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‘Government turns blind eye to Tamil genocide’ - Haigh

Retired Australian diplomat Bruce Haigh has stated the Australian has been turning a blind eye to genocide, as he criticised the Australian government’s engagement with Sri Lanka.

Haigh, who was also member of the Refugee Review Tribunal, criticised Australia’s acceptance of “fiction” on the island, and went on to state that Australia’s asylum seeker policy, which deports Tamils to face torture in Sri Lanka, may make them complicit in the crime of genocide.

Extracts have been reproduced below. See the full piece in the Canberra Times here.

"Former Australian foreign minister Bob Carr and his successor Julie Bishop view the world as they want it to be rather than as it is. Bishop, like her predecessor, has engaged in transparent and clumsy denial in order to placate what she likes to term Australia's friends."

"The Australian government has adopted the fiction that the minority Tamils were the aggressors in the civil war, that the majority Sinhalese won the war, peace has been restored and the surly defeated Tamils must now accept the status quo and get on with life, accepting their position as a minority within mainstream Sinhala society."

"That is not the finding of the Peoples' Tribunal on Sri Lanka which met in Bremen in December. I attended the hearings as an expert witness on Australian treatment of Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers."

"It found, "On the strength of the evidence presented, the tribunal reached the consensus ruling that the state of Sri Lanka is guilty of the crime of genocide against Eelam Tamils and that the consequences of the genocide continue to the present day with ongoing acts of genocide against Eelam Tamils", or those living in the north and east of the country."

"The tribunal found that the evidence before them established beyond reasonable doubt that the following acts were committed by the government of Sri Lanka: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group and acting with the specific intent of destruction of a protected group. It also found that there was continuity of genocide through ongoing acts of genocide and that the state deliberately inflicted on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part."

"The gift of Australian naval vessels to Sri Lanka, the wilful labelling by Australia of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka as economic migrants and their enforced return to a place of danger, known legally as sur place, (Hathaway, The Law of Refugee Status, p 33) makes Australia complicit in the crime of genocide. An Australian mental health nurse working on Christmas Island spoke publicly in November last year of witnessing this process and the terror of those forced to return."