Gajalakshmi Paramasivam- 18 July 2016
In Whose Name Lord Naseby?
‘So would you endorse Ministers using luxury plus plus cars?’ was the question raised by a Sri Lankan whose feedback is valuable to me. The feedback was in relation to my yesterday’s article - Thinking Small Minister?. My response to the above question was ‘It depends on the portfolio of each Minister. This one had the duty to take the highest class – to demonstrate internal ownership and the conduct that goes with it. But if he were the Minister for Islamic Religious Affairs – no. I would have expected him to travel economy.’
Then this morning my attention was drawn to the Island article ‘Unfair to insist Sri Lanka to include foreign judges to probe alleged war crimes’ – Lord Naseby
When UK uses its own judges to inquire into Iraqi invasion’
Lord Naseby is reported to have said in this regard at the House of Lords:
[The Chilcot inquiry’s assessment was undertaken by British judges and members of the Privy Council. No foreign judges were called in to do this assessment. We see how well it has been done. In Sri Lanka, there was a war against the terrorists, the Tamil Tigers. However, instead of its being assessed against the Geneva convention, to which I have just referred, the UK and US Governments have endorsed investigation by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights with the addition of foreign judges.
"This is wrong and misconceived. After all, there is a reasonable number of fair-minded judges across the ethnic groups who could undertake the task of judging what happened against the principles of the Geneva convention.
"If the UK Government really want to help, they should release the full text of the dispatches of our military attaché there during the war, Lieutenant-Colonel Gash, containing his independent observations. The Ministers here will know that for two years I have been trying to obtain these under the Freedom of Information Act. However, so far I have received some 30 pages of those dispatches, provided reluctantly, some very heavily redacted.]
Using the same values as I did to respond to the Luxury car question – I would say that Lord Naseby is wrong. First of all – Lord Naseby is revealing that to his mind, Tamil Tigers were Terrorists. If Tamil judges were part of the Judicial team and they referred to the Tigers as Terrorists - then they would be considered ‘traitors’ by that part of the Tamil Community that needs ‘closure’ at Global level - so they would not feel less than another Sri Lankan of a different race. Tamils as a Community need to know that the International Community that promoted the use of ‘Terrorism’ label is Accountable for the excessive pain and suffering that parents and families of the Tamil Tigers endured due to ‘foreign’ interference in the name of Global participation. To the extent the UN failed to address the Sri Lankan ethnic problem through the Equal Opportunity values that the UN is committed to, it did not have the mandate to ‘judge’ in the ‘internal affairs’ of Sri Lanka. Now that it has – it has the responsibility to maintain the International Resource commitment right through to the end.
Only one who has earned that qualification to take the ‘judge’s seat’ has the authority to Judge. As per my experience, Sri Lankan judges are good in Common areas – but not in Equal Opportunity issues. If they were – the Sri Lankan judiciary would have progressively righted the wrongs by the Executive and there would have been no space for Tamil Tigers to be born within the Tamil Community. The Lankan Judiciary torn between British and Roman Dutch laws on the one side and Customary laws on the other – falls well short of the ability needed for this job. The British gave form to these laws and hence they were able to inquire into the problem with reasonable logic that the average British could follow. Most Sri Lankan judges enjoying high status would have copied the laws and the outer language of judgments including those delivered during Colonial times but not have a feel of ownership in those laws. It’s when we feel ownership that we connect to the core purpose of the institution / nation and therefore the laws through which we show rights and wrongs.
As during Colonial times in Sri Lanka now also each side would use its ‘Customary’ thinking to judge its side and unless there is a Common law developed or inherited – used by a true Sri Lankan in such issues – the judgments do not have enough height to be raised to the global level. Sinhalese need Sinhalese judgment; Tamils need Tamil Judgment and Sri Lankans need Global Judgment through Common Law practiced by Sri Lankans. There is no jurisdiction by one group into the other.
In this issue, British have to go through the UN – however weak the UN may be. UN positions are strong and one who relates to the position – would successfully resolve the problem for the global minded citizen. Otherwise they need firm working relationships with Sri Lankan Government on the one hand and the TNA as the Leading Opposition in Parliament – on the other. Where there has been money and status movements between the two nations – positions need to be taken and anyone needing the authority of the Nation to get involved – needs to first go through that position – even if the one in that seat is an seens as an enemy. Sri Lankan Politicians bow to the Buddhist Priests for this reason. But there is no parallel of this for Hindu and Muslim Ministers in Parliament. But to the extent minorities understood and accepted this need by Sinhala Politicians – and performed as per their positions – with lesser resources than their Sinhalese counterparts – they became owners before the pampered race. Hence the Equal Opposition position in Parliament held by Tamils. Those who truly feel ownership, work the Natural Forces of the institution/Nation. The average citizen needs to ‘see’ the true status through appropriate structures – which the current government has been doing – albeit largely due to the UNP than the SLFP which continues to carry the sins of Sinhala only desires.
In terms of the Sri Lankan war – if Sinhalese were the parallel of the British in the Iraq war – Tamils are the parallels of Iraqis. If Sri Lanka is expected to conduct its own inquiry that would effectively require Sinhalese Judge to Judge the Rajapaksa Government. We already have the Paranagama inquiry which may be useful to Sinhalese but Tamils are not likely to touch it with a barge pole. If we accepted it as being common – then it is to say that Kandyan Law is applicable to Jaffna instead of the beautiful Thesawalamai Law and its descendants.
In terms of war – Hindus have religious leadership through Lord Krishna and Tamil Hindus – Lord Muruga. To the extent we genuinely worship these minds in the form of Deities we would naturally know how to lead a Dharmic/Righteous war. Sinhalese, majority of whom are Buddhists would need special education towards this. The other day someone forwarded to me the speech by Judge Ilancheliyan delivered when his guru passed away. There Judge Ilancheliyan pays tribute to his guru, through identity with Mahabharatham leaders – Bhishmar and Thronar. Bhishmar was of Ruling class and Thronar was of Anthanar class – which class as per my understanding is required to renounce worldly enjoyment to develop a steady mind which becomes the seat of wisdom. This mind shared through training in Gurukulam (Home of Guru). When it came to judging internally - in relation to fighting skills – the Guru ranked above the king – for example Thronar above Bhishmar. In the Sri Lankan parallel – General Fonseka ruled above President Rajapaksa. When it came to leading armies to fight against external enemies – Ruler ruled above Guru – in this instance Bhishmar ruled above Thronar. In the Sri Lankan war – the celebrations ought to have been by General Fonseka and that too ‘internally’. By using it for political purposes – Mr. Rajapaksa lost power with the global judges. In Judge Ilancheliyan’s case – in terms of his current position as Judge of the High Court of Jaffna – he is Bhishmar in terms of Colombo and Thronar in terms of Jaffna. In terms of war crimes inquiry he would need to use Common Law and in terms of Tamil Tigers and Tamil victims of war – he would need to use Customary Laws applicable to that local area – if he seeks to uphold Dharma/Righteousness.