Does Rudd lack confidence or courage?
BRUCE HAIGH, 16 October 2009
Kevin Rudd has prevented 255 Sri Lankan asylum seekers coming to Australia from Indonesia. The asylum seekers were already at sea when the Prime Minister put in an urgent call to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono requesting that the Indonesian Navy intercept the vessel and escort it back to Indonesia.
The people on the vessel are ethnic Tamils, a group suffering at the hands of the majority Sinhalese following the defeat of Tamil resistance in a civil war that has waxed and waned tragically for the past 26 years.
About 300,000 Tamils are being held in camps controlled by the Sri Lankan Army under the most appalling conditions, including a shortage of food, medical supplies and adequate shelter. The old and very young are dying at the rate of several hundred a month. Who would not want to escape, particularly as conditions are set to deteriorate with the onset of the monsoon season? This weather will also affect the ability of boats to undertake the voyage, so the pressure is on to complete the journey soon. More
Bruce Haigh is a political commentator and retired diplomat who served in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. He has dealt with the issue of refugees since 1972 and is a former member of the Refugee Review Tribunal.