Saturday 19 June 2021

 Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

19 June 2021





As I got the room ready for our Airbnb guest, I kept worrying about the guest’s lack of response to my inquiry about her time of arrival. I wondered whether the guest was too ill to contact me. After about an hour I rang on the number but there was no response. A couple of hours later – I received the cancellation message – on the basis of the infection in Bondi area. I was relieved that the lady was ok but was upset that the lady did not inform me on time. I mentally downgraded her in communication. Later when the lady applied for a refund, I declined any concessions. Usually, I place myself in their shoes and become the Common Guest. This then means that I serve myself through my Opposition. To my mind the Opposition in a democratic parliament is the Common citizen that the government serves. As a guest I would have kept sharing dynamically with my host. Many other guests did that and hence I approved full refund. To me, that is the way of Dharma – according to which the one who provides the service also should not be denied earned benefits.


Later I received the following request from the International Truth & Justice Project [ITJP]:

[Would you mind removing us from your mailing list please. 


All the best. ]


While the ‘tone’ of the request was kind and courteous, the substance was offensive, especially considering that ITJP presents itself as follows:


[ITJP both collects and stores evidence for any future credible justice process but also intervenes where we can to assist victim communities in Sri Lanka in seeking accountability. ]


If the ITJP knows about my work in terms of Sri Lankan Justice – as if it was done by the ITJP itself, it would have not sought to eliminate me but rather would have included me at least as an opposition. The amazing realisation was the power of the article headed ‘REAL QUOTA SYSTEM’ in response to SBS article headed ‘Why do Tamil asylum seekers need protection - and why does the Australian government say they don't’ authored by Ms Niro Kandasamy. Obviously, ITJP did not want to know about it. Does it then qualify to ‘collect and store’ evidence in relation to Sri Lankan war?


On 01 June 2020, the ITJP released a Press report which began as follows:


[1 June 2020 PRESS RELEASE: Sri Lanka – yet more problematic military promotions.

Johannesburg: The Sri Lankan President has promoted to Major General, former military intelligence director, Tuan Suresh Sallay, who allegedly forced a Tamil doctor in custody in 2009 to give false testimony by denying him medical treatment and threatening him. Dr. Thurairajah Varatharajah was a government doctor who served in the war zone in 2009 and was then detained for approximately 100 days at the end of the war. Such prolonged detention without trial constitutes cruel and inhuman treatment or punishment, in violation of the Convention against Torture. “The alleged conduct – prolonged detention without trial, psychological torture and deprivation of medical treatment - is a violation of the Convention Against Torture to which Sri Lanka is a signatory and for which those with command responsibility can be held accountable including under universal jurisdiction,” said the ITJP’s Executive Director, Yasmin Sooka. “Dr. Varatharajah is an extremely brave former government servant whose medical team saved many thousands of lives at huge risk to themselves – he deserved a medal, not to be locked up”. Dr. Varatharajah, who is now treating Covid-19 patients in the United States where he fled for his safety, identified Suresh Sallay as the military intelligence officer responsible for his torture and who coerced and prepared him to give false testimony in a staged news conference in Colombo where he and other doctors were forced to deny the extent of civilian casualties in the war. “Colonel Suresh threatened us all with many years’ imprisonment… Our families were also threatened,” stated the doctor, who says Suresh made it clear he was acting on the orders of Gotabaya Rajapaksa who was the powerful secretary of defence at the time.]


To my mind, the ITJP, by virtue of its leadership being connected to the UN values, needs to inquire through Inquisitorial method which requires evidence to be read by a mind structured by global standards. To do this, ‘what happened’ needs to be put through Common principles of global standards in this case.


Hence in the above case there was a need to publish a report of parallel of such action by the Opposition of Major General Suresh Sallay at the time of manifestation of the said evidence. Not only must the policy through which inquiry is made be common to both sides but the base on which facts were manifested must also be common – as in level playing field. Majority Tamils of Sri Lankan origin, would tend to be secretive about LTTE which carried the Tamil flag. In addition – Dr Varatharajah’s evidence manifested in the USA – lack jurisdiction. Only the evidence manifested in Sri Lanka in the consciousness of Sri Lankan ethics is valid.


These are very important to Australians of Sri Lankan origin,  due to the publications against  Victoria Cross recipient – Ben Roberts-Smith. Sydney Morning Herald’s senior writer Ms Deborah Snow reported as follows about the media’s Senior Counsel :


[Owens began on Thursday laying the groundwork for the media outlets’ defence much as a spider spins a web: methodically and purposively, his seemingly leisurely pace masking lethal intent.

Initially he probed Roberts-Smith’s understanding of the international rules of warfare – reflected in Australia’s rules of engagement – which require protection to be given to combatants (or suspected combatants) who’ve been disarmed and rendered Persons Under Control (or PUCs in military jargon).

Yes, Roberts-Smith said, he understood those rules. And yes, he agreed he’d be complicit in a crime if he killed or assaulted a PUC, or stood by as another soldier ordered or committed such an action.

Owens then took him through the intricate detail of how Australian special forces handled villagers, women, children, “fighting age males” (or FAMs) and prisoners during their sweeps through Afghan settlements and compounds, before turning to several key events which lie at the heart of the newspapers’ published allegations.]


The above proceedings confirm the need to use international rules of warfare by representatives of the government. Even though the LTTE (the parallel of Taliban) was local and the war happened on Sri Lankan soil, to the extent the Sri Lankan government used foreign resources, they were bound by the international rules of warfare. This ought to have been brought out by the ITJP. Relative to the Australian media, the Sri Lankan media has demonstrated low level commitment to international standards.

Ultimately, the truth we discover becomes our natural law. All subjective powers are based on common culture. Be it Officer Suresh Sallay or Officer Ben Roberts-Smith – to the extent they were not found fault with by their government, it is the government that ought to be tried and not the individual officer.

 Hence, the question arises as to whether soldiers who act as per the commands of their senior officers are liable to be questioned as individuals. Is that the price they pay for special medals and credits as individuals? That which is common needs to remain common to enjoy the protection of Sovereignty.

No comments:

Post a Comment