Tamil Solidarity is posting this article for information and to promote wider discussion. We do not necessarily agree with all the points made and conclusions drawn, which are the views of the May 17 Movement.
In November 2012, three-member UN Internal Review Panel headed by Charles Petrie submitted its report on the response of United Nations to the Genocidal war in Sri Lanka. The report which spans over 120 pages lays bare the stance and actions of some of the top officials of UN in relation to Sri Lanka and records that directly and indirectly implicate those officials who supported Sri Lanka. We consider that report has disclosed the proof for the reason of UN expert panel’s emphasis on War crimes and its dialogues that discarded political solution to the problem. The report reveals that top UN officials have either collaborated or submitted to pressure of the Sri Lankan government and have not just issued statements, reported and sent hidden information’s in favor of Sri Lanka but also have manipulated and liquidated the ground reports, discarded the information and hindered the duties of the officials who have been working under them. We would like to bring some of the important information in the review report to notice.
We categorize the functions of the UN during war in any region into two categories. One, Humanitarian operations in those regions. Two, Human rights and ensuring that the international laws on human rights are not violated and bring to the notice of the world in case of any violations. The world nations have agreed to the above functions by signing the agreements and articles of UN and thereby have accepted the investigations and punishments by international law on the state in case of any violations by the respective nation.
We can classify the UN’s help to the Sri Lankan government as a two step process. First was during of war, when Sri Lankan government was allowed to carry on war without any intervention, discarding international requests in favor of the Tamils and pressure to stop the war and at the same time have helped Sri Lanka to carry on with the war crimes. Secondly aftermath of the war, UN’s aid to Sri Lanka falls under two categories. One, preventing a international investigation on Sri Lanka after war and thereby stopping the chance for a referendum, providing enough time for Sri Lanka to erase all the evidences of genocide, so that in the future no international debate on genocide and demands can again rise in the future. Two, UN has effectively narrowed down the demand for international investigation to internal investigation and shifting from the political demand of independent Tamil Eelam to humanitarian Operations, Re-habilitation, welfare schemes, Reconciliation and creating Opinion among the Tamils and among the world nations in favor of these.
Few points to be noted in Petrie’s internal report:
UNs order to its officials to leave Sri Lanka was a big setback to the Tamils, who came to UN office and secure areas surrounding them in search of safety and forced into the Genocidal trap.
Food and medicines of 18 metric tons had to be sent every 8-10 days as humanitarian aid. But after Jan 15 UN not only did not send anything but also did not take any measure to send.
After the permission from Sri Llankan Government, 11th iteration of aid was sent to war torn places. The Sri Lankan Government intensified the attack when the vehicles which carried the things were guaranteed to be returned on 16th which held them back in Mullaithivu for more than 2 weeks. The report records that they sent information about the number of causalities during that period from the offensive launched by the Sri Lankan Government unmindful of the Human rights (hospitals, places where civilians and UN workers have gathered were attacked). Out of those who sent this information, 6 were UNs international workers and 5 were locals.
The quantity of food in UNs aid sent to the Tamil regions was much less than the actual need. The Sri Lankan Government projected the information that the regions under siege had cultivatable farm lands, and enough food was available and also deliberately reduced the population count in those regions. Even after Amnesty International proved the incorrectness of this information, UN did not take any steps to bring about an international criticism on Sri Lanka.
In addition the aid contained cricket bats, balls and anti-LTTE propaganda material produced by the Srilankan Government.
Two of the UN workers escaped from war fields to Colombo and shared the field information in the UN office. The task of populating information about the number of Tamil casualties that was hitherto not done was taken up and was done based on the information given by these two UN workers on the 2nd week of February 2009. At the end of 3rd week, the number of Tamil Causalities has risen to shocking heights.
In the first week of March 2009, when the UN headquarters was informed about this they immediately sent a higher official from its political wing. After analyzing the information in Colombo, he stated “We will be co-accused if we do not take any action based on this information and stop the war”. He went to UN headquarters with the compiled information on March 9th.
On March 12 2009, after a UN high level meeting, a mail was sent to the UN Human rights council by the then chief of staff Vijay Nambiar. He has requested the Human Rights Council not to disclose information regarding the number of causalities in the Sri Lankan case as the information cannot be validated. He went further to recommend the UNHRC to liquidate the information in case UNHRC decides to release the information. He also emphasizes that charging the Sri Lankan government with war crimes and crimes against humanity cannot be done at that point of time, doing which they will have to face the wrath of the Sri Lankan government which is not recommendable. He also mentions that the Sri Lankan State and the LTTE have been weighed on equal grounds in case of accusing them with war crimes. Later mails on similar lines from various UN offices, especially from John Holmes who was United nations Under-Secretary-general for Humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator were sent to UNHRC and on March 12-13 the report from UNHRC were released severely criticizing and accusing LTTE.
This was the last in the line of the reports that came in relation to the killing of Tamils. The report which accused the LTTE has been rejected by the UNs workers who were in war torn areas of Srilanka. As a result of the actions of Vijay Nambiar, Petrie records in his report, for more than 45 days the civilians did not receive food or medicine which cause of thousands of causalities.
The world nations did not receive proper and complete information regarding the number of casualties as a result of Vijay Nambiars belayed the reports. Further by accusing the LTTE he created a international opinion in favor of Sri Lanka by projecting LTTE as a terrorist organization that has to be dealt with and the war as a “war against terror” thereby facilitating the killing of Tamils by the Sri Lankan government.
The UN considers using medicine and food as weapons in war as a War Crime. But Vijay Nambiar and John Holmes claimed that if they do not cooperate with the Sri Lankan government they may face trouble in carrying out the humanitarian operations in Sri Lanka. Contrary to their claim, after Jan 15 2009 till the end of war UN did not deliver either food or medicine to the civilians in the war zone and the world nations never warned about this.
The email also brings to light another important fact. The UNHRC has concluded that actions of Sri Lankan Government are to be accounted as war crimes and crimes against humanity on March 12 2009. It did so after analyzing all the facts that it has got from the UN workers who were present in the war torn areas of Srilanka. But Vijay Nambiar and John Holmes consider this first hand information as unreliable. Charles Petrie’s report has revealed all these information. But important sections of the report were blackened and then released by the UN. The above facts have been compiled after comrades of the May 17 Movement unveiled those hidden blackened information.
In April 2009, based on the satellite report which revealed huge losses suffered by the Tamils and the attacks on hospitals, UN issued a statement condemning Sri Lanka. Though the report also laid accusations on LTTE the Sri Lankan government summoned John Holmes and forced him to acknowledge that the statement was based on unreliable and false information. John Holmes sends an email as demanded and this email were used by the Sri Lankan government refute UNs claim. Instead of criticizing such an act by one of its officials in one of the press conference
Ban-ki-Mon PRO answering the questions on civilian casualties in Sri Lanka said that “counting the dead is not our Job”.
UNHRC, one of the most important organizations of UN was thus silenced. Yukio Takasu’s (who was a President of the United Nations Security Council) position in favor of Sri Lanka, and the report against LTTE made a debate on the Humanitarian Issues on Sri Lanka impossible in UN Security Council. Through the silent consent of Ban-Ki-Moon, till the end of war the UN general Assembly or Security Council was never convened to discuss the issue. Other UN Bodies were also silenced by the efforts of John Holmes and Vijay Nambiar.
Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide should have passed on information to UN Secretary general Ban-Ki-Moon and prevented the genocide from happening. He also holds the power to implement and reaffirm the Humanitarian and Human rights laws in case of any violation. On May 15 2009, the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide has sent information to Ban-Ki-Moon that there is every possibility for genocide to happen in Sri Lanka. Charles Petrie has reported that, Ban-ki-Moon instead of acting on this information decides to take the line of co-operation with Sri Lanka which was proposed by Vijay Nambiar and John Holmes. Sri Lanka was thus given the complete liberty to carry on the Tamil Genocide.
The Office of special representative of secretary general of children and armed conflict, submitted his report on Sri Lanka only weeks after the war. But their first report in February 2009 mentions that the number of child casualties has been relatively high. These top 3 officials through their efforts have either silenced the various UN organizations turned them to work in favor of Sri Lanka.
Vijay Nambiar was sent to Colombo to handle the crisis in Sri Lanka. Arriving in Sri Lanka on May 14, his prime task was to oversee and ensure that the civilians who were trapped in Mullivaikal and the LTTE leaders who have surrendered to the Sri Lankan Army were treated by International Laws. But the Sri Lankan government turned down his request to visit Mullivaikal and promised him that the Sri Lankan Government will protect the LTTE leaders who surrender. Vijay Nambiar did not press his demand to visit Mullivaikaal. When he was asked regarding this in a press conference he replied that the “Weather outside Colombo is not suitable”.
Satish Nambiar, brother of Vijay Nambiar had been the adviser of Sri Lankan Army during the War. It has been a common practice in UN, not to pick its representative to the Crisis zone from a neighboring nation. But in Case of Sri Lanka and Burma UN has not adhered to this practice.
Ban-Ki-Moon did not visit Sri Lanka during the days of Genocide. He did not visit Sri Lanka when the International media brought to light the Mass killings of Civilians and the execution of the Surrendering LTTE leaders and their families. The UN workers themselves accuse him of visiting Sri Lanka to take part in the Victory Celebrations of Sri Lanka. Right from the beginning to the end of the War UN has been accusing only the LTTE for various violations, and not the Sri Lankan Government in-spite of the numerous evidences of crimes by the Sri Lankan Government, like Preventing UNs Humanitarian Operations by Bombing.
After the War, the UN legal counsel proposed to start International Investigation on Sri Lanka based on Section 99 in Law. In July 2009, Ban-ki-moon proposed to give Sri Lanka a little time and also recommended an internal investigation substituting a international Investigation. Sri Lankan Government denied even for an Internal Investigation until January 2010. So in March 2010 UN sets up a panel to investigate the Sri Lankan War. The Panel was not allowed to even enter Sri Lanka and it submitted its report. The UN did not even condemn the act of Sri Lanka’s denial for the panel to enter the Island.
The Charles Petrie Internal Review Report has numerous such evidences about various UN Officials. No action has been taken on this report so far. Instead attempts have been made to brush aside and cover up the truths reveled by the report.
BBC in an attempt to muddle the report called upon John Holmes himself and reported his views on the report. Not much debate was initiated in the Media on this report. The Indian Media has maintained utter silence on this report. The UN officials are now concentrating on pushing back the demand for Independent Tamil Eelam and only lay demands for Reconciliation, Rehabilitation, Welfare schemes. On Aug 1,2012 John Ging, the Director of Operations of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), after finishing a three-day visit to the country, said “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”. It has to be noted that various important UN officials have been praising and acknowledging Sri Lankan Government.
One more information to be noted here is that Siddharth Chatterjee, a former Indian Army personnel was the part of the IPKF force and took part in the Infamous Jaffna University Helidrop. He was one of the very few army men who live through that operation. From that point of time till now he has been writing against LTTE, Tamil Eelam and the Tamils in general. He is not only working with the UN but also he is the son-in-law of Ban-Ki-Moon. It’s no surprise that Ban-ki-Moon with close relatives like Satish Nambiar and Siddharth Chatterje took part in Genocide.
These three officers and the force that operated them, India and its officials have to be investigated. Charges have to be filed against them and investigations have to be carried out. It is this deadly coalition that has carrying out actions against Independent Tamil Eelam on the International stage. The various UN organizations have failed to stop the Genocide and collaborated with the Sri Lankan State. Ban-ki-Moon by stopping International Investigation has prevented referendum for independent Eelam. For international Justice to prevail the three officials along and the Indian officials who were behind them have to be investigated and punished. It’s the responsibility of not just the Tamils but every socially conscious Individual to make this happen failing which the UN will bury the demand and prevent a International debate for Independent Tamil Eelam.
The May 17 Movement has called for a siege on the UN offices worldwide to demand justice for the Eelam Tamils. As a part of this May 17 movement, Karnataka Tamil Makkal Iyakkam and various other Tamil organizations have organized a protest in Town Hall, Bangalore on Feb 12th 2013, the day when Murugadasan an Eelam Tamil self immolated himself in front of the UN office, with the above mentioned demands. Let’s Gather and win back the denied Justice!!!
May 17 Movement