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Eddie Mabo & Lankan Land Rights

| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

( July 23, 2013, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) I write in response to the Sri Lanka Guardian article ‘Not This Good Earth’ by Ms Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena.

Ms Pinto-Jayawardena states ‘to be clear, the reach of this most extraordinary reduction of established legal rights to thin air as it were, extends throughout the whole country and affects majority and minorities alike though the thrust of the process may be motivated by different factors. In the formerly war affected areas, a significant factor is the continuing militarisation of particularly the Northern peninsula as we saw when hundreds of private land owners recently petitioned the Court of Appeal against arbitrary acquisition of their lands in order to expand the high security zone areas’

Here in Australia, we have our Land Rights hero Eddie Mabo whose belief and dedication to his Land resulted in the High Court overturning the legal doctrine of Terra Nullius by the First Migrants to Australia. If we therefore have the parallel of Eddie Mabo in Sri Lanka – we would not panic but eventually succeed in defeating the invaders.

As per my knowledge of Sri Lankan Law – there is provision to claim land rights legally on the basis of Prescriptive rights. Our land in Colombo was falsely claimed by using these provisions – even though we established in Court that we had regularly entered our land with a view to constructing a home and we filed our case against the occupiers (Sinhala civilians) within 10 years of leaving Sri Lanka – the Court awarded in favor of the guy who claimed prescriptive rights. We have appealed the decision due to my belief that it is my land – bought out of hard earned and saved money. To me it is the essence of my savings from my work related income. I may or may not win the appeal. But I know for sure that the work I put in through my belief that it is mine – will bring me the wealth I need, where I need it, when I need it.

Relative to the Colombo Land, we had a guy registering similar claim against our land in Thunaivi-Sangarathai in Vaddukoddai district – where the first political declaration of Tamil Eelam was made. . But in that case the People around that land knew that we were the real owners. That knowledge would naturally add power to our belief that it was ours. No law has greater power than Belief. In Sri Lanka, those who believe – would be able to protect their land rights through belief. Easy possession in one area would naturally result in easy loss in another area – where the person whose land is being possessed believes that the land belonged to her/him and also that s/he is a Sri Lankan. Then the feeling of ownership by the believer would naturally dilute the feeling of ownership of the invader. The latter may still ‘possess’ large blocks of land. But the invader without the feeling of ownership would end up hoarding. The believer on the other hand would feel stronger powers even without possessing / occupying one inch of land. The believer would enjoy commonly through the mind. That is what good governance is about. This applies to also the issue of Devolution. The true believer in self-governance would by now be practicing devolution. The 13th amendment or its replacement would then only be a matter of confirmation. That to me is the core value of Democracy and its facility to develop power bottom up.

This is the essence of the story of Hindu Saint – Poosala Nayanar. Poosala Nayanar built a temple in his mind for Lord Shiva – brick by brick and following the rules of architecture and construction of temples. At the same time the ruling king of Kancheepuram – King Rajasimman also built a temple for Lord Shiva. The night before the day of inauguration, Lord Shiva appeared in the king’s dream and said He would first attend the inauguration of the temple of Poosala Nayanar and then only He would go to the king’s temple. The king sought and found Poosala Nayanar and honored him.

To some these may seem just stories. But as a believer, I have become strong developer of common values and energies. Whenever my mother lamented about the Colombo land – I said ‘but I now own a home-unit that is worth many times more and in a more affluent area’. It’s that power of Belief that has brought me this. Those who believe in the ancestral values of Land – as Eddie Mabo did – would enjoy the higher value from that land. To others - that very land would have only money value.

The principle of Terra Nullius when practiced with faith – would prevent negative karma for the Government of Sri Lanka. Towards this, the government needs to seek and find areas that were not homes to natives of that place. In this instance natives are those who have lived there for at least 10 years, believing it to be their home. The law is there to guide us towards harmonious life. Some laws may not be relevant to the ordinary person but are there for academic purposes – so our academics could relate comfortably with wider world. Belief on the other hand works for everyone – and those at grassroots level need it more than others do. When they believe – they would enjoy at a higher level than the invader. They also contribute to common values for their generation and policies for future generations.

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