2nd May 2011

Ban Ki-moon

Secretary General

United Nations Organization

Dear Mr Ban,

 I am writing to express my deep disappointment at the content and release of the Report of the Panel you appointed to advise you on certain particulars. There is much in the Report that is deplorable, and I have addressed some of these aspects at length in articles, which you and your interested colleagues may wish to look at on my blog, www.rajivawijesinha.wordpress.com, collected in the section called ‘Post-Colonial Practices’.

I am writing to you personally however with regard to misrepresentations in the area with which I was personally concerned, as Secretary to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights, which had a mandate to coordinate humanitarian assistance. Your Report criticizes the work of Government in providing humanitarian aid in eighteen different paragraphs. Some paragraphs repeat the same allegations, in imitation perhaps of the Lewis Carroll like assertion that what is said three times is true, but I am sure you are familiar with such techniques and will make allowance for them.

Astonishing in this plethora of allegations is what seems complete ignorance of the attitude of the United Nations on the ground at the time, as represented by the Resident Representative. He and I had occasion to discuss the difficulties caused to him by junior staff with a different agenda, as was described to me by a reporter on the ‘Times’ who had misrepresented the actual position in Sri Lanka. I wrote about this including as follows. ‘What struck me most however in the discussions was that they justified stories I pointed out were false on the grounds that they had received the information from officials on the ground, in what seemed several cases from the United Nations. When I pointed out that the senior leadership of the UN had repudiated these stories, the response was that younger officials sometimes felt they had to speak out because their superiors were seen as too close to the government.’

A similar mistake was made later by Hillary Clinton, for which the American Ambassador in Colombo apologized. This was doubtless for similar reasons, though sadly the truth never came out, though we were happy to accept the Ambassador’s olive branch and be reconciled.

It would be preposterous however if the United Nations, or a Panel appointed by its Secretary General to advise him, similarly ignored senior United Nations staff. I am writing therefore to ask you whether your Panel did interview Neil Buhne, the Resident Representative throughout those difficult days, and looked into official UN documents. In this context I attach just one of the many letters we received which testifies to UN appreciation of the enormous amount of work done by Government on behalf of the displaced. I hope that perusal of this letter will convince you that your Panel has not done a serious or objective job.

I look forward to hearing from you, and to continuing interaction with the United Nations, under what I trust will be your knowledgeable and wise and independent leadership.

Yours sincerely

Prof Rajiva Wijesinha

Member of Parliament

Letter From Neil Buhne, UN Resident Representative, Sri Lanka

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