UNmember-states examined the report of the Commission of Jurists on the Inquiry into Mr. Hammarskjöld’s death which includes new evidence.On December 31, 2014, the UN General Assembly approved by consensus a Resolution that requested Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to appoint an independent Panel of Experts to examine the new information that has emerged on the tragic death of former UN chief Dag Hammarskjöld.In his letter to the General Assembly Ban Ki-moon points out that the Panel’s report does not exclude a possibilitythat new data may surface to shed light on the circumstances of the death. The data was kept secret by some governments for security reasons to remain classified even now after fifty years have passed since the tragedy occurred. (1) The Secretary General called on UN members to declassify the materials related to the event. (2) The UN General Assembly approved the document initiated by twenty states, including Sweden, the Hammarskjöld’s homeland. (3)
Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöldwas Secretary-General of the United Nations from 10 April 1953 until 18 September 1961. The plane carrying the UN Secretary General was shot down over Ndola, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) on the night of 17-18 September 1961. 16 men on board perished.(4) In April 1962 a UN investigative panel said it was impossible to make definitive conclusions though the report contained enough facts to establish the truth. For instance, some states, including the United States and Great Britain, did their best to conceal it.
“New evidence” is used as a formal reason for launching another probe. There was enough proof gathered in 1961-1962 to make the conclusion that the Secretary General was killed.It is alleged that there were two assassinations – the plane’s explosion in the air and the plane’s crash landing. (5)
The previous investigative commissions successively ignored or downplayed the testimonyprovided by inconvenient witnesses.Some of them said the explosion took place in the air before the plane started to go down. Some said they saw a few planes in the air at the same time. There was no explanation why the evidence provided by those witnesses was not taken into consideration. (6)
The commission’s attitude was rather strange. For instance, there was no clear response from Great Britain when it was asked to provide air cover for the UN Secretary General’s aircraft. There was a threat of harassment posed by the aviation of Katanga (a breakaway state thatproclaimed its independence from the Republic of Congo – Leopoldville). (7) Hammarskjöld asked other nations for air cover. Ethiopia agreed to send jet fighters but by the time of the flight to Ndola the UK government had failed to grant the necessary clearance for overflying British East African territory. (8) The British explanations as to why it happened sounded quite unconvincing but the investigative panel found no evidence contradicting the story. (8)
The UN investigative commission’s report contains a number of critically important facts that were ignored and went unchecked. For instance, bullet traces were detected. The explanation goes as follows “the post-mortem findings included bullets embedded in several of the bodies. A certain amount of attention has been devoted to these, but we do not consider that their origin can be shown to be other than the discharge, caused by intense heat, of ammunition rounds carried by UN security personnel. The ballistic evidence falls short of proof that occupants of the plane were shot once the aircraft was on the ground”. (9) But what were South African mercenaries doing in the Ndola airport? The South African regime was dissatisfied with the Hammarskjöld’s work and was known as an organizer of air crashes, for instance, the plane of Samora Machel (then President of Mozambique) was brought down. There is evidence to prove that Olof Palme, the late Prime Minister of Sweden, was killed by nobody else but South African special services. (10)
The launching of new probe into the details of the Doug Hammarskjöld’s death is a welcome occasion. The investigation should be impartial to provide new details. It should also tackle the issue of the Secretary General’s role in the organization of the Congo operation and the killing of Patrice Lumumba, the hero of Congolese independence.If the investigation goes around these issues then, obviously, the truth will not be established. The United Nations has so far failed to provide an impartial assessment. (11) Hammarskjöld went down in history as the organizer of Belgium’s armed intervention in Congo and the assassination of Patrice Lumumba. Having made its own assessment, the leadership of the Soviet Union refused to further recognize Hammarskjöld as Secretary General of the United Nations. At the same time he stood in the way of Great Britain, the United States and some other states, first of all the racist African regimes, including Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) where the crash took place. (12) It is important to take into account the background against which the December 31 UN General Assembly Resolution was adopted.
First, the United Nations has refused to investigate a number of assassinations against heads of states. Let me remember, that in 2011 Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi offered to add the investigations of heads of states and governments to the United Nations General Assembly’s agenda. Member-states voted against.
Second, the situation around the Malaysian Boeing-777 airliner brought down in July 2014 gives rise to many questions. There are many similarities between the Hammarskjöld’s assassinations and the downing of Flight MH-17. For instance, the persistent disregard of the fact that there was another plane near the Boing-777. It’s even more important that the evidence is almost openly destroyed while a selective approach is practiced regarding the testimony provided by witnesses. This slack attitude, to put it mildly, makes one doubt the efficiency and impartiality of the would-be UN probe, especially in view that the events in question occurred 50 years ago. By 2015 the United Nations has failed to create a mechanism for conducting impartial and honest investigations. Then why launch new ones until the problem is not tackled in an effective way?
Want it or not, now the investigation must be launched. It is still to be understood what made the United Nations take this unusual step. Perhaps, the probe will become another element of the information war launched against Russia. The new United Nations report is partial, sometimes even mendacious, especially when it comes to the role of the Soviet Union in the Congolese conflict. (13) Great Britain has already tried to distort the facts related to the complicity of South African, UK and US special services in the assassination of Hammarskjöld. The information about their activities was published in 1998. The report was prepared by the commission led by Desmond Tutu (a South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop). The UK tried to paint it as disinformation spread by the Soviet Union. (14) What’s even more important, the new United Nations report says the Hammarskjöld’s death was a result the “Soviet conspiracy”! For instance, it mentions the CIA report submitted in 1962 to President John Kennedy. It stated that KGB agents planted a bomb on the aircraft because the Soviet Union was angry with the Hammarskjöld’s rejection of the proposal to substitute UN Secretary General with three officials representing (according to the terminology used those days) the first, the second and the third world. (15) The conclusion was made by the commission headed by a British citizen.
If Sweden really wants to know the truth about the death of its national and the United Nations is eager to find out how its Secretary General died, then the first thing to start from is to provide guarantees of the investigative commission being really independent and partial.