure on the Government with respect to recovery, reconciliation and returns and not to undermine this focus through unwavering calls for accountability ...”

Foreign Affairs Committee call for boycott dismissed by FCO

A critical report by the Foreign Affairs Committee on the Commonwealth, which slammed the Commonwealth's decision to hold the 2013 Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo as "wrong", has received a dismissive response from the UK FCO. A spokesperson for the UK Foreign Office said it was "too early" to talk about Britain's presence at the meeting, reported the BBC. He is reported to have said: "We will look to Sri Lanka to demonstrate its commitment to upholding the Commonwealth values of good governance and respect for human rights," " A key part of this will be to address longstanding issues...

Report on UN actions in Sri Lanka released

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon receives a copy of a report on the actions of the United Nations in Sri Lanka on Wednesday morning. Picture courtesy of Inner City Press. A report detailing the “grave failure of the United Nations” in Sri Lanka has been officially handed over to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, on Wednesday morning and released publ i cly later in the evening. The full report can be downloaded here . In a statement , the UN Secretary General said, "I am determined that the United Nations draws the appropriate lessons and does its utmost to earn the confidence of the world's people, especially those caught in conflict who look to the organisation for help," He went on to say that the report had been released publically as, "transparency and accountability are critical to the legitimacy and credibility of the United Nations". However sections of the report had attempted to have been blacked out. The blacked out portions of the report could still be accessed and have been reproduced further below. See here . Ex tracts from the report (On February 7th 2009) Some UN staff in Colombo expressed to the UNCT leadership their dismay that the UN was placing primary emphasis on LTTE responsibility when the facts suggested otherwise , and urged a more public stance.

'UN has not learned from failures in Rwanda'

Writing in The Independent, Scottish journalist Isabel Hilton has critic ised the United Nations for allowing i tself to be "bullied by a murderous government" and called for the organ isa tion to punish those responsible for crimes in Sri Lanka. Extracts have been rep roduced below. See the full article here . "Nothing can bring back the estimated 30,000 civilians who died in 2009 in the closing months of the war in Sri Lanka, but if the UN is to learn from its shocking failure to protect those civilians it must do more than mouth regrets and resolutions. "

'Wake-up call for member states' - Amnesty International

Amnesty International indicated that the self-critical United Nations report, released yesterday, further authenticates calls for an independent international investigation into war crimes in Sri Lanka. The report of the UN Secretary-General’s Internal Review Panel on focuses on the UN’s failures during a period of conflict in Sri Lanka where effective UN action might have prevented some of the worst human rights violations to be witnessed in modern society. The report detailed how the United Nations suppressed information and humanitarian law violations, particularly those committed by Sri...

Nationhood and sovereignty 'non-negotiable' says TNPF leader

Speaking in an interview on TamilNet's Palaka'ni channel , TNPF leader Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam asserted that Eelam Tamils were a nation and asserted their right to sovereignty, and outlined the Tamil National People Front's position as: "The existence of the Tamil nation must be secured. The recognition of Tamil nationhood and its distinct sovereignty is non-negotiable , that is our party's position. As to how that status is going to exist, whether it is going to exist within a larger state, or within a larger country, so as in the country being a multi-national state, or whether the Tamil nation is going to exist as a nation state, is something the eventual peace process will decide. But our view, what is fundamental, is the recognition and the safe-guard of the Tamil nation." See full video here .

Canada welcomes UN report

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has welcomed the release of an internal UN report on the organisations action in Sri Lanka during the final phase of the armed conflict, noting that Sri Lanka has continued to fail its victims. The statement , released on Thursday, said, “This report details a litany of human rights violations endured by the Sri Lankan people. “Sadly, the Sri Lankan government continues to fail victims and survivors alike. The measures it has taken to date simply do not go far enough, as this report clearly lays out. “The Prime Minister and I take every opportunity...

Kohona dismisses reports of intimidation as ‘absolute nonsense’

Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Palitha Kohona has rejected claims that UN staff were intimidated and refused visas in Sri Lanka, during the final phase of the conflict, in an interview to the BBC earlier this week. Speaking on the eve of a UN internal report being released, Kohona dismissed all notion that UN staff were intimidated, stating, “ That’s absolute nonsense .... To say that Sri Lanka was intimidating the United Nations, a very small country, and the United Nations being what it is, I think that’s absolute rubbish .” When questioned on the subject of UN officials being refused visas, K ohona responded, " I think that you are talking nonsense again . Sri Lanka was... There were hundreds of UN staff in Sri Lanka at the time. They were given visas to come into the country I don’t think any UN staff member who applied for a visa at the time was refused admission . " "Q: Do you know that for a fact? " "As I said, I do not THINK that they were refused admission. " "Q: Do you believe the decisions taken at the time of the Sri Lankan conflict by the Sri Lankan Government were the right ones? Today, do you believe that is the case?" "Absolutely... The decisions made at the time were the best decisions for all the people in the country." In fact, Kohona himself commented on the expulsion of Chief of Communications for UNICEF in Sri Lanka James Elder from the country in September 2009, after his visa was refused. See our pos t and Kohon a 's comments here .

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