Unjust Criticism of AusAid by UNHRC

by Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam

Ms Navanetham Pillai
High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

16 February 2011
Dear Ms Pillai,

(February 16, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) I refer to news report I received today from the United Nations, regarding your report entitled ‘INDEPENDENT UN EXPERT URGES AUSTRALIA TO ADOPT HUMAN RIGHTS APPROACH TO FOREIGN AID’

The note at the end of the report says ‘Independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff and are not paid for their work.’

The way Dr. Cephas Lumina, the expert who criticized AusAid, was appointed by the Human Rights Council, I am a self-appointed expert on Australian Aid. That to me, is true independence. The fact that you failed to recognize me as an expert, despite my substantive contribution to the substance of United Nations, informs me that the United Nations is not as Independent as I. This therefore applies to all ‘appointments’ by the United Nations. Experts appointed by you may not be paid cash. But an independent Resource Management expert would know that Position Status is also a benefit and until that benefit is negated / renounced, one is still an employee and not an owner to that extent. Hence the positions they hold are NOT honorary but advisory. Their reports are the reports of the United Nations.

In his report referred to above, Dr. Cephas Lumina says “Australia’s aid programme should be guided by the needs of recipient communities, rather than focused on Australia’s national interests,”

To my mind, the two need to be One if we are to provide Service-Aid. If they are not, the resources are ‘given’ and not shared and hence they become ‘charity’ and the receiving countries become ‘beggars’. I append below (Appendix A), our Tamil Community’s sharing in this regard, at the National level, here in Australia. The work we do, towards developing faith on the side of the ‘donor’ and the sacrifices we make towards sharing faith with the ‘recipients’ (Appendix 1) is the Bridge of Faith.

Humanitarian Aid is Service-Aid. This need stems from feelings and not thoughts driven by the observed. Like the discretionary powers of experts, these are beyond criticism. The need of those affected by a cause beyond their immediate control and influence is a humanitarian need. The need cannot be quantified by the needy who are usually driven by faith. The service provided to relieve and bring the victims to administrative levels is Humanitarian Service. . The need is as per the belief of the victim and the service provided is as per the belief of the service provider. Like the Sea and the Sky, both are outside the limits of direct Administration.

If the problem/issue could be brought within the folds of an Administrative system – it is no longer faith based Service/Humanitarian Aid and needs to be consciously labeled as such

The UN rnewseport says Dr. Lumina “welcomed Australia’s policy decision to use, for the most part, grants, rather than loans as development assistance, but expressed concern that its development and trade programmes may be advocating public sector reforms, privatisation and structural adjustment in the region.”

As per my wisdom in this, resources above the level of Humanitarian Aid need to be on ‘loan’ basis, trade basis or on employment basis. It is understandable that as Australian Public Service moves towards more democratic ‘Business Unit’ approach, it would tend to naturally share that investment with other countries that are also seeking to restructure and are no longer within their circles of faith. Within their own circles of faith – each nation is self sufficient. Hence decisions made on the basis of Fundamental Rights of Sovereignty are beyond criticism.

To my mind, if UN experts are clear in their minds that they are ‘hired’ employees to the extent they need UN’s name to publish their work, they would have the basis to discriminate and divide on true bases rather than theoretical bases that are likely to take value away from genuine honorary service providers. As per Dr. Lumina’s mandate, Dr. Lumina is required to pay particular attention to ‘The effects of foreign debt and the policies adopted to address them on the full enjoyment of all human rights, in particular, economic, social and cultural rights in developing countries’
My work, as an Australian Aid worker in Sri Lanka, and a Sri Lankan Aid worker in Australia – has helped me realize that, structuring the appropriate systems to support Human Rights within economic, social and cultural activities is of outmost importance in accumulating ‘service credits’ through Aid.

A good example that comes to mind is my recent contribution to Public Administration in Northern Sri Lanka, through a small village called Thunaivi-Sangarathai in Vattukottai area where the first political claim for Independent Tamil State was made. At the center of my experience is the donation of part of our family land – through NECORD North East Community Restoration and Development Project to the People towards Rehabilitation and Reconstruction from the effects of war. NECORD’s Governance is reported to be made up of:

Asian Development Bank (ADB)
Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL)

North East Provincial Council (NEPC)

German Technical Co-operation (GTZ)

Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)

It was therefore important for us to Divide and Separate our donations into following groups:

1. Cash for immediate need

2. Property for immediate status

3. Common Systems to work together for economic, cultural and social purposes

4. Structures through which common faith of ownership is developed

The first two were driven by locals of the area – driven largely by faith. The last one was driven by the donors. The third category was initially facilitated to be driven by locals and gradually by Aid workers/donors. Had we not been driven by our faith, the locals would have tried to extend their system which has become habitual/part of their nature. Aid from other agencies including World Bank, often tempt them in that direction. Hence we were told that use of common assets in that area were as per ‘Village Culture’ / Customary Laws, including Thesa Valamai which is still applicable in Northern Sri Lanka.

At a recent community meeting of Tamils – a professional said to me ‘Don’t think you are the only one helping the victims in Sri Lanka. I also sent $1,000 to the flood victims’

My question to him was ‘how much of it would actually benefit the victims?’

The intuitive answer to that is – as per the need of the donor who was actually planning on going on a holiday around the time he made the donation.

Appendix B is copy of an email about Donations through International bodies including UNICEF and the Red Cross. Without the categorization shown above – their remunerations would be good indicators to determine whether we are actually helping the alleged victims (some of whom may be enjoying better quality life than the donors who have to work and sacrifice towards a higher social status) or whether we are spoiling them and damaging their capacity to work and become independent in their natural environments.

Where we are in continuous communication with victims – and the victims are able to give ‘structure’ to their need, we would know where to draw the line between need, benefits and desire. Benefits need to be earned as per the laws of employment. Where we are not in continuous communication with the victims, we need to be always driven by our need to serve/provide help. The former is affidavit of a voter and the latter is discretionary power of the judge. In a wholesome system, the two would be equal.

UN needs to respect the sovereignty of Australians – in this instance - all Australians involved in Aid Service. As a migrant working above the level at which I was paid – through money and status – I was providing Aid to Australians. Given that my skills were developed in Sri Lanka through Sri Lankan faith – I conclude that Sri Lanka was providing Aid to Australia through educational and training services. I have trained many in Australian Public Service earning the following expression from a valued academic at the University of New South Wales: ‘We are Ignorant that we are Ignorant’ (Dr. David Garlick – Founding Director of Sports Medicine, University of NSW).

This was possible only because I did not take revenge to recover my lost benefits and opportunities (earned as per merit based calculations) – but found justice from within to complete my experience – for better or for worse. With me, it was for worse at the relative level. I learnt to manage with what I had and discovered others with discretionary powers of true ownership – in Sri Lanka as well as in Australia. Taking Love through marriage as an example – one who loves would raise the pleasure of sex to the higher level through romance. Likewise, one who Owns would raise the pleasure of cash to the higher level through goodwill/people. When one separates them sex converts itself into disease including depression and cash into corruption, including through external medications/answers. I note from the details published by you, that Dr. Lumina has not had the real life experience of the needy in the Aid Receiving Pacific nations referred to in the above report. It is also not through the United Nations because Dr. Lumina does not seem to have experienced employment related pain within the UN. Hence Dr. Lumina’s discretionary powers in this regard are personal and need to be limited to his personal work and Truth realized as an Individual.

Appendix A

Mr. Mark Pierce

Assistant Secretary

South &Central Asia Branch

Department of Foreign Affairs &Trade

R G Casey Building

Barton – ACT 0221

Your File Number: 09/4467

29 September 2010
Dear Mr. Pierce,

Tamil Community Dialogue

Thank you for your letter of invitation dated 24 September 2010. I confirm that I would be attending the Tamil Community Meeting organized by the Government of Australia, to be held on 08 October 2010.

I seek to share with you my feelings and thoughts on the main issues covered by the agenda:

The Australian Government’s position on Sri Lanka, the bilateral relationship and people smuggling & Australia’s Immigration Policy

During my recent stay in Sri Lanka, I met with officers of our Australian Representation in Sri Lanka. Mr. Stephen Foster, Third Secretary, Australian High Commission and Mr. David Samuel, Assistant Manager – Business Development – Australian Trade Commission explained to me that the Australian Government was working towards bringing the Sri Lankan graduates qualifying in Australia, back to Sri Lanka. To me, that is the parallel of bringing the refugees back home. Fundamental to this is the environment in Sri Lanka – job opportunities of International standards for the graduates and secure environments for the refugees to whom Sri Lanka is still ‘home’. Laws, Rules and actions on the basis of these laws would help control and regulate the flow back. But it is the ‘independence’ factor that would sustain the flow back home. Sri Lanka needs this to prevent becoming a welfare recipient.

People smuggling may seem more lowly than brain smuggling against which the above officers spoke – but fundamentally both work against independence. To the extent the Australian Government feels it is in control of the brain smuggling operations in Sri Lanka, it is naturally in control of people smuggling activities in Sri Lanka.

This issue is about ‘home-nation’. The form through which we ‘see’ our ownership and sense of ‘belonging ’ would vary as per our experiences and our knowledge. The same person would be seen in different forms through different positions – such as mother, daughter, sister etc. Likewise, the nationalism of a person.

Tamils who are living in Australia, but are thinking of Sri Lankan issues majority of their time, are effectively Sri Lankan. Likewise, those who are living in Sri Lanka but are thinking most of the time of life in Australia , are effectively Australians. Unless our solutions are wholesome and could be worked by the people, we run the real risk of promoting Statelessness.

To some of us, it is no coincidence that Vaddukoddai was the place where the first claim for an independent state was made by Tamil politicians. Vaddukoddai area was the preferred area of settlement for Tamils drawing Malaysian Pension. To us, these pensioners failed to consolidate the two systems of governance.

Sri Lankan Tamils of Indian origin (Estate Tamils) are a good example of the risk Statelessness of poorer folks who leave their countries of origin without preparing to integrate with the culture of another land. This risk is least with Educated Tamils to whom educational status is common with other cultures in Australia. The risk is high with refugees – both economic and political – without strong investment in higher education.

Be it at family, national or global level, Educational status must be included in assessing the status of a person. Had this been actively promoted in Sri Lanka, we would have prevented unjust discrimination on the basis of caste or race and hence prevented the ethnic war.

As per the feedback from ex-combatants and IDPs, lack of economic opportunities due to lower social status was a strong reason to join the LTTE, especially when they were offered higher income than civilians.

Australia’s Development Assistance and Future Aid to Sri Lanka

As strongly indicated at a recent meeting in Vaddukoddai area (Appendix A), it is important that recipients of Australian Aid, demonstrate commitment to the core values of their donors. Such commitment would be the royalty paid by recipients for the global values underpinning the funds. It is not often that such funds come with the Persons concerned. Hence the need to go direct to Common Values – except during emergencies and when satisfying fundamental needs.

Thank you again, and I look forward to contributing to discussions at our meeting on 08 October.

Yours sincerely,

Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam
Chief Executive Officer

Appendix 1

English Translation
Women’s Village Development Association



Minutes of the Meeting of 10 September 2010, held at

Thunaivi-Sangarathai Development Secretariat of Vaddukoddai District


Consolidating the growth of Thunaivi-Sangarathai and genuine expectations of the People of Thunaivi-Sangarathai

Common Basis

Our work (like body, mind and soul) produces effects at three levels:

1. Money

2. People

3. Ownership

Out of the above, the first category outcomes are most apparent and are therefore Objectively measurable outcomes.

The second category is made up of status and goodwill

The third gives us the natural authority – by us becoming the system and working it naturally.

Money and Status that we work for are in the control of others. Ownership is within our control and it motivates us from within.

Hence, when we work genuinely, even if we do not get the apparent money and status due to us, our investment in the issue deepens and matures into feelings of ownership to help us feel that we and the issue are one and the same. That is when we are truly independent. All such independent persons naturally feel they are part of One.

On that basis, we are the people and we are the government.

The Structure of the Meeting

The members who attended the meeting were divided into two – one to represent the People and the other to represent the Government. People expressed their Problems and the Government outlined the solutions known to them on:

(1) Lack of Job Opportunities

(2) Lack of job related training

(3) Lack of confidence that the available job and training opportunities within government organizations were being filled on Equal Opportunity basis. The possibility of bribes of various forms being one reason, was raised and discussed.

(4) Lack of Basic Housing facilities

(5) Safety issues of Young working women

Lack of Job Opportunities

We examined ways and means through which to identify existing job opportunities in our environment and how these could be accessed by the jobless through a regulated approach under the guidance of the Women’s Association.

Where there aren’t enough job opportunities in our local environment, the need for us to seek jobs in other areas and appropriate training towards this.

One member said that she earned Rs 150 only per day, by working as a laborer in a plantation. The member said that this income was not enough for her living. When asked as to whether she was used to higher level income previously, the member said ‘no’. When we asked whether she could then be feeling disappointed due to comparison with others in her environment or due to hearsay about others in other environments , the member acknowledged that this could be the case.

We discussed that the mind was the main cause for this member’s problem. We submitted that if others were getting higher pay due to higher level jobs requiring prior training, then it was fair and just that they were being paid at a higher level. We concluded that the pain of the poor worker complaining of lack of salt in his soup and the richer worker complaining of lack of sugar in his milk were the same at the fundamental level. Hence if we stayed within our natural environments, we would realize that such disappointments were not real. We concluded that eventually we live for ourselves, with our minds alone and therefore this maturity of the mind was important for our inner peace.

Lack of Job Training Opportunities

We concluded that the Women’s Association would develop a focus group towards accessing training facilities to win the jobs currently available in the local environments.

We decided that women working in similar jobs would meet regularly, to share experiences towards strengthening common faith.

One young member said that she tried to win a position to train as a nurse but that she did not make it but was satisfied that she had done her best. We expressed appreciation for her effort and mature thinking and encouraged her by saying that the ‘experience’ would help her with her future attempts. We confirmed that when we tried and did what we could that would definitely generate positive results, including ownership contribution.

Equal Opportunity

One young member from the People’s side stated that bribery was a key problem to access opportunities on merit basis. We suggested that we first look at ourselves and ask ourselves as to what we could do better to access the opportunities, before finding fault with others. We suggested that such approach would help strengthen our determination.

If we find fault with others, we should have enough powers to correct those faults or we should be entitled to compensation for any loss due to those faults in others. Without these and without the position responsibility to find fault, all faults that we find with others would lead to us feeling a sense of defeat. Those who feel connected to us are One family/institution/nation. Others are outsiders and we need to calculate through common measures on the basis of objective evidence. The question was asked as to which category these alleged bribe takers belonged to?

The young member from the Government’s side stated that even though bribery was a reality, if People firmly used the merit basis – then such problems would not affect us.

We suggested that like bribery in the case of job opportunities, receiving welfare without us doing what we can for the common good of our people, was also bribery of a different form - because the welfare funds were out of the earnings of those involved in common welfare. We concluded that those who received welfare needed to feel common faith in those from whom they received that welfare to be not indebted and v.v.

Basic Home Facilities

We recognized that due to lack of this Common Faith, there were many welfare recipients of housing grants who still thought that their basic home needs were not satisfied. We concluded that due to lack of feeling on the part of donors, there were many homes without water and / or toilet facilities.

We concluded that this was due to the basic qualities of the homes of donors were different to the basic qualities of the welfare recipients. They may look different at the physical level but they need to be based on the same common value at the base level. Without this basic commonness, welfare outcomes are likely to promote statelessness.

We therefore concluded that those who promote good ‘home values’ would be given preference in recommending recipients of welfare, to donors. If on the other hand one calculated on the basis of apparent wealth or poverty, one was likely to contribute to the further loss of status of minorities


Some young members brought to our attention the lack of facilities to check out the credibility of some businesses offering them immediate jobs in factories in the Countries capital city. They expressed the fear that the calls were actually for prostitution. We strongly recommended that our traditional culture of the strong in a family / community taking care of the weak in that family/community needed to be rejuvenated and nurtured.

We concluded that if these young ladies had followed Due Processes in submitting their applications, this risk would have been minimized.

Overall Conclusion

We committed ourselves to consolidate forces with those who are genuinely committed to our welfare and development.

Signed :

M. Malini A.Pushpalalitha M. Saroja Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam

President Secretary Treasurer Governor, School of Human Values

Women’s Village Development Association



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