Perception on ex-LTTE members must be revised: former Aussie diplomat

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 17 February 2010, 10:55 GMT]
Australian authorities must cease bowing to influence and pressure from the Sri Lankan Government in its handling of asylum seekers said former Australian diplomat Bruce Haigh in a letter to the editor appearing in the Australian Financial Review and Canberra Times. Condemning the Rajapaksa administrations slaughter of “anywhere between 10-40,000 civilians”, its censoring of the media and rapid descent into dictatorship, Haigh described the Sri Lanka Government “corrupt” and “tarnished”, before urging a review on the assessment of LTTE members who were merely ”soldiers on one side in a particularly brutal and nasty civil war, a war in which both sides employed terrorism as a weapon” and who do not represent a security threat to Australia as stated by intelligence organisations.

A former Deputy High commissioner to Sri Lanka , Haigh ‘s comments follows the rejection for asylum of several Tamil refugees based on information provided by the Sri Lankan Government suggesting alleged links with the LTTE.

“The Government of Sri Lanka is corrupt; it has detained the leader of the opposition who fears for his life. It has consistently ignored the rule of law; it censors the media and murders journalists who criticise the government….Why then does Australia give any weight to assessments provided by this biased and tarnished source?” Haigh questioned.

Citing the assessments of the Australian Government and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), who branded former LTTE members as threats to national security, Haigh dismissed the suggestion within the context of a “particularly brutal and nasty civil war” perpetuated by both sides.

“Former members of the LTTE do not constitute a security threat in Australia, anymore than white Rhodesians who fought against Mugabe or members of the ANC who took up arms against apartheid” he wrote.

Haigh, who has been vocal in his disgust over Australian Government inaction and a history of complicity through co-operation and lack of condemnation, urged the Rudd administration and law enforcement to “revise its thinking”, and demanded action by authorities to stop the harassment of Australian Tamils by the Sri Lankan Government.

“The Australian Government needs to order the Sri Lankan High Commission in Canberra to stop harassing Australian citizens who were formerly members of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka and the AFP [Australian Federal Police] needs to revise its thinking and directives with respect to this community and the LTTE”.

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