Tuesday 22 October 2019

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam
22 October  2019


The day the Australian Press blacked out its front page was also the 6 monthly anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Easter Bombings. As I watched Ms Haneke Manoharan on SBS news last evening, I automatically made my own connections between the two (press freedom and Easter Bombings)– as per my experiences in Sri Lanka. For Example:

1.     Haneke : says she often feels guilt that she does not carry any physical scars from the bombings unlike so many others who were at the churches and hotels which were targeted that day. 

Gaja: I was with the war victims in 2009 and could easily have been physically attacked – including when I was a lone passenger in a bus due to falling asleep on the way to the camps. The driver was more regulated than the conductor who kept giving me ‘looks’ . I asked the driver to drop me off  - so I could catch the bus back to Vavuniya – given that we had come well past the last camp. I had asked the conductor to inform me when we were close to Ramanathan camp where I had heard that an Australian Tamil known to me was being held. No I did not feel guilty that I had escaped custody – while the other Australian was in custody. I believe I did not because I operated within the law and after that I followed the Truth that the law took me to. The following day – a government  engineer who was going to the camps in relation to digging tube wells – said I could come with him and said also  that he would drop me off there and pick me up on his return. The officers in the camp did look for the two persons – one Australian and the other New Zealander – and said they were not there. I had with me some books for Year 12  students – given to me by a WHO officer for distribution and the officers did distribute the books. To me the experience was not coincidence. The fact that I was taken there in government vehicle confirmed that I had been loyal to the path of law – even though I did not have any official portfolio. In effect – the system of Truth was showing through the path of Dharma that I had every right to be there as if I were a government facilitator.

2.     Haneke and her friend, Sam Nottle, were in the Colombo on an eight-day Easter trip… On a recent trip to Sri Lanka, Haneke visited victims of the Easter Sunday attacks, some who were still recovering in hospital.
“There are people in hospital unable to go home or still having operations,” she says.
“I saw a man who had shrapnel extracted in the last week. People have needed multiple surgeries.”

Gaja – I have been going to Sri Lanka regularly since 2003 as per my insight into the needs of the folks there. We did go on holidays as a family in the nineties. Then too we spent time with our relatives and friends in Colombo for they suffered pain and loss in 1983 and 1977. We became stronger relatives through that pain-sharing . If Sri Lanka was hurting due to ethnic problem then as Sri Lankans we also hurt.

I did not ‘see’ the pain or loss but felt it due to my own experience as a Sri Lankan. That is the root-connection.

3.     Soon after returning to Sydney, Haneke decided to organise a fundraising campaign to help the victims of the bombings.
With a team of just under 20 volunteers, she organised a series of dinners, a self-published cookbook and an online silent auction.
“Starting DineForLanka was really about giving people an opportunity to contribute from all over the world,” she says.

Gaja – writes practically every day sharing her feelings through her own experience as if she were Sri Lanka. Due to her association with Kingsbury hotel, Gaja planned to stay there in June this year. But Truth led Gaja to stay at Galadari hotel which to her was Muslim owned and thus shared her protective Energy with Muslim hoteliers. Gaja shopped specifically at Muslim shops and listened to them lamenting about the discrimination pain that targeted them. Gaja also identified with the Muslims who were put through stronger checks  on the way to Jaffna -  by the Armed Forces as Tamils were until the Easter Bombing.  

Yesterday – both Sri Lankan press as well as Australian SBS – shared their space with Haneke – confirming that they do not connect to experiences at the root level but packaged to suit their taste. If the Press had weaker laws than the citizens – then they would have more ‘business’ by criticizing the government more freely. They then do not belong to the group of citizens who became victims of the government / custodians of power but would be more like that very government and would end up creating their own victims.  

Truth is the authority of ‘freedom’ to express. The most deserving of the protection of  law is the citizen with least status. When the press renounces its extra status – truth will lead and guide the person. This may result in punishment through law. But one who seeks true freedom would accept that as a necessary cost to being with the needy.

Truth often leads the seeker to ‘commonness’ through time and place. The good are guided by angels and the bad are guided by demons/ghosts. The Australian press yesterday was haunted by Sri Lankan press which has done very little to bring its own angels  who put their lives at risk to publish the truth they had experienced. If they had joined forces with Australian Press or v.v. – they would have earned the moral right to Freedom of Expression. All those who are in the media for an income / profit (Money plus Status) – are bound by the law applicable to the citizen with least money income and status.

If the Sri Lankan media had genuinely been connected to the victims of Government – in the war against LTTE – they would have connected naturally to the Indian Journalists who were connected to and been alerted by Indian Intelligence – including that of Mr Subramanian Swamy – a strong investor in Indian Politics and LTTE Opposition and one who used the legal path to include himself and have his say in important issues.

Those who ‘find fault’ with another to elevate themselves need to be regulated by the law. Only those who travel through the path of law and discover the truth in that form – become facilitators within law-abiding groups and therefore are immune from prosecution. I was one of them and yet neither  the Australian media nor Sri Lankan media used their publishing space to share in my pain. Hence to my mind – they are not entitled to the protection of law any more than I was.

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