| by Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam
( February 26, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) I write in response to the report in Sri Lanka Guardian ‘Sri Lankan envoy exposes U.S. manoeuvres to deceive the HRC’, in relation to a letter by the Sri Lankan Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Tamara Kunanayakam.
Ambassador Tamara Kunanayakam is reported to have written ‘It has been brought to our attention that an e-mail dated 21st February, purporting to have originated from the Mission of the United States to the United Nations and other International Organisations at Geneva, signed by one Miriam Shahrzard Schive has been sent to Member States of the Human Rights Council and Diplomatic Missions in Geneva. It seeks support for a resolution on Sri Lanka supposedly sponsored by the United States, that is to be presented to the Human Rights Council Sessions in March. This e-mail creates the impression that diplomatic officials of the U.S. have been in close contact with the Government of Sri Lanka, as well as this Mission, to work, “collaboratively on issues of accountability (in Sri Lanka) and the implementation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’s Report”. It goes on to express the hope that ‘the Sri Lankan Government will work with us on this Resolution’. It obliquely canvasses the position of a co-sponsorship of a Resolution and conveys a false impression that Sri Lanka is working with the United States on this Resolution.’
Ambassador Kunanayakam obviously is trying to give her own interpretation to ‘what happened’. What happened could be rearranged easily – when one does not have deep feelings for the purpose as per the place at which it happened and the people through whom it happened. The essence of the Tamil issue happened in Vanni in 2009. Those who suffered due to loss of lives, homes and livelihood are NOT limited to those presently living in that area. They/we are all over the world and continue to represent the group that has suffered due to racial discrimination over many generations. The more I live and work in Northern Sri Lanka where I grew up, the more I feel that real loss of our traditional values – especially investments in regulated systems. Folks in Jaffna do have much spending money. But there is little connection with the systems and values through which those monies were earned. The more we manipulate ‘what happened’, to ‘show’ others, the less our ability / energy to work the true system. As they say in management – the ROOT is our real experience and not our observations and calculations to gain benefits. Like one God many forms – the real experience that feels a part of us could be expressed through various avenues / laws as well as subjects. That is the core value of institutions and families. Anyone could express the Common through their own angle. Sri Lanka is now global through its racial problem.
Given that it has been accepted that we are a racially divided country, we need to have two EQUAL sides to identify with the total picture. In terms of the UN, Sinhalese due to majority vote, are represented by the Sri Lankan government in all racial issues. We need to take it as such until the issue is made common through appropriate laws of global standards, that are actually practiced so the individual would know right from wrong without needing the support of custodians of power.
For example, Thesawalamai law through which daughters have the right to dowry and sons the right to inherit common wealth, would continue to influence the thinking of all those who practice the dowry system – even though they may live in Australia or other Western countries. If they therefore use Common Law basis to distribute inherited property, it would naturally disconnect them from the roots of their own traditions. President Rajapakse’s government using subjective powers to punish Tamils is like taking ‘dowry’ (votes) to make up for the lack of earning capacity(administrative skills). Ambassador Kunanayakam trying to block the groups that represent the Tamil side to balance the Sinhalese side – is like the daughter claiming EQUAL share of inherited property AFTER taking dowry. The Administrative systems that Tamils invested in during Colonial Governance continues to support them at global level. Any government that gives face to Tamil grievances must be facilitated rather than be blocked. If blocked we would have a Sinhalese picture and not a Sri Lankan picture for administrative purposes. This would leave the issue in the subjective basket – at the mercy of Sinhalese leaders.
The Sri Lankan issue needs to be raised to the highest possible level and needs to be given the largest possible picture if we are to derive global level solutions as opposed to local answers under the guise of ‘sovereignty’. Sovereignty is a true protection only to the extent one feels more than one ‘shows’. The more we seek to show – the greater the need to surrender our feelings to the root of global structures rather than to small ‘local’ structures. Sri Lanka is no longer small business. It is Global Program. The path needs to be open for Equal pictures to be presented at the UN level. Otherwise, the outcomes would be ‘local Sinhalese’ even if they were produced in Geneva and Ambassador Kunanayakam, like the armed forces in Northern Sri Lanka, would be merely earning a living through that position. The value would not come HOME to our Sri Lankan roots.