| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam
( May 06, 2012, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) I write in response to the article ‘Geneva – Gearing up for the next round’ by Gam Vaesiya, published in Sri Lanka Guardian.
Gam Vaesiya states ‘In his article Mr. Jehan Perera (JP) is thinking of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) due in October this year. The NGO lobbyists have to not only plan strategy, but also begin to think of booking their plane tickets, make their hotel reservations etc. Indeed, many NGO activists participated at the February UNHCR meeting in Geneva, agitating with the pro-LTTE lobby supporting the US resolution. JP has pushed two strong messages. The first is that Sri Lanka has NOT fulfilled the commitments made at the last UPR in 2008. The second is that the government should involve civil society groups and NGOs like his own in developing its presentation to the UPR.’
To my mind, UN is the best medium through which our issues could be presented at the Global level. Pro-LTTE lobby would obviously need to be highly subjective to match the Pro-Government lobby. This is required for a Democratic picture to be drawn at the highest possible level. The Sri Lankan Government, by listing LTTE as Terrorists, escalated the conflict to world level. Now that it has got what it wanted, it would be unjust and cowardly to withdraw into the local shell under the pretext of Sovereignty. Until we have strong Administrative base in Sri Lanka, we need to continue with the Subjective path – which means that the minorities need to be seen to be treated as Equals. Hence the pro-LTTE stand by countries that themselves listed LTTE as a Terrorist group, prior to 2009. Tamils are more transparent and united in taking up the opposition position to the Sri Lankan Government, at the global level. What we need now is for us to act independently as individuals too – rather than just collectively. That naturally goes into the Social Justice system and strengthens the Legal system when such participants go to Courts.
Recently, I filed complaint against a group of 8 within my family. I did not go to Courts until then, despite feeling pain and loss of status – because they were scattered and no single individual had the ability to complete the ‘other’ side of the picture on her/his own. The picture drawn at the single individual level would have been a small picture. But when I felt collectively attacked – I had the opposition to complete the big picture. I believe that ‘lessons will be learnt’ by majority in the Community, through this matter which is already attracting Community interest.
Similarly, I see the coalition between the USA and pro-LTTE groups to be a side that would draw the ‘other’ side of the Sri Lankan Government to establish the big picture for Sri Lanka. Hence, the advantage I see for Sri Lanka through the UNHRC Resolution is that it has the opportunity to become more competitive alongside Western countries for Global Common Funds. Until Sri Lanka thinks equal to other competitors – it is a dependent / child member of the UN and hence would keep communicating that naturally to its citizens – especially those who voted it into power. Shows of protests until Sri Lanka feels equal to its other competitors, are therefore like those of children protesting against their parents. It is better than meek acceptance, but for it to have real value, those protests need to be the body of real substance – real opposition by the Common Sri Lankan.
One of the ways of achieving this is through integration of various groups including on the basis of community – after they have themselves established the big picture for their group – with government on one side and people on the other. I believe that many pro-LTTE Diaspora leaders would certainly think differently once they start governing the current citizens in their local communities – especially in areas where the common person is not literate enough to know and follow the laws of the country. One needs to be part of their common belief to promote harmony in those areas. Using weapon control – as did the LTTE as well as the Sri Lankan Government – is to promote that culture in those areas. Use of heavy weapons starts usually with tit-for-tat actions escalating to using knives, stones and other local weapons in the community. Recently, I wrote to a Tamil Administrator to highlight that I did not take tit-for-tat action even though I considered such action by me would have been lawful:
‘On the basis that it is Common Pathway, I consider it unlawful that your Administration constructed the gateway to include a part of our fence. As per my assessment, we have the authority to construct our gateways at any part of the fence. I submit that your Administration has temporarily obstructed the exercise of our rights in this regard. Had I reacted on equal basis, it would have been a weak example to the People. It would have gone towards rekindling the war.’
The People of Thunaivi in Vaddukoddai area where the first declaration of a Separate State for Tamils was made in 1976, are known to resort to use of weapons when provoked. They did not go to Courts to seek justice that would benefit all. Hence our donation to the Public is now being used to settle local scores by those who have greater access to and use of the building and other facilities in that Public area. By including myself opposite the local person representing the Government – I am actually lifting the conflict to Government level and beyond if needed – to Judicial level – so the Judiciary is also part of Thunaivi through me. I would not take the side of the opposition for my own private purposes except as part of that community, because that also would be an abuse of power – money and civil status power. Most just calculate whether they would win or lose by going to courts. If they think they are likely to lose or that it would be too expensive in terms of time and money to go to courts – they tended to settle ‘locally’. That is the advantage that rebels have when they have connections to these communities. Even now, I hear criticism against pro-government armed groups but not one against the LTTE.
Hence I do believe that we need to include ourselves with the local communities and promote the use of Government Administration as well as the Courts – with due respect. Without this transformation from within – no development work would prevent war in Sri Lanka. Hence,
I endorse that the government would deliver better outcomes by including NGOs that are committed to Objective outcomes – through business basis. Subjective NGOs including from within Sri Lanka, end up shifting the balance of power between Governments, unless they include themselves with the locals and show greater use of Public Administration and the Courts. Without this inclusion, Subjective NGOs and individuals do not contribute to Independent practice of Democracy. On the other extreme one finds that many donors handout money and leave it to locals to manage. One needs NGOs to manage such resources and ensure that outcomes of global standards are produced by local participants. Too much ‘showing’ of visible outcomes in a short period of time may please the UN but the question is – ‘how much of the outcomes are really towards integrated life?’
I believe that in a divided country like Sri Lanka, we need strong and reliable Administration to integrate at group level.