By Eric Ellis –
Holding Australia’s domestic “stop the boats” politics to ransom, the Sri Lankan military is accused of grabbing land in traditional Tamil areas, ordering soldiers to marry Tamil women, even – as arrests this week show – fostering the people smuggling trade.
What does a Sri Lankan would-be asylum seeker look like? Many look like this man. His name is Gnanaseelan. He’s 32. He’s a Tamil, though never a Tiger. A father. A widower.
He lives in this desperate shanty outside the seaside hamlet of Mullaitivu, on Sri Lanka’s war-ravaged north-east coast, with nine relatives, six of them motherless children.
Gnanaseelan and his family were caught in the crossfire of the last murderous days of Sri Lanka’s civil war between the Tamil Tigers and the mostly Sinhalese government forces in Colombo, which ended in May 2009 on a blood-soaked spit of sand about three kilometres from here.
He was maimed when his leg was struck by a random shell. Four years on, Gnanaseelan is an itinerant, unskilled labourer, taking a day’s work whenever he can find one, which isn’t that often. His limp and his ethnicity are hard to disguise and the Sinhalese contractors building new roads around here, on deals from government friends in distant Colombo, prefer their labour to be able-bodied and of their own kind.
Read more in the The Globalmail
*Eric Ellis is an award-winning journalist who writes about the politics, economics and societies of South and South-East Asia. He has written for a range of international journals; Fortune Magazine, Forbes, the Financial Times, Time Magazine, The Times, The Bulletin/Newsweek, The Spectator,Institutional Investor, Euromoney, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian Financial Review and the International Herald Tribune.