Gajalakshmi Paramasivam – 15 Sept 2015
Majority Power Squared?
As per news reports, Sri Lankan Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Mangala Samaraweera, includes in his recommendations for a domestic process in relation to the ethnic war:
[The ideas that the Government has evolved for setting up independent, credible and empowered mechanisms for truth seeking, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence within the framework of the Constitution include the following:
-For truth seeking, the establishment by statute, of two mechanisms:
(i) a Commission for Truth, Justice, Reconciliation and Non-recurrence to be evolved in consultation with the relevant authorities of South Africa. This mechanism is envisaged as having a dual structure: a ‘Compassionate Council’ composed of religious dignitaries from all major religions in the country and a structure composed of Commissioners. For many victims of human rights abuses, from whichever community, where the perpetrators are unclear for a judicial mechanism to handle, or where the practices of the state and society have resulted in discrimination, this Commission will allow them to discover the truth, understand what happened and help remedy any sense of injustice.
(ii) an Office on Missing Persons based on the principle of the families’ right to know, to be set up by Statute with expertise from the ICRC, and in line with internationally accepted standards……………………….]
People will speak the Truth only when they :
1. are not fearful of persecution;
2. do not desire gain or fear loss of benefits by speaking the Truth.
Religious Dignitaries of all major religions in Sri Lanka – are likely to be ‘Institutional’ in their approach. The receiver of the emotions expressed by the victims needs to be of the same religion, gender and other cultural group as the victim for such free and natural sharing. A grouping of religious leaders would not bring out the Truth from the victims before such a grouping. The numbers at the recent Nallur Festival confirm the strength of faith Hindus have in religion – not as a top-down measure but as a ‘free’ common pathway through devotion.
If indeed the Government was genuine in its proposal – it has the duty to ask the god within itself as to why Article 9 was not amended through the 19th Amendment to the Constitution?
Article 9 states:
[The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1)(e).]
If the above is to be maintained in the Constitution – then non-Buddhist Victims must report their complaints to their local religious authorities and Buddhists must facilitate this through the Government. Buddhist victims must go direct to the National bodies due to Article 9.
The reality of majority power suppressing minority entitlements was recognized even recently through the anxieties faced by minority Tamils after the recent Parliamentary elections – when the Government failed to declare the name of the Leader of the Opposition position in time to prevent those driven by majority power. The law needs to clearly spell out the criteria to qualify for the position of Leader of the Opposition – under the new and confusing structure of Unity Government. Like in the case of Zero Base Budgeting that the Government is moving towards, the determination of who the Government is and who the Opposition is needs to be spelt out – now that we are no longer practicing the fundamentals of the Westminster system. The Sri Lankan Government keeps changing the rules and THAT is the Truth of the Government.
This however is the reality in Sri Lanka and every caring Sri Lankan would identify with this dilemma faced by the Government. One needs to find clever ways of overriding such provisions – especially after minority uprisings and this needs to be through one’s Truth. One who has respected the law and followed Due Process at the highest level practiced in that environment – would move into the area of Truth. That Truth must then become Law for the next generation just as Scientific Discovery becomes Theory that is used and taught from then on.
Once Truth is discovered – through the above Compassionate Council – and that picture says that Buddhism was the cause would the Buddhist leaders in the Council have the power to eliminate Article 9?
Truth is Absolute. Reconciliation is about relative values. One cannot have a Truth Commission. Truth-seeking Commission – Yes. But this above proposal already reveals that Truth of the Sri Lankan Government – that RELIGION was a major cause of conflict. One needs commonness at the Constitutional level to successfully use majority vote to form government. The root cause of the problem is know and yet has not been eliminated due to desire for [majority power]2 squared.
Victims of war need to report to their own religious leaders – as closely as possible to their home area. Then there needs to be a parliament of religious leaders on the basis of number of complainants. These leaders make up the Council. They need to take oath as per their respective religious bibles to lay before the Commission the Truth and nothing but the Truth. Their guidelines need to include that complainants who share through them have been regular members of their places of worship after the experience of pain and loss they are complaining about. The Council’s reporting needs to be directly to the Public through the Parliament and not through particular Ministries. The Public in turn need to know the Theory/law that flows from these discoveries. Towards this these Council Members become Law Indicators.
THIS would then develop the local Governance structures on the basis of True strengths and weaknesses in each area. Rights and wrongs need to be measured through the Laws that include these discoveries. THAT is when People would be owning their own laws. At the moment we are copying from the West and then when we think we have majority power – we ignore that and are using our personal thinking.
Eventually – the Truth prevailed at National level in response to some of our prayers - to uphold Tamil Equality in Governance. THAT needs to be included in the Constitution at Equal level to Buddhism as per article 9. This then needs to be translated as practical remedies and prevention measures through Zero Base planning. Old habits die hard. Hence they need to be zeroed to ground level to clear the space for new development.
In recognition of the civilian victims who suffered due to the war – the rights of Tamils must be remembered at every Public Government function – just as Indigenous Land Rights are honored here in Australia.
Affirmative Action as per Article 2.2 of the International Convention on the Elimination of all kinds of Racial Discrimination needs to be actively practiced by the Government. Article 2.2 states:
[ States Parties shall, when the circumstances so warrant, take, in the social, economic, cultural and other fields, special and concrete measures to ensure the adequate development and protection of certain racial groups or individuals belonging to them, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the full and equal enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. These measures shall in no case entail as a consequence the maintenance of unequal or separate rights for different racial groups after the objectives for which they were taken have been achieved.]
If the UN fails to use its own mechanisms – then UN fails itself and its members. Those of us who practice global principles are UN members. WE need to be satisfied with the UN’s measures.
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