Gajalakshmi Paramasivam – 18 November 2015
Reconciliation & Human Rights
Nagadeepa the First Test?
The meeting of the Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum, Sydney – at which Dr. Deepika Udagama – the newly appointed chairman of the Human Rights Commission, Sri Lanka spoke, attracted most attendees. Two former Attorneys General of Sri Lanka – one of Sinhalese origin and the other of Tamil origin were seated next to each other towards this Common Speaker. That is the power of Commonness. Back then, Dr. Udagama was seen as the Head of Law at University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.
We have seen some friction between Former Judge – the Hon CV Wigneswaran – now the Chief Minister of Northern Province and the Hon M.A. Sumanthiran – now part of the National Leadership as Active TNA member of Parliament. I see similar reasons for conflict in the case of Dr. Deepika Udagama also.
The Law helps us to maintain our Rights only to the extent someone from our home Group/ Community – has contributed to the Truth on which that Law is based. Ultimately it boils down to work and sacrifice of earned benefits to raise that work value to the structural level and beyond as ‘Rights’.
The Island has highlighted this difficulty in its article - Accountability issues should be probed in line with domestic laws - New HRC Chairperson on Geneva resolution:
‘Asked whether the HRC could thwart the Northern Provincial Council from removing the name Nagadeepa, Dr. Udagama said the HRC would look into the matter. The HRC had the authority to inquire into Provincial Councils, too, she said, adding that all communities should enjoy equal rights.’
As a law expert – Dr. Udagama may view the matter in one angle. As a Human Rights Commissioner Dr. Udagama may need to go beyond the law to uphold ‘rights’ earned by a Community over long period of time. The Hon CV Wigneswaran who continues to refer to the Hon MA Sumanthiran as his student – would have taken a different stand in the case of the Tamil Political Prisoners – had he not been the Chief Minister of Northern Province. It’s about positions through which we work. We have the DUTY to pay Royalty to those who gave us the Structures and therefore the positions through which we work and earn a living. I foresaw the above conflict between our Tamil leaders back then when Mr. Wigneswaran was about to set foot into Politics:
[Recently I was asked by a fellow member of the Tamil Community, the question as to why there was criticism of the nomination of retired Justice Wigneswaran for the position of Chief Minister of Northern Sri Lanka. I responded as follows:
‘Personally I do like Wigneswaran for a couple of reasons. His commitment to Thesawalamai is the first one. Next is he is guru of Manoharan – Param’s friend who is our lawyer in Colombo. According to Manoharan, Wigneswaran is a good man and I accept that.
Now coming to his nomination as CEO of North – it is a matter of principles. Those of us who criticized the Government on the issue of Dismissal of Chief Justice – Dr. Shirani Bandaranaike - claiming it was in breach of Doctrine of Separation of Powers – between the Executive Government and the Judiciary – have the responsibility to do likewise within our own side. Hence we are not allowed to consciously support this nomination of a Judicial member to the Executive.
On the other hand, we may discipline and accept our side. If we do not discipline – we have the responsibility to stay away from them. I do that with family also.
Given my investment in Public Administration including in Northern Sri Lanka, I believe I need the Administrative Power more than Political Power. In fact I believe that this intellectual investment in Public Administration is our Tamil Community’s greater asset. This to me is what brings us the clout at international level . If we criticize our own side – we win credits with the global community – especially in their minds which would later translate as votes at UN level. If the Sinhalese pick that up before us – then we lose that opportunity in the vertical system – to them.
In terms of what happens at the physical level – it is up to the people in North. I am not openly influencing them either way.
Yes, Wigneswaran is the best looking candidate – but we need to first do our own clean up in relation to Doctrine of Separation of Powers before showing support as a Community.
Eventually the genuine person’s energies would influence the outcomes one way or the other – even though the current manifestation may not reflect it. My energies are with Wigneswaran due to his higher contribution to Public Administration through his position as a Judge of the Supreme Court.’] Chapter 13 Naan Australian
The Body, Mind & Soul of Governance is the Individual, Position and Commonness. The Tamil Community that supported my development gave much importance to Positions. Not so the current Tamil Community of Sri Lanka. Today, I received from an Australian Tamil leader the pdf version of the Anandarajan Memorial Lecture by Dr. Daya Somasundaram – Professor of Psychiatry – University of Jaffna. Mr. Anandarajan was the principal of St. John’s College – where my brother also studied due to my parents’ commitment to providing us with the best possible education. Dr. Somasundaram says:
[Although Anandarajan resisted and eventually paid the supreme price, militants had a fairly free run of schools and other public places to carry out their meetings and videos to recruit students. Whole batch of students joined overnight or ran away from home, leaving a note in the sugar bottle for their mother. They were lured by the pied piper to their doom, to become cannon fodder on frontlines across the northeast. A considerable portion have migrated or had to flee to escape death, conscription or detention and possible torture. Their desperate journeys took them across the Palk Straits to India, continents and seas in rickety, sinking boats; through freezing forests in Northern Europe, jails in South East Asia, Africa and Latin America and international borders, hiding as human cargo in containers and undercarriages of trucks, seeking refuge and asylum. The result is a world-wide diaspora of Tamil youth, some discontented with homesickness and acculturation stress, others doing well in their host countries. The surviving, present day youth in Northern Sri Lanka face a grim future. Society is just recovering from three decades of devastating civil war.
Many youth were at the forefront during the war and Tsunami to save and care for those who were injured, had lost limbs, or were separated, and lost. Where elders had died, been injured or were unavailable, youngsters took the responsibilities and leadership of mature adults to fill that gap and fulfil their role effectively and successfully. They took part in many essential activities fulfilling family and social needs, taking people to safe places, giving first aid to those who were injured, helping the handicapped, caring for patients and transporting people. Sadly, the youth are not provided with such opportunities or responsibilities at present. They wander around without jobs and healthy hobbies; at times they are induced to involve in antisocial ‘rowdy’ activities. If responsibilities are given to youth, they will show interest in their duties and carry them out effectively.]
If Education was respected as the most valuable investment by the Tamil Community – we would not have succumbed to this pressure for quick outcomes of ‘freedom’ that the LTTE was promising. Today, there is hardly any Australian Tamil celebrating the life of Mr. Anandarajan who sacrificed his life to uphold the value of Education. But many are celebrating Great Heroes Day year after year. In terms of heritage value – the position held by Mr. Anandarajah has much deeper value than the combatants who died by seeking to ‘show’ merit. The benefits come with the weaknesses in their structure. In terms of LTTE – there is little leadership value in terms of Higher Education. A pro LTTE person may have a PhD – but the value would be limited to one generation. Not so those to whom Mr. Anandarajah was real principal. The position of Principal of a school needs to be higher in the Tamil Community than the position of Head of Armed group that LTTE was. Recognizing this is of utmost importance for us to preserve our Traditional Values and our struggles for Self-Governance as a Diverse Community.
This is where places like Nainatheevu whose name is being changed to Sinhala version – Nagadeepa – by Central Government – is of great importance to developing our higher thinking order. During the meeting in Sydney, I asked Dr. Udagama whether there were plans to introduce Equal Opportunity Laws in Sri Lanka. As per my recollection – Dr. Udagama said that we already had the parallel laws towards this.
The provision that comes to my mind, is the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution under pressure from India. As per that Amendment – Tamil is also an official language. As per the principles of Democracy – in which I have invested through deep sacrifices here in Australia – majority rule must apply in the case of official names. Hence due to heritage Udagama cannot be Udayar when Dr. Udagama visits Jaffna nor would we call her Deepika when the lady is active in her current position. One may use the parallel to relate to the value but not make it Common official terminology. The folks of Thunaivi-Vaddukoddai call me – ‘Ammah’ –meaning mother. Some young ones refer to me as ‘Madam’. I am promoting the latter due to identity with their need to merge with wider world. If Nainatheevu has such a secular purpose – then we need to use the link language – English.
I do not identify with some of the stands Mr. Wigneswaran takes and he may not identify with any of mine. I do not for example – consider what happened to Tamils - as Genocide. But at the same time, without such strong expressions of Diversity – the ethnic issue would be Generalized and that would be an insult to those who died due to the inability of the leaders of both ethnicities to come together for the Commonness of Sri Lanka.
When someone dies/gets killed and there is another who holds common belief as that person but is away from the area of physical activity – the investment in that belief by that person who died takes on Absolute value and empowers those alive to take on the leadership role of that person who died. That is the true memorial service to those with whom we shared common belief – even though we may never have met them in person. Hindus chant Sivapuranam to clear any blocks in this passage of inheritance. Clearing Nagadeepa is the responsibility of this Government that claims commitment to Commonness.
Truth needs no Reconciliation. The way we interpret that Truth through what happened needs reconciliation where two different pathways/laws are used. The Provincial Council has the lawful right to name Nainatheevu to its original name. Some may still call Chennai, Madras. But the official name is Chennai and by using Chennai – we are showing valuation to Tamil Nadu’s Diversity – which cannot happen without Sovereignty.