| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam
( December 19, 2013, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) This morning, I received communication from Tamil Diaspora Leader regarding the Arab News article ‘Sri Lanka mulls Mandela’s reconciliation model’ . As per this article ‘Information minister Keheliya Rambukwella said President Mahinda Rajapakse, who attended a memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg last week, was trying to replicate the late civil rights icon’s reconciliation bid.
We are seriously looking at the possibility of having something like the (South African) Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” Rambukwella told reporters in Colombo after the first cabinet meeting following Rajapakse’s return from South Africa.’
My mind went to the interview by Daily News, with Professor Rohan Gunaratna whose opinions were published under the heading ‘TNA will bring grief, not joy to Tamils - Prof. Rohan Gunaratna’ . In this interview, Professor Gunaratna states: ‘The LLRC is comparable to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The conditions in every country are unique and one should not impose the South African TRC on Sri Lanka.’
It is interesting that there is basic difference between the expressions by the Minister and the Academic. The former needs local votes and the latter needs grades with the Academia. In a country driven by majority power – the two would be in conflict if they were to allow their unregulated thoughts to be published. To regulate them through common path – we need strong administrative structures that would include the interest of all investors. Development of this is happening slowly within the Tamil community. One who feels with them would identify with this.
I believe that the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission was empowered by President Mandela who endured long years of isolation and loneliness for his nation. It’s that Truth that empowered that Commission. Any structure that flows from that would naturally regulate those who have faith in President Mandela as a leader. To use academic language , the discoveries made by researchers today becomes theory tomorrow. But there needs to be no plagiarism in the process. To the extent the Sri Lankan leaders have faith in President Mandela, they would naturally form their own subset of President Mandela’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission. But our natural leader in the region is Gandhi. Any Truth & Reconciliation Commission would need to have a strong Gandhi follower as its head. Such a person is not amongst the politicians on either side of the ethnic divide.
Truth when manifested and recorded provides the best structure for all in a particular group. Only those who have had the experience at the deepest level would be leaders through Truth. Then the Reconciliation is between the past realities and that Truth. It’s like reconciling between the discovery that Earth is global and the reality that it seems flat. To those driven by the seen the latter is their reality. Without investment in Tamils, Professor Gunaratna’s reality about Sri Lanka is that it is led by Sinhalese. To be wholesome, one needs to feel part of both sides or use discriminative thinking and assess through Common Principles. Former is Truth experienced through everyday living and the latter leads to Truth through the intellectual path. The latter includes investment through Due Processes. The structure of the former is politics and the latter is diplomacy. Former is before Administration and the latter is beyond Administration.
The Minister’s model needs a leader personifying Truth at the top. LLRC is the model preferred by Professor Gunaratna – confirming that he sees no such Sri Lankan leader at the top.
Professor Gunaratna states ‘The Sri Lankan government and its partners should continue to implement the remaining recommendations of the LLRC. The spirit of both these commissions is similar. It is restorative justice - it is to restore life rather punitive justice - punish the perpetrators of violence.’
This is followed by :
‘Of 12,000 terrorists, the government has rehabilitated and reintegrated 11,600 terrorists. Although they conducted border village massacres, placed bombs in public places, assassinated leaders and attacked the Security Forces, they were not imprisoned. After successful rehabilitation, they live peacefully, having returned to their families, joined university, or found government or private sector employment.’
To keep writing in one’s memory and the memories of one’s readers – words such as ‘they conducted border village massacres, placed bombs in public places, assassinated leaders and attacked the Security Forces’ about these Tamil combatants and in summary refer to them as ‘terrorists’ confirms that in reality these combatants are still ‘terrorists’ to Professor Rohan and his side, but that they are condescending in not imprisoning them! One who has experienced the Truth – would not give form based on such low level reality to the work and sacrifice by those combatants. The Government could not defeat the LTTE without causing serious casualties amongst civilians. This requires the Government to stop calling the LTTE ‘terrorists’. The moment the Government appointed Karuna as a Minister – it had the responsibility to erase from its Political mind any acts by the LTTE prior to that point in time. That would provide the right base to develop the future structure for its side. Each time LTTE is referred to as terrorists by the Government’s side – it invokes the Truth for those who believed in LTTE as a whole – that Karuna was ‘bought over’ because the Government could not defeat the LTTE through its independent powers – with or without Professor Gunaratna. To my mind, Professor Gunaratna is the parallel of Karuna who switched sides. But Karuna was open about it. Professor Gunaratna is becoming politician without completing his research as a True Academic.