| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam
( April 6, 2014, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) Last week there was discussion and debate over my response to the Asian Tribune article ‘Has the mighty USA labored and delivered a toothless mouse, having taken our Tamil brethren for a ride?’ by Mr. Sunil de Silva.
One participant wrote ‘Its not nice to feel that the country celebrates a victory against a race, which lives in the same country, but this victory is not against a people, but against a terror outfit. There is another matter in "feeling bitter", that is, if one had to leave one's country for the sake of being from a different race/ethnicity. If you have left Lanka on that, you must be feeling bitter. And, that the host country didn't accept your educational documents and work experience, that too adds to that bitter feeling, and when such feelings occur, it is easy to throw it at the non-fighting element, the former country.’
I knew within me that I did not feel bitter towards Sri Lanka. One does not feel bitter once one feels ownership. In any case - I was never bitter in Sri Lanka due any government action – not even after experiencing anxiety due to civil riots in Colombo. I just got on with life. I did not leave Sri Lanka due to any bitterness. I left to earn more money from beyond Sri Lankan shores – which is a traditional path for Tamils.
Here in Australia, I upheld my Sri Lankan professional qualifications as being the highest. I drew inner strength from my discovery that it was not second to its parallel Australian qualification. Therefore to me the lowering of my status was subjective and unjustly so after I proved myself of being capable of working as a team with fellow Australians of various cultures. The interesting discovery through the above response from someone of Sri Lankan origin is that people tend to throw the blame on the ‘former’ country. Sri Lanka is NOT a non-fighting country. But people especially many Tamil Diaspora Leaders do blame the Sri Lankan Government almost exclusively for the state they are currently in. The example that comes often to my mind is that of a mentally retarded niece of mine, giving a knock on my cousin’s head when I disciplined the former. My niece knew that I had the support of her father more than my cousin did. Hence she took her vengeance out on my cousin with lower status. Had she given me the knock – she would have gotten into trouble with her father.
The parallel of this is the Sri Lankan Government knocking on the head of Tamil Organizations all over the world, instead of using Equal status to discipline the USA. In some ways though – my cousin above deserved the retaliation - because she was senior to me by age and yet she did not discipline our niece. Likewise the Tamil Organizations that sought to discipline the Sri Lankan Government through other governments – such as the USA and UK using UN status.
Each one of us has the authority to use UN values to discipline our parallels in society. Tamil organizations such as the Australian Tamil Congress for example, did have the authority to discipline their Sinhalese parallels here in Australia. Otherwise, as the above person says – Tamils who contributed to the UN Resolution against the Sri Lankan Government were finishing off their unfinished business. At this rate – they would not be Australians except in name. Likewise, those (Sinhalese as well as Tamils) of Sri Lankan origin - living in other countries. The more benefits we draw from our country of residence than the costs we pay – the more indebted we become and the less ownership we feel for the countries we migrated to.
The above statement about blaming the one with lesser status - applies also to Sinhalese leaders who brought in Sinhala Only due to their unfinished business with the British against whom they had serious grievances. Then the Tamil heads were the ones they knocked on. The karma keeps returning through British support for Tamils.
While I feel sad that both sides are continuing to attack each other – I feel also – that neither is suffering from any real pain or loss. Tamils who benefit more from forming Tamil groups than focusing on sharing their values of global standards, through non-political avenues, with their juniors currently living in Sri Lanka, have to pay the ‘gap’. The gap happens when say Canadian status is used to find fault with a Sri Lankan. To that extent we have less to share with those resident in Sri Lanka.
Canadian Tamil Congress in its press release dated 04 April 2014 states:
‘It is with great respect for international law that the Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) has advocated since 2009 for the establishment of an independent international investigation into human rights violations committed by both sides in the armed conflict in Sri Lanka, as well as into the ongoing abuses of human rights in the country. It is evident therefore that the recent proscription of CTC by the Sri Lankan government, and its baseless allegations, are a direct response to the successful establishment of such an independent inquiry through the Human Rights Council’s resolution. Under the guise of counter-terrorism, the Sri Lankan government is clearly attempting to hinder the upcoming investigation in any way possible, by preventing and de-legitimizing the work of human rights defenders on the ground in Sri Lanka and attempting to curb the flow of information regarding the human rights situation internationally.’
There would have been no gap if the Canadian Tamil Congress had advocated such an action through confidential submissions to the Canadian Government – as in the vertical hierarchical system. But in Democracy – when one takes direct action – one is assuming a position equal to or higher than the party/parties against whom such action is advocated. Once we know that the other person is not capable to anything higher – the only reason I can think of for continuing to look in that direction – is our own desire to be in that position.
If therefore Tamil leaders seek to be the equal parallels of the Sri Lankan Government – not through independent Tamil State but through other governments – then we Tamils are not a sovereign group yet. When we are sovereign we would show that through all our actions and we would not go up and down with others’ actions to damage our status.