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CPACS’ letter in The Australian

October 16, 2009

To demonise Sri Lanka boatpeople dodges the issues

UPWARDS of 250,000 Sri Lankan Tamils are being held in appalling conditions in the vast Manik Farm internment camp, deprived of their freedom solely on grounds of race. Speak out about their plight and their lives are at risk as well: they have a well-founded fear of joining the thousands of others who have “disappeared” with utter impunity for the perpetrators.

They may therefore meet the definition of refugees under the 1951 UN convention, to which Australia is a signatory, but their right to apply for asylum, and have their case fairly considered, is not matched by any right of entry. That is why some turn to so-called people smugglers.

If Australia does not like the consequences of this situation, it should intensify pressure on the Sri Lankan authorities to deliver justice, starting with a properly supported process of return to their homes for the Tamil detainees. To whinge about asylum boats and to demonise those who provide them is to dodge the issue.

Jake Lynch
Director, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney

Jake’s article in New Matilda

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