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UN: Sri Lanka


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The Case of Sri Lanka, Shavendra Silva & the UN Reception

By Matthew Russell Lee (Inner City Press Culture; Literary Supplement)

FUNCA Intro: In an opening in the regime of copyright at the end of 2013, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson were declared public domain by Chief Judge Rubén Castillo of the United States District Court of the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. Decision here; news here. As relates to the United Nations, then, the fast-written story below, while the door is open. Meanwhile others try to abuse copyright, for example the specious Digital Millennium Copyright Act filing by Reuters to block from Google search a complaint its bureau chief filed with the UN seeking to get Inner City Press thrown out. That will be opposed, and free press and speech promoted, in 2014. By the Free UN Coalition for Access, @FUNCA_info

I & II Dec 30, 2013; III & IV here; then V & VI

Continued: Sherlock Homes at the UN: The Case of Sri Lanka, the Bloodbath on the Beach

By Matthew Russell Lee, Cuenta Contra Copyright  I & II here


  The Dag Hammarskjold Library had a construction trailer in front. Since the General Assembly was closed down for renovations, with all its windows broken out, the UN gift shop, always a money maker with its UN branded shot glasses and ashtrays, had moved into the basement. So where had the Sri Lanka evidence gone?

  "This is typical UN," Sherlock said as he leafed through two biographies of Kofi Annan, and a slim volume of interviews with Ban Ki-moon. "When they cover something up, they go all the way."

  "It's easy when you have legal immunity," I muttered. Having helped the UN ignored and lie about the Haiti cholera claims, I often thought this. But rambling around the UN campus with Sherlock loosened my tongue.

  Sherlock must have picked up on this, at least the Haiti connection. "It was peacekeepers from Nepal, right?"

  "Even the UN's hand picked scientists said so," I told him. "But that was after their first whitewashing report."

  "There were Lankan soldiers in Haiti too, right?" Sherlock asked. "The ones repatriated for sexual abuse?"

"Yeah, they covered that one up too, never gave any update from Colombo."

"But do you think there was one - I mean, do you think DPKO ever closed out its file?"

  DPKO is the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, headed by Herve Ladsous. I'd had to deal with them to help muddy the waters about the cholera, claim the sanitation had been adequate, even try to change the date the Uruguayan peacekeepers transferred out to try to rebut a boy's allegation of sexual abuse.

  "DPKO just shreds the files if they have to. No court can make them release any information," I told him.

"That's where we come in," he said. "There has to be a reason that Ladsous won't answer questions."

I'd seen this side of Ladsous, the few times he held press conferences or spoke at the Security Council stakeout. Rather than just dodging questions with long incomprehensible answers like his putative boss, Ladsous had taken to saying, "I have a policy of not answer Press questions." And the UN let him get away with it.

  The way the UN worked, since DPKO had belonged to France even since they threatened to veto Kofi Annan, only the French could bring Ladsous back in line. And why would they? How would it help France if Ladsous answered questions?

  France was using UN peacekeepers to pick up the pieces after their interventions in Cote d'Ivoire and then Mali. They were trying to get into into Central African Republic, after they disarmed the Seleka rebels and let the anti-balaka kill and chase Muslims out. It went way beyond Ladsous' history on Rwanda twenty years ago -- if Ladsous had to answer real questions about the present, it could only hurt the French. And so, his policy.

  "Since you defend them in Haiti, you can still get into DPKO, right?" Sherlock asked me.

  It's true my ID will opened the doors there. But there were security cameras, and presumably the door entry information was saved somewhere and not moved or lost like the Sri Lanka evidence.

  "I can get in there if we have to," I told him. "But that might end my contract."

  "Let's see what we can do from the outside," Sherlock said. "It's more of a challenge like that."

And that's how we proceeded.


  There was a reception that night at the apartment -- the residence, they called it -- of the French Ambassador. It was on Park Avenue, with a doorman and the coats left in the lobby. Sherlock told me he got us on the guest list, but when the doorman asked I noticed Sherlock created a diversion, loudly greeting an Ambassador from Francophone Africa, comment allez vous? Soon we were in the wood paneled elevator.

"Follow my lead," he told me. "I'd told Ladsous will be here." He paused. "And someone else we'll want to deal with on the case."

  Upstairs there were canapes; the bar was at one side of a long two room suite. Ladsous with his bright white hair was unmistakeable. At most UN events I'd seen him at, he stood awkward and alone. But this was the French ambassador's home court. Here, Ladsous was somebody.

  The French ambassador was showing Ladsous off, as if control of the DPKO position no matter by whom was still a victoire. "Je vous presente Herve," I heard him say, to the Ambassador of a Francophone country whose presidency had been controlled by the same family for thirty years.

  I'd recently seen, based on a tweet by a diplomat from Rwanda, a YouTube documentary about Thomas Sankara, the Burkina Faso leader who stood up to Mitterand and then was killed by Blaise Campaore. Even a diplomat from Cote d'Ivoire, representing the Ouattara government which owed so much to France, had whispered to me that Sankara was the real deal. Then he shrugged and said, "Campaore."

"There he is," Sherlock told me. He wasn't pointing at Ladsous but rather the man Ladsous was now talking too. I recognized him, from a story seen online: Shavendra Silva of Sri Lanka.

Silva was the head of a battalion of the Sri Lankan army in 2009. According even to Ban Ki-moon's watered down report, Silva's battalion had shelled hospitals and engaged in other war crimes.

"What is Silva doing here?" I asked Sherlock.

He laughed. "You didn't know? He's an adviser to Ladsous, on Peacekeeping Operations." He laughed again. "Peacekeeping!"

Just then one of the French mission's spokesmen came over. "Can I help you gentlemen?" he asked.

"Not really," Sherlock said. "Unless you want to bring me a Campari and soda."

"Were you invited?" the spokesman continued.

Sherlock answered the question with a question: "Who else have you asked?"

"That's none of your business," the French spokesman replied. "I'll have to ask to see you invitation. If you have one."

"I didn't print it out," Sherlock told him. "Saving paper and all that. You know. Be kind to the environment."

"I'll have to ask you both to leave," the spokesman said.

"And if we don't?" Sherlock smiled at him, as if discussing which appetizer to order.

"Then I'll have to call the police," the French spokesman said.

"Please do that," Sherlock answered. "How very classy. How very French."

The spokesman retreated and whispered with three other men. Two I recognized as UN based reporters, or repeaters as Sherlock had called them. There was Rob Chevalier, and with him a taller journalist for the French wire service who was known as Jumpy Jim. While the others just glanced, Jumpy Jim was pointing over at us.

"I think we should leave," I told Sherlock. "I'm sure our contracts could be canceled for this. These guys have connections."

"They aren't calling the police," Sherlock said. "Do you know what else the police could find here? C'mon, let's at least get a drink before we go."

And we did.

To be continued... [Next: V & VI, here]


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