24 June 2017
The Right to Self-Determination – when and where?
“Before my death sentence is carried out, please remove my eyes and transplant them to a Tamil without eyesight. I will not be able to see the free Tamil Eelam but, at least, let my eyes see it.” Tamil Militant Kuttimani
[At the present time, when Sri Lanka is engaged in formulating a new Constitution, the concept of self-determination of Tamil people has become the subject of much discussion in political circles, civil society organizations and generally among the people.] Lakshman I. Keerthisinghe in Ceylon Today article ‘A Sri Lankan perspective Right to self determination’
There is a saying in Tamil – that even the pillars of Poet Kamban would recite poems. I believe and often say it to immediate family that every corner of our home would speak ‘Due Process’. In Governance – every pillar in the home area of the Governor must throb with the Energy of Sovereignty. Where there is equal share of responsibility taken by members – individually and/or collectively – self-governance is confirmed through outcomes. Where there is a fair gap between one and the other/s Due Process is the pathway through which the Energy of the deeper investor in the ‘whole’ is preserved. Every part of the home of such a leader would sing the praise of that leader’s specialty.
Every person has the right to self-determination. When a group of people of similar culture are led by such person/s within that culture – they would be a self-governing group. The right to self-determination by Sri Lankan Tamils as such a group, was formerly expressed through Vaddukoddai Resolution 1976. Majority folks in Vaddukoddai therefore need to be self-governing or need to show a self-governing person/group as their leader. The pathway through which this happened was Political. Yet, militants took-over the agenda and demoted Vaddukoddai’s status as follows:
[On 1 August 1982 T. Thirunavukarasu, the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) MP for Vaddukoddai, died and on 14 October 1982 the TULF nominated Kuttimani (Selvarajah Yogachandran), a leading member of the militant Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO), to be his replacement. Kuttimani was at that time in prison awaiting trial on charges related to the Neervely bank robbery. There was dispute as to whether Kuttimani was eligible to be an MP and on 24 January 1983 Kuttimani "resigned" from Parliament, never having taken oath. The TULF subsequently nominated Tiruchelvam to be Thirunavukarasu's replacement.] - Wikipedia
By considering Kuttimani the TULF leaders weakened their claim to self-determination through the Political pathway. Kuttimani being a militant was not entitled to membership benefits within TULF. Wikipedia reports as follows in relation to Kuttimani’s tragic death:
[Kuttimani was arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy on April 5, 1981 and was charged with an array of "criminal acts". The Sri Lankan court sentenced him to death.
The presiding judge said that when he sat down he would pronounce his verdict as required by law. However, before that, he wanted to state that he did not view Kuttimani as a common criminal. He further said that if one day the president was to grant a reprieve to Kuttimani he would be happy to hear of it. Kuttimani's reply showed the world his yearning for a free country (Tamil Eelam) for his people. This was his reply:
Before my death sentence is carried out, please remove my eyes and transplant them to a Tamil without eyesight. I will not be able to see the free Tamil Eelam but, at least, let my eyes see it.
Upon his death sentence, Kuttimani was sent to the Welikada (Welikade) maximum-security prison to wait for his execution. There were both Sinhala and Tamil prisoners. The Sinhala prisoners were convicted of criminal offences such as murder, rape, robbery, etc. The Tamil prisoners were all freedom fighters. The Sinhala and Tamil prisoners were kept apart all the time to avoid racial clashes between them.
Kuttimani was brutally murdered during the 1983 Anti-Tamil pogrom in the island. Sinhalese mobs as well as personnel belonging to the Sri Lankan forces went on a rampage in Tamil areas, torturing and murdering Tamil men and children, raping, torturing and murdering Tamil women and girls, and looting and burning Tamil residences and businesses. Police and army (which were almost exclusively Sinhalese) either participated in this orgy of violence against the Tamils or kept a blind eye.
On 25 July, the second day of the pogrom, the Tamil inmates of the Welikada prison, who almost all of them had been detained without any trial, under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act, were brutally murdered by the Sinhalese convicts with the assistance of the prison guards. According to Amnesty International, some of the Sinhala prisoners were given alcohol and then were encouraged to attack the Tamil prisoners. A large number of the Sinhala prisoners, with knives and other sharp weapons, stormed into the building where some 35-37 Tamil prisoners were lodged. They stabbed, beat and tortured the Tamil prisoners. Genitals of a few prisoners were mutilated.
Both the eyes of Kuttimani as well as Jeganathan were mutilated and gouged out with iron bars, since he had dreamed of seeing with them, through another person after his execution, an independent Tamil state. One version has it that Kutimani’s tongue was cut out by an attacker who drank the blood and cried: “I have drunk the blood of a Tiger.” He was then murdered and his body was disposed in front of a statue of the Buddha in the prison yard.]
Was Kuttimani entitled to Politically represent Vaddukoddai once he became a guerrilla fighter? To my mind if the answer says ‘yes’ as per majority Vaddukoddai folks, then we were deviating from the Political pathway towards the military pathway. This automatically writes off our investment in Higher Education. The higher the structure of our education system – the stronger the validity of process needs to be. Self-Governance in higher education is confirmed at PhD level – where we contribute to Theory/Policy. If we seek self-governance at lower level – the area covered needs to be small. Outcomes driven pathways would lead to self governance only when the areas is small. Hence the use of project basis in Democracy where commitment to Due Process has been weakened in large organisations – especially those within Public Service where majority are of one culture. LTTE was strong in military leadership by rejecting power-sharing with other groups.
The more we depended on ‘showing’ outcomes to others – the smaller our area of governance became. Kuttimani’s world was limited to the Guerrilla groups amongst Tamils. Until they were in the majority his country was much smaller than the Tamil Nation covered by the Vaddukoddai Resolution. If not, then Vaddukoddai Resolution was killed by militants. If militants did not inherit Vaddukoddai Resolution – then they needed to start from zero base and stay away from the investments made by others through traditional pathway of Politics.
Mr. Keerthisinghe states in this regard:
[It is to be noted that although the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has been an ardent advocate of Tamils being a separate 'people' and that leads them to the right for self-determination, there is not yet a recognized legal definition of 'peoples' in international law.]
The parallel of the above vagueness is ‘Australian Values’ that our politicians often refer to when they feel challenged by minorities. Legally, Australian Law would be taken as Common principle and practice of it would be Australian Value. Any politician before expressing an expectation at National level – has the duty to first make it LAW before pronouncing such expectations outside Parliament House. Otherwise like Kuttimani’s Thamil Eelam – covering a section of Sri Lankan Tamil community, White Australians are referring to English Values when they say Australian values.
The Tamil Traditional pathway of Intellectual Discrimination has been damaged and neglected by Tamils looking for quick outcomes including through militants who fight at the risk of their lives. The recent conflict in Northern Province Politics became public due to lack of Common Due Process, under the leadership of an educated Tamil person and/or group. In 2014, a Sri Lankan doctor residing in Australia killed her abusive husband because her belief that he would one day change did not come true. The problem with those who accept their minority status is that however educated they are they tend to rely on belief and not seek a way out including through the Law. This young lady doctor shares her experience as follows:
"I think emotional abuse was the most difficult part to deal with. That constant manipulation, that constant control which I felt — I was so much trapped, and I could not leave. And constant threats to myself and my family and loved ones made me very helpless."
This happened also because in Sri Lanka, education is more for a living than for higher life. In terms of Natural Justice, the lady is now ‘free’ even though she was sent to prison for manslaughter.
"I thought one day he would change, so I could not believe what happened on that day."
Tamil leaders often said this about why they did not resist militants from killing Politicians. Majority Tamils opposed the killing of Rajiv Gandhi. But to the LTTE which deviated from the root cause – there would have been little room for ‘logic’.
Now that the disorder within the Sinhalese Armed Forces has been made public – society has the duty to think along the lines the Judge in the case against of Kuttimani demonstrated by stating that he did not consider Kuttimani to be a Common Criminal and that he would be happy to learn about a Presidential reprieve.
So long as our internal law and order system is weak we need separation of powers as per our respective cultures so that we could find and live within our own Sovereign paths. We are all born Sovereign and so long as we stay close to our ‘home’ make up, we would tend to preserve and act within that Sovereignty. Once we seek to rule others or be ruled by others we would need to broaden our thinking to cover the whole as our home-group or devolve power to the extent we are not able to so consider. Sinhala only legislation would have made foreigners of all Sri Lankans to whom Sinhalese was not the mother-tongue. Likewise if English only were to become the law in Multicultural Australia. Sinhalese who considered Tamils as part of their group – in secular institutions – would have been naturally protected from fear of Terrorism – especially when those Tamils do what they can to educate and include militants, rather than find fault at lower levels to entertain their desire for authority.
The more we rely on outcome based Administration including through military wins, the greater the need to shrink our home base – so that we do not exercise authority over foreigners – even though they carry the Sri Lankan label by law. Every person/group is entitled to pursue the discovery of the Sovereignty in their own pathway – so long as it is NOT unlawful and/or is NOT damaging another’s pathway.
So long as Buddhism foremost is part of the Common Law – it would be difficult for Non-Buddhists to be committed to Common Law. The People in that instance is Buddhists if the makers are to claim Belief as the basis of that law. Hence they do not have jurisdiction over non-Buddhists – be they individuals or groups.
Those driven by majority rule need strong opposition to form the belief based foundation on which Administration is developed. One who Believes is Sovereign and v.v. Given that a non-Buddhist cannot believe that Buddhism is foremost – all Non-Buddhist have the natural entitlement to self-devolution through the highest common pathway in their environment. One who acts to punish a member of minority religion for doing so – is actually earning the debit to be punished in due course of time – as happened in the case of the Sri Lankan lady doctor who was strongly supported by Australians who have embraced the de facto system of marriage where we are entitled to act in our own way – as per our conscience. When we act as per our conscience – we would never wrong the other person nor society that we are both part of.
I believe that if Buddhism foremost clause had been removed from the Common Constitution – not only the war but also the devolution to Provincial Councils would not have been needed. Any good law will uphold the Truth which is carried as Common Belief by a group of People. A law that fails to uphold that Truth / Common Belief – is for political advantage and hence carries the high risk of separating – first with ‘foreigners’ over whom the spirit of such law is enforced and when they resist – the habit damages the internal makeup of those who are used to majority force. This has happened at least twice in Sri Lanka – with the minority becoming leading opposition when the ‘Energy’ invested by majority to uphold Sovereignty of the whole was weaker than the Energy by minorities who often tend to use intellectual discrimination where they are challenged by majority rule. That was how Tamils became leading Opposition in Sri Lankan Parliament – due also to genuine Buddhists who practiced Buddhism with respect for Lord Buddha.