Assisting in Lankan Genocide and UNdoing the UN: A Chronological Account by S P UDAYAKUMAR

This is the story of how the fence started eating up the crop, and how the watchman plundered the shop. The year 2009 dawned rather badly for the Tamils in Eelam. Some 20 countries including sworn enemies such as India and Pakistan had joined their secret hands in the war against the Tamil people in Tamil Eelam. India, the home of some 8 crore Tamils, was at the forefront doing all it could to help the genocidal government in Colombo. Leading media houses in Tamil Nadu were handing out “zero civilian casualty” awards and accolades to the killers in Colombo. Worst of all, the beacon of peace for the world, the UN itself, had turned against the Tamils.

From 2007 onwards, a UN officer by the name Charles Petrie had been monitoring the happenings in Sri Lanka under the “Ongoing Conflicts” category. It was his responsibility to keep the UN Secretary General informed of the developments in that country. As the Eelam War IV got hectic between the Sri Lankan army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the Colombo government asked the UN officials to leave the country. Without expressing any kind of objection to that suggestion, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, transferred Charles Petrie to Somalia and appointed Vijay Nambiar from India to monitor the situation in Lanka.

The war got severe in mid-2008 and the heavy casualty figures kept pouring in from all the various sources to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The head of this organization, John Holmes, hid these heavy casualties from the outside world. When asked about the exact number of casualties in the Eelam warfront, a spokesperson of the OCHA, Michelle Montas, countered that it was not their duty to count the dead.

UN Office SeigeBetween January 20, 2009 and March 7, 2009 some 9,924 people had lost their lives in the Mullaitheevu area alone and the UN had this information with them. But they were hiding these disturbing facts from the rest of the world and at times they intentionally underplayed the human loss also. For instance, although more than 4,000 Tamils were killed on March 9, 2009, the UN claimed that only 2,683 had been killed that day.

By underreporting the real numbers of the dead and the wounded, the UN made sure that there was not any undue international pressure to stop the war. When he was speaking to the press in Colombo on May 23, 2009, John Holmes said that he would delete the emails he received from the Eelam Tamils. This statement made it clear the attitude and mentality of this officer toward the Tamils who had been suffering immensely in the ongoing war. We wonder how such a heartless and thoughtless person got appointed to “coordinate” the “humanitarian affairs” in the UN system. We also wonder how the Secretary General assigned a person who was clearly hostile to the suffering victims to help them.

On March 12, 2009, a high-level meeting took place at the UN Headquarters on the report of the OCHA that had been prepared on the basis of the UN field workers’ feedback from January 15, 2009 onwards. John Holmes, the head of OCHA, was dead against releasing the report or revealing the casualty figures to the world or taking any action on it.

Vijay Nambiar, the UN point person, was staying in Colombo between May 14 and May 24, 2009. He is said to have written to Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, not to disclose the high casualty figures to the international community, or to water it down in case the numbers had to be reported. He also suggested not to talk about the Sri Lankan government’s war crimes, and to blame not just the Lankan government but also the LTTE for the heavy casualties in the war. Satish Nambiar was acting as a military adviser to the Sri Lankan military and his brother Vijay Nambiar was rather keen on his brother achieving success with his military mission rather than making his own organization, the UN, effective against genocide and war crimes.

On May 15, 2009, Francis Deng, a UN official, released a report which warned the UN Secretary General that a massive genocide was going to take place in Lanka against the Tamils and requested him to stop it. The Secretary General did precious little and the world witnessed the Mullivaickal genocide in the following weeks.

The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, who jumped onto the anti-Tamil bandwagon, tried to hide the casualty figures for a very different reason. His daughter, Hyun Hee, was married to one Siddharth Chatterjee who had taken part in the failed 1987 Indian Peacekeeping Force (IPKF) operations in the northern parts of Sri Lanka and had suffered a humiliating personal defeat. Chatterjee used his immediacy and intimacy with the Secretary General to undermine the interests of the Eelam Tamils.

Although Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, called for an international inquiry on the Lankan war on May 26, 2009 and later recommended such an enquiry on June 23, 2009, Ban Ki Moon rejected it outright on July 30, 2009 at a UN meeting. He argued that the Lankan government should be allowed to utilize its political space for internal inquiry. It sounded as though we should allow a criminal to inquire about his own crimes and decide the punishment himself.

The British media ‘Channel 4’ released the documentary “Killing Fields” in 2011 which the UN administration flatly refused to screen in the UN premises. But when the Lankan Defense Ministry headed by Gothabaya Rajapakse, a brother of President Mahinda Rajapakse, produced a concocted video called “Lies Agreed Upon,” it was shown at the UN auditorium on September 6, 2011 and two Lankan government officials, Balitha Kohanna and Savendra Silva, gave interviews to the media on the film.

The UN officials keep praising the Lankan government instead of holding it responsible for the war crimes and genocide. For instance, John Ging, Director of Operations at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said on August 3, 2012: “The scale of what Sri Lanka has accomplished over the past three years – the pace of resettlement and the development of infrastructure – is remarkable and very clearly visible.”

In May 2011, a three-member team analyzed the war crimes in Lanka and issued a report saying that the UN should investigate its own omissions and commissions. Ignoring that report, Ban Ki Moon asked Thoraya Obaid in September 2011 to prepare a report on the war crimes within four months. Coming to know in April 2012 that Obaid had not even started his work, Moon asked Charles Petrie to prepare the report. This Petrie report has categorically listed the failings of the UN.

Ban Ki Moon never tried to convene the Security Council on the war crimes and genocide in Tamil Eelam and took a lot deliberate steps to avoid any serious discussion on these issues. Vijay Nambiar never even tried to go to the war zone allegedly because of unfavorable climate there. John Holmes summarily deleted all the Tamil people’s emails he had received. Thus these men and other cronies indirectly facilitated the slaughter of 1,46,697 human beings in Tamil Eelam and took part in the genocide and war crimes.

These men should be held accountable for all the various crimes and tried in an international tribune along with the Rajapakse brothers and their accomplices. It is high time we, the peoples of the United Nations, retook the important organization and made it effective for the poor, weak and marginalized!

(This write-up is based mainly on and a quick and rough translation of the various handouts put out by the “May 17 Movement” in Tamil Nadu.)

People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)
Idinthakarai 627 104
Tamil Nadu
India

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  • The group who obtained the video – Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka – claimed it was evidence of extra judicial executions. The video was filmed by a Sri Lankan soldier on his mobile phone in January 2009, the group said.