25 January, 2021

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Only Upheaval Can Stem Flow From Sri Lanka

By Gordon Weiss

Gordon Weiss

The federal Coalition’s account of its recent mission to Sri Lanka is jarring when contrasted with a new report from the International Crisis Group, and with recent UN reports. With the boat people bogeyman running amok over Australia’s electoral landscape, and Australia due to scrutinise Sri Lanka’s record on postwar reconciliation and allegations of war crimes next month at the UN Human Rights Council, a fuller account is necessary.

Where the Coalition saw orderly transition from war, yesterday’s ICG report, Sri Lanka’s Authoritarian Turn: The Need for International Action, describes a country where the dismantling of the rule of law threatens peace. While the Coalition thought a boat voyage a greater danger to life than any factor in Sri Lanka, the ICG confirms a steady drumbeat of extrajudicial killings, abductions and enforced disappearances.

The Coalition group concluded that Sri Lankan refugees were overwhelmingly economic migrants. Yet just two months ago the UN Refugee Agency, which sets the bar for refugee status, listed those who might qualify. These include those connected with former Tamil Tiger fighters, opposition politicians and supporters, journalists, human rights activists, witnesses to crimes, those seeking legal redress or, possibly, women, children and gays.

So what is going on in Sri Lanka?

Most observers thought the Tamil Tigers, an ultra-violent guerilla organisation, were indestructible. When crushed in May 2009 after almost three decades of fighting, the world applauded. The popularly-elected President Mahinda Rajapaksa promised reconciliation between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils.

After all, according to the UN, perhaps 40,000 Tamil civilians had been killed in the final few months, mostly by government forces, and overwhelming evidence of war crimes has since emerged. Reconciliation in the form of a political settlement was urgent to cement a lasting peace.

But the contrary has happened. ICG says that the concentration of power in the hands of the President’s family and the military, and the obstruction of a political deal for minorities, could destabilise Sri Lanka again. So were opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop and immigration spokesman Scott Morrison prudently pursuing Australia’s core interests when they reported being heartened by what they saw?

The detailed picture painted by the ICG and reflected in a report two weeks ago from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is relentlessly grim. Sri Lanka is gripped by creeping despotism. The ruling family franchises out economic spoils. The island is imbued with an ethno-nationalist ideology that repudiates the place of Tamils and Muslims, who comprise a quarter of all Sri Lankans, and intimidates the many Sinhalese who oppose an authoritarian security state.

Police and proxy thugs bust up and fire on student and citizen demonstrations, and ransack opposition offices. Rajapaksa’s brother Gotabhaya controls the army and police (and analysts contend he controls the flow of refugee boats too). Anti-government websites are blocked, China-style. The targeting of journalists has cowed the press into submission. According to former regime stalwart and now dissenter, the diplomat Dayan Jayatilleka, the army is effectively an occupation force. Equipped with police powers, the huge Sri Lankan military has despoiled its legitimate security role. It squats on Tamil land, stifles their participation in their local economy, and menaces the population.

Meanwhile, according to the ICG, the Rajapaksa government is systematically dismantling Sri Lanka’s democratic institutions. A 2010 constitutional amendment, ushered through a supine parliament presided over by another Rajapaksa brother, neutered independent oversight bodies. The President now manages the checks and balances himself.

Last month, in a ploy he characterised as “devolutionary”, the President signalled his intention to weaken local government, the one forum where minorities have a measure of say over daily regional life. When Sri Lanka’s Chief Justice brought down a ruling this year that impeded headlong regime efforts to centralise control the President replaced her. Empowered by the overt ethno-nationalism of the Rajapaksa clan, attacks on churches, mosques and minority businesses have spiked. Last month a group called the Buddhist Power Force burned effigies of Allah.

Sri Lanka’s treatment of minorities enrages India’s 60 million Tamils. Exasperated by the Rajapaksa government, India will almost certainly vote against Sri Lanka in the UN Human Rights Council this March.

Boat people flee from adversity. Sri Lanka has endured three deadly 20th-century revolts – two of them undertaken by Sinhalese, one by the Tamils – that probably killed well over 200,000 citizens since 1971. These revolts arose from precisely the same anti-democratic, bloody and unjust policies now being rolled out in Sri Lanka. On this Morrison was right: Only a change of government will stop Sri Lankan boat arrivals.

To protect our long-term interests, as well as stability, Australia should support a Sri Lankan government intent on restoring Sri Lanka’s democratic traditions. For if another bloody civil conflict erupts – the fourth in 40 years — how will Australians handle the boat people who will surely follow?

This article appeared on February 22nd in the The Australian

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Latest comments

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    this guy is praying for a regime change ..look at his ridiculous arguments ..what a sore loser

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      The Australian state is a RACIST state.
      It is also classist.
      The Australian universities come to Sri lanka to recruit fee paying students and dangle permamanant residence in front of wealthy Sinhala Lankans with education and skills, but turn away impoverished refugees and Tamil boat people.
      White Australia, the land of ex-convicts who stole the place from the aborigines is one of the most racist countries in the world and this is reflected in their immigration policies.. even today!
      Australia is a disgrace in the Asia Pacific region and practices a white Australia policy even today – believes that it is part of the Euro American world!

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        yes , both liberal and Labor parties immigration policies are same , they play politics on desperate peoples lives .
        Julia Gillard follows that Racist John Howard’s same pacific solution (final solution).

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        why would a country agree to take people with no skills, nothing to contribute to the country, plus uneducated and behave like animals? look at what these “poor people” are doing: two attempted rapes in one of the places where these boat people were held.

        and why shouldnt they accept people with skills and education? if sri lanka keeps kicking out the best and brightest, the fault is not with the country that accepts them, but lies with the country that kicked them out in the first place! you expect this whole world to function on some vague childlike ideal of “oh theyre all people, we should let them come and stay”. grow up! no one works like that, not even us “hospitable” sri lankans. if we did work that way, we wouldnt be marching around calling on the minorities to get out of the country.

        this is a classic case of giving a razor to a monkey: commenting without actually learning what’s going on in the outside world doesnt make you a ‘patriot’, it makes you a laughingstock.

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      Australia is a big fan of Gota the White van goon and his policies of catching people desperate to flee the Sinahla Buddhist republic of Sri Lanka’s Rajapassa dictatorship..Australia has give huge amounts of “aid” to the Sri Lanka DEFENSE MINISTRY AND Defense establishment..

      That [Edited out] Julia Gillard who has a most appalling Kangaroo accent is a total bigot as her foreign aid and immigration policies show!

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      Gordon Weiss’s writing is not worthy of a decent human being, let alone a human rights careerist. Vitriolic, hate-mongering and inflammatory. He makes Mervin Silva look like an etiquette coach. Jeez !

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      How are your book sales going Mr. Gordon Weiss?

      Or are you about to make a clever career move into ICG, Brussles?

      Regards from Colombo.

  • 0
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    He is no looser.
    He is laughing all the way to the bank by selling the dead with multilied figures.

    These opportunities are perks to those born in a first world with fair skin.exploitastion is the name of the game.

    Tigers were crushed and Wisse will perish with his millions

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      You are such a dickhead dicky Bird, you do not even know what you are saying.
      It is you and your murderous mates in Sri Lanka who provided Wisse with the “dead bodies and mutilated figures” to make his millions and laugh all the way to the bank.
      Good on you, Gordon Wisse.

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    Regime is exposing itself in public. Same act as Maithripala’s sons group.

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    It’s significant that all these petty little “experts” on Sri Lanka, Gordon Weiss, Alan Keenan, Francis Harrison etc, have spent some time in the past in Sri Lanka. It’s also significant that during that time not one of them contributed a single action to help bring about the overthrow of the Tamil Tigers’ gangster regime in the north of the island. Not a single thing. None of them, Weiss, Keenan or Harrison have any track record whatsoever so far as combating terrorism is concerned. All 3 are masters of spin, not doers.

    But what unites them, together with others like Callum McCrae & Jon Snow of Channel 4, and simultaneously unites most Sri Lankans AGAINST them, is their desire to punish the Sri Lankan government for freeing the country from the scourge of terrorism without first getting permission to do it from their “superiors”, their former white masters.

    Still, what Weiss claims is happening in Sri Lanka is pretty mild stuff compared with what is being alleged about the US government in Afghanistan –
    (see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/26/afghanistan-death-squads-torture-militas

    Yet we don’t read of Gordon Weiss calling for Australia to support regime change in the USA. Neither will the allegations against the USA be raised in any significant way during the Human Rights meeting in Geneva. I wonder why?

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    Following Weiss’s advice, there should be some sort of uprising/insurgency to depose the Royal Family because they won’t admit to war crimes. Going on past experience, this will involve mass violence, anarchy and a near total breakdown of society and approx 40,000-100,000 dead. Refugees from SL will flee to India and the rest of the world with more refugees arriving in Oz.

    Weiss’s brain must’ve fried from the time he spent in the hot Colombo sunshine. He’s a complete loon. His nuttiness doesn’t mean that he wrong about GoSL’s patently insane behaviour in the last few years.

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      You have no idea about Sri Lankans, especially the intellectuals. They are all arm-chair fighters, preachers and advisors, but no one has the capacity, capability, will or the personal strength to go down to the streets and fight it out. Have you heard about the story, “Mice, Belling the Cat”?

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    Australia is NOT a racist regime now,from the time immigration of all ethnic groups was allowed.
    It is a welfare state
    I know public servants who emigrated to Australia in the aftermath of the July 1983 pogrom who,along with their children are doing well.
    One man who retired at 70, as an expert in a ministry in South Australia is reemployed as a consultant,since four years ago,and allowed to work three days a week.
    His children are now experts in their own fields.
    Professionals who can contribute their skills,are in demand.
    There is hardly any racism or discrimination on ethnic grounds.
    Freedom of expression is cherished.

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      Don’t take isolated incidents to generalize, pray tell me , John Howard a racist or not ? Didn’t he allow Pauline Hanson to nourish her one nation racist party in late 90 s ?
      why couldn’t he say ” SORRY ” for the aboriginal people when he was in power ?
      Generally speaking most Australians are friendly and open minded but politicians do play race based politics on both sides.

      How can both Labor and Liberal parties support current SL regime? isn’t that purely based on Boat arrivals ? both parties don’t give a damn about gross human right violations , they play a dangerous game with SL , sooner or later they will find out truth , right now both parties concentrate on September election , immigration and illegal boat arrivals are the hot topics , Human right is last on their list .

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        srilal,
        Hanson lost.There are completely FREE and FAIR elections in australia,which has NOT happened yet,in sri lanka.
        Public servants are appointed purely on merit and NOT on political considerations.
        Even immigrants have this right.
        The aboriginees have inbred for many generations and are addicted to liquor and narcotics.Attempts to wean them away from these are a failure.They will be extinct soon.
        Human Rights are rigidly enforced and violations are strictly dealt with.
        People – including journalists,human rights activists,intellectuals and skilled professionals are fleeing from sri lanka to countries which make use of their expertise.Poor segments are the “boat people” – whose ‘flight’ has been organised by persons with influence.
        Gordon Weiss is correct.He is an unbiassed observer.

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          Justice ,

          i never questioned the Australian justice system or election process or for that matter any thing about their governance style , all i said was John Howard was a racist scum and both political parties playing Russian roulette with SL.
          about Aboriginals , i don’t wish to discuss their social /cultural/ritual habits here , all i can say is i have lot of respect and sympathy towards the original owners of the land.
          It was not about Pauline Hanson’s eventual defeat at the elections , who helped her to be in that position ? current Bodu Bala Sena (BBS ) is a classic point in case !

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            How can John Howard be a racist when his government allows all,including aboriginals and immigrants,equal rights?

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              your question says a lot about your knowledge of Australian politics , sorry no further queries from me, justice.

    • 0
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      Yes, I also know this person.

      He also screwed justice’s family members.

      This maniac does not have a life but keep adding crap to responses on websites of all types.

      Why doesn’t he sleep a bit so that the others can relax?

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    Weiss is only concerned about the arrival of poor poeple in boats to Australia, because once they arrive, they have to be treated equally as fellow human beings, and that is a hard call for those who would now consider themselves superior due to the advancement of Australia as a developed nation, in contrast to a poor country like Sri Lanka.

    Weiss could also be upset that the war ended, and the fact that his call on behalf of the Tamil separatist agenda has become a limply impotent cause.

    I will not comment on the political maneouverings post-war, but emphasise that Weiss does not have Sri Lankans’ best interests at heart, in his writings or motivations.

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      Lasantha Pethiyagoda:
      The flow of your blatant inanities never ceases, it seems! Apart from their stupidity, the unmitigated nonsense you spout seems to have absolutely no basis in fact and, worse yet, NO END!

      • 0
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        People reading your comments about me will form their opinions about you, not me!!

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          Lasantha Pethiyagoda,
          YES, we have read Aney Apochchi’s comments and formed our opinion about him. He is 100% CORRECT about you !

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    This article is criticism of the assesment made by the two Australian liberal party leaders about Sri Lanka. The liberals are the main opposition in Australia. It is also known as the red neck party. They are certainly not liberal when it comes to the politics of race. To suggest that Australia is not a racist country by citing anecdotal personal experiences is bogus for it is. As a matter of fact Australia is about 50 years behind the times when it comes to race relations when you compare it to the United States. I have lived and worked in both countries and I, as an educated professional can sense this without much difficulty. It was the great red neck John Howard who did not think it fit to ban the LTTE and put a stop to LTTE fund raising in his day when all other western countries did exactly that. It does not take a rocket scientists to figure out why Gota,(if he does indeed have a hand in the boat people saga ) would do what is alleged. Australia is getting what it deserved. So we have the two liberals come to Sri Lanka and report back that there is no problem and the boats must be turned back. This is typically what you can expect from this type of people. It is very convenient to label the boat people economic refugees and lock them up in such a hell hole that they commit suicide. It is very convenient not to see anything wrong with the conduct of the Sri Lankan Gov. and keep bashing the labor Gov. of Australia for not turning back the boats. This plays very well with an electorate of red neck racists in Australia.

    • 0
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      few weeks back Ex premier of NSW Bob Carr was in colombo , he praised and promised to help the SL Regime with all the technical assistance and financial aid ,further he went on encouraging others to attend for the up coming CHOGM !

  • 0
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    If SL is doing well and others are falsely trying tarnishing it why not this so-called patriotic Sinhala-Buddhist Diaspora get back and help MR & Co finish off the rest as quickly as possible by making it a truly pristine Theravada Buddhist Sinhala country without simply being arm chair critiques enjoying the spoils of colonialism from and off the so-called 1st world countries?

    • 0
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      Well Said M.C. Spencer.

  • 0
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    follow Wisse’s adv9ice and lets commence eelam war 5…

    Paul newman can lead the ltte with Rayappu as his deputy.

    Rationalist – lets begin the fifth so that gordon can make the balance millions. could you begin?/

    • 0
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      No need for me to begin it. Your murderous mates have already started it, this time with the Muslims and other non-Buddhists.
      As you are so obsessed about Wisse making millions, maybe you should follow Wisse’s example (not his advise), and start documenting the facts, so you can make a few millions.

      • 0
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        Some peoples brain software is irreparably corrupted and damaged through years of cultural brain washings that they are best ignored and left to their own devices to find solace in wallowing in their own emotional s***. As that too is spin-off benefit from CT. Even the choices of their false names give an indication of calibre of their depraved minds.

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    Some misguided but well meaning Sri Lankans have suggested that Sri Lanka investigate alleged ‘war crimes’ alleged by none other than the separatist terrorist diaspora tiger lobby and their partners in crime Channel4, HRW, Amnesty International and some politicians in western countries.

    However these allegations are all false based in hearsay and innuendo and no real evidence whatsoever. They are in effect made up stories to tarnish the image of Sri Lanka and to ensure that Sri Lanka is sanctioned at the current sessions of the UNHRC.

    As someone who has until recently lived a long time in the west I can say with confidence that these separatist terrorist diaspora tiger lobby spreads many lies against Sri Lanka on a regular basis now for well over thirty years.

    Their real agenda is definitely to partition Sri Lanka and finally create an Eelam that could not be achieved so far using the LTTEs violence, massacres, mass terrorism and bombings. The diaspora tiger lobby if they even remotely care about human rights should first and foremost apologise for the thousands of sinhala, tamil and muslim civilians who were massacred by the LTTE terrorist leadership and their tacit support of such. Then they should apologise for the civilians massacred by the LTTE using countless bomb blasts. Afterwards they should apologise for the ethnic cleansing of the north carried out by the tigers. Then they should apologise for all the prisoners of war massacred by the tigers. Then they should apologise for the child soldier recruitment. There are too many gross violations of human rights committed by the tigers to list here but they should apologise for all of them unreservedly since they tacitly supported such atrocities without question.

    It is very clear that human rights are the furthest from the minds of the diaspora separatist tiger lobby. Additionally what has this lobby done to make the lives of the people in the north better? Nothing. The people of the north are much better off without them trying to use them as pawns in their dubious schemes and plans. The diaspora tiger lobby are actually trying to destabilise Sri Lanka.

    Sri Lanka should not waste any of its precious time or precious resources investigating gross lies spread by this tiger lobby. Instead Sri Lanka must tell the UNHRC that

    (i) do not waste Sri Lanka’s time demanding Sri Lanka investigate made up stories

    (ii) Sri Lanka has a massive task ahead in terms of development and peace

    (iii) Sri Lanka is doing well and has achieved normalcy during the last four years and is forging ahead with peace and development restored

    (iv) point out that the so called accusers i.e. the tiger separatist lobby were not so long ago supporters of a terrorist criminal gang

    (iv) if any of these groups want to engage with Sri Lanka they should do so directly and bilaterally and that Sri Lanka does not under any circumstances entertain the idea of investigating unsubstantiated stories, video tapes etc. and that Sri Lanka has better things to do like running a country and taking care of over 20 million people.

    Sri Lanka should be very firm and forthright in this reply. Sri Lanka should point out that all these ‘accusers can discuss any issues they have directly and bilaterally with the Sri Lankan Government and that that is it.

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    It was a known fact that International community told President Rajapakse to allow LTTE fighters to surrender to GOSL troups, who bring a white flag with them while President assured them that he will do so.

    But the Govt. never showed us any TV footage of Tigers bringing white flags or surrendering to govt. soldiers……..except dead bodies.

    Only Govt. showed was dead Tiger rebels…..while Gen. Sarath Fonseka said Gotabaya Rajapakse told army to kill everybody who carry white flags.

    All we ask GOSL. is to show us the video clips where the Tigers or Civilians CARRYING WHITE FLAGS who subsequently surrendered to govt. soldiers.

    THIS WILL PROVE PRESIDENTS INTERNATIONAL CREDIBILITY.

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