25 September, 2020

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The Plight Of Australia’s Tamil Migrants

By Frances Harrison –

Frances Harrison

He lay in agony on the ground on a tarpaulin sheet in the open, bandaged in rags in the scorching tropical heat after two major surgeries on his leg and hip, but Thevam considered himself extremely lucky. Just the day before he’d been moved out of the school building turned into a makeshift hospital. A day later and he too would have been among the eight dead and many more injured in the shell attack on the hospital.  No matter that the building had a clear red cross painted on its roof, visible to government drones and surveillance planes.

Thevam is a 39-year-old Tamil shopkeeper with a wife and two young children from northern Sri Lanka. He is a witness to war crimes whose mother was killed while sheltering in a bunker, and himself still bears huge angry scars on his body. He was granted refugee status in Australia two years ago but is not free to restart his life. Thevam is one of 51 Tamils who have failed their security clearance and shockingly he hasn’t even been told why.

How the security clearance process operates is unclear. When Australia screens refugees from Sri Lanka the intention may be to keep out former members of the Tamil Tigers – a group widely proscribed as a terrorist outfit, though not in Australia – that recruited teenagers and pioneered suicide bombing. That may sound sensible but it misses many key points.

Refugee advocates believe it’s possible Australia’s security screening could be based on information supplied by the very government from which the refugees are seeking sanctuary. Sending names to Sri Lanka to ask if individuals have cases outstanding against them is a nonsense if you know how random the persecution of war survivors has been. In most cases the Sri Lankan security forces detain Tamils on suspicion of being terrorists and then extract large bribes to release them and help them flee the country. Detainees are routinely tortured and then forced to sign a confession in a language they can’t understand. Any adult man who lived in the warzone is a potential suspect for the Sri Lankan authorities– but also a witness to the government’s war crimes and crimes against humanity now documented by UN lawyers.

In the UK Tamil asylum seekers actually strive to prove they were members of the rebel movement, knowing it will convince a tribunal that they are still at risk after the war. I’ve testified in appeals to confirm an individual was a Tiger and that’s clinched their case. In Australia refugees have to hide their connection to the organization for fear of a negative security assessment.

It’s also necessary to understand that in the patch of Sri Lanka ruled by the Tigers every family had to hand over one child to fight, whether they liked it or not. Civilians in that area also had to pay taxes and give free labour to the rebel movement that ran the administration.

I have interviewed scores of survivors from the final phase of Sri Lanka’s civil war in which the UN says possibly 70,000 civilians were killed in just five months in an area of at most 35 square kilometres. In terms of intensity and speed, the former Norwegian peace mediator Erik Solheim says the slaughter in Sri Lanka in 2009 was probably the worst in the world this century.

Those who survived are deeply traumatised – often suicidal. None of the hardened fighters I met wanted to take up arms again. They’ve had it crushed out of them. Most just want to hide somewhere quiet and try and rebuild their lives, haunted by the memories of babies’ heads blown off and the cries of the injured as they died in agony. These broken people cannot be a security risk to Australians.

What’s posing a security risk is the continued persecution of Tamils in Sri Lanka, which threatens to rekindle the civil war. In 2009, when the Tigers were defeated, the government had a window of opportunity to reconcile communities. That’s long gone.  Now it’s clear that Tamils who survived the war are being targeted for detention, torture and extortion. There’s one soldier for every five civilians in the north – the army actually increased in size after the end of the war.  Sexual harassment by the security forces is rife – especially of women Tigers.  Recently I met a Tamil girl who’d been continuously gang raped, beaten and burned with cigarettes in a Sri Lankan police station for 47 days – as recently as last November. Australian politicians who say everything is fine in Sri Lanka should meet her and many like her turning up in Europe.

The repression of Tamils in northern Sri Lanka today is so intense that anger is bubbling up. Almost every family lost someone in the war zone but the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has documented how the authorities prevent survivors from holding religious gatherings to mourn their dead. None of the root causes of the conflict has been addressed – a triumphalist government refuses to devolve power to Tamil areas. So it’s only a matter of time before violence erupts again from another humiliated generation with nothing to live for.

Meanwhile many of Sri Lanka’s top military commanders, in charge when war crimes were committed, have been posted abroad as Ambassadors, benefiting from diplomatic immunity. Instead of locking up recognised refugees at great expense, Australia would do better to target the perpetrators of war crimes who roam free.

*Thevam is not the refugee’s real name. This article is first appeared in Asia Correspondent.

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    Why doesn’t Frances prove her dedication to the cause of finding and punishing war criminals by kick-starting an immediate “human rights” campaign to indict and arrest the self-acknowledged child abuser and war criminal (i.e. recruiter of child soldiers) Adele Balasingham, now living in comfort and safety in London?

    Don’t be shy, Frances. I’ll be right behind you.

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      Why doesn’t you Mango prove your dedication to the cause of finding and punishing war criminals by kick-starting an immediate “human rights” campaign to indict and arrest the Mahinda Rajapaksa & Gotabaya Rejapaksa for the thousands of slaughtered, disappeared Tamil civilians, Journalist, Politicians, etc etc etc now living in comfort and safety in Temple trees?

      Don’t be shy, Mango. I’ll be right behind you.

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        @slough.. Politicians.. which ones??? Ohh you mane the Tamil politicians Gunned down by the LTTE and where the western LTTE entity supported and the TNA kept quite.. Go ask the TNA now they have found the voice.. Or the Tamil civilians that were killed as Anti socials by the LTTE or as Traitors.. Oh the Sinhala Civilians TAken to LTTE camps so the New Forced Tiger Recruits can Train Killing them with Knife’s???? Ohh turninh Human’s to Suicide bombs??? And Journalist Ohhh ha ha ha You mean the Tamil net the only Only PRO LTTE can never do any fault journalism who even killed D.P Sivaram.. All Helped Thanks to the Western LTTE entity and now called the GTF..

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          A memorial museum had been inaugurated by president Mahinda Rajapakse in Aranthalawa, Ampara in remembrance of the Aranthalawa massacre of 1987.

          The man behind the Aranthalawa massacre and the bombing of Dalada Maligawa is none other than the former LTTE Colonel Karuna Amman. Today he is sitting on Rajapakshe’s lap and enjoying all the luxury. He is not only a Minister but is given one of the top positions in the party as Vice President of the SLFP.

          The Rajapakshes know very well that it is very easy to fool the Sinhalese. The man who is behind this massacre is given a royal treatment and at the same time builds some Memorial museum to fool the Sinhala masses.

          They say, you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all of the time. But in Sri Lanka, you can fool the Sinhalese all the time and who ever knows this secret (that the Europeans discovered just after they/Portuguese arrived) can rule them and fool them forever and also loot their wealth/resources left, right and centre.

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            Kumar.. Yes Yesterday He was sitting on LTTE laps.. and this poster in every western LTTE and Tamil nadu Home next to Prabhakaran.. But when he left the LTTE he gave up violence and the killing stopped.. Until the LTTE northern command took over the killing spree.. And this is called reconciliation.. With out Justice.. The thing which the LTTE western Entity are calling for.. When they ONLY lost the WAR.. why did they not stop support to LTTE when the broke the peace and the killing continued?????.. So dont understand what you are trying to say here????

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        I’d be delighted to see the Sri Lankan government charged with War Crimes, as long as the Western bloc of the international community has the guts to apply the same standards to Western governments engaged in their various wars of choice – usually involving killing large numbers of Arabs.

        I oppose only Sri Lankan leaders being prosecuted. If Mahinda, Fonseka, Gota et al are suspected (with solid evidence) of war crimes, they must be prosecuted. Where is UN’s campaign for Gens. Powell & Schwarzkopf, Pres Bush II, Blair and Gen. Jackson joining them in the dock? Justice must be equitable. Our guys did no more or less than anyone in the US/NATO/British leadership have done in the last two decades. If our guys our guilty, then so are the above and all should be treated alike.

        So, Slough, let’s get going. Call Amnesty, HRW, ICG etc and get them started on the West’s war crimes, first. Then we can go on to Russia (Chechnya) and then perhaps India (too many insurgencies and atrocities to list – Punjab, Kashmir etc) oh.. and Israel of course and then by all means prosecute Sri Lanka.

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          @Mango.. Also the LTTE western Entity who sponsored terrorism.. collecting money and breaking every Int rule to supply weapons and prolong terrorism in Another Nation.. And also the Tamil nadu politicians who gave Indian TAx payer money to Terrorist groups to kill people in another nation.. and help setup bases to Train terrorist.. I mean these are the reasons why USA and the Western NATO went to Afghanistan to do..A law is a LAw is when its applied to all equally.. Today we see protest not for Tamils but for the LTTE to punish Sri Lanka for killing the LTTE.. And Today No Tamil has even heard of the LTTE let alone knows who they are especially in the west.. These Groups who raised so much money in the Name of the LTTE now pose as Human right groups cant even say LTTE.. Just like when the LTTE was killing and murdering All civilians.

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      Very True sir.. But no doubt Adele Balasingham is now a Human rights champion sipping Tea with Francis and Talking about the good old days.. Every one is Today Taking Large amounts of Money again as they represent Tamils.. Like they did yesterday.. Over night Multi millionaires for the cause.. Nodoubt the Francis must be going through the videos of child soldiers been given cyanide with Adele Balasingham, while Francis Gutter books sit on Adele Balasingham book shelf.

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      It is pathetic to hear the Logic of some, who try to justify killing of Tamil Civilians on mere suspicion of being LTTE, citing that others have also done so and if they are not charged, why should our Soldiers be charged? Further even non combatants who would have helped the LTTE for a legally or illegally elected govt to kill in this manner, is no excuse to be exempt of blame and punishment. If this type of argument is to be carried forward, a hypothetical situation where Tamil Nadu invades Sri Lanka and massacre our Forces and civilians we have no right to voice our concern, as this type of massacre has taken place before in this country? What convoluted Logic of these Myopic, who believe they are civilized and educated?

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    I see sri lanka is vindicated when they use to say This socalled journalist at the time was the correspondent for BBC based in Lanka..as Been biased. How trues its is now, as it was then.. So you cannot TRUST let alone verify what this Biased so called journalist has to say.. Today every Cat, Dog and Ex European Journalist with LTTE strong sympathies claim to be the Voice of the Tamils.. Like yester years.. Still One wonders are the so called Economic Migrants peddled as Political Tamil refugees are the Only Migrants in Australia suffering this Heart breaking state.. Its is True Most Tamils Steal the Genuine Political refugee status of other Migrants such as From Iraq and Afghanistan.. rather than claim to be purely Economic migrants who in ten years later will return to Lanka to buy Land and property like their previous claimants who went before them.. Unlike the Iraqi or Afghan. Still if the cause is right than Pullis friends such as Francis will never batter a eyelid as the Money in Books and tears are more powerful form the Tamil LTTE western entity.

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    Take them to your home Frances.
    Frances… now you are getting a little bold. Why not try to upstage Julia Gillard and takeover her role and rewrite Aussie Govt policies on how to screen tamil refugees.

    Frances the day you run out of stories, don’t come out and say our Reps attempted to gang rape Navi Pillai and/or Erik Solheim…But its possible because Ravinatha & Mahinda.S are terrible fellows.

    You also have added a BLOB to gordon.Ws 7000. You all are articulate people. You guys know exactly how and when to make money out of a dead carcass.

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    You are saying Australia is asking Sri Lanka for information on the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees or those who seeking refugee status. Are you suggesting that such information should be sought from LTTE or its sympathizers? You are lump of shit!

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    FRANCES

    You say Tamil asylum seekers in the UK strive to prove they were members of the LTTE, while in Australia they try to hide their connection. You are absolutely right. Tamil asylum seekers have always been tailoring their stories to suit the refugee policies prevailing at different times and places.

    In the early 1980s they said they were fleeing from ethnic riots, by mid 80s they were fleeing from violence by Sri Lankan security forces and Tamil militants. In the late 80s they were fleeing from everybody: Sri Lankan forces, Tamil militant groups and the IPKF. In the 90s they were fleeing increasingly from the LTTE and somewhat from the government forces. After the ceasefire agreement of 2002 there was a lull in the Tamil refugee influx. With the resumption of war in 2008 the Tamils started fleeing again mostly due to forced recruitment and curtailment of food and other amenities to the Tamil people by the Tigers. After Mullivaikkal it is now the Tigers’ – rather than their war victims – turn to flee. In fact the war victims feel no overpowering need to flee as their tormentors – the Tigers – have been vanquished. Also we should not forget the Muslim people of the north – numbering almost 100,000 – rendered IDPs by the Tigers in 1990.

    The interesting thing is most of the people who fled claiming oppression by the LTTE became its strong supporters in the diaspora. Either their sob stories of Tiger oppression back home was untrue or their support of the LTTE in the diaspora was a cynical ploy to keep the war going so that their kith and kin left behind could also join them. In this the Tiger human smuggling business also stood to gain. These asylum seekers always destroyed their ID’s and other papers upon arrival so that they can modify their narratives as necessary as they went through the hearing process.

    At present the need is for a narrative of oppression by an “occupying army” so that the LTTE cadre that survived, and even ordinary Tamils, can gain asylum status in greener pastures. You are doing a great service to this humanitarian effort. By the way the top military commanders now posted abroad as ambassadors are the ones who made all this possible: now Tamils can flee as ex-LTTE cadre or supporters, and the human smugglers and story writers can make money in the process.

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      I was told by a Tamil lawyer in Toronto representing Tamil asylum seekers in the late 1970s, that there were more than ten ( I forgot the exact number), who claimed they had shot Jaffna Mayor Alfred Duraiappa.

      Dr. Rajasingham Narendran

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        So, the Tamils thought shooting Duraiappah would get them refugee status in Canada?

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    The attitudes of the Australians, descendents of Criminal Pirates after having collared that country are in cahoots with the Sinhala Buddhists, also descendents of Criminals who were banished from their country of birth India, now having collard this country, share the commonality of indifference towards others who have equal or more rights than them to be citizens here and in Australia.

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    It looks like Frances will never, ever get over having her favourite pet Tigers killed. Who can forget the bit where Frances recounts her chats with “Puli”, a “thoughtful” LTTE spokesman with whom she had regular Skype and satphone calls even as the fighting reached its climax.

    “Mostly Puli wanted to escape the butchery,” she writes, “to talk about the heavy snow that lay on the ground that winter in England, the books he’d read and my mundane domestic life.” Along with most of the Tigers’ senior leadership, he was killed on the war’s final day.’

    Oh, poor Frances. Poor little persecuted, “Puli”… Now, I must start cutting some onions for my seeni sambol to get the tears flowing.

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    why tamils want to get to civilised country like Australia and not go home to India?

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      What is the HOME of Sinhala people? The main guy is a grandson of an INDIAN lion and great grandson of a king of a North Eastern INDIAN kingdom. His wife was a Tamil from South INDIAN Pandya kingdom. Mahawamsa, the cronicle of great Buddhist Sinhala history says all this.

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    Now here’s a telling admission from Frances Harrison:

    “I’ve testified in appeals to confirm an individual was a Tiger and that’s clinched their case.”

    So her inside knowledge of the Tamil Tigers is so great that her word is accepted in a UK court as to who was or was not a member of the Tamil Tigers! It would be interesting if that inside knowledge of the Tigers was obtained while Ms Harrison was ostensibly working in Sri Lanka for the BBC. With an employee like Harrison only one step from admitting that she was a supporter of the Tamil Tigers, no wonder the BBC has a problem in the UK convincing the British public of their integrity.

    It’s also interesting that this statement confirms that the UK is one of the few countries in the world that appears to give refugee status to people because they are suspected of belonging to a terrorist organisation in another country. Understandably this is causing outrage within the UK itself as most of its people do not want their country to become a haven for the world’s wanted terrorists.

    I wonder what the British High Commissioner in the Sri Lanka thinks about this designation by Frances Harrison of the UK as a safe house for terrorists?

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      Fully agree Candidly. In fact I would go a bit further. Frances can only certify another as a Tiger in a court if she is a senior Tiger having access to the member details of the Tiger organisation.

      Did I missed something or UK & BBC missed something?

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    The trust of Frances Harrison’s article is that methods of screening is not favorable towards the refugees, particularly the Tigers whereas in the UK it is the opposite. Her admission, in having testified in UK tribunals to vouch that certain individuals were tigers is interesting. All this establishes where her sympathy is. Is that one of an unbiased upright journalist who should uphold the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

    Fortunately for UK, it is far far away from Sri Lanka for people to come by boat, as opposed to Australia. Had UK been inundated by boat people then it would follow the same policies of Australia. That is the bitter truth.

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    I know as a fact, more Sinhalese people than SL Tamils managed to get refugee status in Australia (figures in 2005). Important thing you need to know is that very small percentage of asylum seekers come by boats, most of them come by planes. One of the reason for this success of Sinhalese refugees was that SLG killed so many Sinhalese in 1971, ’88, ’89. In those times, police or STF did the instant judgements and execution, bodies of most of those Sinhalese people were not found. Sinhalese terrorist leader was killed in custody. Lot of similarities to the latest suppression.

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