| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam
( November 19, 2012, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) I write in response to Sri Lanka Guardian article ‘Never again says the UN, Yet again’ by Mr. Suren Surendiran of the Global Tamil Forum.
Mr. Surendra states ‘I wrote in the UK Guardian on 30 May 2009, eleven days after the tragic end of the war titled ‘The ÚN has failed theTamils’ where I referred to and identified many of the failings and weaknesses now being acknowledged after an internal inquiry within the UN, three and half years later.’
I was already in Sri Lanka by 30 May 2009 – consoling and comforting and sharing with fellow Tamils in Sri Lanka. I went day in and day out to the authorities to have my permit to go into Vanni, approved. No, I did not have the steady mind to criticize intellectually the rights and wrongs of the UN Administration. Before leaving Sydney on 05 May 2009 - I wrote to our Australian authorities to do something to prevent further damage. Most of all I prayed for me to know what to do. I was thus able to be with the victims as part of them. If I had thought of criticizing at that time - my mind would not have connected to influence the officers including the armed officers administering the camps. During times like that – I do not read ‘external’ reports. During this period, I prayed strongly through the form of Buddha and this I believe helped me quietly influence the armed officers. I believe that the path I took was the most suitable path in that emergency. When in Vavuniya – I slept on the floor and allowed myself to go through the parallels of discomforts that the prisoners were going through. That I believe is the way to feel part of them and to the extent of my own mental strength I was curing them quietly most of the time and expressly whenever I was able to clear myself through the Administrative path in Sri Lanka. At no time did I resort to asking the Australian High Commission, leave alone the United Nations. I did ask the Tamils in Public Administration in Vavuniya and I did receive their service to help me serve the needy in the camps – including the Australians within the camps. I continue to invest in Public Administration in Northern Sri Lanka through avenues available to me. If I had known of Tamils in UN Administration in Sri Lanka – I am likely to have included their service too.
Mr. Surendra asks ‘If I had known all of these then and during the war, it begs the question why an international body which was formed fundamentally to protect humanity didn’t know or did it know and failed to act?’
The way a Tamil picks up Tamil pain from a distance is largely through intuition due to common belief. Hence in a democracy, we elect leaders and do not appoint them at the primary level. The UN would feel the pain of Tamils through Tamils in its own circles. Hence it is through a secondary path and not through a direct path. Belief as a local Tamil is like the footpath. Its parallel in UN is the global highway. If even one Tamil believed in the UN as well as felt part of the whole Tamil community – the tragedy would have been prevented. Deaths & pain would have been of the category suffered due to suicide bombings by the LTTE who represented Tamils in this matter.
Tamils felt and the UN thought. UN’s feelings for civilian Tamils would have been overridden by commitment to administering Anti Terrorism which became their responsibility at global level due to them listing the LTTE as a Terrorist group. UN did not feel until it believed and this belief seems to have come through the deeper investigations by its own officers. For our part – the Tamil Community needs to feel greater ownership in Global Administration now that we know that the UN is beginning to learn lessons. Learning lessons from our pain strengthens determination. Back then UN was an outsider.
When it comes to Administration as an outsider – one needs to use Common Principles to interpret independent observations. Under those circumstances – the deaths and pain suffered by all concerned are as per their own beliefs and it must benefit the whole world. An LTTE soldier fighting and dying believing s/he was doing so for freedom – is a true protector of Dharma / Righteousness. Similarly, a uniformed officer even though s/he is on the official side of the one who ‘seems’ right – would be dying a traitor to ‘freedom’ and dharma – if s/he did not consciously or naturally follow the rules of war. The true side we are with is as per our belief in our nation and / or in the issue. The apparent side we take needs to be as per our duty. Duty is as per our apparent position in society.
There are many examples in the Indian epic Mahabharatham, where righteous leaders were seen to be on the side of unrighteous persons who held the ruling positions. Bhishmar – the granduncle of youth on both sides – was with the unrighteous leaders – as per his duty. But Bhishmar’s blessings were with the Righteous minorities who truly respected him. UN did not act like Bhismar because they did not feel at the grassroots level and they were officially removed from their positions by the Sri Lankan Government. Given that the UN had already listed the LTTE as Terrorists – UN had the responsibility to lead the battle.
As per apparent position – Britain is the Granduncle of both Sinhalese as well as Tamils. Whose side was Britain on – in this war? Does the Global Tamil Forum in Britain know? I certainly don’t know. UN was effectively denied that position of leadership even though this was a global issue as per its own rules through which it proscribed the LTTE. Righteous elders often take the official side – so the war would be within official guidelines. It would be - so long as they take the leadership. If UN had openly joined the Sri Lankan leadership through its own troops – it would have been honored even in defeat. Now one needs to question UN’s authority – real authority that led to the proscription of the Tamil Tigers.
Tamils need to rely on themselves – with the Diaspora playing the role of the UN. Once Tamils pay their dues to the system through which they are now earning money and status – they would become independent of that system and move towards global systems to administer and govern themselves in countries that do provide for such practice. Until then – they would continue to use majority information towards defeating the other side. We must pay our debts to be ‘free’ – of the debts owed to the other side. That when we would respond independently instead of reacting at surface level – using other people’s work. What part of the pain and loss was the responsibility of Tamils? If we give it all away to the Sinhalese, Foreigners and the UN – then what is there left for us to learn from? When we own the pain we develop determination. This is what is needed by the Tamil Community.