28 July 2019
Human Rights Laws – UN Envoy’s Responsibility
I recently said to a Tamil Teacher - not to mark rights and wrongs but to connect ‘what’ (happened) with ‘why’ (it happened). Often we resort to this when we do not have comfort for our pain through other pathways. Knowing why helps cure the causes within our control. Other causes do not result in deep pain.
Adaderana News reports as follows about UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Clément Nyaletsossi Voule’s recent statements in Sri Lanka:
“At the root of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association is the ability of people to come together to make their voices heard. It is important that the people of Sri Lanka unite in order to bolster the democratic progress that the country has made so far,” the expert said, presenting a preliminary statement at the end of a visit to the country.
“While Sri Lanka is party to many of the international human rights instruments which have created clear human rights obligations for the State and while legislation has been put in place to largely reflect these obligations, divisions in society represent a threat to them being fully achieved.”
The ‘rights’ of Sri Lankans need to be made and/or inherited. Mere agreement nor words do not make rights. The second paragraph above confirms that the UN Rapporteur recognized that Sri Lanka is at the level that it has to ‘inherit’ because it has not ‘made/developed’ its own rights. Taken as a whole – basic human rights have been seriously damaged by warring sides each time national level conflicts are out of control.
Human Rights as described by an American therefore is not likely to look the same as Human Rights envisioned by a Sri Lankan. We know our rights as per our inner truth. Americans who have been denied freedom of expression by their government for example would not be able to envision that right the same way a member of the government would. But the right is the same at root level.
One who peacefully assembles to establish that right despite the risk of being punished confirms more reliably that that right has been earned. One who reacts and hits back – confirms that what s/he wanted was the ‘substance’ more than the ‘right’. Yesterday I received such a communication as follows:
[the TNA has been directly responsible for depriving the people of the North and East of the two Provincial Councils that my government gave the people]
If we made the Provincial Councils – then we have ‘rights’ as per our respective contributions. Money donation for example is substance form and hence is not a ‘right’. One is entitled to expect some other tangible return in turn – as in quid pro quos. At the other extreme is invisible ‘right’ that happened due to foregoing earned benefits. The two essential criteria to qualify as ‘right’ – is that a benefit ought to have been earned and that benefit ought to have been renounced for the higher level – formless ‘right’. The former is like the statue in the temple. The latter is the abstract value/philosophy that the statue represents. The former has to be possessed to confirm ownership. The latter is physically free of possession but it shared with others traveling along that pathway – through various avenues including teaching. The easiest is through Due Processes to get from one point in the pathway to another.
In Sri Lanka most communities have officially had their own customary laws. Those who were leaders in customary / religious laws are not likely to demonstrate leadership in Common laws at the same time. The reason is that they have developed through different mind structures. A Buddhist leader cannot be automatically a Christian leader. Likewise between the Judiciary and the Executive. Hence separation of powers is essential until one reaches the abstract level of ownership.
When People come together without this common abstract ownership – there are possessions / votes and hence lateral leadership to go first. Such a person has no authority to punish or reward. It is one who forewent earned and/or inherited benefits who has the authority to punish or reward. One who sacrificed for authority under Buddhist law does not have the right to reward or punish one who is outside that law. Most of the UN laws are in fact applicable to non-Buddhists due to Article 9 of the Sri Lankan constitution. Hence Human rights by law in Sri Lanka would look different to Human Rights by law in America.
Ultimately, we do whatever we do for ourselves. We have natural vision of our human rights as per our own truth. We may not seek, find and give form to our truth. But it is always there and is known through our conscience. We connect naturally with others who carry truth that is positive to our truth and stay away from those who carry truth that is negative to our structures. In a free environment this is likely to be confusing due to lack of order. Family and Community structures help us to regulate these energies and therefore maximise their values to others who inherit our work.
Sri Lankan government becoming a party to various ‘agreements’ helps the government participate at that level. But have the capability to ‘share’ they need to believe those who are leaders in it or live in Sri Lanka’s truth without any executive/administrative powers. None of the current political leaders have demonstrated this capability. Hence it is better to work through smaller structures that are sovereign. This may be just an individual cleaning the streets as if s/he is cleaning her/himself
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