Published: Canberra Times
Australia is dependent on the Sri Lankan Government for advice on whether a Tamil asylum seeker was a member of the LTTE and therefore in the eyes of the Australian Government likely to constitute a threat to our national security. Advice from the Sri Lankan Government is prompt and usually negative.
The Sri Lankan Government is guilty of murdering suspected members of the LTTE in Colombo and other centres. Towards the end of the recent war despite international appeals the Sri Lankan Government shelled women and children killing anywhere between 10 – 40,000 civilians. The Government of Sri Lanka is corrupt; it has detained the leader of the opposition who fears for his life. It has consistently ignored the rule of law; it censors the media and murders journalists who criticise the government.
Why then does Australia give any weight to assessments provided by this biased and tarnished source?
The LTTE were soldiers on one side in a particularly brutal and nasty civil war, a war in which both sides employed terrorism as a weapon. Former members of the LTTE do not constitute a security threat in Australia, anymore than white Rhodesians who fought against Mugabe or members of the ANC who took up arms against apartheid.
Australian has declared members of the LTTE terrorists under pressure from the Sri Lankan Government. It needs to revise its thinking.
The Australian Government needs to order the Sri Lankan High Commission in Canberra to stop harassing Australian citizens who were formerly members of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka and the AFP needs to revise its thinking and directives with respect to this community and the LTTE.
The head of ASIO, David Irvine, is kidding himself in seeking to convince the Senate Estimates Committee that ASIO has superior and independent sources of information relating to the LTTE. Decisions of this type are by their very nature political.
From the outset the Sri Lankan High Commission claimed there were members of the LTTE on board the Oceanic Viking. Perhaps David Irvine might like to tell the Committee where he does go to get his information on the LTTE.