Gajalakshmi Paramasivam – 28 June 2015
Arnhem Land & Pungudu Island
Recently I responded to our Australian Prime Minister who shared the need he felt to integrate the Australian Indigenous Communities with Mainstream Society - at a higher level. At that time I felt that it was best to facilitate their Natural life and accept the Spiritual Values as the Common values. But this morning through meditation, I was able to merge naturally the two groups within me – representing the two Nations within me – Australia and Sri Lanka. There are parallels of Arnhem Land Indigenous Australians in Sri Lanka also. A big part of them come from areas like Pungudu Island where the recent rape incident invoked Presidential involvement and has become a globally significant matter due to the Politics involved.
Here in Australia we had a parallel case against Mr. Rupert Maxwell Stuart – who was charged by Police for raping and murdering a nine year old white kid. The case is significant due to the cultural differences between the punished and the punisher. This was my issue with the Indonesian Government using the death sentence to punish Bali 9 leaders. Given that it happened to Myuran Sukumaran of my community – I felt it happened to me. Hence I shared my feelings by protesting against the Death sentence or any serious punishment by one culture on another. This is significant in ethnically divided Sri Lanka also.
In the Punguduteevu matter – I was disturbed to learn that lawyers of Jaffna were not in the frontline to ensure that Due Process was upheld in the court process. This is important to the self-governing leader. In the case against Mr. Rupert Maxwell Stuart – it was established that the Police became judges and found Mr. Stuart guilty and got him to sign a confession. According to Mr. Stuart’s own confession as reported – he was so drunk – he could not remember. The end result may be the same but the process – the mental state - is important to know WHY it happened and hence identify with the root cause. As per my knowledge, Mental insanity is a just cause to plead not-guilty of a crime. That raises the question whether a person who was fully drunk should also be punishable on the basis of lesser charge such as homicide rather than murder.
Mr. Stuart was considered an outsider by full-blooded Aborigines because Mr. Stuart had white ancestry in his genes and was recognized as half-caste – a reason why many Tamils are shunned by Eelam claimants who are strong supporters of the armed struggle. One Tamil engineer said to me that he would never consent to his son marrying a White. A relative of his by marriage did marry a Sinhalese and confirmed the extent of his influence within the family.
As per Wikipedia ‘ at the time, 'full-blooded' Aboriginal people were forbidden by law to drink alcohol. In 1953 a Federal ordinance had been passed that permitted 'half-castes' to drink, but they were required to apply for a "certificate of exemption". These were commonly referred to as "Dog Licenses" by Aboriginal people. Stuart had been jailed on more than one occasion for supplying alcohol to 'full-bloods'. The ban was rarely enforced in rural towns.’
These Dog Licenses are the parallels of Traitor labels issued by the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) on those who worked with the Government of Sri Lanka. In the Pungudutheevu rape matter – the accused persons are considered to be half-castes and hence the denial of service by full-blooded Tamil Lawyers.
Lawyers driven by money and status – would fear losing them. But they confirm also that to the Tamil Legal Profession Due Process is not as important as outcomes. This is a pity because we have a great example in Hindu Legend – Mahabharatham – in which Prince Arjuna who was the darling of family elder Bheeshmar – was urged by Lord Krishna to do his duty and fight as an Equal to his family elders and guru in the battle field. I believe, I drew strength from this when I was faced by similar challenge at the workplace and my family-in-law.
Lord Krishna said to Prince Arjuna that Great Hero Bheeshmar and guru Thronar would want Arjuna to fight on Equal footing. Now I realize that this is because when Arjuna – their prodigy demonstrated skills through Just and Due Processes – he confirmed their own higher common work. It was therefore part of themselves fighting against another part. It would then not matter which part won. The whole experience is escalated to the higher level. Equal footing is important for the junior to bring out her/his true skills to defeat injustice – not for one individual but for a whole society relying on the Judiciary. The above Australian case upheld this value and it is important that this be done in Sri Lanka also. It is even more important that this be done at the UN – not for Tamils to win but for Sri Lankan society to uphold their higher investment in Justice. The US Resolution has raised the platform so that Tamils will have Equal Footing. Now we must fight as Equals and not practice reverse discrimination.
Thinking about this issue through the Pungudutheevu matter - I felt that if Refugee applicants of Lankan origin were required to live in the areas parallel to the ones they were living in when they had the war-related experiences in Sri Lanka – some of them would live in or close to Arnhem Land. That is also the test to know whether they are genuine or the real reasons are different to the stated reasons. The new laws in some ways provide for this – through Safe Haven Enterprise Visa system. It’s up to the applicant to self-assess and go to the place parallel to the one in Sri Lanka. When this happens – the investment in that Land is brought to Australia as the True Spirit of one who lives close to Land. The value of those living in rural areas is this Spirit – which is felt by them through the express path of Belief. We take the round the globe pathway through global principles – and using our cleverness to show how fast we can travel. The story that comes to mind is about the Mexican fisherman and the American Banker by Courtney Carver. At outcome level the fisherman who never left home would be relaxed and do the things that the American Banker would think of doing in retirement. The latter’s joy is actually from through life in-between. We senior migrants must remember that in the case of refugee applicants. Sri Lankans who never left Pungudutheevu would feel more at home in Arnhem Land than in Melbourne or Sydney where our visas would also be of lesser value than in Arnhem Land. Given that majority refugee applicants from Sri Lanka are more literate than the Indigenous groups that our Australian Prime Minister is concerned about – it would be easier for Aboriginal children to learn from these newest migrants from rural areas in their countries of origin.
During my contribution to Tsunami Reconstruction – I lived with such a group and the President (then Madam Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga) approved the project proposals submitted by me and the community got their housing without delay. It happened through Hindu Cultural Minister (then Mr. Douglas Devananda) who is considered half-caste by Eelam only Tamils. But given that I believe I am Tamil Sri Lankan – I received the approval as true endorsement of MY work of global standards. Those folks of rural Eastern Sri Lanka – would be misfits in Sydney or Melbourne. But they would get along fine with the folks in Arnhem Land. That is the natural solution – with the Government feeling satisfied with the Process of Facilitating and the citizens making their choices as per their inner Truth. Truth is the most orderly pathway and facilitates all traveling along Its pathway.