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ATC’s letter in The Age

October 16, 2009

The Age : Convenient bogeymen
WHY are men, women and children fleeing Sri Lanka? It’s not because they want the thrill of risking life, limb and capture while spending days at sea in barely seaworthy vessels. These people are fleeing a humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka that has been orchestrated by the Government of Sri Lanka and motivated on ethnic grounds.

About 300,000 Tamils remain under military rule in camps that lack basic food, shelter and health requirements. Non-government organisations’ and independent media access to the camps is heavily restricted.

People smugglers are the middle men, and not the root cause of why people are desperate to escape persecution, hunger and an uncertain future. They are, however, convenient bogeymen for the Australian Government to apportion blame as it seeks to preserve its “warm diplomatic relations” with Sri Lanka. Through its silence and apathy, the Australian Government is helping condemn thousands of Tamil Sri Lankans to an uncertain and grim future.

Dr Sam Pari, Australian Tamil Congress, Sydney

Read other letters here.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Australians for Tamil Justice permalink*
    October 17, 2009 10:53 am

    Rudd playing on ill-informed fears
    October 15, 2009

    IN SPEAKING of ”a tough line on border security” and ”illegal immigrants”, Mr Rudd is regurgitating some of the shameful rhetoric of the Howard era to play on ill-informed fears for domestic political expediency. He has also failed to show international leadership. In arranging the diversion of the recent boatload of Sri Lankans back to Indonesia, Mr Rudd has failed to uphold the spirit of Australia’s obligations under the 1951 UN convention on refugees and shown a lack of compassion for people risking their lives to flee persecution.

    Australia takes a minuscule proportion of refugees. As pointed out in your editorial (The Age, 15/10), of those who apply for asylum in Australia, the vast majority are found to be genuine refugees. Do we expect other nations to shoulder the burden of care? Do we want refugees to languish indefinitely in overcrowded camps?

    If Mr Rudd wants our nation to be a real player on the international stage, Australia should demonstrate truly responsible leadership by welcoming world citizens most in need.

    Susan Manley, Kalorama

    Put smugglers out of a job

    MAKING money from the misfortune of people is appalling. However, the ”vile species” that does make money from asylum seekers may not be as contemptible as some. The Australian Government aids the facilitation of people smuggling operations. If asylum seekers were granted legal entry into Australia, then the people smugglers would be out of a job; this legal entry is supposed to be mandated by the United Nations convention on refugees, to which Australia is a signatory.

    At the very least, people smugglers are offering people a way of escaping from persecution. Conversely, it seems that Kevin Rudd would prefer asylum seekers to be subject to this persecution.

    Kerry Woodward, Diamond Creek

    Why head to Australia?

    JOHN Henry (Letters 15/10) would like an examination of why boatloads of Tamils would want to leave Sri Lanka in the first place.

    I agree, but if it is established they have to leave Sri Lanka, the next question is why are they heading to Australia, and other Western countries, instead of seeking refuge among their Tamil brethren in the state of Tamil Nadu in India, where their ancestors came from? Tamil Nadu is just a short journey across the strait from the Jaffna Peninsula in Sri Lanka. Are they looking for refuge from persecution or are there better economic prospects in Australia?

    Paul Borg, Burwood

    Creating the conditions

    MALCOLM Turnbull and Philip Ruddock seem to have forgotten that they and their government helped create the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, leaving Kevin Rudd and everyone else to clean up after them. The term ”xenophobic warmonger” comes to mind.

    Breda Hertaeg, Beaumaris

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