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The Case of Sri Lanka, White Flag Murders & Landlord Games

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, now in 2014. By the Free UN Coalition for Access, @FUNCA_info

I & II published Dec 30, 2013; III & IV here Dec 31, 2013

Continued: Sherlock Homes at the UN: The Case of Sri Lanka: White Flag Murders and Landlord Games

By Matthew Russell Lee, Cuenta Contra Copyright  I & II, III & IV


  ...Ignoring the French Mission's spokesman's threat to call the police paid off for Sherlock and me. We chatted with one of the UN-based journalists, some called him a blogger but Sherlock told me, that's a reporter. Then we saw Shavendra Silva by the window looking out at Park Avenue speaking with another, more senior South Asian.

  "That's Vinay Pambiar," Sherlock said. We followed him over, closer to the window. I heard him say the word "brazen."

  "Ah, to be a fly on the wall, or carcass," Sherlock said. "Or to give these guys truth serum."

  Pambiar, turning around from the window to face the room, saw us and froze. He muttered something to Shavendra Silva, then made a beeline to the door and elevator.

  "Guilty conscience," Sherlock said. Shavendra Silva continued standing there with his drink, even beckoned us over. But Sherlock was after Pambiar. We caught the next elevator down. And, thanks to supply and demand between taxis and passengers in New York's holiday season, Pambiar was still out on Park Avenue with the doorman, flagging at yellow cabs as they sped by.

  Sherlock gestured that we should loiter in the lobby. "Let's see if we can follow him," Sherlock said. "This could be the break we need."

  Pambiar got a cab, and a minute later we got one too. The long lasting traffic lights for the elderly rich to cross Park Avenue helped and we caught up to him. I'd never in real life heard someone say, "Follow the car," but Sherlock did it and our driver, apparently also South Asian, did it.

  As we drove south on Park Avenue toward the Met Life building, Sherlock told me, "It was Pambiar who the UN sent to Sri Lanka during the bloodbath on the beach. Even though his brother had written articles in favor of the government, and then general Sarath Fonseka."

  He shook his head. "Typical UN. It's like Hilde Johnson and South Sudan."

  At 48th Street the cab Pambiar was in turned east, as if headed to the UN. Our driver did as well. Sherlock continued: "There was a call by those wanting to surrender. Pambiar took the call, and told them that if they just flew the white flag high, they'd be safe. 'Treated in accordance with international law,' is the way he put it."

  "And what happened?" I asked him.

  "They were executed. And Pambiar never explained it. In fact, he told the reporter back there that maybe the Tamil Tigers themselves did it." Sherlock shook his head. "He's our guy," he said. I wondered what they meant.

  Pambiar's taxi turned south again on Second Avenue, but went only one block. It stopped in front of an apartment tower named for Dag Hammarskjold and Pambiar got out. Our cab drove past, and we looked out the back window.

  "Murderers' row," Sherlock called it. We paid our cabbie and got out. But this was one building we couldn't take our way into: it had two doormen, and Sherlock said he didn't know either of them. That wasn't the case uptown.


 We waited in the park on 47th Street, which Robert Moses had bulldozed to make a grand entrance into the UN until he found even he couldn't get uptown traffic on First Avenue reversed. Now they had farmers' markets here on Wednesdays and Christmas trees like now. A few times I'd seen prostitutes working the park, or maybe just amorous roofless people.

  As we waited Sherlock told me why he thought Pambiar had come here. "Sri Lanka's ambassador lives here, Shavendra Silva's supposed boss although in the that island's hierarchy of blood, Shavendra now ranks or floats higher. I and this work the same way, for whatever reason."

  Sherlock pointed up, high in the building. "Pambiar dealt with this guy during the bloodbath on the beach, when he was luring the Tamil Tiger leaders out to their deaths. The guy was the middleman, but later he left Pambiar hanging out to dry. So probably now Pambair wants to get him back onside, or at least know what he'd say and coordinate stories.

 "I'd assume there's some documents Pambiar might want to see, if not to have. But it'd be a question if the documents came here from the guy's last apartment, or are still in storage there...."

  Across the street in the ornate lobby I saw Pambiar coming out. I pointed and Sherlock got up, sprinted across Second Avenue although we didn't have the light.

  "Vinay!" Sherlock yelled.

  Pambiar looked cornered. He went back into the building, back to the doorman's desk or podium. We stood at the window. I felt almost guilty. Pambiar didn't seem like such a bad guy.

  Pambiar spoke to the doorman, then dialed his cellphone. I wondered if he could call the police, what he'd tell them. We waited.

  A few minutes later some men in blue showed up -- not NYPD, but UN security officers. Seems Pambiar had called them, and gotten them to come run interference a block west of the campus.

  "This is b.s.," Sherlock said. "This is about protecting Pambiar from having to answer questions about having tricked people to their deaths."

  I couldn't disagree, but again, didn't want to lose my UN contract while they were still paying me. "Let's find another way to pursue this," I said to Sherlock. I heard the pleading in my voice.

  "We could go to the guy's former landlord," Sherlock offered. "But there might be other forms of protection there."

  As long as it's not UN, I thought then said. We headed uptown. Sherlock said he knew the doorman.

To be continued...


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