Mythical tales of Tamil persecution in Sri Lanka
Posted on July 15th, 2014

Lakshman I.Keerthisinghe LLB, LLM.MPhil, Attorney-at-Law Courtesy The Daily News

There’s a great danger in this that we accept one side in this narrative…It’s not just a Tamil Tiger’s narrative; it’s a narrative about a complex society rebuilding itself after 35 years of vicious violence and not doing badly

-Bob Carr – Former Foreign Minster of Australia

It was recently reported in the media that Labor’s last Foreign Minister of Australia, Bob Carr, has ridiculed refugee advocates’ urban mythology” about endemic persecution of Tamils in Sri Lanka, saying the previous government couldn’t find a single case” of returned asylum-seekers being abused by authorities.

Carr, who retired from politics last October, accepted Sri Lanka’s recovery after 30 years of ethnic conflict was not a perfect exercise”, but rejected former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser’s likening of the Abbott government’s policy to returning Jews to Nazi Germany.

Carr’s comments come as the Abbott government determines the fate of 153 Sri Lankan nationals being held aboard an Australian Customs vessel after their interception at sea. However as reported in The Australian newspaper, it is understood that the Australian government has no intention of sending the boatload to Sri Lanka, nor are authorities in Colombo preparing to receive them. Those now on board the Customs boat could be transferred to the Manus Island offshore processing centre in Papua New Guinea, the Nauru centre or repatriated to India.

Refugee advocates

Refugee advocates argue Tamils should not be returned to Sri Lanka because they fear persecution. Carr said Sri Lanka was not doing badly” given its decades-long ethnic conflict with the bloodthirsty” Tamil Tigers led by the diabolic leader Prabhakaran, whom he compared with genocidal Cambodian dictator Pol Pot. Things I’ve been hearing from the refugee lobby are simply unsustainable,” Carr, a former NSW Labor premier who served as foreign minister to Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd, told ABC Radio. The idea that there is entrenched apartheid in the country like old South Africa or the West Bank just cannot be sustained…You’ve got 12 per cent of the population of Sri Lanka of Tamil background and they are heavily represented in the leadership of the country. You’ve got Tamil political parties sitting in the parliament, Tamil judges, Tamil doctors and engineers, a Tamil business leadership…There’s a great danger in this that we accept one side in this narrative … It’s not just a Tamil Tigers’ narrative; it’s a narrative about a complex society rebuilding itself after 35 years of vicious violence and not doing badly.

scottmScott Morrison

Carr said the Labor government returned a boatload of Sri Lankan asylum-seekers about August 2012, none of whom were treated inhumanely. Rather, they were interviewed and then released.

There were only four issues raised with returnees by the High Commission, their position was carefully investigated and there was no mistreatment confirmed,” Carr said. There was extraordinary urban mythology promoted about their treatment. I had it put to me in a meeting with NGOs at DFAT once that there were hundreds of returnees from Australia held in detention; now that was pure myth. It’s in the interests of Sri Lanka to send a message to the world — for goodness sake, the country’s under constant close observance by the Human Rights Commission in Geneva — that in cases like this it adheres to its own law.” Carr said the international community looked the other way” during the Tamil Tigers’ bloodthirsty” insurgency.

This is a country that recovered from three-and-a-half decades of the most vicious ethnic conflict. If the Tamil Tigers had won, if they’d carved out their own republic in the north of Sri Lanka, there are good reasons for thinking … it would have ended up being very similar to Pol Pot’s regime in Cambodia. It would have been bloodthirsty…This was an insurgency that pioneered the use of suicide bombings that blew up religious monuments, children, killed people on a huge scale while the rest of the world looked the other way…The country is recovering from three-and-a-half decades of a vicious civil war and it’s not going to be a perfect exercise, and it isn’t, and we should keep our eye on human rights abuses. But I’ve got to say a lot of progress has been made.”

Asylum propaganda

TonyabbottTony Abbott and Julie Bishop

Ambassador Bandula Jayasekara, the Consul General of Sri Lanka for NSW and Queensland has said in a statement published in The Australian newspaper that vested interests were pushing asylum propaganda to profit from a lucrative trade. The Australian’s editorial of July 7 had commented that Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser doesn’t help his standing by likening the return of Tamils to Sri Lanka to handing over Jewish refugees to Nazi Germany. Such intemperance can only damage Mr. Fraser’s cause.” It certainly has, as has the hysterical language in the lopsided” asylum debate in Australia in the past few days.

Ambassador Jayasekera said that a misconception has been created among some Australians regarding asylum-seekers arriving from Sri Lanka because of a huge and very well-funded misinformation campaign carried out by parties with vested interests. As the representative of Sri Lanka, Jayasekera stated that he could say with complete authority that those Sri Lankans (and he emphasised, Sri Lankans — be they Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Malays or Burghers) who return to Sri Lanka do not face death or torture, as the prophets of doom claim in their vicious around-the-clock campaign here in Australia.

Profitable business

Failed or returned asylum-seekers are arrested and produced before a magistrate as people who have violated the immigration laws of Sri Lanka, as any country would do. The Criminal Investigation Department of Sri Lanka, under the Sri Lankan police, questions them to see if they have a criminal record and obtains a statement from them, and they are subsequently released without delay. Jayasekera went onto say that well-organised groups who are aware of any boat coming to Australia coach prospective asylum-seekers to say they were harassed and tortured in Sri Lanka, and would be harassed and tortured if the Australian authorities were to send them back. These groups have the support of refugee councils” and refugee lawyers.

It is no secret that this has become a very profitable business — these journeys cost US $5000 to US $8000 a head — sugar-coated with the sympathy of unsuspecting Australians. Even some in the media are not aware of the racket although unfortunately certain journalists in Sydney quote nameless, faceless people raising doubts whether they were really journalists or in fact refugee advocates. At the carrying fare Jayasekera indicated, this journey would have netted some USD 1.2 million to someone (at USD 8000/- per passenger) and if those in the boat came from India as has been stated, they would have come from a refugee camp in India, where they could have followed due process and applied for political refugee status, as refugees in many camps in the world have to.

In this context, the rightful procedure now would be to return these people to where they came from, India. Failure on the part of authorities to do this would send the wrong signal to other people smugglers, if indeed the vested interest are such people. It should also be noted that this is the first vessel (boat or otherwise) that has left India carrying persons seeking political refugee status in Australia. The timing of this exercise is very suspicious as it has happened in the backdrop of the UNHRC investigation panel on Sri Lanka commencing their investigations. If the motive of the vested interest was to give the maximum negative publicity to Sri Lanka at this juncture with this incident with the support of the media including the ABC, human rights activists and refugee advocates who know nothing about Sri Lanka, and some unintelligent parliamentarians, one could say have succeeded.

Tamil Diaspora

In this respect, Australian Sri Lankans who are appalled at this one sided castigation are truly grateful to Bob Carr, Former Foreign Minister and The Australian for giving viewers another point of view besides the one sided tirade that has been leveled against Sri Lanka at the behest of the vested interests, who Sri Lankans suspect are the paid vassals of the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora in Tamil Nadu. It is noteworthy that Robert John “Bob” Carr (born September 28, 1947) is a former politician from Australia. A member of the Labor Party, he served in the government of Australia as Minister for Foreign Affairs from March 2012 to September 2013, while also serving in the Australian Senate as a Senator for New South Wales. From April 4, 1995 to August 3, 2005, Carr was the Premier of New South Wales. He was the longest continuously serving Premier of the state (only Sir Henry Parkes served longer, although Parkes held the office on five separate occasions).

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has refused to comment on the two boats – one carrying 153 asylum seekers and the other carrying 50 asylum seekers – maintaining that the government does not comment on ”speculation or reporting” regarding on water operations. Asked if Australians had a right to know what was happening with asylum seekers on the two boats, Abbott said: ”The public deserve safe and secure borders…They deserve a country that has not become open for the wrong kind of business, the people smuggling business,” he told reporters in Melbourne. “Everything we do is consistent with safety at sea and everything we do is consistent with our international obligations”, the Prime Minister further stated.

The motive for these Sri Lankan asylum seekers to seek greener pastures in countries such as Australia as stated by Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in Australia Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe is that since the ceasefire in 2009 there has been peace in Sri Lanka and thus there is no reason for any Sri Lankan to leave Sri Lanka other than economic opportunities. “There have been thousands of failed asylum seekers who have been either voluntarily or involuntarily returned to Sri Lanka. They are leading a normal life in Sri Lanka with no harassment.”

Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe, refuted claims of ongoing human rights abuses, saying those who are returned to Sri Lanka would face the magistrates court and be released on bail.

People smuggling

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has defended the Abbott government’s asylum seeker policy after the United Nations said it was “profoundly concerned” by reports on the treatment of Tamil asylum seekers. “Australia abides by its international obligations and will continue to do so, but we will also restore our border protection laws to ensure that people do not die at sea,” Minister Bishop told the ABC.

There is nothing humanitarian about encouraging the people smuggling trade to put people on unseaworthy boats”. Indeed it is a fact that such asylum seekers pay a high price to the persons engaged in the very profitable business of people smuggling. The asylum seekers are attracted by the rosy picture painted by these smugglers in order to entice them to undertake the perilous voyage by sea along with their family members.

With the money they spend on this fruitless venture these asylum seekers could start small businesses in Sri Lanka and live happily in our motherland. It is no secret that the Tamil diaspora which operate the Tamil Refugee Agency use these asylum seekers in demonstration against Sri Lanka subsequent to their arrival in the countries in which they seek refuge. They are used as tools to bring disrepute to our motherland.

The funds for smuggling operations also are provided by these agencies. As Admiral Samarasinghe very correctly pointed out: “There is no reason for any Sri Lankan to leave Sri Lanka other than economic opportunities.” Once these asylum seekers gain employment opportunities in Western countries with the help of the diaspora they are required to commence paying part of their earnings to the diaspora organizations fattening their funds which are used to destabilize the government of Sri Lanka in the propaganda machinery set up to achieve a separate state in the north and east of Sri Lanka.

LTTE sympathizers

It heartening to note that Bob Carr and the Australian Prime Minister have assessed the true situation prevailing in Sri Lanka. The Prime Minister very correctly pointed out that: ”The Australian public deserve safe and secure borders…They deserve a country that has not become open for the wrong kind of business, the people smuggling business.” It is an open secret that these Tamil asylum seekers actively support LTTE sympathizers, who have helped them with funds to seek refuge in these Western countries.

In conclusion, Sri Lanka has to assist the Australian government in resisting attempts by greedy people smugglers from duping innocent people to risk their lives in the fruitless venture of seeking refuge under false pretexts in Australia.

9 Responses to “Mythical tales of Tamil persecution in Sri Lanka”

  1. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    It is interesting when a white dominated nation finally echoes what Colombo has been saying all along then some recognition is given. Thanks to the pragmatism of Australia the myth of the “tortured Tamil” is beginning to reveal that Sri Lanka and the government of Sri Lanka is being used by asylum seekers for their own selfish goals to falsely accuse Colombo, the Sinhalese people and even the Buddhist Sanga of violence done on them.

    Many articles that cover Sri Lanka or even Buddhism in the Times of India it is routine for some commenters to use these public forums to openly accuse Sri Lanka, the Sinhalese and especially the Buddhist Sanga as “thugs” and ‘criminals” who are capable of the most ugly acts of brutality. Some back it up with “personal stories” so similar to the stories now being revealed by the Australian government to be false.

    It has far reaching negative effects of Sri Lanka and paints that nation in a perpetual light as a “barbarous, uncivilized nation” that started the war and not the Tamil Tigers who are often portrayed as the “victims” of Sinhalese “brutality”

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    We must be careful in this.

    PURGING Tamils OUT of SL is better for SL than keeping them “unhappily” INSIDE. SL must purge Tamils in a way that does not discredit it.

    One reason why Jaffna is LESS IOLENT today than in 1980s is because of LOW POPULATION in Jaffna today.

  3. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Lorenzo: I agree. There are some methods to do this.

    Push for the conversion of low caste Tamils to Buddhism. Tamil Buddhists would then become part of the Buddhist faith and by that put Pali and eventually Sinhalese as their language, especially if they are introduced to the Buddhist Sanga when they are children

    Refuse entry of Tamil asylum seekers who have left Sri Lanka but refused entry by the nation of their destination. if they claim violations done on them by Sri Lanka as the reason for their “flight” then returning them would be illogical. They can find a better life in Tamil Nadu where they cannot make such false allegations.

    Push Sinhalese only regulations on all minorities. Tamils above all the minorities despise this.

    One aspect that is actually to the advantage of Sri Lanka is that Tamil Nadu is so close to that nation. It has often been seen as a “disadvantage” but due to its closeness Tamils should find living in their true homeland easier than Tamils settled in other far off lands.

  4. Ananda-USA Says:

    Lorenzo, BW,

    It is OK to say to a Sri Lankan citizen, of any community, that if you unhappy living in Sri Lanka having only the same rights as other Sri Lankans, then you are free to emigrate legally to another country, but it is not OK to implement various devious schemes to push them out of the country, for any reason.

    Furthermore, refusing the right of return to citizens, failed refuge seekers or not, is against International Law. It is simply ILLEGAL and should not be done. But, if the refugees left from India to illegally enter another country, they should be returned to India first.

    Tamil citizens are free to emigrate legally to any other country; that is their INALIENABLE RIGHT as human beings. They should not be discriminated against in Sri Lanka and pushed out of the country; that is also their inalienable right as Sri Lankan citizens.

    However, if they commit crimes, or engage in treasonous activities, they should be arrested, prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law …. right here in Sri Lanka … just as any other Sri Lankan citizen would be.

  5. Lorenzo Says:

    Ananda,

    “but it is not OK to implement various devious schemes to push them out of the country, for any reason.”

    I DISAGREE because I KNOW the CONCOCTIONS being prepared by Tamils against SL.

    For Tamils, SL is only a SPRINGBOARD to a better life elsewhere. A rocket that will be SHED by the spacecraft after using it. A toilet paper that MUST BE flushed with the poo after use. A cigaratte butt that needs to be discarded after use.

    By ENCOURAGING them to LEAVE SL in PEACE we can prevent them hatching worse plots against SL.

    e.g. 1983 riot was planned by Tamils to get out of SL. Some genuninely suffered and soon the TAMIL ORGANIZED riot got out of hand!

    In 1970s Tamils in the north did VERY WELL. Farmers became rich. Middle men became rich. Illegal importers from TN (in Jaffna) became filthy rich.

    But when import restrictions were lifted in 1977 Jaffna Tamils LOST their economic monopoly. They saw NO WAY OUT than to leave SL. So they planned the riot, etc.

    It is like trying to forcibly keep a wife who is madly in love with another man. Just let her go and ENCOURAGE her to go. Or help her go to hell. Otherwise she will kill the husband and marry her lover ANYWAY.

    I can tell you with responsibility Tamils are planning another riot against Tamils.

    For me ILLEGAL, IMMORAL, etc. things are KOSHER as long as it is done to protect SL interests. ALL countries do HORRENDOUS IMMORAL and illegal things IN THE NAME OF NATIONAL INTERESTS. SL should be NO exception.

    We must be a step ahead of TEs AT ANY COST.

  6. Lorenzo Says:

    BW,

    “Push Sinhalese only regulations on all minorities. Tamils above all the minorities despise this.”

    FULLY AGREE.

    A fantastic FILTER.

    G~ds have given ENOUGH tools to peacefully save SL. One is the sea around it. The other is the SINHALA language. But our fools are not using them.

    SINHALA ONLY will not only drive Tamil racists OUT of SL it will also PREVENT Tamil illegals coming to SL in tens of thousands every year.

    e.g. A stray cat used to come to my garden and crap. I placed a cat repellent and BINGO!.

    Good Tamils will become Sinhala speakers.

    MILLIONS of Tamils can become fluent in English, French, German, Norwegian, etc. There is NO reason why they cannot be fluent in Sinhala.

    If Tamil is OK, why not Arabic. This will be the next BIG THING.

    “hitha onda gaani emathaam budding” AND AGAIN!

  7. Sooriarachi Says:

    We should be grateful to the Current Liberal leadership and the former Labour leadership in Australia, for doing their own home work to understand the situation in Sri Lanka. We cannot expect the same from LTTE influenced lobbyists such as Mr Fraser (who in fact insulted the Jews by belittling the holocaust victims to the Tamil boat people) and the Greens Party. In fact it appears the Greens Parties around the world are acting more like the TNA in Sri Lanka and Tamilnadu Parties, or even worse at times, slandering Sri Lanka with the fabricated allegations of the LTTE network overseas and their paid lobby groups.
    Australia is attractive to LTTE terrorists as well as other criminals and economic migrants, because it is a developed country with generous welfare support, especially for refugees and there is a well organised network supporting “refugee” entry to the country. To make matters worse, Australia is yet to ban the LTTE as the Central Government needs the support of all seven states and territories to agree. Till the LTTE is banned, the most vicious Tiger terrorists wanted for crimes in Sri Lanka but escaped to foreign nations like India, Malaysia, Singapore, UK, EU etc will try to get in to Australia and start controlling the Government’s policies, as is happening in Canada, UK and Norway.

  8. Ananda-USA Says:

    Lorenzo,

    You and I have often DISAGREED on this issue.

    For me ILLEGAL, IMMORAL, etc. things are NEVER KOSHER even when done to protect SL interests.

    ILLEGAL & IMMORAL things ALWAYS REBOUND against those who resort to them, in unexpected, disastrous ways. That is not who we are as a people. That is not the Sinhala Buddhist way. We must strive to honorable ethical people.

    There are much better, LEGAL, MORAL, DEFENSIBLE & ENDURING ways to defend and protect Sri Lanka’s interests. We need not resort to base devious strategies. By taking the high road WE WILL TRIUMPH in the end.

  9. Lorenzo Says:

    Ananda,

    Let us agree to disagree.

    For me the end JUSTIFIES the means and I will leave NO STONE unturned to explore how to get there. TEs, Jihadists and COLONIALS are blocking all legal and moral avenues and we will have to rely on IMMORAL, UNETHICAL and ILLEGAL acts more in future to protect what is ours in this dog eat dog world.

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