| by Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam
( March 23, 2012, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) I write in response to the article ‘Sri Lanka: Charades and its price’ by Nilantha Ilangamuwa, published in Sri Lanka Guardian. The essence of this is the same as the message in the letter in Appendix 1 – that the transformation needs to be bottom-up from grass-root level.
Nilantha says ‘We do not have a culture of preventing crimes by timely investigations and prosecutions, operating within a legal framework. Instead, custodians of power have chosen to flush out and eliminate witnesses. Since 1971 when the government started extrajudicial executions of not only the rebels but also of innocent persons, there was none in the country, political parties in particular, who demonstrated a commitment to put an end or at least to challenge this rapid disintegration of the country and its institutions.’
Since the above was published we have had the UN Resolution against Sri Lanka. This morning I received many emails on this matter and one from a Community Leader, had this message:
Human Rights Council condemns Sri Lanka on accountability.
The Human Rights Council today voted in favour of a motion criticising Sri Lanka’s shortcomings on accountability.
This is a very good start, but it is just a start. We need to keep up the pressure to make sure there is real change. The call for an independent international investigation remains, and will until it is answered.
Many of the nations that supported Sri Lanka in 2009, such as Nigeria, Cameroon, and India, have realised that they were lied to and today took the courageous step of supporting the resolution. We particularly thank them. The Government has tried to paint this issue as one of east vs west – whereas in reality it has been the Sri Lankan regime vs its own people. Today that was demonstrated, as nations from all over the world joined with Sri Lanka’s internal critics to tell the government it is wrong, and its policies are flawed..’
As a Sri Lankan, I do feel sad. These days I look at what Truth tells me. Yesterday on the day the UN criticized the Sri Lankan Government, I also wrote criticizing a part of that Government in Tamil North. Appendix 1. My Truth tells me that I as a Sri Lankan have also been criticized by the UN. Tamils need to be extra cautious not to celebrate as the Government did in 2009. The real victory is in improving ourselves through each other including as opponents of Equal status where common trust is weak. Hence we need to not dilute the value of our work by celebrating at surface level. If we did celebrate, we would live in our own high class worlds and neglect the victims at grass-root level – one of the reasons why LTTE was born.
When many were celebrating what to them was a win at UNHRC, I received calls from a disenfranchised community throughout the day – the last one being at 1.15 a.m this morning – advising me that the Government Office was discussing on the basis of a letter given by their Officer at village level – ‘how bad’ I was. I see no reason for even simple joy on merit basis because of my knowledge that Tamil Administrators when they are in uniform / official positions are as guilty as the Sinhalese soldiers. To me it was no coincidence that I as an International citizen had the duty to act to discipline Tamil Administration in North – at the same time as the UN was acting to discipline Sinhalese Administration in South. I feel no true reason to be happy for the People who believe in me and who seek my leadership from across the seas. I am satisfied that the hard work of Tamil leaders has shown results at the top end where I do not feel membership as naturally as I feel with the folks at grass-roots.
As stated in the letter to the Divisional Secretary responsible for the Vaddukkoddai area where the first declaration of separate homeland for Tamils was officially made in 1976, this is everybody’s business. Even the UN had to ‘vote’ and use majority rule rather than allocate rights and wrongs as per common laws and principles at UN level. That in itself takes higher value away from this outcome, indicating the limitations of the UN to deal with it on lawful basis. Eventually, only our genuine work as per our belief would return to us to support our future work and the work of those who believe in us. What ‘happened’ without our direct involvement is only an event. UN Resolution is therefore just an event to majority Sri Lankans including Tamils – especially supporters of the LTTE who failed to actually practice the UN values known to them. We may observe events from the outside and until we on our own connect that to our experience – there is no real value to us and our followers from the UN resolution. The experience is had when we spend more than we receive and feel the rest as ‘ownership’. Those who never spent at UN level would not have had the experience. They would, when their leaders who invested in UN values share with them.
ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF TAMIL LETTER
22 March 2012
Your Ref: VW/RD/THUNAIVI/WRDS/01
Gate/Pathway/Water Supply Issues
I write further to my letter dated 5th of this month to you and my letters dated 15th, 20th & 21st of this month to the Grama Sevakar. I am writing in Tamil so the People of Thunaivi would understand. To me this is about the lawful conduct of the People of Thunaivi.
Right now some decisions taken by the Government of Sri Lanka against the LTTE in 2009 are being debated about at the United Nations Human Rights Council, on the basis that they were in breach of Human Rights. In this regard, a discussion with the Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Australia, has been arranged for next Sunday. Similarly, in January this year, on the day after Pongal (Farmers’ festival), I was facilitated through teleconferencing facilities, to participate from our Kali-Vairavar temple at Sangarathai-Thunaivi, in a Government Conference in Australia, with the Australian High Commissioner for Sri Lanka, the Hon Robyn Mudie. That’s how great Mother Kali’s Grace is. Under such circumstances, it is important that Public Administration over there needs to be within the law and Management needs to show respect for the Shareholding/Investment of the International Community. That’s when there would be harmony there. Otherwise there would be repeat of rebellion; People would be adversely affected; People would die; People would lose each other.
The issue that is being debated now at the United Nations Human Rights Council is about Violence. It is about both sides in the Sri Lankan war using Violence in the name of Government and Opposition to Government, to act in breach of Human Rights. I have a share in this and you have a share in this. As one who took the side of victims, I have share in the weakness of victims who failed to take responsibility for themselves and thus facilitated the Opportunity to exercise Violence.
A high level officer has the responsibility to raise a conflict to the level of his position. The Officer needs to consciously calculate and know whether the person on the other side has deeper investment and cares more deeply than her/himself about the issue at the center of the conflict. If yes, the Officer needs to delegate the matter upwards. If there is no higher authority, the Officer must consciously consider the other person to be of Equal status and then analyze the matter.
If the Government of Sri Lanka had committed itself to the above approach in the issue of Racial Equality, this issue would have been discussed and analyzed at Global level more than 50 years back. The investments made by other nations in this issue would then have been naturally shared with Sri Lankans and Sri Lanka (including Tamils) would have been saved the pain and loss from this tragedy. Similarly, when you undertake projects using International funds, your Administration needs to be of Global standards. Otherwise, you need to train users to use the facilities in a regulated manner.
According to my assessment based on your actions and apparent indifference, some of you must be thinking ‘what can she do?’ Yesterday, in order to continue with the facility of providing drinking water to the People of that area, I asked our Contractor Jegan to do the needful to move our water meter and water motor used to pump water from our well, as well as our temple bell from the Public property to our residence in our private property. Jegan advised me that your Officer Mrs. Sarosa Maruthalingam and her daughter (not a Public Officer as far as we know) required a letter from you for them to permit us to remove our assets. I have insisted that there should be no Violence and Jegan also acted accordingly. It is our understanding that Government Offices are yet to relocate to the Public Building due to the People of this village resorting to Violence as first response. Government asked us for Land on the promise that Government Offices would relocate to the new building built for this purpose. Now the Government has fenced the Land we donated, locked it up and is showing the reason ‘why it has not relocated’.
The words of your Officer and her daughter give us the following message – our group (those who are seen to be on my side) are Violent and Government Officers and those who say ‘yes’ to the Government Officers are non-violent. Therefore the work that is their Duty is allocated to us as if we are their menial servants.
The moment you thought of fencing and protecting the property that you considered to be yours, you had the responsibility to think and act to return all assets in that blocked area, that belonged lawfully to others. The fence ought to have been erected after that. This is a Duty of a Public Officer. Instead, your Officer is ordering us to bring a letter from her higher Officer .
As per my calculations, the moment you divided and fenced the property, we did not have the lawful authority to enter the fenced area without the approval of the law and/or the person apparently in charge of the Land. Similarly, you also do not have the authority to enter our private lands without the approval of the law and/or the person apparently in charge. It is also unlawful to keep in your custody, without an agreement, assets that are lawfully not yours. If you do, it is in breach of the law as per my assessment.
Your Parallel in an Australian University – the Vice Chancellor – called the Police, had me arrested and sent to prison for waiting non-violently in an area allocated to the Public. I did not use violence even though I felt mentally tortured. I did not retaliate and take revenge. I bowed and paid my respects to the architects of the law of Trespass, studied and understood the law. Then I released myself from prison. This experience is now helping me serve others.
Some may ‘buy’ the courts or break the courts to show outcomes they desire –
the way you are showing the outcomes you desire. Here in Australia, many – from the Vice Chancellor to Prime Minister did that. All of them lost status in a way I could see and/or know and connect to my own experience. Had I invested less than they in that law/principle they would not have been punished by the system of Natural Justice. The real height of outcomes delivered would be as per the degree of justice in their system of Administration or in their Law & Order system. Any extra investment I genuinely made is returned through the system of Natural Justice. This is why Krishna said ‘Do your Duty and I will return the benefits’.
People of Thunaivi have declared that you (the government) are Gouravars (the bad side of war). Not only in position but in your conduct also your have confirmed to be so. When you are not physically present there – I take your representative present there – to be Gouravars leader Thuriyothanan.
As advised previously, we built at a cost of about 10 lakhs of Rupees, a water tank in the land donated by us to the Public, so that the Public could also enjoy the facilities we enjoyed. Later, when we installed drinking water facilities for ourselves, we facilitated for the Public to also have access. They were both done at our own private expenses. They are both in my name. Not only have you fenced off the Land donated by us to the Public but your Officers are behaving as if the Path that accesses the above facilities is also your private property. If that is taken as right – we do not have an access path from/to our property.
As mentioned in my yesterday’s letter to the Grama Sevagar – as per the Title Documents at the time our father bought that property for his mother, there was an access path that started at our Northern boundary. Later when I looked through old documents, I found copy of Plan 1592. According to this Plan, our Property had as part of its Northern Boundary, this lane frontage also. It starts at the Western end of the Northern Boundary and travels North. Due to our Donation to the Government, that lane is now part of the Western boundary of the Common Pathway . As per your Officers’ words and actions we – the donors who facilitated pathway for the People, now do not have our own access.
As per my calculations, I am advising you and the Department of Hindu Religious & Cultural Affairs, through this letter, that it would be unlawful to conduct Government administered Human Values classes – in this property of ours which does not have any lawful access to Public road and therefore , we are denying you approval to come into our premises for this purpose.
We cannot permit you to use our Traditional Property as per your convenience and desires. As advised by me previously the land was donated to the People with the aim of ‘Common Good of the People of Thunaivi East’ through NECORD’s Development work to ‘Reconstruct war affected areas’. The Government accepted our donation by declaring that it would use the donation for the purposes stated by us.
The People of Thunaivi wrote and asked us as follows on 09.09.2005:
Respected owner of Thunaivi-Kali temple,
We the residents residing close to the Kali temple, in the property of ‘Maavaddi Addaikalamthottam Kanthaswami Temple’ write to you as follows:
We live under the line of poverty and have a difficult life. For 40 years we have lived in this Maavaddi Addaikalamthottam Kanthaswami Temple’ property in a crowded manner. We do not have lawful access to transport. We use the Kali temple access to access the main road. Now, NECORD organization is Reconstructing Thunaivi village. If you would donate part of Kali Temple land for a path that would join your access path, we could have electricity, transport and water facilities through this program. Therefore we are asking you kindly, humbly and prayerfully to allocate land for us to have a lane.
The above is the origin of our donation. Through your Administration, you are now saying that we the donors now do not have even the path/lane we had before the donation.
The promises of water supply based on which you received our donation did not happen. We facilitated water supply.
After the above request, other People from other parts of Thunaivi asked us for Land to build the Administration building. Thus the Government ‘took’ land to widen the road/access path. Had we donated only as per the above request – that road would have been common road like any other and used by us too as such. You also would not have constructed a gate and erected a fence as per your desire at the end of our Western boundary. It is my belief that it was a sin for the Government to ask and take Traditional Land of private owners, beyond its needs. My family are now accusing me for donating Temple Land to such a bad Government.
The above People of Thunaivi invited me to a meeting to thank me for saying ‘yes’ to their above request. Present there was your predecessor in 2005 – Mr. Mohanras. Discussions took place including about using the land of those living overseas, to build the Secretariat using NECORD funds. One said ‘ From G.G.Ponnambalam’s time, I have shown how to capture land’
I said to Mrs. Ponmalar that I did not like this kind of take over. I asked her how much land they needed. She said 2 Laachams. I said I would ask my family and let her know. After the People made a formal request in writing we agreed. Prior to that when we went to the ‘other’ side of Thunaivi to discuss the issue – they shouted ‘bring the sword’ – which I understand was due to their anger against Mrs. Ponmalar. Mrs. Ponmalar’s driver asked us to get into the vehicle and drove us away to safety.
I do not have real connection with the above event. It happened. I did not have the official authority to judge and allocate rights and wrongs. I did not have deep enough investment in the issue at the center of their conflict to judge as per Dharma/ Natural Justice. But in the current actions of your Office, I have official position as the other side of your Administration and as per my true investment in the issue – the authority to allocate rights and wrongs; take up higher and lower positions; or I could assess what your guna/trait that influences your action is and act accordingly . When we balance others’ weaknesses with our good qualities / gunas, that is family Dharma. That will protect the village, if the villagers believe in such sharers/donors. If on the other hand if this is not accessed despite it being available, but those very persons/donors are repeatedly attacked, the matter/issue goes into the system of Karma – the system of sins and virtues – beyond our control. I am advising you that I am trying very hard for this issue not to get to that stage at this point in time.
Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam
CC: His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaske
His Excellency Thisara Samarasinghe, Sri Lankan High Commissioner for Australia
The Hon Robyn Mudie – Australian High Commissioner for Sri Lanka
Ms.Imelda Sukumar; Government Agent/Div. Secy, Divisional Secretariat – Jaffna
Mr.A. Sothinathan; Divisional Secretary; Divisional Secretariat; Valigamam West Chankanai
Director, Department of Hindu Religious and Cultural Affairs – email@example.com
Chairman – Valikamam West Pradeshiya Sabha
Mrs. Sarosa & Miss Vijitha Maruthalingam
Mr. P. Jeevarasa – Principal – Thunaivi Araneri School
Mrs. Jayanthi Indirakumar & Miss Rishivarthini Aiyathurai– Caretakers – Kali Temple Premises.
People of Thunaivi.