War Crimes Courts

| by Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam

An Pen letter to Mr. Bob Carr, Senator and Minister for Foreign Affairs

( March 28, 2012, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) I note through today’s news that you have been the medium through which Australia has pledged a ‘new round of funding’ for the UN backed war crimes tribunal in Cambodia. As you would be aware, efforts are being made to take some Sri Lankan leaders also to war crimes courts. An independent and just system would take leaders of both sides to war crimes courts. On Sunday, 25 March 2012, there were protests against the current Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Australia on this basis. (Please see Appendix). There were present during the meeting of Australian civilians, officers who I understand are from the Anti Terrorism & Security Group of NSW Police. We came as simple Australian civilians. Not so the High Commissioner nor the Protestors. The former brought with him his government beyond his position and the latter brought with them, the war-victims’ position beyond their official positions and/or their Truth and hence needed numbers rather than their independent powers. This confirms that Sri Lankan Government positions and their Tamil Eelam opposition positions are infected with suspicions of Terrorism. No amount of funding to War Crimes Courts would be enough to override such suspicions in the mind. I urge you to act to ‘prevent’ wars and save lives.

It is reported in the media that you have said "The independence of the judiciary is paramount and the (court) must be allowed to operate free from any external interference,"

In theory ‘yes’. But if in practice we do not give preference to our independence over our dependence, then war crimes courts would also be just theoretical structures, like some Australian Universities. During the period you were Premier of New South Wales and represented our neighboring electorate, I was arrested 4 times at the University of New South Wales of my electorate, apparently for Peacefully waiting to speak to the Vice Chancellor. I wrote to you from my prison cell too. But you did not respond. THAT to me is NOT independence but separation due to indifference. There is a difference between Integration and Assimilation. When there is excessive assimilation, there is quick separation during conflicts. The NSW Police who were called in by the Vice Chancellor’s men did not act independently. They were dependent on those who instructed them, to arrest me. The University of NSW had its own sovereign powers to remove me physically from the premises. But the security officers did not do that after I successfully educated them that I was waiting in a Public area of a Public institution and needed only the approval of the law and not of an individual. They called the Police and you failed to share your position status with me – a migrant from a country that is going through experiences similar to Cambodia.

Tamilnet which to my mind is the voice of assimilators reports on this as follows:

Eezham Tamils in Sydney protest against SL ‘reconciliation’ propaganda
[TamilNet, Monday, 26 March 2012, 01:42 GMT]

The High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Australia, Admiral (retd) Tissara Samarasinghe, who was the former SL Navy commander during the times of the genocidal war, was confronted at Epping, a suburb of Sydney in Australia, by Eezham Tamil protestors on Sunday, when the commander alleged of war-crimes came to Epping Leisure Centre to attend a question-and-answer session organized by the so-called Sri Lankan Reconciliation Forum (SLRF). The area of Epping in NSW has a large population of Sinhalese expatriates. Tissara Samarasinghe and the SLRF did not therefore expect a large protest by the Tamil disapora. 

Unable to avert the embarrassment the organizers tried to con the Tamil people and requested them to come inside and ask questions. 

However, the Eezham Tamil protestors refused to engage with the ‘reconciliation’ propagandists and responded to them by saying that they will not accept speaking to an alleged war criminal.

“This forum is organized to hoodwink the Australian community into believing that there is an actual reconciliation process taking place in the island of Sri Lanka,” Seran Sribalan, an Eezham Tamil artist and activist from Sydney told TamilNet.

“Until justice is served we will continue to protest every time Tisara Samarasinghe sets foot in Sydney and we will continue to fight until our people and our land is free,” Mr. Seran Sribalan further said. 

“Reconciliation is not something that can take place whilst the Tamil people live without any meaningful political space. Nor can it take place after numerous lies over the last 60 years from the Sri Lankan Government, after 60 years of continuing genocide by the Sri Lankan Government and whilst war criminals such as Tisara Samarasinghe are in positions of power,” he said. ‘

The above statements by Mr. Seran Sribalan who is being described by Tamilnet.com as ‘an Eezham Tamil artist and activist from Sydney’ are the parallels of statements by some Sinhalese ‘visitors’ to the Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum Sydney, on Sunday 25 March 2012 who demanded that their leaders ought to engage only with those who were committed to One Flag – theirs. To my mind, Mr. Carr – they are both Separatists. This is fine – so long as they do not ‘tell’ us – integrators, what to do and so long as they do not claim that they are the sole representatives of Tamils or Sinhalese of Lankan origin. As Gandhi said about South America, there is room for us all in Sri Lanka as well as in Australia. A true artist would have appreciated the different messages and values drawn from the One picture/event. Given that I accepted peacefully the demonstrations outside and also was able to integrate that with the Truth of the proceedings inside – through my own experience of both – confirms to me that I am the artist and not Mr. Seran Sribalan.

Mr. Carr, your Department regularly includes Australian Tamil Community leaders to receive feedback from us and also shares with us its own thoughts and proposals to support our community in war-torn Sri Lanka. Two of the three senior members of the Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum Sydney who spoke to the above group of protestors are Tamils. The other Tamil who spoke and I are regularly included by your Department as Tamil Community Leaders. Hence I conclude that Mr. Seran Sribalan and his followers are not respectful of the work done by our Australian Government.

Mr. Carr, I integrate the essence of my experiences with our Australian Government and social leaders, into my service in war-torn areas of Sri Lanka. I wrote recently to a Senior Administrator responsible for Public Administration in the Vaddukkoddai area where the first declaration of separate homeland for Tamils was officially made in 1976, that the prevention of Violence was everybody’s business. I wrote also ‘ Right now some decisions taken by the Government of Sri Lanka against the LTTE in 2009 are being debated about at the United Nations Human Rights Council, on the basis that they were in breach of Human Rights. In this regard, a discussion with the Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Australia, has been arranged for next Sunday. Similarly, in January this year, on the day after Pongal (Farmers’ festival), I was facilitated through teleconferencing facilities, to participate from our Kali-Vairavar temple at Sangarathai-Thunaivi, in a Government Conference in Australia, with the Australian High Commissioner for Sri Lanka, the Hon Robyn Mudie. That’s how great Mother Kali’s Grace is. Under such circumstances, it is important that Public Administration over there needs to be within the law and Management needs to show respect for the Shareholding/Investment of the International Community. That’s when there would be harmony there. Otherwise there would be repeat of rebellion; People would be adversely affected; People would die; People would lose each other.’

Mr. Carr, some visitors who attended the meeting organized by the Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum Sydney, said to ‘close’ the doors when the protestors were shouting. Many senior members of the Forum, of both ethnic origins spoke strongly against it and kept opening the door – so the protestors could join in and have their say if they so wished. To me, this is a forum I have grown up with. I respect all those who choose to have separation – so long as they do not interfere with the ‘sovereign rights’ of a different group. That to me is essential for diversity and pluralism that Tamils seek. Those who seek devolution need to first qualify as independents. The above group led by Mr. Seran Sribalan has confirmed that they are in reality working to ‘separate’ because they do not respect the sovereignty of other groups that they are not able to directly influence. I conclude that neither Mr. Seran Sribalan’s group nor members of Tamilnet.com is for Political Devolution. Likewise all Sinhalese who have the precondition of one-flag before ‘talking’ to us. Mr. Carr, your Department needs to be seen to be supporting those of us who are able to work a diverse community of Australians of Sri Lankan origin. Those who assimilate would not lead Australia to derive value from Global investors. Nor would they lead Tamils, Sinhalese or Sri Lankans to integrate with the Global community. There is the real risk of them becoming puppets of other countries and / or groups.

As a Senior Australian you have the responsibility to give form to your own wisdom, to benefit next generation Australians. My discoveries about racial discrimination due to blind following of individuals rather than discriminative thinking as per substance and/or position responsibilities, are now valuable to all those who believe in me and those who consciously accept me as an Equal or as their senior.

I urge you to discipline all those who make, on this issue, untrue public statements in breach of Australian law. To my mind, neither the protestors nor the Sri Lankan High Commissioner seeks reconciliation. They would not reconcile unless they are led by integrators of their respective ethnic origins. The UN Resolution was against both groups of assimilators who tend to express themselves prematurely for immediate benefits. When they think they have powers they would tend to enforce their individual views through official forums such as the Tamilnet.com. There are many Australian Tamil forums through which they could have reported to the Australian Tamil community and the Global Tamil community. The Tamilnet.com report states - ‘“This forum is organized to hoodwink the Australian community into believing that there is an actual reconciliation process taking place in the island of Sri Lanka,” Seran Sribalan, an Eezham Tamil artist and activist from Sydney told TamilNet.’

There is actual reconciliation taking place in the minds of the integrators in the Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum Sydney. These are discussed and analyzed every month in an open and ‘free’ / independent environment with least structural hierarchy. As one of the protestors claimed – about themselves – we the forum members are ‘all leaders and we are all followers’. Groups that lie to the Public through easy access to sections of the media lose their own credibility. A quick check would have confirmed that we are a registered organization who started reconciling long before the LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission) of Sri Lanka. We need to and are able to reconcile because our COMMONNESS is strongly Global which to me is the essence of the UN Resolution. If we seem to be hoodwinkers to the likes of the above group of protestors then my wisdom says that they see themselves in the mirror of Truth. They use Tamilnet.com to elevate themselves in the name of representing Tamils which would not take them far in the Global Forum.

The above Eelam Tamil activist is reported by Tamilnet.com to be from ‘Sydney’. I doubt that Mr. Sribalan would be part of the official Sydney electorate with a postcode of 2000. The Forum’s name includes Sydney and it was born in Sydney. We meet at Epping due to economic reasons. The first time the Forum met with Mr. Samarasinghe was in Sydney CBD.

As per Tamilnet.com report ‘The area of Epping in NSW has a large population of Sinhalese expatriates. Tissara Samarasinghe and the SLRF did not therefore expect a large protest by the Tamil disapora.’

Our belief as to where we belong makes that place ours. Officially/Legally – our place of registration is our suburb for organizations and place of residence is our suburb for individuals.

I have family and friends in Epping and the Sri Sathya Sai Baba Centre of which I am a member is also in that area. There is only one Sinhalese who comes regularly to that Center. Most members are Tamils. We even had a Tamil President of Sri Lankan origin in 2010 and 2011 and another during the two preceding years. I go all the way from Coogee to Epping for particular personal services by Australians of Indian origin. More than anything else, I identify with the loss that Mr. John Howard had in this electorate, through my own investment in the common migrant which according to my belief, would have worked through other migrants in this area. If some are of Sinhalese origin then that also would have brought us close to each other. Truth is a Universal power.

In terms of Tamil Nationalism, my work in the Vaddukoddai area to which my ancestors and my husband’s ancestors belong, gives us natural powers to represent those who believe in Tamil self-governance. The likes of the above group seem to be driven by ‘fighting’ activities leading to separation and not independence through self sufficiency followed by integration with other independent groups. One who depends on the opposition’s mistakes more than her/his own merits – is a dependent and I learnt this from a member of the Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum, Sydney. This member of Sinhalese origin stated - when another member said that the Sinhalese group SPUR was formed according to his understanding, to offset the pro LTTE power in Australia - that our actions should not depend on the opposition. This member to me is a truly independent person whose mind I am able to access due to this official Forum.

I urge you to please act to discipline those on both sides, who try to eliminate our good work through their false claims. I believe that such actions would prevent war criminality – for which all officials who remained silent when they ought to have acted and/or spoken are also responsible.

Yours sincerely,

Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam
Chief Operating Officer

CC: All Concerned – including :
AFTA – Australian Federation of Tamil Associations.
Mr. Mark Pierce, Assistant Secretary, South & Central Asia Branch,
Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade