Australian Press Gets it Right for the First Time
Posted on November 7th, 2011

Dr D.Chandraratna Perth, Australia

Today for the first time the Australian newspaper, “ƒ”¹…”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 “ƒ”¹…”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, “ƒ”¹…”I have always regarded The Tamil Tigers as absolutely a terrorist organization’.

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 out fit 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 victimized 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 Tamils 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.     

 Though the prospects of a resurgence of terrorism in Sri Lanka are unlikely the LTTE living outside will capitalize 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.

 Dr D.Chandraratna Perth, Australia

4 Responses to “Australian Press Gets it Right for the First Time”

  1. cassandra Says:

    The article referred to makes for a refreshing and welcome change from the negative publicity Sri Lanka has been getting in the Australian media recently.

    It will serve as an eye opener to the newspaper’s many readers long fed on a diet of material favourable to the Tiger cause. It is good these readers are now being provided with the proverbial other side of the story. It is also satisfying that the article was carried in what is perhaps Australia’s only national newspaper and best known broadsheet and written by someone of the calibre and profile of Greg Sheridan, the ‘paper’s Foreign Editor.

    I found instructive the remarks of the former Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer which are quoted in the article – “I know the Sri Lankan government played very hard ball and committed some human rights abuses, but it’s a wonderful thing the Sri Lankan government won that war. I have always regarded the Tamil Tigers as absolutely a terrorist organization” and later “I have no doubt the Tamil Tigers raised a lot of money in Australia.”

    It is good to note Alexander’s Downer’s candor in welcoming the defeat of the Tigers and his clear view of the organization’s terrorist nature. It is good also to see him acknowledge the fund raising efforts of the Tigers in Australia. This stands in sharp contrast to the response of one of his predecessors as Foreign Minister, when his Sri Lankan counterpart took up with him the matter of the Tigers raising money in Australia. The then Australian Foreign Minister had told him ingenuously something on the lines of ‘Show me the evidence, and we’ll act on it”

    The article should also serve as an eye opener to those Sri Lankans who consider that the whole of the Australian media have fallen victim to Tiger propaganda. They should be reassured that is not the case.

    Dr Chandraratne says that “why the Australian government under Prime Minister Howard refused to proscribe the LTTE is still kept a secret.” It may well be that the Howard government never thought it necessary to publicly state its reasons. At any rate, that is the prerogative of the government and that needs to be respected. But as the article notes it was not because the Howard government did not regard the Tigers as terrorists but seemingly because it was not able to get the agreement of all the States to proscribe the Tigers. This knowledge – that the Federal government could not unilaterally proscribe the Tigers – should help temper our disappointment in this regard.

    Disclosures by Wikipedia have confirmed that the frenetic efforts of David Milliband, the former British Foreign Secretary, to try stop the war against the Tigers, in its final stages, were in fact driven by his Party’s concern for the Tamil vote. As Greg Sheridan hints similar considerations will have influenced those who did not want the Tigers proscribed in Australia. Today, ethnic groups are able to exert a disproportionate influence on politicians, especially in marginal seats where their votes can be crucial to the outcome of an election, and I have little doub, for instance, that the ethnic vote was significant in John Howard’s defeat at the 2007 Australian Election, in Bennelong, a seat he had held for some thirty years.

    This seems to me to amount to a travesty of electoral arithmetic. But that is the reality. And sadly it can result in what appears to have happened in Australia where as Greg Sheridan observes, “ethnic politics impeded serious counter-terrorism”

  2. Christie Says:

    In Australia and the rest of the Western world it is the Socialist left and left leaning media that are anti Sinhala and anti Sri Lanka (Ceylon). The Australian a broad sheet of the Murdoch stable has always being reasonable in reporting about Ceylon and its people. The ABC and Fairfax stable has been alway pro Tamil and pro Tamil terrorist.
    The same applies in the Western world. It is interesting to note those papers and other media who are anti Ceylon are generally pro Indian.

  3. Christie Says:

    The Stae that did not consent to proscribe Tamil terrorists was Victoria under the Labour. During the Howard years hardly any Tamil terrorists or other terrorists from Ceylon were given residency. For example one Tamil women who claimed she was raped by the Army back in Ceylon claimed refugee status and was refused. She took her case as far as the High Court in Australia and was rejected.

  4. Christie Says:

    Right leaning journos and the media in Australia always supported the government of Ceylon.

    Sheridan is one of them.

    Tamil terrorists and Indians get a lot of support from the left. Best example are the Fairfax group of papers and the ABC.

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