Post Conflict Sri Lanka: A fair assessment in the Australian press

| by Dr. D. Chandraratna

( November 09, Perth , Sri Llanka Guardian) Today for the first time the Australian newspaper, ‘The Week End Australian’ published an accurate picture of the ground realities of post conflict Sri Lanka and the growing presence of the LTTE in Australia by the veteran journalist Greg Sheridan. As pointed out in the Australian press the villain in Sri Lanka is and was the LTTE. Thanks to their protectors overseas, and buying power both monetarily and electorally the war crimes and human rights violations are presumably from the government side and it is only a few who even refer to the atrocities committed by the LTTE in previous times, more to the point, decades. Downer the then foreign Minister of Australia is quoted in the ‘The Australian (5-6/11/11) as remarking that it is possible that human rights abuses may have occurred, but it is a wonderful thing that the Sri Lankan government won the war. He says, ‘I have always regarded The Tamil Tigers as absolutely a terrorist organisation’. The columnist adds that LTTE is the bloodiest and most murderous terrorist group the world has ever seen. Using hapless women who are once abused so as to make them suicidal they pioneered the suicide bomb. Murdering moderate Tamil and Sinhalese politicians, using civilians as human shield, recruiting innocent children as combatants, extorting all the monies from Australia, Canada, European Union and UK, engaging in credit card scams, illegal business ventures, illicit arms trade, human trafficking which by any measure have to be ranked as the most unscrupulous, it was the brutal terror outfit in the world. While the UN and thirty other countries proscribed the LTTE the financial activities continued to date. In spite of the pleas by the Sri Lankan government on behalf of its victimised population of 22 million, the so-called international community refused to assist the country in its war against terror. Even Australia paid little attention to its plight. Why the Australian government under Prime Minister Howard refused to proscribe the LTTE is still kept a secret. If it was for fear of retaliation against the Australians in Colombo, that is just a poor and callous policy judgment. If it was because the LTTE activists in Australia are a well established lobby along with the human rights activists, we understand the selfishness but do not condone. Is it not a mockery of human rights and a travesty of any humanity in international affairs to disregard the plight of a nation just for electoral gain and the safety of its embassy staff? In the name of fairness and justice we hope that this will not happen in the future.
Even today, Sri Lankans are saddened by the Australian response to LTTE terrorism. The reasonable response from the governments of the countries where the Tamils seek refuge ought to be to help Sri Lanka rebuild the nation in reconciliation and the economic development of the country. To allow the Tamil Tiger network to grow in Australia and elsewhere while talking of human rights is absolute disingenuous hypocrisy. Since Sri Lanka genuinely assists in the prevention of human trafficking, we deserve a fair deal from these countries.
Sri Lankans have a right to ask the West whether condoning the activities of its citizens who are assisting an enemy of Sri Lanka is fair. When an Australian joins the enemy as David Hicks (an Australian citizens trained by al-Qaida) did, it was interpreted unequivocally as treachery, and even worse, treason. We cannot understand why the Prime Ministers of Canada and UK particularly ignore and obfuscate this fundamental tenet of decency in diplomacy when it comes to Tamil apologists doing exactly what Hicks was guilty of.
Although the prospects of a resurgence of terrorism in Sri Lanka are unlikely the LTTE living outside will capitalise every omission in Sri Lanka to besmirch the reputation of the country. It is therefore incumbent upon the Sri Lankan government to be mindful of the threats of human rights allegation directed to stall its efforts at reconciliation. Reconciliation and future coexistence are predicated on guarantees of human dignity for all Sri Lankans. The freedom to live without fear or favour, the freedom to move both in the South and the North, uniformity in laws and governance, and other fundamental rights of all citizens must be protected. Above all, being preeminently a multi-cultural society no room must be allowed for ethnic ghettoisation, no matter in which guise they are presented; mythical homelands, ethno specific privileges in land use and habitation.

Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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