| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam
( August 10, 2014, Sydney, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Sri Lankan leadership was/is being criticized by the UN over the conduct of Sri Lankan soldiers during the Vanni battle. The Sri Lankan Government is rejecting the criticism and is effectively claiming that Sri Lankans have the right to manage themselves. It’s a bit like Terra Nullius claim by the British when they arrived in Australia. Study of this issue is significant due to Land being at the Center of the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict in its current form.
Land occupied and used continuously without interruption is at the core of Land ownership. Sri Lankan laws include Prescriptive rights on this basis. Sri Lankan laws include also Law of Thesawalamai which has strong provisions relating to Land ownership and management in Northern Sri Lanka. Unlike Jaffna Tamils, Aborigines of Australia did not express their beliefs about land ownership that could be understood by ‘new entrants’. Hence the claim of Terra Nullius by the British which resulted in ‘invasion’ instead of lawful occupation as per Global principles and International laws.
‘The visible credits we ‘show’ are just the entrances to ourselves. Those who show more than their earned credits risk entry of outsiders into their inner ‘homes’ and risk internal pollution. The innermost chamber of ourselves is the altar of our Truth. .
Sometimes others ‘see’ even though we don’t show. Towards preventing takeovers by such ‘seers’ we need to show our own values as per our own system. Australia’s Aborigines did show – Mr. Eddie Mabo being such a leader of our times. Eddie Mabo demonstrated that he felt ownership in his land through his community – even though he did not ‘show’ it through written customary laws or legal titles as per the Western system. When others do not ‘show’ their ownership – and outsiders enter as if there is no claim of prior ownership – it would be invasion if there were invisible ownership powers. It would be acquisition if there was no deeper ownership but mere occupation as if it was transit area and the new entrant carries strong opportunities based on working the land at another time at another place.’ Beyond Consciousness – Chapter on Motherland
To the extent Jaffna Tamils showed their Land ownership prior to war occupation by the Army as well as the LTTE, and did so as per laws of Thesawalamai and/or the Common Law applicable to all Sri Lankans – and these lands are later taken over by the Government of Sri Lanka – the Government is invading. To the extent a citizen lived and worked in that Land in the belief that s/he owned it – but like the Aborigines this citizen did not have documentary proof of ownership – and the Government takes-over that Land – the entry and occupation amount to invasion.
There has been some discussion within the Sri Lankan Diaspora in regards to the conduct of the soldiers during the Battle of Vanni. Instead of Land – if we use culture for the analysis – it would lead to a just understanding leading to a righteous solution to problems caused by actions during the war.
The LTTE is also accused of war atrocities. But in the case of LTTE – they were ‘Transparent’ about their modus operandi. Showing violence in punishing their enemies was part of their weaponry to takeover control. They were not bound by international treaties but largely by their own beliefs and customary paths of their group. Given that there was strong recruitment by LTTE from rural areas and disenfranchised groups – their approach would have been to maximize non-accountability factor. Their parallel within the majority race – the JVP – did likewise. Both were like less organized cultural groups – living in their own areas with little commitment to the laws governing Sri Lanka, leave alone the world.
The Sri Lankan soldiers would have been recruited from also the areas that gave birth to the JVP. Just because they now carry the official label does not mean that they would think like an official soldier – especially out in the battlefield facing a natural enemy. On one on one basis – a solider of proper official conduct would have had difficulty getting rid of the LTTE for this reason. Fear of losing status and therefore their jobs is the handicap. This is also the case in terms of Equal Opportunity at Australian workplaces.
Both Ravana and Rama in the Indian epic Ramayanam were clever. But Ravana desired conjugal pleasures outside the boundaries of marriage. Likewise, Ravana fought for wins with less regard for law and order in the process. That was right as per his culture driven by physical powers. Rama on the other hand was committed to His wife Seetha and took the structured path of marriage in enjoying the joys of marriage through the higher cultural path. Towards this He chose a wife equal to Himself. When Ravana changed his form to look like Rama – Ravana effectively wore Rama uniform – and that limited him from enforcing himself on another man’s wife. That uniform is the law governing that person/area.
Thus, a soldier wearing Sri Lankan uniform / law without deeper commitment to national governance – would not have gotten rid of the LTTE who were free of commitment to the higher laws and were transparent about it. The LTTE did practice discipline in many ways – often more than the discipline demonstrated by the Official Army. But they were not wearing the Tamil cultural uniform i.e. customary and national laws practiced by Tamil Leaders and all Tamil citizens who invested in National level structures and systems. Hence victories by the LTTE are the parallels of victories over Ravanas at the same level of culture as Ravana.
Any Sri Lankan leader who takes on the parallel structured path in governance as Rama would accept the weaknesses of her/his side soldiers and discipline their parallels in the group being led by the Sri Lankan leader. Those who travel along Ravana’s path would see nothing wrong with it and allow that conduct to continue. This is fine – so long as they did not go beyond Sri Lankan borders for any assistance from outside – especially at UN level. UN being the parallel of Rama with higher culture – invasion of Tamil areas by killing LTTE and using that ‘win’ to occupy others’ cultural space – brings the standards down to the lower of the two. No true Sri Lankan would do so – for once Sri Lankans sought the status of the UN to eliminate the LTTE – they have the responsibility to raise their actions to UN levels. Likewise Israel in the Middle Eastern war. Failure to do so would bring their standards down to the level of Palestinian militants (Ravanas). Likewise standards of the Nations assisting Israel.