INVESTIGATE HAMMARSKJOLD'S DEATH...SERIOUSLY

 

1 MAY 2015

INVESTIGATE HAMMARSKJOLD'S DEATH...SERIOUSLY

An investigation into the mysterious death of our inspiring U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold is always welcome. The legendary symbol of dedicated international civil service, who gave the ultimate sacrifice, who died in an air crash September 17 1961 while on a mission to handle the Congo crisis, deserves to receive -- even decades later -- a clearer picture of what actually happened. The crash of his airplane in Ndula, then Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, was shrouded with conflicting reports, some intentional, on whether it was technical error, fire from a nearby plane, or rockets from the ground. At the time, his unique stand drew political fire, not only from powerful countries with vested interests, but business industries benefiting from mineral resources, particularly in the region of Katanga, where Union Minière ruled with its mercenaries and encouraged Moise Tshombe to declare an autonomous stance. U.N. troops, stationed in the Congo, were facing an existential threat, while internal political differences were inevitably caught in an international power struggle, particularly during a cold war. Dag Hjalmar Hammarskjold persistently attempted with courage and wisdom to seek a way out for the international community, globally represented then by his leadership.

A recent General Assembly resolution, adopted December 2014, to open a new investigation into his death is reportedly based on new information. To follow up, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced a committee, drawn from "politically correct" geographical and professional backgrounds to start by 30 March. It is chaired by Tanzania's Chief Justice Mohamed Chande Othman, and includes Ms. Kerryn Macaulay, Australia's representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal, and Henrik Ejrup Larsen, a ballistic expert at the National Centre of Forensic Services in the Danish National Police. Their indicated task is to "assess the probative value" of new information given to the Secretary-General by a foundation in Sweden. While the Committee is scheduled to report by June, 2015, "all members have been encouraged to collaborate and release any relevant material."

Let's wait until June to find out the outcome; and more to the point, how many member states, particularly those who had played a key role at the time, will release their obviously confidential material.

Admittedly, the world has changed drastically, although problems at the Congo remain. So does a "changed" U.N. peacekeeping operation. Colonial Northern Rhodesia was overtaken by Zambia, Southern Rhodesia with Mugabe's Zimbabwe and Colonel / Marshall Joseph Sese Seko was replaced by "JoJo" Kabila, son of Laurent, a former Lumumba aide. Belgium is by now totally out of Africa while London and Paris, which played a pivotal role, have different styles of government policy. Even Sweden has a changed government set up although no Swede could be impartial in the case of their favourite martyr.

What has not changed, however, and remains of constant relevant interest, is the valuable historic contribution by Secretary-General Daj Hammarskjold to world peace and the compelling need to find out what really happened.

If that newly formed Committee is unable to shed real informed and informative light -- as is the likely outcome in such a short period -- then a comprehensive and clear investigation remains of utmost necessity.

Otherwise, there will be further speculation about why the current one was done -- to accommodate whom?

As the issue has been brought up at the official General Assembly level, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, let alone his Swedish Deputy, could not just point to a brief report by a politically correct group -- not when it concerns a rare international idol like Dag Hammarskjold.