Facts, Evidence & Belief
| by Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam
( January 7, 2014 -Melbourne- Sri Lanka Guardian) Following the circulation of Mr. Bruce Haig’s article in Canberra Times, in relation to his evidence to Bremen People’s Tribunal, is the circulation of the Affidavit by Dr. Veerakathipillai Shanmugarajah’s evidence to the above Tribunal is also being circulated.
I wrote in response to one such message from Professor Michael Roberts:
‘Thank you Michael. Mr. Jayadevan also shared this with me. I identify with the essence of what has been said, from my own direct experience – through my own belief.
However, Dr. Shanmugarajah’s statement “I can confirm that I have been offered the assistance of Stephen Williams, a solicitor of the Supreme court qualified to practice in England and Wales who has helped me to prepare this affidavit” confirms interference by the British. An Affidavit needs to be of one’s own free will. Given that Dr. Shamugarajah is Sri Lankan, living in Sri Lanka, should have prepared the Affidavit himself – independent of any lawyer. An English translation if needed ought to have been obtained if Dr. Shanmugarajah was more comfortable with Tamil. As per my knowledge – there are enough lawyers including in Jaffna – who are outstanding in the use of English language. Our own Attorney Mr. Kanagasingham of Tholpuram for example is proficient in all three languages. I changed over to Mr. Kanagasingham because I was upset that the previous lawyer was trying to enforce his ways on us. One such attempted enforcement was to sign the Affidavit he prepared in which the ‘facts’ as stated by us were twisted towards quick win in Court. This is often the way with money minded lawyers.
As per my experience in Sri Lankan Courts, as well as Australian Courts, lawyers often prepare the Affidavits for signature by their clients. By stating that he was a Hindu and was making the affidavit under oath – Dr. Shanmugarajah confirms that these were his expressions of belief. He did not need a British Attorney at law to express his belief as Sri Lankan to fellow Sri Lankans. Those who believe do not need proof. To the extent of British influence – this Affidavit deserves to be set aside.’
The experiences of Dr. Shanmugarajah are due to his official position within Government Structures. Hence it needs to be taken as the evidence given by Government. To me this is also the plight of many Government officials who were torn between the two sides. That was the essence that I identified with. The question is whether Dr. Shanmugarajah was an independent witness in that Tribunal which in form ‘looks’ global. To be truly global, it needed to have used globally accepted standards in Due Processes. These are criteria through which we select the information that we register in our brains. The stronger the Truth through which we receive the information the deeper the registration. The deeper the registration the taller our standards expressed for the benefit of society.
Hearsay is not acceptable in any just Court of Law. We make decisions on a combination of three bases:
1. Net outcome of information received merely through the gross senses. Hearsay is part of this category.
2. Through discriminative thinking of the brain. At that level our brain talks and listens to the brain of others
3. Through our Truth. At this level we merge silently with each other.
Category one needs to be based on category three for majority vote to succeed towards good governance. Once we vote and send our representatives to govern us – we should not express our conclusions publicly. JVP and LTTE effectively negated the voters who elected their representatives. They thus weakened the power of democracy.
The Affidavit likewise needs to be based on our belief and not mere observation. The Affidavit provided by Dr. Shanmugarajah is for officials and customers in his environment – so they would regulate their thoughts accordingly. For the Affidavit of an individual to have validity in a Court of Law – that individual needs to have had the experience as an independent person – independent of both sides and needs to be seen to be so. It needs to be belief based and so long as one is within government employment – one has the DUTY to express as per her/his position and not as an individual. This was the reason why I resigned from my position within the University of New South Wales before taking them to Court on the basis of my belief and did so AFTER exhausting all internal avenues – at the risk of getting arrested. If I had ‘facts’ I could have taken them to Court while maintaining my position. Belief based actions beyond Administrative reality lay the foundation for tomorrow’s laws. The deeper the Truth on which such belief is based the longer the value of the laws that flow from that belief based expressions and actions.
Senior Sri Lankans at all levels need to think of the next generation and use their belief more than hearsay and statistics. That Affidavit by Dr. Shanmugarajah ought to have been given by Mr. Gothabaya Rajapaksa on behalf of the Government as per his belief of why something happened. If the Government does not officially recognize that Tribunal – then no Government Officer has the authority to give evidence. We need to develop strong common standards so our thoughts would be regulated and steady. That which can be measured by the Public does not need evidence. It’s a public fact. Why it happened needs to be assessed as per common laws for external purposes. For internal purposes of strengthening infrastructure of the individual and nation – one needs belief. Affidavits need to be limited to belief and not facts that are available to the Public. In Sri Lankan Courts – my Divorce and remarriage was stated through Affidavit by family. The Affidavit given by us was set aside on the claim that the Jurat clause was missing. The result is a verdict without belief. Belief does not need evidence. Likewise ‘facts’ that are available to the Public also do not need evidence to confirm or dispute that they happened. We need to find out why it happened if we seek to prevent such happenings in the future.