Silent guns, bleeding Tamil hearts!


PM Tony Abbott and CHOGM

CHOGM ”“ Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting is happening right now in Sri Lanka with Prime Minister Tony Abbott attending it while his policy on turning back the boats with asylum seekers from Sri Lanka  is in full force. Perhaps he should visit Jaffna himself and see with his own eyes the remnants of violence of the final months of the war, in which the UN estimates 40,000 civilians were killed with ongoing abuses by the soldiers on innocent Tamil civilians.

Guns in Sri Lanka may be silent in Sri Lanka yet says Ben Doeherty, SMH columnist, “Political opponents, trade unionists, journalists, as well as suspected former fighters and their families, are all regularly harassed, kidnapped, tortured and murdered by government security forces, or paramilitaries acting on their behalf as well as civilians.

For Tony Abbott, the photo-op handshake this week with Rajapakse, a man credibly accused of war crimes, will not be one of his proudest moments as Prime Minister.

But Abbott faces little choice. Rajapakse’s is the only hand to shake.

Australia, and the rest of the free world ”“ of which Sri Lanka cannot seriously claim to be part ”“ can only negotiate with the government that is there, and that is Rajapakse’s regime.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is also at the CHOGM, has been more forthright, “Engagement with the Sri Lankan government, distasteful as it may be, is the best, indeed likely the only, option for improvement.”

“Four years after the conflict, no one has been held to account for grave allegations of war crimes and sexual violence, journalists are routinely intimidated and thousands of people have yet to find out what has happened to their missing relatives.

“I want to see that change. And I do not believe boycotting the Commonwealth meeting will achieve that. The right thing to do is to engage. To visit the country. To shine the international spotlight on the lack of progress in the country. And to have frank conversations with the Sri Lankan government about what they must do to address the concerns of the international community and to improve the daily life of thousands of Tamils and civilians across all communities.”

India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is missing at the CHOGM having bowed to domestic political pressures to boycott the meeting.

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