An Australian Editor’s Advice: “Keep Sri Lanka in the Fold”

Editorial in The Australian, 29 April 2013

FORMER prime minister Malcolm Fraser and Greens senator Lee Rhiannon are singing from the same song sheet as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but they are misguided in calling for a boycott of the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka in November. Making that nation an international pariah is no answer to the human rights issues that have arisen since the Colombo government’s 2009 victory over the ethnic insurgency led by the barbarous Tamil Tigers, described by the American FBI as “the world’s deadliest terrorist group, worse (even) than Hamas”.Legitimate questions need to be asked about human rights in Sri Lanka. That is hardly surprising after a 30-year conflict that claimed 100,000 lives and tore the society apart. Attention remains on the alleged killing of tens of thousands of civilians in the last five months of the war. There is also concern about alleged human rights abuses widely publicised by the well-oiled Tamil diaspora in Australia and elsewhere – enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings, religious discrimination and intimidation of the judiciary and journalists.

While Mr Harper has announced that Canada would not go to CHOGM, it is important to note that Foreign Minister Bob Carr is not convinced the Sri Lankan government is engaged in human rights abuses. He notes that “some of the stories that have been put to us, when we’ve checked them out, have not been sustained” and has spoken of an improvement in the human rights situation, with former Tamil Tiger terrorists reintegrated into society and reconciliation in former Tamil strongholds. The need, as he argues, is not for the country to be isolated but for it to be engaged with the international community.

It is unlikely, after September 14, that Senator Carr will have to make the final call on our CHOGM attendance, but his position is sound. After one of modern history’s most horrendous conflicts, Sri Lanka deserves better than the ill-considered calls made by Mr Fraser and Senator Rhiannon to boycott a gathering to which it attaches such huge significance in its post-war recovery. The Sri Lankan government has shown sensitivity and skill in dealing with asylum-seekers. Isolating it would be counter-productive, turning it inward and making it more defiant of world opinion, further compromising human rights.


Filed under accountability, asylum-seekers, australian media, authoritarian regimes, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, law of armed conflict, life stories, LTTE, politIcal discourse, reconciliation, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, truth as casualty of war, world events & processes

2 responses to “An Australian Editor’s Advice: “Keep Sri Lanka in the Fold”

  1. saman

    Funny when the FBI has classed the LTTE as the world number 1 terrorist Group with Links and shearing of technology and finances with other Terrorist groups yet during especially the 2002 CFA the very Western Governments which hounded its own muslim citizens for promoting Radical Islamic Terrorism, encouraged elected Sri Lankan Government to sit and talk with Terrorist. they even went as far when the LTTE had its own so called advisers in the west who worked closely with them to promote human rights, while openly violating every aspect of the CFA, and even went back on the its own world during the CFA.. when the LTTE started to re arm smuggle weapons no HR groups nor the SLMM condemned these actions. When the LTTE TRO and other NGOs openly only employed former LTTE carders who later admitted smuggling weapons and bombs to Colombo using NGO vehicles and its murder squads openly killed many prominent persons in Colombo not a word from the Western based HR groups. Today Canada is a mere LTTE embassy cannot be taken seriously. And there should be a int mechanism to monitor these so called HR groups, who call for transparency on third world governments and China and Russia (non western nations only) yet they them self do not submit to these standards..Robert L. Bernstein, a founder and former chairman of HRW himself has criticised the Group.. Its time Sri Lanka work with these nations such as Russia, China, Israel and other non aligned nations in a common cause to setup a monitor to look into the conduct of these NGO groups. Russsia ushered in new laws to counter these NGOs as spies which the USA had protested, yet when other Non western based NGOs are treated the same way in the USA.. Double standards in the middle name of these democracies..

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