'Sri Lanka’s human rights record as bad as South Africa under Apartheid': Haigh

[TamilNet, Thursday, 16 May 2013, 11:41 GMT]
Criticizing Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr’s support to holding the CHOGM in Sri Lanka, former Australian diplomat Bruce Haigh opined that Sri Lanka at the head of the Commonwealth would bring the institution’s demise, arguing that “Sri Lanka has a human rights record as bad as South Africa under Apartheid.” In an article for ABC News on Thursday, Mr. Haigh further said that despite evidence to the contrary, Bob Carr “believes that the Sinhalese majority are free of triumphalism and ethnic abuse of Tamils, amounting to state sponsored genocide, following a bloody civil war that occurred because of the very attitudes and practices being deployed against Tamils today.” Asserting that the Rajapaksa regime undermines the values of the Commonwealth, the author further called on Australia to boycott the CHOGM.

Excerpts from Bruce Haigh’s article ‘Boats should not stop a CHOGM boycott’ published on ABC News follows:

“In the face of a great deal of evidence to the contrary, Bob Carr has declared Sri Lanka an ideal democracy.”

“He has declared their institutions sound, and scoffed at the idea of corruption within the ranks of the Rajapaksa government.”

“He has declared the police, army and navy to be clear of charges of detaining and torturing members of the Tamil minority. He believes that the Sinhalese majority are free of triumphalism and ethnic abuse of Tamils, amounting to state sponsored genocide, following a bloody civil war that occurred because of the very attitudes and practices being deployed against Tamils today.”

“And why has Carr adopted such a serendipitous attitude to Sri Lanka? It's called boats, where the curtailment of asylum seekers arriving off Australian shores overrides human rights and all other considerations of compassion and common sense. In order that the bipartisan policy of turning back, preventing or in some other way stopping the boats from sullying our shores, Carr must declare that everything is hunky dory in Sri Lanka and that anyone getting in a boat, risking their lives and spending money they don't have must be economic refugees; and a range of acolytes seeking government preferment puppet his response.”

“As a result of the Sri Lankan government's failure to investigate war crimes and because of its participation in ongoing repression of Tamils, the Canadian government has said it will boycott this year's CHOGM to be held in Sri Lanka. Should this meeting go ahead Sri Lanka will head the Commonwealth for the next two years. This is despite the fact that the Rajapaska regime undermines, on a daily basis, the values and principles of the Commonwealth.”

“Carr has rubbished the stand taken by Canada. The Queen has advised that she will not be attending; no doubt seeking to avoid the controversy that will inevitably surround the meeting should it go ahead. By accepting the mantle as head of the Commonwealth, Sri Lanka could well bring about its demise. Sri Lanka has a human rights record as bad as South Africa under Apartheid. It would have been unthinkable for South Africa to have hosted a CHOGM, so why is Sri Lanka being shoe horned into the job? In fact, so gravely were South Africa's human rights abuses viewed that the Commonwealth instituted sanctions, followed not long after by the UN.”

“ASIO does not have an independent capacity to gather information on the ground about persons of interest. They must rely on a friendly or cooperative government to provide them with police clearances and checks. We could not do that with Apartheid South Africa, although ASIO did maintain unofficial contact with the ruthless South African Bureau of State Security, and contact with countries behind The Iron Curtin, during the Cold War, for purposes of obtaining security clearances, did not happen.”

“For ASIO to continue its campaign against persons linked to the LTTE it must go along with the fiction that Sri Lanka is a neat and tidy democracy and is not conducting a post war vendetta against the Tamils and the military wing in that dispute, the LTTE.”

“In all conscience Australia must also boycott CHOGM.”


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