Australia's vote at Geneva raises questions

[TamilNet, Saturday, 23 March 2013, 19:53 GMT]
While rights group and Tamils dismissed the US resolution passed in the UNHRC sessions in Geneva as toothless and as allowing space to Colombo to continue with the structural genocide of Tamils, Australia was reluctant to endorse even this resolution, and voted at the last minute because of "concerns it would offend the ruling Rajapaksa brothers," Australia's ABC news reported quoting executive director of the New York based rights group Human Rights Watch [HRW], Kenneth Roth. "It is pretty clear Australia's policy toward Sri Lanka is the asylum seeker tail wagging the bilateral dog," Roth said.

"And it's pretty clear that Australia's policy is entirely set by its determination to stem the flow of boat people, mostly Tamils, from Sri Lanka," Roth added.

“The Gillard Labor Government has decided to dance cheek-to-cheek with a war criminal because it wants to stop Tamil refugees fleeing to Australia before this year's election,” veteran journalist Trevor Grant told TamilNet earlier, dubbing Australian’s current foreign policy on Sri Lanka as “one of the greatest sell-outs by government in Australian history.”

Meanwhile, Canada's prime minister Stephen Harper has threatened to boycott the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting - due to be held in Sri Lanka later this year - over the country's human rights record. Several prominent policy makers and nobel laureates have called for shift of venue of CHOGM from Colombo.

However, Australia, not only has continued to indicate that there is no change in its position that it will attend the CHOGM in Colombo this November but have advised other Commonwealth Nations to attend.

“Australia most certainly will be at CHOGM, and we would urge nations like Canada to do so as well. Further we would suggest that Canada engages in talks with Sri Lanka as the best way of elevating human rights concerns is by discussing the issue...,” Senator Carr, Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, said in December 2012 during his visit to Sri Lanka.

While Australia seeks to collaborate with Colombo on clamping on the increasing tide of asylum seeker boats departing Colombo shores, Australia's Intelligence services linked a senior Sri Lankan government official who is close to Sri Lanka's president Rajapakse as responsible for "authorizing numerous boats in the past 10 months, fuelling the surge of asylum-seekers from Sri Lanka that has threatened to overwhelm Australia's detention system," The Australian reported in the 1st February edition.

Speaking on behalf of the Australian government, a spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said the government was working closely with the Sri Lankans to break the smuggling syndicates, but declined to address the allegations against the official directly.


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28.02.13   Australia should withdraw from CHOGM in Sri Lanka: Lee Rhian..
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External Links:
ABC: Australia criticised over Sri Lanka war crimes vote
AU: Blow to asylum battle as intelligence links Sri Lankan official to smugglers

 

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