Gajalakshmi Paramasivam – 25 May 2015
Escalating the Jaffna Conflict
As per the latest news reports ‘Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has stated that police should PAY urgent attention to what happened in Jaffna as the initial stages of terrorism also began in a similar fashion.’
I also felt this similarity and included my feelings in my recent article in relation to this. To me it is not about foretelling – but about preventing more pain and loss for Sri Lankans – especially Tamils. It is important to escalate such conflicts rather than judge at the primary level. Once we judge at the primary level – through our emotions – there is nothing left to be escalated. The pathway through which we escalate becomes our law – the real law that would support our community upto that escalated level. If we follow traffic rules and laws with faith – they connect us to others who are also so committed. THAT prevents accidents more than punishments. It is also one pathway through which we merge with the whole.
In family and workplace I often go through the legal path instead of ‘out of court’ settlement for this reason. I do so only after I am satisfied that all ‘internal’ avenues have been exhausted – so that internal investments by others are not damaged. Those pathways are more important than the immediate benefits from my work. They are the Common Social Highways to social cohesion and harmony. On the Tamil side to the Sri Lankan war – the conflict was taken over by the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) who did not themselves pay their respects to political elders and other Tamils who invested in the Common systems and therefore did not have shares in those structures already developed by our elders. Those who were excited about immediate outcomes – were blind to their disrespect for those higher common pathways. By recognizing and highlighting this to the LTTE – I believe I have continued to confirm and maintain their existence.
This lapse prevails in the Tamil social system also. Take for example the dowry system. Do Tamils who continue to practice the dowry system – respect Thesawalamai Law / Customary Highway? As per my direct experience, folks of Vaddukoddai where the first declaration of Political Independence was made in 1976 – use the name of Thesawalamai but are not committed to maintaining its true structure as per those who made sacrifices to develop that system. The parallel of that for Sinhala and Tamil Nationalists – is our investment in English Law. Until we pay our respects to the original owners – we do not have ownership in those laws. We are only temporary users and are the parallels of economic migrants. The system through which our benefits and compensations come – are the real laws through which we have our experiences. Premature acceptance of money and status deprives us from experiencing ownership in these Higher Common Pathways.
To my mind therefore – the protests by young ones in relation to the rape of the Jaffna student is a premature expression – similar to the dispatch of the bodies of 13 soldiers by the LTTE in 1983. I believe that lower forces are natural when we fail to control them through our Puththi/Intellect. As per our previous experiences – Sinhalese masses carry such forces against other ethnicities. They are the parallels of negative values/Paavam shown in our horoscopes. They are wrongs that have come beyond their ‘correct by dates’. If the Tamil problem had been escalated despite failures – the Higher Common Pathway would have developed through our ‘local’ defeats.
Rape is not uncommon amongst Jaffna student community. There have been incidents in Vaddukoddai area itself. The fact that these are not uncommon has been highlighted by the Hon M.A. Sumanthiran also. In one incident a girl from another area was brought to Vaddukoddai and raped by a gang of male students. There was no punishment for those guys and no justice for that girl – partly due to fear of further damage due to exposure. But fundamentally the crimes are for the same reason – i.e. – premature enjoyment of pleasures. One guy old enough to be my son invited me to his home under the pretext of talking to his mother and sought to shake hands with me and invited me to watch TV. I said I would report him to the Police and walked away. I got the feeling that he was not fully aware that he was doing wrong. I shared the experience with local leaders – so they would do the needful. Despite that and other warnings – the above mentioned rape happened to the school girl. Foreign element – due to culture is a strong influencing factor. It is interesting that one of the guys involved is a Diaspora member from Switzerland. I conclude that to him Switzerland is not ‘home’ but a place to be used for his selfish purposes. These are warning signs for us the Diaspora. We need to ‘own’ the common values of the cultures we are now part of and integrate them with our traditional values. Giving donations instead of Dowry with respect for Thesawalamai Laws is a contributing factor leading to such premature enjoyment of status and pleasures. Wives under such arrangements become mistresses. When these become common to a community – it naturally translates as rape at the lower levels of society.
Jaffna has become less safe than it was when I grew up – due to such premature expressions of judgments and enjoyment of pleasures without due commitment to common systems. When we express at lower levels – it is easy for young ones to copy them. Every money transaction during marriage needs to be passed through Thesawalamai highway if we are to enjoy the higher values of marriage and the protection of marriage for Jaffna women. A woman who received a ‘donation’ confirms disability. One who considers that wealth as Dowry – takes equal position or higher with the husband and that structure will protect the family from such attacks. We carry the ‘security forces’ within ourselves through our genuine investment in those systems which bring us the Common Energy of all genuine investors in those systems.
This rape problem therefore needs to be addressed through the Dowry system which when used in name only for trading purposes – renders higher status to the males in that community who would tend to take the right to greater pleasures as theirs. Like hooliganism during civil riots in Colombo – rape in less orderly parts of Jaffna has become a hereditary problem. If we rejuvenate the heritages from our ancestors we would feel empowered and protect ourselves. The Jaffna woman was groomed to take Equal position through the dowry system and not lesser position. Appreciation of this needs to start in every household for rape to get eliminated from those who claim Tamil Nationalism through diverse cultural values.