Gajalakshmi Paramasivam – 27 Sept 2015
Community of Nations & Land Rights
The amended wording of the US led UN Resolution in relation to Sri Lanka has generated further discussions from various parts of the Sri Lankan Community. As per the Political Editor of Sunday Times:
[The word “international,” was replaced by “foreign” paving the way for the inclusion of mostly Commonwealth judges and others.
During interactions with both Washington and London, Premier Wickremesinghe is learnt to have pointed out there were Constitutional provisions under which the alleged crimes can be investigated and those responsible punished. Thus, there was no need for changes in the law. An Operative paragraph (7)
which states that “The trial and punishment of those most responsible for the full range of crimes under the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations relevant to violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, including during the period covered by the LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission)” could be executed. This, he had pointed out, was through Article 13 (6) of the Constitution which said, “Nothing in this article should prejudice the trial and punishment of any person for any act or omission which, at the time when it was committed , was criminal according to the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations.”]
The pathway of Truth is the highest Law applicable in any environment. No reliable law would produce actions that contradict the pathway of Truth. Article 13(6) states:
[ No person shall be held guilty of an offence on account of any act or omission which did not, at the time of such act or omission, constitute such an offence, and no penalty shall be imposed for any offence more severe than the penalty in force at the time such offence was committed.
Nothing in this Article shall prejudice the trial and punishment of any person for any act or omission which, at the time when it was committed, was criminal according to the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations.
It shall not be a contravention of this Article to require the imposition of a minimum penalty for an offence provided that such penalty does not exceed the maximum penalty prescribed for such offence at the time such offence was committed.]
The first and last paragraphs of this article confirm the importance of limiting punishment through time boundaries. The second paragraph confirms the importance of place boundaries.
Place based boundaries include Persons and groups bound by Common belief. Each such group is a Community. Hence the principle of ‘Community of Nations’ applies to cultural groups that live together – naturally bound by Common Faith just as much as it applies at Regional level for Country Governments. The Sri Lankan Government promises Devolution of powers to Independent Communities when it claims to be eligible to apply the principle of ‘Community of Nations’ to members of the Government. A person who has enjoyed the protection of parents has the natural duty to provide that protection to her/his child. This applies also to Counties. Sri Lanka is taken as a child of the Indian Subcontinent. To the extent Sri Lanka enjoys the Regional protection – Sri Lanka has the natural duty to be a protective parent to the Communities within itself. Political Devolution gives structure to this so the primary level members would ‘see’ and know that they are protected.
In terms of the LTTE – the yardstick for this is JVP. LTTE should not be punished more or less than the JVP for actions against the Government. Yet LTTE and the Tamil Community they are a part of, are called Terrorists by Sinhalese who seek to score a cheap point. Within LTTE - punishable actions start from the time Karuna – the Eastern head of LTTE, was made part of the Government.
Sri Lankans may never come to a just conclusion on the application of law in relation to this war. But inquiring into it – through our Truth - purifies our mind. Once the order of thought is raised to the higher level our enjoyment is sweeter. But this requires discipline and sacrifices at the primary level. When we respect elders / seniors – we respect their sacrifices and the structures through which such sacrifices are ‘seen’ by us. Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa failed to respect the nations that had sacrificed local pleasures towards becoming regional leaders and beyond. The reason was the excessive enjoyment openly at the cash level. The application of the Rule of Law has since changed. Any punishment to other citizens needs to be proportionate to the punishment of the President and his men.
Instead, if we are facilitated to seek and find the Truth and discipline ourselves on the basis of our cultural laws – we would merge naturally at National level. Devolution must therefore give recognition to such demonstrated performance in ‘Internal Discipline’ details of which need not be known to outsiders. Sauce for the Government is Sauce for the LTTE also.
The first duty of the Current Government is to facilitate the restoration of Home Environment for those who were displaced from their ‘homeland’ that entitles them to the protection of ‘Community of Nations’. Given that this is based on Land – there needs to be recognition that civilians were unjustly punished and are continuing to be punished due to their homelands being occupied by the army. All Buddhist places that came up during this period of conflict confirm this enforced occupation and remedies need to be worked out to balance the thought-order.
The principle of ‘Community of Nations’ would be a reliable pathway only when the concept of Tamil Nationhood and Sinhala Nationhood are firmly recognized as Equals at Community level and the opportunity for development of Muslim Nationhood is facilitated whenever there is a legitimate claim.