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Chandrika's UN appointment put off

The former Sri Lankan president was named consultant for South Asia by UNESCO, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Dec 18, 2006 11:26 IST

The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), which had appointed former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga as a consultant for South Asia, has "suspended" the appointment following representations from various human rights organisations saying that she had had a bad record of violating human rights during her eleven year rule.

"The issue is now under review," Muriel de Pierrebourg, spokesperson for the UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura, told The Sunday Times.

Matsuura had written about this to Kumaratunga and sent the letter to her London address, the paper said.

The UN official had told her that there had been "very harsh criticism and press focus" regarding the appointment. 

"I am concerned that the perceptions held by these human rights groups could undermine the objectives of a future relationship and your generous desire to further the work of UNESCO in South Asia in a mutually beneficial way," Matsuura said in the letter.

"In the light of these developments, I must also re-examine the proposed arrangement with you.

However, I will revert to you as soon as possible on the outcome of this reconsideration," he said.

Given the criticism in Sri Lanka about her appointment, Kumaratunga had already said that she would not be dealing with Sri Lanka as a Consultant for South Asia.

The Hong Kong based Asian Human Rights Organisation had led the charge against her.

And well known Sri Lankan journalist and editor of Ravaya Victor Ivan had written a book in Sinhala on her alleged corrupt deals and human rights violations.

Among the violations, the disappearance of hundreds of Tamils in the 1990s got much international attention.