Friday 23 March 2018

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

23 March 2018


We French Tamils or We Sri Lankan Tamils?


Published 21 March 2018

[This joint statement was delivered at the 37th Session of the Human Rights Council on behalf of Macedonia, Montenegro, the United States & the United Kingdom the during the UN High Commissioner's report on Sri Lanka, held on 21 March 2018. This statement is on behalf of Macedonia, Montenegro, the United States and the United Kingdom as main sponsors of HRC resolutions 30 / 1 and 34/1…………………………………………………..
While welcoming these steps, we are disappointed that the pace of progress has been slow. Much still remains to be done to implement Sri Lanka’s commitments. We remain concerned about reports of abuse of authority by some security officials. And multiple incidents of intercommunal violence, attacks, and hate speech against minorities are alarming and demonstrate the need for reconciliation efforts.
As Sri Lanka acknowledged with its co-sponsorship of resolution 30/1, devolution of political authority through constitutional reform is integral to lasting reconciliation and non-recurrence of violations and abuses. Families of disappeared persons from all communities have waited too long for answers. We urge that the Office of Missing Persons be fully operational without delay, and for meaningful steps to establish the other transitional justice mechanisms outlined in resolution 30/1. Effective security sector reforms, repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and release of more military-occupied land to civilian ownership, will all help build trust and confidence.
With determined leadership and a clear timeline for action, this Government can deliver the reform and justice agenda, and take the actions needed to support long-term reconciliation, with the support of all Sri Lankans.
Sri Lanka still has an historic opportunity to avoid returning to divisions of the past. We firmly believe that implementing the reforms in resolutions 34/1 and 30/1 will help give all Sri Lankans assurance of the safe, peaceful, and prosperous future they deserve.]
As an Independent Tamil, I identified with the essence of the above. I listened to many of the speakers including our Australian Government’s representative, at the General Debate  - 51st Meeting, 37th Regular Session Human Rights Council. I was very disappointed to learn whom  two speakers – one from Vaddukoddai – Mr Sugash Kanagaratham and the other – the grandson of the Hon G G Ponnambalam  from Jaffna – Mr Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, represented.
Mr Ponnambalam was representing ‘Association des étudiants tamouls de France’/ Tamil Youth Association of France.  The Vaddukoddai representative spoke under the banner ‘Association pour les Victimes Du Monde’ / Association of the victims of the world. To add insult to injury, the Vaddukoddai representative  said words to the effect:

We Tamils of North and East of Sri lanka lost 147 Tamils in brutal genocidal war’  

To my mind that was not a slip of the tongue. It was certainly a fault of the brain. THAT confirmed to me that the speech was empowered by negative forces. Once when we were discussing the testamentary case in relation to my brother in law’s intestate estate,  close relative who said in words that we were entitled to Thesawalamai distribution, said in haste that it was equal share. The ruling of Thesawalamai is that brothers inherit from brothers and sisters from sisters. Later when I pointed out to the relative that his words contradicted the Thesawalamai ruling, he said he did not know how that happened! I said it was simple – that he did not have the ‘experience’ and hence would become the medium of the person he liked.

Mr Sugash Kanagaratham completed his UN speech with the saying ‘Justice delayed is Justice denied’.  My brother in law died in April 2010. Mr Sugash Kanagaratham’s relatives had custody of documents and refused to share them with us. The matter went to Court in 2011 and is still going. Is that not Justice delayed in the courts that Mr Sugash Kanagaratham is part of?

When Tamils come before the UN to share in its authority – they have to be clean of the LTTE’s breaches of the law, on equal footing. I know of no such remorse by these two gentlemen.

The highest Court of all is the Court of Natural Justice. Mr Ponnambalam stressed that we needed to hold ‘Sri Lanka accountable for the grave human rights and international humanitarian law violations that had taken place during the war

One who does not know these gentlemen would think they were French Tamils or African-French Tamils. Why is it that they have not represented themselves as Jaffna/Vaddukoddai Tamils ? Are they promoting emigration of  Tamils? Are they not capable of developing their own institutions?

Recently, I was approached by a group from Vaddukoddai area where Mr Sugash Kanagaratham has a thriving law practice, for further sponsorship of their sports activities. I said we, Australian Tamil Management Service  would consider it only if they were ready to provide an undertaking that they would not come illegally to Australia. Most present had said that they were not likely to emigrate. I needed that undertaking to respect the value of Australia. In the case of my brother in law’s testamentary case,  Mr Kanagaratnam said he could not represent us because the other side was his relatives!!!

This morning I commented as follows on an Uthayan report at ( regarding his honour Justice Elancheleyan’s message to parents to discipline their children:

[The same judge failed to rule against two Tamil Diaspora youngsters who abused the positions of their mothers to effectively override Thesawalamai law / practice which ended up with  the ruling that no Administrative system was needed but only the certificates of heirship were to be issued - as claimed by the sisters. His honor justice Manickavasakar Elancheleyan ruled that my husband, the brother of the deceased Subramaniam Yoganathan, was not entitled to Administrative rights. This was claimed by the sister who neglected her brother when he was alive and needed help and who was known to have been 'told' by the deceased not to interfere in Family Administration. These were all presented to the Court through Affidavit evidence. But the Mallakam Court became the medium of  the sisters' lawyer who is paid by the sons of the sisters and ruled that the Affidavit was invalid due to technical fault (as per their mind) in the jurat clause. To my mind, there is no fault there. But even if there was we ought to have been facilitated to correct the technical error to suit that court. Had Justice Elancheleyan read the Affidavit - he would have awarded the most educated person the Administrative authority - especially considering that majority of the wealth was in London's Barclay's Bank. Deductions from the Estate have been claimed by the sisters and that was NOT disallowed by this Judge. Lawyers and judges of the junior courts are the children of senior judges. Justice Elancheleyan missed the opportunity of the Appeal process to discipline them. Parents of accused are outside the judge's jurisdiction. Just because it is easily visible does not mean that the Judge has the authority. In fact to criticize or advise the parents - the Judge stepped out of his position - meaning he was distracted from his duty.  I have heard Mr Elancheleyan  talk about his guru as Beeshmar and Thronar of Mahabharatham. Lord Krishna said to Arjunan  to challenge his own family elder and guru respectively as per Arjunan's DUTY.  But Justice Elancheleyan did not discipline the parents of the young sons whose education we facilitated in Australia, by disrespectfully denying us information that was in their physical custody.  All this was available to the educated judge. Yet he failed. Those poor parents who also cannot control their sons - lack the confidence of high position. The opportunity to discipline them must be earned by living as part of them - and expressed as a member of the public and not as a senior in court relationships. There  - the parents are Equal to the Judge and hence unless there was evidence before the court that they have contributed expressly to the crime - they cannot be 'told'.]
  Disorder in Sri Lanka has to be addressed by the People starting with family. Punishing the government is not going to bring back order that we already lack. As per my experience Jaffna courts system and University of Jaffna are seriously lacking in Administrative order of global standards and sometimes of Colombo standards. It’s not about winning. It’s about being heard on equal footing.

Once the people have knowledge of that kind of system  – they may feel  more encouraged to settle conflicts internally. We could not and hence we escalated the matter. These are issues that we have to address at our own levels. At our family level – we are escalating family conflicts as much as we can – despite often feeling that the thinking of the Courts is different to ours. Every law abiding citizen has the right to express her/his interpretation of the law. This needs to happen before we earn the right to be tried under international law.

Going by my Australian experience, International Courts are not likely to deliver in a way that the ordinary Sri Lankan would understand and integrate. I do not know of one Vaddukoddai or Jaffna citizen who has the mind structure to receive such judgments towards improving their own thinking towards relating to the world.

Ultimately we experience peace of mind only when we are right as per our conscience. I know of many Tamils who were hurt by both sides of this war. We need to internally improve ourselves to qualify to go global. .

Today for example, I received an invitation from the Institute of Personnel Management Sri Lanka,  to showcase my  Human Resource Management related research/studies, in the Sri Lankan context. But there has been no such valuation from Vaddukoddai or Jaffna Politicians, despite my service there.  Politicians want us to support their personal agendas. Where they have the clout they must share with others to earn the deservedness to share with others’ savings in wider world.  Otherwise they become our opposition.
We the people hurt or support each other. The government and the judiciary are merely intermediaries in the process. 

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