17 August, 2022

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Abbot And Sri Lanka: Australia Has Turned Its Back On Its Origins

By Gordon Weiss

Gordon Weiss

Gordon Weiss

Australia’s chattering classes are humming with the news that our new government is selling two naval patrol boats to Sri Lanka. After almost 6 years of bickering, over-spending, and contradictory management of national affairs by a Labour government, conservative voters (this writer being one of them this time around) expected a steady, coherent, and liberal hand at the tiller, despite suspicions that Tony Abbot might be pointlessly regressive on social issues like gay marriage.

Instead, Australians are waking up to the fact that our conservative government has a fundamentally illiberal streak. The press reports and the steady stream of photos emerging from CHOGM Colombo of our Prime Minister jogging with a Rajapaksa scion, if true (after all, the photos might have been manipulated), indicate our government felt no discomfort continuing a line of diplomacy begun by the previous Labour government towards Sri Lanka.

Our former Labour Foreign Minister Bob Carr, who instigated the Sri Lanka policy, says that he thinks that Australia selling two mothballed Bay Class patrol boats to the Sri Lankan navy is “sound policy.” Australia has not so far placed any restrictions on the use of the vessels, but has expressly gifted the craft in order to reinforce its policy to prevent sea-borne landings on our shores. Carr dismissed suggestions that the boats might be used to perpetrate human rights abuses.

Diplomacy is only partly played out in the pages of newspapers, so it is unfair to second-guess the entire workings of Australia’s government and the foreign affairs bureaucracy through press reports. There is nothing to suggest that the Australian government is not steering a sensible and sustainable course in order to meet its stated objective to stop thousands of boat people arriving on our shores.

The press reports and the steady stream of photos emerging from CHOGM Colombo of our Prime Minister jogging with a Rajapaksa scion, if true (after all, the photos might have been manipulated), indicate our government felt no discomfort continuing a line of diplomacy begun by the previous Labour government towards Sri Lanka.

The press reports and the steady stream of photos emerging from CHOGM Colombo of our Prime Minister jogging with a Rajapaksa scion, if true (after all, the photos might have been manipulated), indicate our government felt no discomfort continuing a line of diplomacy begun by the previous Labour government towards Sri Lanka.

But what of this policy? This issue of “illegal” arrivals, or boat people, has become a monster in Australia’s domestic politicking. Both parties having roused this animal from the deep, and now none seem interested to assuage it. To the contrary our political class is largely committed to stemming the flow of arrivals, whatever their merits as refugees, although it continues to sail close to the wind when meeting, or being seen to meet, its obligations under the Refugee Convention.

It’s not that Australia cannot afford to be more generous, or a better helmsman of international affairs, or that we cannot develop a domestic policy towards boat arrivals that would suit our own immediate needs and interests (such as mandatory settlement of refugees in rural areas now short of manpower and skills). Rather, we have chosen not to take that course.

The war in Sri Lanka is over. Sri Lanka is not poor, and certainly it is a far better developed country than most in Asia, with high standards of literacy and a longstanding and robust healthcare system. Indonesians and Papuans, from considerably less well off nations, are not getting on leaky vessels to make the short crossing to our shores. Moreover, a majority of the arrivals from the island nation, strictly speaking, fall outside the ambit of the Refugee Convention. So what is wrong, and how to explain that they still come, risking their lives? People simply do not get on to boats, let alone with their children in tow, unless they feel desperate.

Those who do not directly fear for their lives, or have not directly suffered torture do so because they calculate that it is better to risk the lives of their children on a boat, and grant them hope, than to stay and face the tyranny of inequality, or the suppression of their religion, culture, and place in the Sri Lankan body politic. Dozens of mob attacks on Sri Lanka’s Muslims and Christians this year augur badly for other less public minorities too. Australian detention centres are now populated by Sinhalese for whom the rapid recent decay of the rule-of-law in Sri Lanka has affected their ability to earn a living. Land grabs affect everybody.

By cozying up to a demonstrably brutal, tyrannous, and chauvinistic government, Australia has chosen to turn its back on its origins. Prosperity, over-weening expectations, and immodesty have blinded us to the fact that we are a successful nation of immigrants, most of whom left their homes through a desperation that falls outside the strict definition of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, whether a war refugee like my father, or a five-pound-Pom. The English, the Irish, the Jews, the Balts, the Lebanese and the Vietnamese, most of us came here in waves.

Worse, for the voters of this country who voted for the Coalition, we have a big “L” liberal coalition that has forgotten the role of liberalism in facing down tyranny, and the fundamental liberal precept that freedom is a joint human enterprise. This is particularly important in the post-Cold War period, which has seen a surge in the strengthening of international laws and norms. Our current boat arrivals policy serves a narrow end, and ignores our larger interest, which is the protection of treaty obligations that strengthen the entire regime of international treaties and which are vital to our survival.

No person is better placed to appreciate the sweet scent of freedom than those who flee political, legal, and social persecution in their homelands. Ask any immigrant what they think of a policeman who calls them “Sir”, or an ombudsperson who provides recourse from an omnivorous Telco, or a school which forbids discriminatory language. These people want to protect and strengthen this country, not weaken it.

Diplomacy is full of wriggle room. Australia’s sale of patrol boats will not prevent it from supporting a resolution calling for an international war crimes investigation at the Human Rights Council in Geneva in March 2014. Yet while our nation crows about our prowess on the sports field, in the arduous and less measurable voyage of the growth of human rights and rule-of-law over the past three years, we are mere followers, not helmsmen.

*Gordon Weiss is a research professor at Griffith University’s Asia Institute, and an expert at the International Crimes Evidence Project. He was the UN’s spokesperson during the final years of the war in Sri Lanka, and is currently working on a Sinhalese translation of his widely published book “The Cage: The Fight for Sri Lanka and the Last Days of the Tamil Tigers.”

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    First Bandula never seen people jogging
    Now Australia guarantee the safe trip to Australia by the given by Abbot

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      “.By cozying up to a demonstrably brutal, tyrannous, and chauvinistic government,..”

      Who says this ? UN idiots bought over for LTTE terrorist’s blood money ?? or Media men on LTTE payroll ??

      If Aussie govt. is is democratic , then Lanka too, from 1948 to date two parties ,UNP/SLFP ran this country, democratically elected, with present govt. being most popular with over record 65 % voting in favour, precisely due to very same if I may borrow your words “demonstrably brutal, tyrannous, and chauvinistic” & murderous Terror outfit & their 05th columnists (west funded NGO Mafia)responsible for 30 years agony & over 75,000 deaths of innocent people in this country, were decimated & liberated country , now a terror & death free country.

      Australian Govt. previous & present knew/know this & on right path.

      By selling or donating Boats they did the right thing , both for Aussies & Lanka & innocent boat people deceived by Human Traffickers making millions of US$, endangering their lives in search of greener pastures.

      Well done Aussie govt.

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    So Australia sold the two boats and donated to AL navy as widely published in the dailies here in SL. Abbott came jogged and enjoyed teenaged girls and praised Srilanka for the hospitality and returned

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      enjoyed teenaged girls and praised Srilanka for the hospitality and returned

      Demon

      loser, don’t think every country leader is dancing to the tunes of the LTTE terrorists, whole world start realising LTTE lies, don’t even think to jump into boat and go to Australia-Too Late

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        WHAT HAS ABBOTT ENJOYING TEENAGERS SUPPLIED BY GOTA TO DO WITH LTTE?
        YOU ARE RETARDED.

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      “enjoyed teenaged girls and praised Srilanka for the hospitality and returned”

      So, so; Abbot also, like Bandula J is [Edited out]? Anoma Dissana-Yakka where are you??????? Heres a nice opportunity for you to keep yourself busy justifying your salary for the next year or two.

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    Coming from @bandeljayse that pic is real, he is a a Rajapaksa acolyte afterall!

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    Poor PM Abbott. He does not have any taxit knowledge on Sri landan affairs. He thinks Rasapaksa family is trustwathy. Non-sense! Sri lanka navy has all needfull equipments that they have begged from China and other countries. These boats definitely will reinforce Namal to send more Tamils to Australia.

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      Ushaaaa! careful, there could be a white van around the corner. Namal? surely you mean YO SHIT a’s officer colleague who organisers the safe despatches of prospective settlers down under. Nice little earner for a very very IP. Our boys made a monkey out of Tony and he just went wu wu wu.

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    Gordon Weiss retired UN official has no job.Hence [Edited out].Other than publishing a stupid book he goes on painting the LTTE terrorists as civilians.But he ought to know that Australia is a country with a government which has to act responsibly unlike Gordon Weiss who can act as he pleases.He could even act like a monkey with a mirror.

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    Gordon Weiss is a well known Eelam sympathiser. We all know the role played by him during his UN days at the height of the war.

    I would like to ask him why these people do not take the journey to India or even Maldive Islands which is so much closer and less riskier than going to Australia, if they were genuinely fleeing persecution. Could the real reason be that they are actually ‘economic refugees’ seeking greener pastures.

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    The fact is with blessing of Sri Lanka’s President, the chair of CHOGM , the terrorist butcher Karuna Amman can enjoy impunity as a minister of the Sri Lanka Parliament. Karuna was instrumental in recruiting child soldiers, killing many innocent Sri Lankans including 69 monks and novices in Aranthalawa and bombing the temple of tooth relic. While people remain blind and demented and frightened to speak about these facts the very Sri Lankan General Sarath Fonseka, who was instrumental in defeating terrorism and winning the war was imprisoned. The President’s brother, the defence secretary who on BBC angrily declared to hang General Fonseka, not only arranged a false passport for Karuna to travel to UK but also has not uttered anything about bringing the butcher LTTE Terrorist Colonel Karuna to justice. This is why the whole familial regime, their cronies, their extrajudicial mobs including the rebellious thugs in Buddhist robes, their subservient media become quite edgy whenever human rights, war crimes or the rule of law is mentioned. This is why, in spite of the relatively good living conditions in many aspects, Sri Lankans try their best to seek a better life elsewhere, where they can live free of fear and subservience to injustice, state sponsored thuggery and corruption.

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    LTTE affiliations seem to have totally disorientated this Dude.

    “Srilnka is not poor, and far better developed than most in Asia”

    With per Capita hovering around USD 3000,no one will refute him.

    But the fact that all these achievements are under the current Regime and specially in the last four years after the demise of Mr Prabakran , has been lost on Gordon.

    Perhaps it is understandable considering the time and effort Gordon dedicated to save Prabkaran and his Fighting outfit.

    Abbot gave the Gun Boats not to stop our Tsunami boats.

    These are to prevent the once mighty Sea Tigers, re emerging from Nadu coast and causing mischief on Ships carrying goods to and fro from Australia ,along our coast.

    It is also a detterent for our friendly Naduans under Vaiko, Nedu and Jayalalitha trying to upset income streams to Aussie investments in Colombo. the likes of Packer Crown and the Alliance Towers to house the high rollers and wealthy Aussie Diaspora.who feel bored in their adopted Land.

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      YOU ARE A SHITHEAD EVERYONE KNOWS. WHEN DID YOU CLEAN GOTS’S ARSE RECENTLY. GET BACK TO IT. BTW TELL YOUR SISTER SHE IS DOING A VERY GOOD JOB SERVICING THE NAVY IN KAYTS

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    Many thanks again Gorden Weiss for speaking truth to power as a true academic should!

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    I wish more asylum seeker from Jaffna could find someway to reach Canada and increase their numbers and form a bantuland there.

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    By cozying up to “a demonstrably brutal, tyrannous, and chauvinistic government” in Sri Lanka?

    Which planet do you live on Weiss? Why can’t you be wise?

    You dreamt 7000 civilian deaths in May 2009 and your mate from London Times made it 40000, and now you seem to believe in your own myths and loosing sleep over it. Can you remember the UN sacked you for your arrogance?

    Get a life. You are not going to be successful because both political parties in Australia have people with common sense.

    Find a job away from international affairs, in a mine if you want to dig dirt, and make an honest living like other Australians. You are sick.

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    “…Those who do not directly fear for their lives, or have not directly suffered torture do so because they calculate that it is better to risk the lives of their children on a boat, and grant them hope, than to stay and face the tyranny of inequality, or the suppression of their religion, culture, and place in the Sri Lankan body politic.”

    Weiss’ Agenda continues.

    As the previous Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy said, why don’t these so called persecuted people go India, which is just 26 miles away, but risk their lives to travel to Australia? After all, Tamil Nadu is always ready to welcome them. ….. Of course, it is merely for economic reasons. The associated propaganda is to support same.

    The fact that more than 50% of the Sri Lankan Tamil population live outside of the Northern and Eastern provinces without any problem is not even mentioned.

    There may be issues with Governance of the present Government, but they need to be sorted out through proper channels.

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    Ah you forgot the Australian policy towards the Aborigines. If my history is correct it was murder, genocide and the near total extinction of a people and their way of life by the criminals who settled in Australia – so what’s new about Australia’s Policy?

    If Australia want to keep the “boat people” out, then they must help resolve the causes for the Tamil people wanting to flee the Miracle of Asia rather than give old tubs to prevent people from fleeing.

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    Tony Abbot bloke is very much similar to that racist scum John Howard , earlier John Howard had flatly refused to apologize to Aboriginals over stolen generation issue and now Abbot has flatly refused to apologize to Indonesian over phone tapping controversy. looks like they are twin brothers !

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      Srilal

      I am sorry you have been disappointed by the antics of our antipodean ‘friends’. We shouldn’t expect too much of them; anybody over 25 is almost certainly the dregs of the ‘white only’ policy that has now been taken off the statute book but lives on in the hearts and minds of the older dinky-dai aussie. The women are not too bad for a bit of fun but the men will revert to the curmudgeonly genes of their convict ancestors from old blighty. They are seen at their finest when sledging opposition during cricket matches and stylishly deliver a well tuned, corner-of-the-mouth ‘pommie bastard’ or ‘black cnut’. Keep well clear, if at all possible.

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        Spring koha ,

        what happened to you , crossed wires ? bad breakfast ? never mind !
        what are you on about ?

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          Nah, my friend is told me
          Aussie bus driver called him ‘black sonnerferbeech”
          when he caught with boat people Christmas Island. They told to me this also when I am called “chucking’and Arjuna aiya defensed me without get afraid of umpire.

          sin also.Spring Koha just like lanka Koha no nest and putting eggs in crow nest.his amma left him when baby in another house because….sin, I won’t tell.He hating all white mans.

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    Poor reporting CT Sri Lanka is not what you think watch
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/sri-lanka-lashes-out-at-rights-criticism/

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    There is credibility issue of Gordon education back ground ,this guy don,t know the different between 40000 and 10000 one report 40000 got killed and his book says 10000 got killed, hilarious

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    Austar, well said indeed!

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    Dear Prof. Weiss,

    Regarding the Sri Lankan “boat People” – you are wrong. These guys are leaving on boats, not because they fear for their lives, rather they are chasing the “dream” of living in the “west”. The dream is based on what they see on TV… the happy families living in beautiful houses and driving big cars. Most of these Boat People are under the impression that if they simply make it to a country like Australia, their dreams will magically come true. There are people-smugglers who cash-in by promising these people to make their dreams a reality!

    Sure, journalists and sometimes ordinary people in Sri Lanka who critisize the Rajapakse’s or the government publicly are under threat, and some of them eventually either “tow the line” or get out – but not in boats!

    I am a Sri Lankan living in Sri Lanka and have lived through the ups and downs of our country for 60 years. So I should know!

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    ” People simply do not get on to boats, let alone with their children in tow, unless they feel desperate. “

    The author is obviously unfamiliar with the boatloads from India that used to arrive in Sri Lanka prior to the war, and the northern seas being patrolled by the navy. They saw a good thing when they saw one. Simply put the pastures are greener in Australia and Canada among others, and those Social Security cheques are rather enticing too.

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      Well, ask the Australian government to publicly advertise that they would give asylum to anyone (even if they are not Tamil or from North/East) making the “boat trip” to Australia GW would be surprised how may Sinhalese would jump into boats to journey to Aus! Actually they would have done that already masquerading as Tamils if they were fluent in Tamil.

      Even without all that there seem to be a few Sinhalese on these boats. I wonder what GW will say about that.

      Besides, if the situation was so bad that people had to jump on a boat and travel to Australia, why are so many other Tamils staying in N/E and in other parts of the country? What is the number of boat arrivals? couple of thousand. How many Tamils are living in Sri Lanka? couple million?

      Anyways, you cannot wake up someone who is not a sleep. Case with GW is similar. There is no point in bring in facts.

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    Keep sobbing and howling Tamil losers.

    SL got 2 more warships to hammer Tamils from Australia. CHOGM was well worth it.

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    Abbot did not want to be misled like Cameron.
    Murali eas right.
    Cameron had already swallowed the Diaspora ‘Guliya” prior to his arrival.
    Abbot tolerated no non sense & not dependent on the diaspora votes.
    if that to happen in the future, they will have to arrange boatloads from Tamil Nadu.

    Abbot realised that our next door abots from Tamil Nadu were masquarading as Northern Tamils and leaving to Australia in boat loads arranged by ltte diaspora goons who are in a haste to recover their losses.

    Two boats appear to be a nail to that exercise.

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    Seriously u do believe all these boat ppl from SL are politically harassed? U think they’re leaving because they belong to the minorities? Nothing’s far from the truth. Most of those ppl belong to the ethnic & religious majority. Surprised? They’ve heard of the Aussie welfare system. So they think if they manage to land on ur shores, they’ll be able to live well without doing anything. They lie to the authorities. These ppl have absolutely zero problems with the government. They’ve never ever participated in a protest/demonstration against the government. They are just looking for an easy way to boost their status of living; with out any effort by them. Instead of working harder for the development of their own country which has given them free education & health care despite all the economic difficulties, they sail in boats, arrive on ur shore & lie about SL. LOSERS!

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    Abbot should realise as long as this regime in in power boat will arrive in Austrailiea

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    This guy is in idiot . no wonder the UN is a useless organization. everybody in Sti Lanka knows the boat people are just economic refugees . There are a huge number of Sinhalese and muslims amoung them . In fact I met a STF Muslim policeman who had also done the same , gone to Germany through Russia and England and got deported back . When they claim for asylum they obviously have to claim state oppression . and that is exactly what the dude did .

    The people are using the stupid liberal western policy’s to make money . That is the simple truth .

    Tamils also do the same . and because they may have other foreign relatives have better access to the cash . That is the simplest explanation . and its usually the truth .

    A good deterrent will be to bring a law put these guys in prison for a while instead of giving them a pat in the back and releasing . may be that is what Indonesia does . has anybody studied it :)

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    Gordon Weiss might now be a professor (don’t faint, a professor in Australia is only another name for a research post-graduate) but he doesn’t know his geography. He seems to think that the nearest refuge for Sri Lankan’s desperate to preserve their religion and culture is… Australia!

    He also seems to know nothing about Australia’s origins. The first settlement under Captain James Cook was a penal colony for convicts. From then onward it was more penal colonies as the indigenous population was exploited, enslaved, brutalised and often exterminated. Until a few decades ago Australia had a strict Whites Only immigration policy, which is one reason Weiss’s father was accepted and black, brown and Asian people were not. Thanks goodness Australia has turned its back on its origins!

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    One Australian is not talking how they and their govt has exterminated Australian aborigines, how they jailed them in masses, how they have caged into villages and sidelines economically.

    he is talking big about the Australian govt selling two “MOTH BALLED” boats as he says.

    Moth balled ships, how much should BE NOT MORE THAN ONE AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR EACH. BECAUSE, THEY ARE SCRAP METAL.

    if you people really and honestly believe in about the war crimes and all other craps. instead of two parties bickering about refugees get them all into the country and treat as you treat them as your own and not the the way you treat Aboriginals. What you are doing already suffered people are sending to cages in an island and sending them to another country – NAYARU- which should be worse than their original place.

    Don’t you think this crap you are talking is not up to the level of a person who is working in a University ?

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    SL govt. should sponsor boat people. Pack 100 Tamils in a boat to Australia. 4 hours in to their journey a time bomb attached to the hull explodes killing all 100 Tamil men.

    If this can be done every week 5,200 Tamil men can be harvested annually.

    SL is happy (because NO Tamils).
    Australia is happy (because NO Tamils).

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    If Namal Rajafucksa is doing the boat operation, he should seriously consider doing this.

    No one will know. No evidence. No trace. No Tamils.

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    ” People simply do not get on to boats, let alone with their children in tow, unless they feel desperate. “

    After spending time in Sri Lanka the author is still unaware that Sri Lanka had the same problem with boat people from India to Sri Lanka, ofcourse a less hazardous journey bearing in mind that it is matter of a few miles, and the seas were unpatrolled. The reason was the same as the problem Australia, Canada etc face today. They came looking to better themselves, at a time when the Sri Lankan economy was way ahead of South India. The pastures are far greener where they are headed and the terrorism was in fact helpful when seeking asylum in lands so far away. Few chose to return to where they originated from. That alone should have been sufficient answer to your query. The $15,000 and more that they spend per head is merely an investment, though some risk is involved, but the expected dividends are life long. I believe the Australian government had worked that out and that is why these ‘asylum-seekers’ find themselves confined to a cage ( a large one I grant) in Nauru.

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    Can Gordon Weiss explain why Tamils wish to escape to Australia risking their lives when their homeland Tamil Nadu is only 25 km away from Jaffna?
    They are economic. migrants and nothing more. There has been a surge in illegal migration. Some contributing factors are: since May 2009 more Tamils from overseas visit Jaffna and tell that they are having a great time in Aus, Canada, UK. And, it is easier to sell property in Jaffna now, and that enables them to pay human traffickers, they don’t have to pay large sums to LTTE when property is sold. It is ludicrous to suggest that they leave Lankan shores for the sole reason of intimidation on the part of the government.
    For a self professed researcher, Gordon Weiss is expected to be honest with producing facts. Perhaps affiliations with the terrorists have something to do with his lack of honesty.

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      Honesty is concept that little Gordon is not wise about .. lol

      sorry couldn’t help it ..

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