Sunday 20 September 2015

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam – 20 Sept  2015

Australian Government's Opportunities & The Pain of Refoulement

An article in ‘Economy Next’ drew my attention to the following paragraph in the Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Promoting Reconciliation, Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka:

[To the United Nations system and Member States
            (a)        Provide technical and financial support for the development of transitional justice mechanisms provided that they meet international standards; Set up a coordination mechanism among donors in Sri Lanka to ensure focussed and concerted efforts to support the transitional justice process;
            (b)        Apply stringent vetting procedures to Sri Lankan police and military personnel identified for peacekeeping, military exchanges and training programmes;
            (c)        Wherever possible, notably under universal jurisdiction, investigate and prosecute those responsible for violations such as torture, war crimes or crimes against humanity;
            (d)        Ensure a policy of non-refoulement of Tamils who have suffered torture and other human rights violations until guarantees of non-recurrence are sufficient to ensure that they will not be subject to further abuse, in particular torture and sexual violence;
            (e)        Continue to monitor human rights developments and progress towards accountability and reconciliation through the Human Rights Council; Should there be insufficient progress, the Human Rights Council should consider further international action to ensure accountability for international crimes.]

From time to time, the Australian Government has engaged with us as leaders of the Australian Tamil Community – in adhering to the above principles and values. At the last of such meetings attended by myself, I raised particularly  the aspect of non-refoulement policy and sought assurance that  the returnees were subsequently monitored by our Australian Government. As per published report about the Australian Government’s performance on this:

[The Australian Government has been accused by the UNHCR and more than fifty Australian legal scholars of violating the principle of non-refoulement, by returning 41 Tamil and Singhalese refugees to the Sri Lankan Navy in June or July 2014, as part of Operation Sovereign Borders immigration and border protection policy. This action was followed in September 2014 by a Bill tabled in the Australian Parliament that would remove Australia's non-refoulement obligations, and sought to reinterpret Australia's international treaty obligations.] Wikipedia

This was a self-declaration by the Australian Government’s inability to maintain its leadership in Human Rights issues at International level. That is the Truth I also found out about our Government under the leadership of Mr. John Howard, in 1999 and brought action against Mr. Howard by complaining to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission through Racial Discrimination Act 1975, on the basis that Mr. Howard as Prime Minister, had failed to recognize the failure on the part of the Vice Chancellor of the University of New South Wales to ensure that I was not mentally sent back to Sri Lanka by failing to use merit basis from Zero Base to assess my performance in implementing Zero Base Budgetary system that the University stated it was committed to and for which purpose I was specifically recruited on the basis of my previous experience in this area at State level which was also recognized later by the Chancellors of the University as well as the Medical Faculty to which my services were assigned.

I Learnt through that experience – the pain of refoulement. Intellectuals are driven by mental environment rather than physical environment. The UNHCR and the Australian scholars who found the Australian Government guilty of refoulement confirmed that they were driven by their higher mental environments. The Government on the other hand was driven by its reality in terms of refugees and the costs involved which were detrimental to its ‘Political Business’. Like in my case – a Prime Minister committed to non-refoulement or its parent – Equal Opportunity Law – is likely to end up losing her/his job if s/he were successful in practicing UNHCR / Academic policies at global standards. But one who does practice with faith – becomes aware of global opportunities.

Talking about faith – a UK supporter of global standards who shares genuinely with me responded to my article ‘making it happen’ as follows :

[As always this is very well written. Thank you, for including me.
When I read your article and your reference to humility, I thought of something I read in the Bible....
(7) For we walk by faith, not by sight.
There is a similarity between eyesight and faith simply in the effect that they have—one on the physical, the other on the spiritual. Nevertheless, in terms of II Corinthians 5:7, faith and eyesight are opposites. Recall that Hebrews 11:1says that "faith is . . . the evidence of things not seen." Faith is the conviction of what we have heard but cannot see. "Faith comes by hearing" (Romans 10:17).
Man says. "Seeing is believing." So when a man sees something, he is convinced, and his mind, then, is inclined to what he has seen. In the life of the righteous, faith is the controlling factor that motivates his conduct. The importance of eyesight is true in the physical realm, but it means almost nothing in the spiritual realm.

Humility comes with Faith in God, be it Ganesh, Murugan or Christ. Though we say seeing is believing, it is faith that is important.]

Equal Opportunity Laws in Australia – in the case majority - do not work at the individual level – due to stagnation that results from ‘seeing the physical and believing’ at that level. Politics is driven by ‘seeing is believing’ practitioners who are driven more by habit than by intellectual discrimination. So long as such members do not come beyond their physical borders – they would identify with and maintain their Sovereignty. The problems often happen when they keep going to and fro – trying to get the best of both worlds.
Freedom at the physical level and Independence at the mental level may ‘look’ the same but are often not the same due to this indiscriminate change of order not only by  Member Governments of the UN but also Diaspora members and leaders who fail to pass their expressions through UN/Global standards before concluding and publishing the essence of their work. As  highlighted previously – the UN Itself was guilty of this ‘member influence’ when it colluded with the Sri Lankan Government during the last stages of the war. The UN report states at paragraph 27:

[OISL also investigated allegations of extrajudicial executions of identified LTTE cadres and unidentified individuals on or around 18 May 2009, some of who were known to have surrendered to the Sri Lankan military.  Although some facts remain to be established, based on witness testimony as well as photographic and video imagery, there appears to be sufficient information in several cases to indicate that they were killed after being taken into custody.  Depending on the circumstances, if confirmed by a court of law, many of the cases described in the report may amount to war crimes and/ or crimes against humanity.]

As per the report published by Economy Next:

[The first UN war crimes report on Sri Lanka has identified several top militrary and police personnel in charge of key units held responsible for extra judicial killings, rape and degrading treatment of civilians.
Individual culpability is not specified in the 261-page report, but it has clearly identified the command structure of the armed forces, down from commander in chief Mahinda Rajapaksa to field commanders.
It also names individuals such as Palitha Kohona and minister Basil Rajapaksa as key government figures involved in arrangements for a surrender of Tiger political wing cadres who were later executed by the military.
For the first time, the UN accuses the military of carrying out a cold-blooded execution of unarmed cadres giving themselves up to the security forces following assurances of safety from Kohona, a top official of Sri Lanka's Peace Secretariat.
"The OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka concludes that there are reasonable grounds to believe that LTTE senior political wing leaders Balasingham Nadesan and Seevaratnam Puleedevan as well as Nadesan's wife Vineetha Nadesan may have been executed by the security forces sometime after 06:00 on 18 May.
"However, further investigation is required to determine the full facts as to what happened and who was responsible for the killings."
The report contradicted testimony from Major General Shavendra Silva who had denied troops shelled the Putumattalan hospital.
"However, testimony collected by OISL strongly contradicts this version of events.  Putumattalan hospital was used to treat civilians, and came under repeated attack."

As an Australian, I complained against Dr. Palitha Kohona ( ) to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission – as I  identified with Dr. Palitha Kohona’s role in this tragedy  – due to my wisdom in the workings of the minds of Australian Foreign Service in which Mr. Kohona enjoyed high position and also in the workings of the UN in relation to Equal Opportunity principles and values,  through my genuine practice of the principles of Equal Opportunity at its highest here in Australia where as an individual I felt the pain more than in Sri Lanka. I did not ‘submit’ to the money and position desires by denying myself the Independence that comes from Truth – that my mind order in relation to my accounting work is Sri Lankan and therefore was Equal to Australian of parallel value. Even as book-keeper here in Australia – I practiced my values as Chartered Accountant. Hence when the Finance Director of the University of NSW found fault with me stating ‘what if the auditors saw this?’  my open response was ‘Do the right thing and do not fear auditors’. The UN is our Auditor and if we do the right thing in everyday living – we do not need to fear the UN. Otherwise we need to not receive any money or status as members of the UN – but live simply as Sri Lankans living within Sri Lankan means.   

In contrast – a fellow Australian of Sinhalese origin wrote as follows  in response to my article ‘making it happen’:
[This whole saga is a joke.  Does anyone think these Western powers care about human rights in Sri Lanka or the rest of the world!!!!!!  (I don’t think so.)
This is just trying to gain control of this sovereign country, Sri Lanka, with the attitude of “Might is Right”.
Are we not united enough?!?!?
Are we not clever enough??!?!?!
Are we not (so called) educated enough?!??!?!?
Are we not rich enough ?!?!?!?!?
If outsiders try to interfere into Sri Lanka’s internal affairs, how insulting that could be?!?!?
No matter how much we write or how much we shout, it will fall into deaf  ears unless we are clever and strong enough to combat this situation. This is how I feel!]

Given that this person is an Australian by law – his first responsibility is to respect the Sovereignty of  Australia and the Sovereignty of Australians in his physical environment. Migrants – who are highly conscious of their cultural values above their Common National values -  do not have the entitlement to find fault with those who qualify as Common Nationals. Often it is when they come out of their cultural circles that they know the difference. Sinhalese Community or Tamil Community does not qualify to take up member status in UN environment.  One needs to have demonstrated experience in practicing UN laws – in this case Equal Opportunity Laws – to have natural eligibility to find fault with an organization that is by law and/or specific agreement committed to those pathways. It is after we have demonstrated our acquired value beyond the highest level practitioner in our environment – that we have the moral authority to criticize any organization independently – through Observer status.

As  highlighted above – Freedom and Independence may ‘look’ the same in terms of ‘looks’ but one is empty and the other is full with  Energy. Former is ignorant mind and the other is still mind. Hence the saying ‘Summa Iru’ by Saint Yoga Swami. When the two sides are at Equal Distance from us – we have a still mind and hence ‘see’ the whole through our mind’s eye – the Third Eye expressly depicted in Hinduism through Lord Shiva – the Lord of the Mind.

This morning, I received an email from a group that is politically driven and is in a hurry to find fault with the UN. .  I note in the list - the Tamil names  as well as names of former UN officials including the popular and interesting personality Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka:

[Signatories to this petition

Hon. Veerasingham Anandasangaree,  Sri Lanka
Former member of Parliament of Sri Lanka, and current  Leader,  Tamil United  Liberation Front (TULF)
Prof Rajiva Wijesinghe, Colombo Sri Lanka
 (Former member of Parliament of Sri Lanka and Head of the Peace Secretariat and delegate to UNHRC)
Dr. Dayan Jayetilleka, Colombo, Sri Lanka
 (Former Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Former Vice- President of UNHRC; former Ambassador to France and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO)
 Tamara Kunanayagam, Paris, France
(Former Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva)
 Chris Dharmakirti,  Colombo, Sri Lanka 
(Former head of National Council for Economic Development (NCED) and Strategic Enterprise Management Agency (SEMA),  and delegate to UNCLOS  in New York)
 Dr. Ranil Senanayake, Colombo, Sri Lanka 
(Systems Ecologist,  and delegate to UNEP)
Dr. N.P. Wijayananda
(Former Chairman of the Geological Survey & Mines Bureau and delegate to UNCLOS in New York)
Dr. Kumar Rupesinghe, Colombo Sri Lanka
(Human Rights Activist & Expert on Conflict Resolution)

Dr. T.L. Gunuruwan
(Former secretary to the Ministry of Transport & University Academic)
Manohara Silva,  Colombo, Sri Lanka
(Constitutional Law Expert)
Major General (Retd.) Lalin Fernando, Colombo, Sri Lanka
(Retired Officer of the Army)
Lt Col (Retd.) Anil Amarasekera Kindelpitiya, Millewa,  Sri Lanka
(Retired Officer of the Army)
Chanaka Ellawala,  Colombo, Sri Lanka
Dr. Ivan Amarasinghe,  UK
Dr. Anula  Wijesundera , Colombo, Sri Lanka
Sanja Jayatilleke,  Colombo Sri Lanka
Hasina Leelarathna,  Los Angeles, USA
H.L.D. Mahindapala,  Australia
Asoka Weerasinghe, Ottawa, Canada
Ajantha Premarathna,  Sri Lanka
L Wanasundera, Sri Lanka
Mal Munasinha,  Ontario, Canada
Ranjith Soysa, Victoria, Australia
Mahinda Gunasekera, Toronto, Canada
Surein Raghvan,  Toronto, Canada
Gamini Gunewardena,  Sri Lanka
Mal Munasinha,  Ontario, Canada
Charles Perera,  Sri Lanka
David Blacker, Sri Lanka

Hon. Prime Minister  Of Sri Lanka
Hon. Minister of External Affairs of Sri Lanka
Mr. Maxwell Paranagama,  Chairman of the  Presidential Commission on Missing Persons 
Mr. Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Mr. Pablo de Grieff - United Nations Special Rapporteur on Truth, Justice, Reparations and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence
Yasmin Sooka, Executive Director, International Truth & Justice Project Sri Lanka
M.P. M Sumanthiran,  Tamil National Alliance 

47 members of the UN Human Rights Council:
Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, China, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Latvia, Maldives, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Portugal, Qatar, South Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Macedonia, UAE, UK, USA, Venezuela and Vietnam]

Tamils who have signed the Petition are claiming that Sri Lanka is their highest Administrative authority and not any power beyond – such as the UN.

Former UN officers, and there are many in this list, are confirming that they were in the UN for the money and status and not for the values. They have demonstrated disrespect for  UN’s discretionary powers in this regard. Their petition is lacking in substance at UN level. As for the members of the Diaspora – including some who call themselves Australians – they are interfering in the local affairs of Sri Lanka by failing to pass their work through higher common principles which ought to have been  clearly stated for the global public to follow their logic. Most of us  are not mind-readers!

Given that Foreign Governments as well as Diasporas played and are continuing to play active roles in the Sri Lankan war and alleged recovery we need to specially note that - the ‘Foreigners’ in the list confirm the need for Foreign Governments to stay within their lawful borders when providing assistance in any visible form.

As for the UN Personnel who have failed to highlight UN’s failures – they are saying through the report to  member Governments ‘Do as I say and not as I do’. The following recommendation refers:

[Apply stringent vetting procedures to Sri Lankan police and military personnel identified for peacekeeping, military exchanges and training programmes]

All members of the Diaspora of Lankan origin  by law  who interfere directly in Sri Lankan Politics are deporting themselves. They do not have the right to question the UN policy of non-Refoulement – by law or in action beyond the law. 

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