| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam
( September 19, 2014, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) I read with interest the report ‘Shame on Sydney U : Stupidity & Ignorance’ by the Asian Human Rights Commission published in Sri Lanka Guardian
The controversy as I understand it seems to be that Sydney University looked at preventing torture by studying also the Sri Lankan armed personnel concerned (Ending torture means engaging with traditional foes by Professor Danielle Celermajer) whereas the Asian Human Rights Commission is looking at the higher level – to studying the politicians who give the orders.
To my mind, both are right provided they do not interfere with the other’s path. To me this is also the core reason why Sri Lanka has experienced civil war. It will continue to be the case unless we make our own contributions by discovering Truth – and including that in the way we engage with each other followed by our engagement with the custodians of power. As a Tamil engaging as a Sri Lankan – I am very much in the minority and hence my discoveries are through ordinary voters – just as it was through employees of the University of New South Wales in natural environments. This results in transformation at grassroots level. Relative to the Government of Australia, Sydney University would have considered itself a minority power to take this approach. The discovery then would need to be an academic publication – free of any obligation / influence by or from governments.
As per my research and discovery through the University of New South Wales – at both ends of a structure – decisions are subjective. I was failed by the Australian Human Rights Commission as well as the Judiciary through use of discretionary powers. Use of discretionary powers is subjective and when used by a subject with lesser investment in the issue than the one being judged - the judgment would be of low quality.
The same outcome – in the matter currently at the center of our discussion – would be viewed and received by various individuals and groups – each one as per their investment in a particular order of thought. To some the Sydney University would seem right and to others the Asian Human Rights Commission would seem right. Ultimately – the Natural forces would do their job and continue to produce the outcomes as per the total contribution at that time at that place. Torture itself does not have uniform global definition.
The risk for the Sydney University in this instance is that the current issue through which Sri Lankans feel challenged is racism. When I brought action against many seniors – including Mr. John Howard – who were using subjective powers to dismiss me including through negligence of their duty to migrants, I used Racial Discrimination Act 1975 through which to express my pain. I could have used Industrial Relations laws and I would have, had I been driven by quick and easy benefits. I had enough evidence to confirm that I was a high performer at the workplace – despite my Sri Lankan qualifications not being recognized even after years of high performance in Australia. But the need to use Racial Discrimination Law was greater than the need to use Industrial Relations law. As a migrant I felt it was my duty to use Racial Discrimination Law. Mr. Howard’s subsequent actions in relation to refugees, 9/11 and Bali Bombings confirmed that that need was greater for the nation. The difference is in the order of thought. Those who assimilate would have most likely chosen Industrial Relations laws, under the circumstances.
I sought and shared my Truth - that I did not feel equal to or higher than my White Australian counterparts despite performing at a level above them. Due to my forbearance I did not take action at the lower levels but intuitively used the global law against racial discrimination. In Court when I had proven clearly that the dismissal was not on merit basis – and the Judge asked me whether according to me the racial discrimination was conscious or subconscious – I said it was subconscious. Then the other side barrister jumped up and said that his client was young and her career would be damaged. After all that inquiry – the matter was dismissed as lacking in substance. But I know that I had proven my case to Justice Gyles whose thinking order was higher than many others who were entrenched in the White Australia system. To me that was transformation.
Had our politicians done likewise and shared their Truth with Sri Lankan politicians – I would identify with my own contribution towards this. Likewise, I would expect the Sydney University also to make itself global and support Australian Public through its discoveries. As one academic said to me ‘the job must get done’.
To me, Sydney University was acting in breach of protocols which eventually lead to blind following. A University must engage through Universities in the countries concerned and not engage directly through subjective powers. Using subjective powers with someone of different culture amounts to unjust discrimination. Hence Equal Opportunity laws to prevent indiscriminate mixing of administration and cultural thinking. Each group / culture is entitled to produce its own outcomes independent of other groups – and then leave it to the Public to take the discovery as per their own needs. That is true multiculturalism. Without this protection Sydney University could have effectively started Administering the Sri Lankan armed forces – including through such academic forums. The membership to participate was that of the Universities and NOT bodies that are directly administered by the Government. I once disputed the claim by a close Associate of the Asian Human Rights Commission - that Australian standards in law and order were higher than Sri Lanka’s. The above controversy confirms that my observations were as per Truth. Truth has perfect order.
Sydney University was trying to do in reverse order, what I did at the University of New South Wales and beyond – through my Administrative and Legal actions. I shared my Truth to know the Truth about those whom I did not have the opportunity to work with directly – despite my ability to contribute at policy level. I had to get involved as part of them to know the Truth. As they say in Tamil ‘Learn also to steal and then forget’. As an Australian I believe that that is what Sydney University was doing – getting to know those at the coalface. They just failed to follow the slower path of including Sri Lankan Universities – especially University of Jaffna – so that the ethnic component could also be identified with – not by the perpetrators who act subconsciously – but by the academics who mentally become the perpetrators to discover the Truth – so it could be shared with those who are willing to learn. Often those driven by desire forget to come out of the mode. One with high level of forbearance would need to lead such projects.
One important component that leaders need to be conscious of when including Sri Lankan soldiers is the ethnic element. Soldiers on both sides of the Sri Lankan civil war – were subjective at the lower level. This would mean that those who do not work for their position benefits would use the quick and easy method of subjective path which would often damage others who have invested in the issue but are not physically present to protect their investments. How does one explain through common principles and laws – the rights and wrongs of another’s action when their orders of thought are already proven and accepted to be different? Sri Lankan soldiers were driven by outcomes more than the commitment to following common order of thought with the community that stood to lose. Hence the only way to bring about common order is for the higher contributor to go down to the level of the needy and merge with their minds and quietly transform until there is common order of thought. To achieve this one would often need to forego earned benefits – as Gandhi did.