SRI LANKA’S USE OF THE BOAT REFUGEE WEAPON TESTS WEST/OTTAWA’S RESOLVE ON SL WAR CRIMES INITIATIVE.
Sri Lanka (SL) genocide forced the West into accepting SL’s ethnic cleansed refugees (whether as boat arrivals or otherwise) for several decades without much ado until recently in post-LTTE (May 2009) period. The West absorbed the cost of the SL genocide accepting over a million of the oppressed Tamil victims from SL as refugees. Humanitarian considerations drove the West’s acceptance of the SL refugees.
Accordingly Canada’s responses to Chitraganee Wagiswara/ Sumith Dassanayake’s (SL High Commissioner’s office) call urging Ottawa to ‘turn away the MV Sun Sea with its women and children to prevent Tigers from regrouping.’ is in line with Canada’s humane approach to refugee arrivals. Canada reacted sharply describing Chitranganee’s ‘turn away’ demand as ‘a bit too much’ reminding that ‘If SL’s majority of 17 million were making the minority 4 million feel less threatened, fewer would be regrouping anywhere…Sri Lanka didn’t win the war on its own. India’s political support and its naval blockade weakened the Tigers. So did U.S. and Canadian moves to cut off Tiger funding.. still our (Canada’s) help pre-supposed a fair deal for Tamils when the war ended..Now the Tamils are fleeing in desperation.. President Rajapakse has failed to make the country’s Tamil minority feel secure after crushing the Tiger insurgency last year’ (The star).
Canada is thus pointing to conditions in SL creating the refugee exodus. This contrasts sharply from SL’s deliberate insistence that boat refugee arrivals is ‘a people smuggling activity and (demanding that) Canada should look at it from that point of view’. How much more candid could Canada’s stance be in the face of Chitraganee’s self-serving rhetoric about a ‘human smuggling operation managed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’ and being a serious security threat to Canada with ‘terrorists probing Canada’s defenses’ (CBC,Star/CTV News ). SL is hard put to wish away the growing worldwide perception ‘Now the Tamils are fleeing in desperation.’
On Canada’s security threat from ‘LTTE terrorists in MV Sun Sea’ that both Chitranganee in Canada and Rohan Gunaratne in Singapore mention, about the same time are based on SL’s intelligence (or misinformation) sourced from SL’s intelligence base in South Asia. Rohan customarily embarks on fishing expeditions and specifically the last one in October 2009 floated the allegation that all 76 Tamil refugees on that ship to Canada were LTTE terrorists. This failed miserably when all the boat refugees were released ‘after none were determined to belong to the Tamil Tigers’. In that October 2009 episode Canada initially accepted Rohan’s volunteered intelligence on the ‘LTTE’s in the ship’, but when that claim failed, Rohan with his credibility in tatters could no longer volunteer anything that Canada will take. Rohan therefore funneled his ‘LTTE’s in MV Sun Sea’ claim this time through the Defense office in Colombo and SL High Commission office in Ottawa. Interesting comments in lankanewspapers.com 26 August 2010 on the present state of Rohan’s credibility as a counter-terrorism expert in South Asia is worth reader’s perusal.
To overcome SL’s credibility problems on conditions in SL, Chitranganee fed by Singapore based Rohan Gunaratne/SL Intelligence blames the people (diaspore) behind this ‘organised crime (people smuggling)’ making wild allegations that ‘people are fleeing Sri Lanka as the conditions prevailing in the country are deplorable and that Lankan Tamils are being persecuted, etc… There’s complete peace in Sri Lanka..300 000 people who were held as human shields by the LTTE..and rescued by the government (sic!) were accommodated (SL euphemism for interning/ herding civilians straight into barb wire fenced camps) and provided with the required facilities with the assistance of the international community-(sic!)..All the communities including the Tamils are now living in Sri Lanka peacefully. ..A large number of Tamil civilians including refugees who fled the country to escape from the LTTE (sic!) are now returning to enjoy the peace prevailing in their motherland’. As deserving Professor Robert Oberst simply dismisses these Chitranganee’s claims derisively as ‘..offensive if they were not absurd’ (Star).
Readers attention is drawn to a horrified international community acting since May 2009 to temper the brutal conditions for Tamils in SL with EU withdrawing GSP, UN Ban appointing a SL’s ‘crimes against humanity’ team and even SL friendly India sending its External Affairs Minister, Krishna to pressure SL into ending the deplorable conditions for Tamils as recently as a week ago. Though Delhi may be play acting in view of impending elections in TN, (India), yet are all these the acts of a deranged world (minus China) when SL/Chitranganee portrays that conditions for the Tamils in SL are so very rosy. Canada’s investigations on MV Sun Sea will deliver its verdict on whether the boat refugees are LTTE terrorists about to regroup in remote Canada or are they predominantly the desperate victims of a much fiercer SL state terrorism in post LTTE SL fleeing to save their lives and from brutal conditions in SL.
SL turns on and off its boat refugee tap to strengthen its bargaining clout internationally more so in view of the West’s crimes against humanity initiatives. In pre-1983, India allowed SL Tamil refugees to flee SL in hundreds of thousands to Tamil Nadu in India with Delhi turning a blind eye to refugee arrivals there. The flows to the West were minimal then. In the immediate aftermath of the 1983 pogrom Tamil refugee exodus peaked that both India and the West shared the pain of accepting the refugees then. Once LTTE/Tamil militancy established itself as a force to be able to withstand and resist SL’s genocide, conditions for the Tamils weren’t that deplorable and refugee flow or exodus was minimal. Most Tamil refugees in TN returned to enjoy the peace with security that the LTTE/Tamil militancy provided. This Tamil militancy security cover also extended to the Palk Straits or Northern waters and the principal beneficiaries of it were TN fishermen. It meant there was no SL navy harassment now experienced most in post LTTE May 2009 period.
Thus during the period (1990 – May 2009) SL was forced to slow down the pace of its genocide and SL lost out when India and the West was able to avoid bearing the cost of SL’s genocide and accepting the SL refugees. Yet Delhi or the Sonia family colluded to provide SL with the wherewithal to destroy LTTE naval strength complementing it with India bdicating its customary role in the Palk Straits in favour of the SL navy.
This delivered the SL navy in post May 2009/LTTE total control of the Northern waters in a platter allowing SL to turn off Tamil refugee TN tap. This was to Delhi’s advantage; no refugee outflow to TN meant keeping anti-Delhi/Colombo resentment amongst TN Tamils within manageable levels. However the Delhi blessed SL navy’s assertive role in SL’s Northern waters also meant that the boat refugee tap to the West was opened wide enough to encourage and divert refugee flows solely to the West (Canada and Australia) where it is an emotionally sensitive issue that could muddy up politics badly in those countries. Canada has thus far reacted smartly to SL’s irresponsible use of its refugee weapon and managed any backlash to emerge the winner in the battle of wills. Canada is urged to not compromise on its resolve in the face of SL’s unprovoked use of the boat refugee weapon and act robustly on SL’s ‘crimes against humanity’ initiative. This will remind SL of its obligation to reciprocate appropriately to ‘our (Canada’s) help (that) pre-supposed a fair deal for Tamils when the war ended’.