8 August, 2022


A Diplomatic Dilemma Of The Sri Lankan Kind

By Bruce Haigh –

John Dowd, president of the Australian chapter of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), has named the current Sri Lankan high commissioner to Australia, Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe, in a submission containing allegations of war crimes.

Admiral Samarasinghe joined the Sri Lankan navy in 1974 and retired in January 2011.

John Dowd, in a statement released on October 17 said:

“Those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity at the end of the Sri Lankan civil war in 2009 must not be allowed to go unpunished. The expert committee established by the United Nations secretary-general found credible allegations of serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law.”

The submission has been handed to the AFP for investigation. In doing so John Dowd said the ICJ in Australia had put together a brief of evidence which corroborated and substantiated the findings of the UN secretary-general’s expert panel.

“Since October 2009, such evidence has been taken from witnesses in Australia and overseas. It is clear,” said John Dowd, “that Australia has an obligation to investigate and, where appropriate, to prosecute those responsible. Under Commonwealth law, there is ample possibility to prosecute these most serious offences here, where Australia has custody of a person and where immunity does not apply.”

Bruce Haigh

Receipt of the submission presents the AFP with something of a dilemma. It currently has a presence in Sri Lanka working with the Sri Lankan navy, army and police in preventing persecuted Tamils from leaving the country by boat for Australia.

The armed forces of Sri Lanka occupy traditional Tamil lands in the north. There are now emerging credible claims of rape and other abuse by members of the occupying forces against Tamil women and those old people and children that remain who are seeking to eke out a living with what few assets they have left.

The Sri Lankan police have blood on their hands, having engaged in the extra-judicial killing of Tamils. They have been involved in the murder of Sri Lankan journalists. Press freedom is all but dead in Sri Lanka. In 2009 the editor of The Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickrematunge, was murdered. In the same year JS Tissainayagam, a Tamil journalist and newspaper editor, was jailed for 20 years for publishing editorials critical of the government in 2006.

Over the years the Sri Lankan High Commission in Australia has conducted a campaign of harassment against Sri Lankan Tamils living in Australia. They were assisted by the AFP, who saw nothing wrong in visiting and intimidating Tamils in their homes at odd hours.

A Victorian Supreme Court Judge, Paul Coghlan, strongly criticised the AFP during his summary at the conclusion of a trial into the alleged terrorist activities of three Tamil males at the end of March last year. One of the accused, Arumugan Rajeevan, had the novel experience of being “unarrested” by AFP agents. He was pulled over as he was driving to a meeting, and arrested and handcuffed at gunpoint. Realising they did not have the legal grounds to arrest him, the AFP “unarrested “him. Coghlan also commented that Rajeevan had been abused during his interview which was an “absolute departure from normal principles”. No admission of fault or attempt at recompense was made.

Admiral Samarasinghe, as chief of staff of the Sri Lankan navy, oversaw the shelling of Tamil soldiers and civilians trapped in what had been declared a safe zone at the end of the civil war. The navy then blocked attempts by the International Committee of the Red Cross to evacuate the injured, women and children from the safe zone.

The UN report estimates 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed towards the end of the war, some, as already noted, by the navy. In addition, 4,000 Tamil soldiers (LTTE) are being held incommunicado by the government. The 500-page UN report notes that:

“The fact that interrogations and investigations as well as ‘rehabilitation’ activities have been ongoing, without any external scrutiny for almost two years, rendered alleged LTTE cadre highly vulnerable to violations such as rape, torture or disappearance, which could be committed with impunity.”

There are precedents for seeking Samarsinghe’s recall. In September of this year General Jaghat Dias who was Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Germany and Switzerland was recalled to Colombo after the Swiss government contacted the Sri Lankan government concerning accusations that General Dias ordered troops of the 57th division, which he commanded, to fire on civilian and hospital targets during the army’s final offensive against the separatist Tamils in 2009.A report by the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights accused Dias of participating in acts of torture and the execution of rebel fighters.

In 1995 Australia rejected the nomination as ambassador of retired Indonesian General Herman Mantiri. His nomination was rejected on the basis of war crimes committed by Mantiri against the East Timorese. In 2005 and 2008 the Canadian government refused to accept nominations for the position of high commissioner put forward by the Sri Lankan government, for reasons associated with human rights abuses.

The Australian Federation of Tamil Associations has called for Admiral Samarasinghe to be sent back to Sri Lanka.
Bruce Haigh is a political commentator and retired diplomat who served in Sri Lanka.

Courtesy;  http://www.abc.net.au/

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0

    John Dowd ,is the typical Australian hypocrite , criticizes Sri Lanka a small country , fighting against terrorists for its very survival , relating to Human Rights but dare not even murmur a little protest when the Big Western Countries Attacked / Invaded Iraq and Afghanistan and killed thousands of innocent muslim civilians .

    • 0

      I agree with Perera. It is also true that the war against terrorism is not an achievable task for the whites who dictates the world under the cloak of democracy but GOSL had achieved liberating Sri Lanka from the clutches of terrorism better than the west does in Afghan and Iraq. Unmanned flights bombings have killed hundreds of thousands innocent civilians including women, children and infants in Afghan, Pakistan and Iraq. I wonder why this scoundrel cannot see those massacres but only insists justice for the war crimes committed by GOSL (if any).

  • 0

    Good article by Bruce!

    Sri Lanka can’t escape from the wheels of justice and war crimes should not tolerated in this modern age. What is needed urgently is an International Independent investigations into the war crimes and till then the CHOGM should suspend Sri Lanka.

    We Australians as the host nation of this month’s CHOGM support such a noble move.

    • 0

      Now it’s become clear to the world that Sri Lanka committed crime against humanity. Couple of people comment here thinking with MR’s state terror Government, they can fear even international institutions. . It will only work in Sri Lanka, even to the extent Government minister take hostage of UN staff. Face the reality, truth has to come out at last.

  • 0

    Bruce Haig conviently extracts relevant headline from the UN report and omits the serious allegations against the LTTE. LTTE was found to have used local innocent Tamilis has defence sheilds. The GOSL was fighting a vicious group.

    In world war 2, the Brits fire bombed Germany killing 100,000 of thousands of German civilians to shorten the war. The Americans nuclear bombed Japan to shorten the war. War is ugly.

  • 0

    Dear friends, there is no rule of law in sri lanker. Now hear prevails law of jungle. Fun ices those culprits even inside your country

  • 0

    40, 000 got killed…. This is a story the LTTE propaganda machine developed after their defeat in Sri Lanka. The story line before was genocide, chemical bombs and scud missiles attacks by the Army which never took place in Sri Lanka. Those allegations had no basis and they lost the propaganda war. Now the LTTE propaganda machine is using 40,000 got killed and war crime stories. The bottom line is LTTE Inc. Employees want to keep the story in a live status in order to collect funds. They will use politicians in the west, Tamil Nadu and even in Sri Lanka (TNA) that they could buy (through political contributions) for a nominal price. It is a matter of time, unless they change their jobs and find a productive profession, or some skill labor, the Tamils Diaspora will get tired of supporting them. Soon there will be no place for coercion and intimidation.

  • 0

    Allegation of war crimes were first leveled against Sri Lankan national & military leaders in the aftermath of the liberation in May 2009 of Sri Lanka from three decades of brutal Tiger Terrorism .. They came from western particularly UK & Canada based international tiger Diaspora, that remained largely intact despite defeat in SL.. They were able to level these allegations with little or no evidence, misusing the democratic freedom of speech. The objective was to wreak revenge for the defeat by destabilizing Sri Lanka & detracting from it’s very successful efforts at recovery and reconciliation between the Tamils & Sinhalese.

    The Tigers have secured powerful media and political allies to orchestrate these allegations ,using their electoral strength and their ill gotten war chest. of billions. The cry now emanating from Australia (Dompost 18/10 ) is a part of this campaign..

    However, as acknowledged by US embassy in Colombo, no Sri Lanka based Tamils have been complicit in these allegations Instead , in the recently released “Lies -Agreed upon” documentary , about fifty representatives from the 300,000 Tamil hostages rescued from the Tigers, against whom these crimes are alleged to have been committed, have categorically denied all of these allegations. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5O1JAfRXew

    Dr.Chula Rajapakse MNZM


    United Sri Lanka Association,

    141 Knights Rd., Lower Hutt .18/10/11

    04 5699390, 0274 768 797

  • 0

    Here is one of a series of videos on You Tube in which Bruce Haigh shares the stage with John Dowd and Sam Pari, [Edited out] in Sydney, Australia (Her real name is Sampavi Parimalanatan). The “meeting” is chaired (with a rather arrogant attitude) by Associate Professor Jake Lynch of the University of Sydney.


    “Dr” Sam Pari is a young Tamil Australian who has been the [ Edited out] – the public face of the LTTE – in the past 3 or 4 years. There is video evidence of Pari giving a fiery speech under a huge banner of Prabhakaran to a crowd madly waving LTTE flags. Her presentations of the “history” of Sri Lanka are unadulterated, and highly misleading, propaganda that glorifies the LTTE as “freedom fighters” and the “sole, legitimate representatives of the Tamil people”. As such, Dowd and Haigh’s perspectives and judgements must be called into question. It is no coincidence that both men ignore the manifold, heinous crimes of the Tamil Tigers.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.