Meet Australia, the traitor who turns you in

Write that you’re ashamed of your country and the same bullshit argument descends like a dead snapper. Within three minutes Internet time, someone who doesn’t share your disenchantment will say “Why don’t you just fuck off to North Korea then?”

This is either a subtle recruitment strategy by agents of the Kim dynasty, or a series of Aussies woofing at the wrong foliage. Disappointment in your own country doesn’t mean you hate it and want it boxed up. It means you care enough that you want it to be better. Patriotism that denies all fault can dine out on a juicy choad.

There’s a story you know from thrillers and bad dreams. You have a heart-pounding escape from an evildoer. You reach safety, find an ally. Relief floods in, you have sanctuary. Then… the ally betrays you to whoever you were fleeing. Or you dodge the monster, bolt the doors, then turn to see your smiling friend change shape. Gaining hope only to have it snatched away, that’s the nightmare, and our most visceral form of despair.

Well, Australia is now that traitor who turns you in.

Aussies have two reactions when refugees are mentioned: switch off in boredom or retreat to established political lines. Instead of either, get your shit together for five minutes and think about this like a functioning person. It’s important.

Our government now hands Sri Lankan Tamils over to the same Sri Lankan military they’re running from. There are no grey areas here: we are surrendering people to a government with a proven recent record of murdering those like them.

It does not matter how hard or soft your stance is on asylum. It doesn’t matter if you say refugee or queue jumper. It doesn’t matter if you’re all about proper paperwork, using the front door, or one giant global reach-around. I’m not arguing any of those points. They’re not relevant.

What is relevant is what happens when human beings are in our custody. Of the options available for dealing with them, sending them to people who might kill them is not one. Sending them to people who will likely hurt them, imprison them, and subject them to surveillance and harassment, is not either. Speculating that they should have stopped in India just shifts the blame: “Hi, we’re delivering people to be tortured, but they deserve it because they didn’t follow protocol.” No matter whether we disapprove of how they got into our custody, what matters is how they leave it.

And guess what? Your gut feeling that they’re not real refugees isn’t actually relevant. Places where guessing is great include casinos, game shows, and the hilarious opening sequence to Lethal Weapon 3. Places where guessing is not great include refugee assessments whose subjects may end up being stomped in a prison cell. Baseless assertions do not mean you’re “telling it like it is,” they mean you are up to your back teeth in liquid dumbfuckery.

So the only point of contention is whether Sri Lanka is safe. Except that isn’t a point of contention unless you’re either ignorant, which is fair enough, or a complete liar, which is not. Accordingly, such statements only came from poorly informed internet commenters and Australian prime ministers.

“I want to make this observation,” observed Tony Abbott observantly from the observation deck in his observatory. “Sri Lanka is not everyone’s idea of an ideal society, but it is at peace.”

“There is no way these people are Asylum Seekers. Sri Lanka isn’t a place of persecution and oppression, in fact its a TOURIST destination!” expanded Peter over at The Age, proving it is possible to both type and be a damp fuckstain on the sagging sharehouse couch of humanity at the same time. Most places are pretty nice when you’re spending a bunch of foreign currency away from conflict zones.

The facts are there. While the Tamil Tigers have shed plenty of blood, the Sri Lankan army rounded off the long civil war in 2009 by targeting Tamil civilians en masse. They announced ‘no fire zones’ which would be free from attack, waited until Tamil refugees filled them, then cut off supplies and shelled them for weeks, including consistent attacks on hospitals. The conservative estimate is 40,000 dead.

But wait, says Ron: “Some friends have recently holidayed in Sri Lanka for 3 weeks. They have rated it a beautiful country with beautiful people and considering how widely travelled they are, have rated it one of their best and most enjoyable holiday destinations. Something doesn’t ring true about the persecution.”

Verified footage taken by Sri Lanka’s own soldiers shows them shooting naked bound prisoners in the head; tying prisoners to trees and cutting their throats; and piling up dozens of women’s bodies for disposal, half dressed or naked after being raped. Through these clips the perpetrators joke and chatter, egging each other on, giving at least a façade of casually enjoying their work. (You can see the vision here, but it’s very hard going.)

Anna: “The war with the Tamils was over ages ago.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “The war is clearly not yet over.”

Tutu was punchy as hell in the foreword to an independent investigation by the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales. He wasn’t impressed by findings that “Abduction, arbitrary detention, torture, rape and sexual violence have increased in the post-war period. This report establishes a prima facie case of post-war crimes against humanity by the Sri Lankan security forces.” Several European countries have stopped deporting any Tamils, “finding them to be at risk of torture on return.”

Abbott: “Sri Lanka is not everyone’s idea of an ideal society, but it is at peace.”

Sri Lanka has the second-highest rate of disappearances in the world behind Iraq. People are routinely abducted by white vans, then interrogated under torture or executed. Local journalists are murdered, foreign journalists deported, websites censored, aid workers killed, NGOs accused of political agendas. Tamil areas remain under military occupation with foreign access closely monitored. Terrorism laws allow detention for 18 months without charge, a threat that occupying forces use to extort money and sex from Tamils. “Members of the Sri Lankan security forces are secure in the knowledge that no action will be taken against them,” says the BHRC report.

Dave: “let’s give [refugee] spots to people who truly have nothing and need the help, rather than the people who have the money to jump the queue.”

BHRC: “These are the witnesses whose families were able to bribe them out of detention and send them abroad. We don’t know what happens to those without family or money. I continue to receive horrifying reports from inside Sri Lanka of women subjected to years of repeated sexual violence by the security forces in the north and threats to rape their daughters if they don’t comply.”

Abbott: “Sri Lanka is not everyone’s idea of an ideal society, but it is at peace.”

Yeah, nah. You don’t need intelligence briefings to know what’s up. Sri Lanka’s government dismiss the mountain of evidence as biased: apparently footage of jungle executions is unfair to those holding the guns. In the battle between the remotely possible and the plausible, you have to conclude that it’s less likely for war crimes to be elaborately and convincingly faked than to be real. Human history unfortunately favours the latter.

The government might also be a touch more credible if they did anything to disprove the claims, instead of fighting tooth and claw to resist all inquiry after having the army pronounce itself not guilty. The weak generality of their denials is damning enough: “There were no civilian casualties,” was their president’s flat claim when the fighting was done. It’s the same absurdist denial that sees Scott Morrison refuse to admit that refugee boats exist even while their occupants are on the phone to journalists. You could take Morrison and Rajapaksa to Everest Base Camp, ask them to describe what’s in front of you, and have them agree that they’re not aware of any mountains in the area.

This is what Australia is collaborating with. Nor is it new: in March we stood up in the UN to oppose a war crimes inquiry. Last November we gave Sri Lanka two navy patrol boats to help stop asylum seeker escapes, a Labor scheme first championed by the insectile Bob Carr. This is direct collusion with an ongoing human rights abuser. Apparently it’s as convenient for us to ignore Sri Lanka’s excesses as it is for them.

It’s not right.

It makes my skin crawl, how snugly this all fits with historical precedent. I know smug shitheads on the internet live for the righteous joy of hollering “Godwin!”, but not all mentions of Nazi Germany indicate a train of thought plummeting into Crazy Ravine. As someone whose study specialised in 20th century war crimes I can attest that Hitler’s chaps provide a useful logical marker. The benefit of their example is its clarity: while the odd whackjob denies the Holocaust, no one credible defends it. This is the premier case where the rights and wrongs are self-evident.

Contrast an example with a Nazist approach doesn’t mean you’re equating the two. But if you can take an example that everyone agrees is wrong, then show how a rationale or behavioural pattern within it is mirrored elsewhere, you can illustrate an ethical failing.

The parallels are there: a military hunting a particular group, an attempt to escape, a lack of will from other countries to help. Various ship-loads of Jewish refugees were denied landfall outside Europe, and plenty who returned ended up dead. When the news first broke about the Sri Lankan handovers, a Jewish friend of mine wrote about her family’s history: relatives hiding in attics and escaping over borders in the night. Ethically, she said, there was no difference between us handing over Tamils or informers turning in those relatives. Surrendering people at risk is the same.

The overly literal like Eric Abetz would cite false equivalence, but that applies to scale. There is no moral difference between executing a thousand prisoners or a hundred thousand; the moral breach comes with the first shot. A legitimate comparison is that our government, like those of the Western powers before WWII, are ignoring morality for political convenience.

Late in my WWII studies I came across a photograph. Hungarian Jews, safe for the first few years, were rounded up and deported in 1944. In this photograph were hundreds squeezed together on a train platform, and at the front of the crush, looking worried and very young, was the friend I mentioned earlier. Well, almost: not a perfect double but very close, something in her bearing and her face that crossed those generations. Years of grim research had left me professionally detached, but here I was shocked back into feeling: a rage, a helplessness, an impossible urge to save her, a despair that whatever awaited this woman was long since done and gone. It was the outrage at the idea of someone I cared about being treated like that, because she was not a stat or a story or a case study, she was a person.

Everyone we pick up at sea is a person. They deserve to be treated that way. We don’t just owe it to them, we owe it to ourselves to behave with honour. Every time Morrison commends our navy for their duty, he is stripping them of the honour their vocation should entail.

I’ll say it plain: we are aiding and abetting murderers. We are actively helping a regime that continues to kill and torture its citizens. People are pleading for help while we chat to those in power and pretend not to hear. We are doing all this so the current government can win the pointless merit badge of saying that they stopped the fucking boats, whatever the cost to other people’s lives and our own decency.

The words and ideas we use are being twisted. We say we send people into danger “to prevent deaths at sea”. We discuss visas in terms of “rewarding” people, not helping them. Government lawyers argue that the High Court can’t stop them transferring detainees whose existence has not been officially announced.

And in the midst of this fuckery, our leader stands up to give a speech to a bunch of businessmen. He says that “We are not a mean or petty people. We will remain a beacon of hope and optimism, freedom and prosperity in a troubled world.” He is a man willing to trade political advantage for the lives of strangers. And here is a country that is letting him do it, that gave him the chance, and whose name and benefit is invoked as the cause with each step along his way. The stain is on all of us. We are not a beacon. We’re a lighthouse. Our signal warns mariners to stay the fuck away or we will smash you on these rocks. You’re damn right I’m ashamed.

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132 Responses to Meet Australia, the traitor who turns you in

  1. Matt says:

    Thank you very much for coming back with some political commentary. Now, more than ever I need a sane voice in this cluster fuck which is Australian politics.

    • Dave says:

      Yes, I too appreciate your voice. Keep it up please.

      • Danny says:

        Same here. The more voices that won’t be stilled and are willing to cut through all the bullshit that comes from traditional media the better. I fear for the future of thus country if it follows it’s current trajectory. I have a 15 month old son. I’d like him to grow in a country he can be proud of.

  2. mirobaka says:

    Oh how I’ve missed your commentary. It’s a crying shame what had to occur to bring you back though…

  3. Svensky says:

    Even Mike Godwin agrees that the comparison to Nazi Germany is apt.

    https://storify.com/timb07/godwin-on-australia-s-treatment-of-asylum-seekers

  4. ArkM says:

    So good to see you writing about the issues that matter. Thanks for this – its so much more important than many realise.

  5. Dave says:

    Thank you Geoff. A brilliant, informative piece

  6. franbarlow says:

    Well said Geoff. Much to the point. Of course, the brutally reactionary and xenophobic policy endorsed by both major parties smoothed the way to this latest outrage.

  7. Rob says:

    Great article. Indeed warranted. Thanks.

  8. Noel says:

    The important thing now is to counter the ill-educated and wilfully ignorant with strong arguments like this. How to get the counter-argument out there when we have a weak and compliant media is the problem. Widely distributing this article to family and friends would be a help. The problem is that the majority of Australians, I fear, have the mindset that ‘awful things are done by governments elsewhere, not here’ and that’s precisely what the LNP counts on. My mother, not a stupid woman, still thinks that ‘if there was anything wrong going on it would be in the papers’. We have a struggle ahead of us.

  9. Savage says:

    Last time I checked the Tamils Tigers are terrorist group, why would I support them? same as I don’t support muslim terrorist.
    And how can you compare a jewish refuge who were doctors/teachers/engineers to savages?
    And someone please explain to me why is that my responsibility to civilize savages? Why I should be responsible to teach savages how to behave in civilized society?

    • geoff lemon says:

      Because the Tamil Tigers are/were a military group, and Tamil civilians are civilians. It’s not that hard to figure out.

      Believe it or not, there are even some doctors and engineers in the world who aren’t white – and if you want to talk about uncivilised people, racism is a key indicator.

      • Savage says:

        believe it or not I have spent years fighting jihadists in the middle east, there were jihadist and there were civilians which 99% of them were supporting those jihadists. I consider those civilians as my enemies because I know what they want for me and the rest of the world. Hating and enemy is not a racism, it’s survival.
        And for the record, I have no issues with Tamils, except the fact they supporting muslim terrorism. Peaceful civilians let them in.
        But if you let one in, the next day you will have heaps of refugees from Iraq and Syria on your door, and believe it or not you don’t want them as your neighbours. Or maybe you do…

        • geoff lemon says:

          I don’t think they support Muslim terrorism – they’re Hindus.

          I already have Iraqis and Syrians as my neighbours. Or as I also like to call them, Australians. They live here. There’s a great Iraqi pizza shop near mine, good spicy chicken. We get along fine. Being scared of people doesn’t get anyone far.

          • Savage says:

            Next time you are there ask them what are they thinking on Israel vs Palestinian conflict, let me know what they told you.

          • anna says:

            It’s patronising and somewhat offensive to reduce us (immigrants) to our cuisine contributions.

          • geoff lemon says:

            Anna: I’m not. I’m stating that the Iraqis who happen to be my neighbours run a pizza shop. And that their pizza is good. Also I probably wouldn’t have written this article if I was just hanging out for Tamil food.

        • Robert Shore says:

          Wake up, the world changes. World War 1 Japan was our ally, World War 11 our enemy. Yes you are racist however you try to justify it, have the guts to look at the fact they are people, admit you are wrong and start solving the problem. Hate won’t do this!!!!!

          • Savage says:

            Interesting, islam is not a race. Tell what do you think about Hizb ut-Tahrir?
            http://www.hizb-australia.org/hizb-ut-tahrir/about-us
            Are you ok with that? If yes, then I have no more questions.

            P.S. Sri-Lanka is the only country who managed to defeat terrorist organization, so they done something right. West have this never ending war with islamist for decades.

        • Pappa_G says:

          Do you even know the difference between Hindus and Muslims?

          • Savage says:

            Yes I know, and I also know Tamils were involved in weapons trade with al-qaeda and used same fighting tactics.
            I have nothing against Hindus, maybe I am posting in the wrong spot (the article is about Hindus) but what I am saying is that guys like Hizb ut-Tahrir came here as asylum seekers, the guys rising ISIS black flag in Sidney also came here as asylum seekers too. It was a mistake to let them in, you disagree?

          • Pappa_G says:

            So you are assuming all Muslim asylum seekers are terrorists? I can just as likely assume all armed forces people are racist and bigoted from your posts. But I don’t.

        • Fed up with rednecks says:

          Well done Savage, you admit you saw the civilians as your enemy and presumably fair game because of their perceived sympathies. You’ll forgive me if I treat your opinion on asylum seekers with the respect it deserves. Appropriate name you’ve chosen.

        • jabba says:

          That’s why we have a robust screening process. Well, had. General Galleghan established it as head of the Australian Military Mission in Germany in ’45. Sfae to say, the fella wasn’t real keen on letting SS officers sneak into Australia as reffos. Lucky for my grandparents, and many like them, he also recognised that not every german was complicit in the Nazi war machine. No one has ever suggested just closing down Customs and honey badgering our immigration system – but the process of assessment – onshore, offshore, excised, legal/illegal (whatever that means to you), “Proper Channels” or turn-up-and-beg, is a pretty debilitating experience. It does, however, serve two important ends: genuine refugees are (mostly) identified and assisted; and people like LTTE militants, LeT agitators, PIRA admin cells (Yeah, remember when terrorists were white? No? Oh, OK…), and FIS agents generally get ID’d and either handed to relevant authorities, or DB’d for future reference and monitoring by the AIC.

          Simply being tough for the sake of being tough is a bullshit policy, and in light of the fact that governments like Sri Lanka’s tend to be “a little heavy handed” with people they see as traitors (http://www.theage.com.au/world/by/Jason-Koutsoukis), this is an approach that ought to be offensive to any right-headed Australian.

          If you really need further guidance as to why people find your early comment about “Considering civilians your enemy”, I suggest you read either/both of David Kilcullen’s latest books – Counterinsurgency, and Out Of The Mountains. As a start, anyway.

    • Yes, once upon a time, the ANC was classed as a “terrorist” organisation as well.

      Howard, Thatcher and Reagan all claimed that Nelson Mandela was a “terrorist” too.

      That’s all.

      • geoff lemon says:

        I’ve no argument that the LTTE was terrorist – they’re guilty of all sorts of fucked up things. But it goes both ways, and the onus is on whoever has greater power to show greater restraint.

      • Liz says:

        sad thing is the US also supplies arms to terrorists….go figure

      • Fisty says:

        Uh…Mandela WAS a terrorist. Have you ever bothered to look into his pre-incarceration conduct? You might argue it was justified, but that’s wholly beside the point.

        • Davo says:

          Um, no. Mandela was a SABOTEUR. Even the biased office of prosecutions was not able to make charges of treason and terrorism stick. That’s because, to be classed as a terrorist, you must be guilty of crimes against the populace and creating terror. Mandela was convicted of blowing up unmanned government installations.

    • Marilyn says:

      The women and kids weren’t tigers, the tigers were not described as terrorists by us. But, no matter what bullshit you come up with, they are human beings just like you.

    • rosco3 says:

      FFS…Tamils are an ethnic group. The Tamil Tigers a terrorist organsiation. It is pretty simple difference.

    • Tom says:

      I thought all Tamil Tigers were Tamils, but not all Tamils were Tigers. The picture I’m getting is that a Tamil in Sri Lanka gets oppressed regardless of whether they can or would fight back.

  10. James says:

    Once again Brilliantly put. Your words are like well crafted burning crystal truths that cannot be denied. It’s fantastic to know we are not alone in sharing these views. Don’t ever doubt the effort is worth it.

  11. When I was a young lad, the very worst thing you could be was a dobber.

    Dobbing was once upon a time very un-Australian.

    However since the days of Howard’s fridge magnets, it has now become acceptable. The case in this article is just the logical conclusion of dobbing becoming the thing to do.

    Shame, Australia, shame.

    • anna says:

      Who are the ‘dobbers’ in this scenario? Are you denouncing whistleblowers in general, Snowden and Manning, Ellsberg, Deep Throat, Silkwood, Vanunu, Wignand, Sherron Watkins? Should they rather have kept quiet?

    • ianuniacke says:

      When I was a young person I also said things like “Dobber, dobber, dixie. Farty farty fixie.” but you don’t see me as an adult using that as a considered argument in debate.

      • geoff lemon says:

        Try a little conceptual imagination though, there is a connection he’s making. There’s a mindset, a kind of prurient, puritanical outlook that is involved in both those things: the need to censure or interfere with others not because what they’re doing has any negative affect on you, but because you have a righteous feeling that they shouldn’t be allowed to do it.

  12. Lachlan says:

    Fantastic Geoff.

    Watching this unfold makes me puke.
    And Savage you can stick your. Racist garbage where the sun doesn’t shine

  13. A good and brief article in The Lancet regarding the troubles that still exist in Sri Lanka today. Just because war is officially over doesn’t mean that violence magically stops, otherwise Iraq would be a completely different place today (after Bush’s idiotic statement “Mission Accomplished”), filled with unicorns and fairies.

    http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2814%2960775-3/fulltext

  14. Justin says:

    Ashamed, indeed. For a long time have I been. Great article. Thanks.

  15. mimb says:

    I am the daughter of a prominent Aussie who was a 9 year old “boat person” aboard a ship that was lucky to be permitted in (partly cos the ship got damaged on the Great Barrier Reef) in the 1940s.
    as far as I am concerned, Abbott & anyone who supports his policy about how to deal with these desperate people is a Neo Nazi.

  16. cmkneipp says:

    So often lately I see the refugee policies of both sides of politics and weep. It makes me feel hopeless, helpless and terribly alone. Then I find an articulate, well reasoned article like this, and my faith in the generally compassionate Australian who believes in a fair go for all is restored. Thanks for shining a light in the general darkness of the Governments treatment of asylum seeking Human Beings.

  17. Peter says:

    That is such a good read. I rarely comment on blogs, but man, so proud to be able to comment on this one.

  18. Johworld says:

    Well written Geoff, thanks for saying what many of us are thinking.

  19. Llew Stevens says:

    Keep on awesomeing bro. This is the pro-est of clicks.

  20. ianuniacke says:

    Thanks for the moving article. Sometimes if I think about these events it gets too much and I have to weep. It’s brave of you to talk about this.

  21. Kim Woods says:

    a brilliant article, thank. you.

  22. Claire says:

    Very well said.

  23. Cam says:

    Amazing as usual. Please please please keep up this amazing work.

    Savage; I feel you are trying to make two differing issues the same. Yes, they have been designated a terrorist organisation, but if you look at the things BOTH sides of that conflict have done, I doubt many would consider either the “better side”.
    As for the “you let one in…” mentality: Sure; you want to check you’re not allowing an active terrorist into your community, but there are screening processes for such things. But we absolutely must grant the majority of people asylum. Whether we agree with their cause or not, if you hand people back to their torturers/rapists/captors/agitators then you might as well pull the bloody trigger.

    Rant over.

    Thanks Geoff; I adore your work.

  24. Ben Moode says:

    Fucken eh! Australia has already lost its moral compass when it comes to looking after refugees.
    But basically this could well be murder in the second degree

  25. Wow, some passion here eh! I just wonder. What if all the refugees had a place to go, and just be themselves. Away from Aussie public, away from the terror they are escaping (no matter how big or small you think it is). What if they could just be? Is it unrealistic? I don’t think so. I am sure there is some place no one wants, that they can turn into a home. Living in a desert is hard, but people do it, same as in a jungle etc..

    I reckon with some discussion and agreement from many stakeholders including the indigenous of a proposed area to settle the refugees, we could let them create their own nation and begin to contribute back to the world that rescued them from the horrors they escaped.

    I even think, they could outshine Australia as being “The Fair” country, because as grateful for for a new chance at life, they would do their best to make it theirs and make it right, better than Australia!

    I would love the opportunity to show the world up on what actually makes a civil and caring nation. Give the refugees a place of their own, to be free and creative, and most of all at peace!

    • Tracie says:

      I agree, and after speaking to a few refugees in the community, this is also what they strive for. They are desperate to make a contribution, and as long as it’s in Australia they don’t care where.

      The temporary BVE’s are a total disgrace and blight on all of us. It’s also creating the possibility of refoulement, as these people have already been let into the community, becoming known as refugees. Why forcibly remove them back to their home country? It doesn’t make sense, but this is what this ‘government’ is doing.

      I have read the manuals and guidelines that all officers in the department must abide by. The amount of double talk is shameful. It rightly equates to the days of Nazism.

      It also made me cry.

  26. Fisty says:

    Disclosure: I’m not part of the group circle-jerk that 95% of your commenters are writhing around in.

    Your argument seems to effectively be that because some empowered parts of SL society are hatin’ on Tamils, any person claiming to be Tamil should be given residency in our far-away land should they want it.

    The problems with this rosy idealism are countless. Perhaps the one that will make your Branch Davidian readers squirm the most is the floodgate argument. Which I’ve described as an ‘argument’ although it’s more accurately called a ‘fact’. With a welcome mat laid out for all and sundry, Australia’s population will swell exponentially with humans who have a higher than average propensity to consume vs contribute. Did you type your rant out on an Apple Mac and upload it for your acolytes’ fapping pleasure using broadband wifi while your mochacino cooled? Forgive me if I got your choice of beverage slightly wrong, but hopefully you can see what I’m driving at. We have an extraordinarily high standard of living, and open-slather on joining the fun would very quickly ruin it for all. Don’t bother trying to bring me down by labelling me selfish; the shoe fits. But check out the man in the mirror and consider whether in truth you’re borne of the same mold. Do you want your lifestyle gradually eroded so that your Mac becomes a Kogan becomes holy shit what’s with this rolling power stoppage crap? I’d lay London to a brick you’d say you’re cool with it and then be pretty damn bitter about it when the consequences hit home just as you were hoping to retire on a full pension. With apologies to Rachel Hunter and my favourite shampoo: it wouldn’t happen overnight, but it would happen.

    • geoff lemon says:

      Cool. I don’t write for back-pats, I write to convey an idea. There’s not nearly as much point conveying it to someone who already thinks the same way, though if it helps them clarify their ideas then that’s to the good. I want to crack ideas open for scrutiny.

      You’ve got some solid snark – appreciated – then you’ve come in strong with the classic “you’re a dreamy idealist, let me tell you how the real world works” schtick. Only problem is – as I forecast in the article – you’re refuting arguments I’m not making. I didn’t get into questions of refugee settlement or intake. I’ve made one argument: that sending people back to Sri Lanka without checking their asylum claim is ethically indefensible. I didn’t mention who should get residency. I didn’t mention alternative ways of processing. I simply said our current path was not acceptable, and laid out why.

      If you’d like to express your worries about migration patterns then go ahead, just don’t consider it rebuttal. (You are making some untenable assumptions to that end, like that we can’t manage a balance between “welcome mat for all” and “being a complete pack of cunts”, or that migrants don’t contribute despite the prosperity built on generations of migration.)

    • otionblog says:

      Fisty, clearly the problem lies in the fact that Australia is already overrun with “humans who have a higher than average propensity to consume vs contribute” like yourself, who couldn’t go a day without their precious technology and artisan coffee, even if it means sending vulnerable people back to almost certain torture/rape/murder. What makes you think you are more deserving of comfort, wealth and safety than anyone else?

      • Fisty says:

        I don’t think I am. But I was born into the privilege, just like you were. Now, before you get on your high horse again, tell us all whether you’re happy to give away your wealth to ANYONE on this planet who has less than you. No? Oh. I’m so surprised.

        By the way- re “sending vulnerable people back”. The boat came from India, not Sri Lanka. So these folk weren’t being persecuted at all. They had made their escape. Their little boat ride was just a scheme to further improve their lot. If they can only be repatriated to Sri Lanka because they weren’t meant to be in India in the first place, well I’d say they only have themselves to blame for their current predicament. They rolled the dice and took their chances, and they got snake eyes. Sad face.

        • geoff lemon says:

          They’d “made their escape” to a country that doesn’t recognise the refugee convention and had no protection to offer them. Anyway, it’s irrelevant. We tried to send them back without assessing whether they were in danger. That is the work of a shit bloke. We should be better than that. That is all.

    • Your lawn will be fine says:

      It’s real sweet that you’re worried about the continued quality of our consumer electronics but there’s some hefty asserting going on in that snark laden diatribe of yours. Cite some evidence for your claims that immigration only erodes our quality of life or standard of living & who makes what contribution, from sources that aren’t firmly lodged in your rectum, or retract I’d reckon.

  27. Firebeard says:

    There’s no such thing as a ”Terrorist Organization.” Terrorism is a tactic of asymmetric warfare to support a strategic goal. When your enemies have bigger and better guns than you do, and more soldiers to use them, you either adopt these tactics or surrender. When these groups gain the numbers and equipment to directly face their technologically advanced adversaries on the battlefield, and actually have a chance at victory, they usually change their tactics to resemble a more standard military force i.e. Hezbollah. I’m not condoning it, but we in the west seem to have a very poor understanding of this concept.

    • Vonna says:

      I agree whole hartedly. “Terrorist” is rhetoric and semantics. History is written by the winners. What is the strategy of “deterrence” by sending people back to rapists, torturers and murderers if it is not a form of terrorism? If the prospect of going back didn’t strike terror in their hearts, the boats wouldn’t stop. We are using terror tactics to keep people away. Not only leaving the problem for someone else to deal with but also contributing to the problem of excessive amounts of asylum seekers in the world by strengthen the position of those who create the need for seeking asylum in the first place.

    • Pappa_G says:

      Totally Agree. If I was living in a nation where my people are being persecuted against, i’d either end up being labeled a “terrorist”, or i’d be running away claiming asylum like these people! Have a think about how you would react if you were in their shoes?

    • Savage says:

      Hezbollah are total lunatics how fighting in the name of Allah, same lunatics as ISIS. And now they fighting each other in the name of the same God. Killing in the name of God are the worst type of terrorists.

      • geoff lemon says:

        I feel like most killing is done in the name of one god or another, somewhere along the line. Australian soldiers tend to be rare in keeping their trigger-fingers mostly secular.

  28. Fish Bait says:

    Dear Geoff,

    I have read your article in depth and feel obliged to point out some broad errors in what you write.

    Firstly, all of the 43 asylum seekers who have been returned to Sri Lanka are ethnic Sinhalese. They are being charged with leaving the country without having their passports stamped. Knowing many lawyers from Galle and the district court – I suspect many of them will get away with wraps on their knuckles. The Sri Lankan prison system is already over loaded and they have no capacity for petty crimes.

    Secondly – the video vision you have linked to – the Channel 4 iTV doco has been hotly contested. It’s validity put to question by many reputable journalists. Also the footage related to 2009 and not 2014. And as a native speaker of both Sinhala and Tamil – I can distinguish between the languages spoken. Do not be duped by the propaganda arm of the LTTE. It runs a very slick operation. It is not above dubbing over footage and re-purposing content. The pictures of Prabakan’s son having been murdered by the Sri Lankan army have been found to be doctored: http://ramanan50.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/the-photo-of-ltte-prabhakarans-killed-son-a-fake/

    Are ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka being systematically persecuted?

    Err..no

    During 30 years of the civil war – the population of the ethnic Tamils in the south of the island grew from Tamils fleeing the LTTE. The population of Colombo is about 50-50 Tamil / Sinhala – and other than very sporadic communal violence begetted by criminal – there has no violence against the Tamils since Black July 1983.

    A few facts to ponder:

    1. Tamil is one of the national languages of Sri Lanka. Alongside Sinhala and English.
    2. You can educate your child in Sinhala or Tamil until they reach university. All universities operate in English
    3. All court documents, parliamentary documents, essential information is published in triplicate – English, Sinhala and Tamil
    4. Unlike in Malaysia – you can buy land anywhere in Sri Lanka if you are Tamil or Muslim. Ethnic Sinhalese are prevented from buying land in areas traditionally delineated Tamil homelands
    5. All claims of the 40,000 killed during the last phase of the war is hotly debated. Firstly, post 1983 – the LTTE did not allow a census to happen in the North. The 40,000 is a guestimate – and based on mathematical probability – very unlikely given the rate of injured.
    6. Have a look at pictures of Menik Farm – people were not held back by razor wire – it was barbed wire. http://www.tamilnet.com/img/publish/2009/09/ManikFarmCamp_82979_445.jpg – people were also provided with food, money and rations to survive
    7. 14 of the 225 parliamentarians in Sri Lanka are ethnic Tamils
    8. The top businesses in Sri Lanka are Tamil owned: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_Maharaja
    John keels holdings
    – have a look at the CEOs and board – there is a high degree of presentation at all levels of management and employment of Tamils
    9. The current Sri Lankan cricket captain – Angelo Matthews is half Tamil
    10. The Sri Lankan cricket GOD – Muthiah Muralidaran – is Tamil
    11. The first incumbent Sri Lankan Tamil president – Laksman Kadirigamar – was killed by the Tamil LTTE – not the Sri Lankan armed forces

    Is it safe for Tamils in Sri Lanka – yes.

    It is not safe for Tamils in Sri Lanka if you are an ex-LTTE operative hell bent on resurrecting a separate nation for the less 20% of the population and demanding 2/3 of the coast line. The dream of Elam is not dead – a few weeks ago – the army found a cache of smuggled arms. The LTTE still run very lucrative drug rings, credit card fraud and extortion rackets – they have to spend their money in some way shape or form.

    But more to the point – is it safe for anyone who opposes the Rajapakse regime – err…no..

    Regime change will come at the next election. The writing is on the wall. Many Lankans are sick and tired of the Rajapakse brothers excess and evil. It is not for the west (incl Australia) to preach to Lankans about how they should vote – they can see when things go wrong themselves and will have the ultra conservative Tony Abbott equivalent turd Ranil ‘I will drink boiled slippers’ Wickremasinghe

    Cheers,
    Fish Bait

    • geoff lemon says:

      Hey FB, given your thorough comment I wanted to acknowledge it – I won’t respond in detail tonight because it’s late and I’m beat. Interested to get your perspective though.

    • Little Fish, Big Pond says:

      Your comment about the Channel 4 iTV doco being “hotly contested” is misleading.

      Ofcom is the UK independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries. It operates under the Communications Act of 2003, acting within the powers and duties set for it by Parliament in legislation.

      Page 45 of the Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin, Issue 192 dated 24th October 2011 found the document titled Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields by Channel 4 was NOT IN BREACH of the 118 complaints generated regarding issues including impartiality, offensiveness and the broadcast of misleading information.

      Further, your claim that “all of the 43 asylum seekers who have been returned to Sri Lanka are ethnic Sinhalese” is incorrect.

      On the 7th of July 2014, the Australian Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Scott Morrison, issued a media release confirming that 41 (not 43) including 37 Sinhalese and 4 Tamil Sri Lankan nationals were handed over to Sri Lankan authorities.

      The Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka page 87 part 251 section (d) found “..credible allegations support a finding of the crime against humanity of persecution … committed on racial or political grounds against the Tamil population of the Vanni, which was perceived by the Government as supporting the LTTE.”

      This factual information all from credible sources leads me to ponder the validity of your claims. Who is it that you work for and where are you getting your information from?

      • Daniel says:

        You can be very personally invested in an issue without working for anyone, so I would cut our commentator some slack here. It does detract however from the central issue of Australian foreign policy flaws.

        I would much rather see some debate here of this new fast-tracked processing that is happening on-ship because this is a precedent that could in future apply to any and all asylum-seekers. Will it also now be applied to all those currently detained in Australian facilities? Is this a good or a bad thing? For us the issue is more global than what is happening in Sri Lanka.

      • Fish Bait says:

        I work for no one but myself.
        Not hotly contested – well…here tis:

        1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5O1JAfRXew
        2. https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/channel-4-team-arrives-in-sl-greeted-by-protests-at-bia/

        If that is not hotly contested – I do not know what it.

        One of the articles I had read said that the 43 asylum seekers were Sinhalese – a numerical discrepancy rather than a total lie unlike what Channel 4 did – sorry I was out by 4.

        Now with regards to communal riots in Aluthgama – you’ll find that the civil society in Sri Lanka is stepping in and saying – NOT IN MY NAME! Loud and clear though the Western media will not report this:

        http://www.ft.lk/2014/06/28/aluthgama-beruwela-violence-condemned/
        http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2014/06/29/pol03.asp

        25 of the leading monks in Sri Lanka have come out and condemned the BBS and are actively involved in re-building what was destroyed. The out cry has been swift and decisive – this is not happening in the name of the Sinhalese. Even people from Aluthgama will tell you that the looting and riots were done by people who were not from the area – ie. imported thugs from elsewhere on the island.

        Now the Darusman report – that investigation was corrupt from high heave to no where. The methodology was flawed. They did not advertise that they were asking for submission and they only approached the people / lobby groups they wanted to. ‘Credible allegations’ is a significantly different meaning to ‘credible evidence’ – if there were indeed mass graves – where are they? The only mass graves found in the north of the island are from the Indian Army’s handiwork. The only reported massacre was the Indian army opening fire at the Jaffna hospital.

        In return – I ask – who are you working for?

    • pachamama says:

      Thousands of Tamils who have been found to be refugees in Australia, and other countries, and asylum seekers, can tell compelling stories to counter your opinion that Tamils are safe in Sri Lanka., even today. If any member of your family is even suspected of having been a fighter, or if you have injury from bombing you would be assumed to be a fighter etc and you would be interrogated and tortured, and imprisoned in some of the nastiest ways you could imagine….And another thing, everyone seems to assume that all Tamils are Hindu, and many are, but many are also Christian, usually Catholic. Not that is should matter, just saying.
      pachamama

  29. Mike says:

    You’ve identified a problem that is part of a larger problem. What are your solutions for the problem you’ve identified and for the larger problem?

  30. Luke says:

    Thank you Geoff and fish bait, you both have fantastic points both worthy of your own newspaper. Good to see passionate informed debate is still alive. I suppose the point is that people need to understand that behind every person is a human life and no one person or government has the right to put that at risk especially under the dilution of paperwork and policy. Will follow this closely,

  31. Fish Bait says:

    Dear Geoff,

    I am glad you have published my perspective. Likewise, I’d take the claim that the Sri Lankan govt is torturing Tamils with not a grain of salt but a massive sack full of it.

    Please find below a link to video footage of the Tamil LTTE firing on Tamil civilians during the the final stage of the civil war:

    Niromi de Soysa – the Sri Lankan Tamil Australian woman who claimed to be a young soldier in the LTTE and cried an ocean full of crocodile tears for persecution of Tamils has been found to be a fraud. Her book has been denied further publication and she is currently in litigation for writing a fake memoir.

    The Tamil LTTE are known thugs, crooks and fraudsters. Do we really want a special task force set up in Australia like they have in Canada to deal with Tamil crime?

    http://www.srilankaguardian.org/2014/02/former-head-of-international-finances.html
    http://www.timesnow.tv/LTTE-link-to-Wall-Street-fraud/videoshow/4329971.cms
    https://ltteirony.wordpress.com/tag/tamils-fraud/
    ttp://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/peterfoster/5978381/Tamil_Tiger_abuses_in_the_Vanni_A_Human_Rights_Watch_report/
    http://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2012/05/24/toronto_man_who_staged_car_collisions_in_an_insurance_fraud_is_sent_to_prison.html

    Do you want to know what triggered the final confrontation btw the Sri Lankan govt and the LTTE? The LTTE cut off water to the farmers downstream of the Iranamaduwa damn – a crime against humanity. The Tamil LTTE had been offered free rein of the north of the island from 1987 – during this time they did not hold free elections, they did not run their own hospitals or school systems, they persecuted their own people.

    More Tamils have been killed by Tamils than by Sinhalese.

    One of the greatest war crimes levelled against the Sri Lankan govt is that it shelled hospitals during the final stages of the war. But the fact remains that the LTTE is proved to have shelled govt forces from those hospitals themselves – drawing govt fire.

    The UN Reports themselves are highly biased with all meetings held in secrecy and no cross checking of facts.

    There are credible ‘reports’ of sexual crime against Sri Lankan forces – but there has been no evidence. There are many NGOs operating on the ground in the north and north east of the islands – and these inflated numbers have been soundly debunked. Yes – there is a rate of sexual crime as in any nation – but not from the security forces – all crimes have been severely punished.

    Sri Lanka has it’s own problems – poverty and desperation are not the exclusive property of Tamil civilians – it is the state of play for all Lankans. The biggest source of revenue for the country is foreign remits from Sinhala women who go and work in the UAE as domestic maids. The poverty in Sri Lanka is grinding and debilitating – and the constant persecution of Sri Lanka is not helping it get back on it’s economic feet.

    If you really want to know what is going on in Sri Lanka and feel obliged to write about it – I suggest you read widely – not just LTTE propaganda. Speak to people in the know from BOTH sides. Visit Sri Lanka (perfectly safe to) – and go off the beaten track.

    Fish Bait

  32. Fish Bait says:

    Here is an excellent analysis of the number purported to have died in Sri Lanka

    Every mainstream media release and publication has a habit of quoting that UN figures estimated the dead as 40,000. However, the UN News Center of 1st June 2009 in their website claimed ‘Mr. Ban said media reports alleging that some 20,000 civilians may have been killed during the last phase of the conflict do not emanate from the UN and most are not consistent with the information at our disposal”. In other words, officially the UN has not given a number as dead.

    The International Organizations in Sri Lanka clueless

    It is also strange that international organizations that had been operating in the North, most of whom were very much closely associating with the LTTE did not know how many civilians were living in areas of the North. It also questions how they made estimates for allocations when budgeting. The inconsistencies emerged when these organizations competed with each other on the figures of civilians living in the Vanni and those likely to be dead.

    ICRC press statement of 21 April 2009 declared that their estimates of Tamil civilians inside the no fire zone was 50,000 (In other words upto 21st April 2009, the ICRC did not know that LTTE had 300,000 people with them. http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=features/icrc-sri-lanka-during-final-phase-war#sthash.JT9KUOgA.dpuf
    The UN High Commissioner for Refugees in November 2008 claimed there were 230,000 IDPs in the Vanni (Sri Lankan forces saved close to 300,000 – this continues to raise the question of how can we differentiate civilians and LTTE)
    The International Crisis Group quoting ICRC says 150,000 were in the NFZ in early March 2009.
    UN estimated on 13 May 2009 that about 50,000 civilians were trapped by the conflict, in a 300sq.km strip of land http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=features/icrc-sri-lanka-during-final-phase-war#sthash.JT9KUOgA.dpuf
    In terms of actual numbers of dead:

    UN document estimates 7721 civilians killed between August 2008 and 13 May 2009 (this document has been shelved and taken off all circulation as it directly conflicts with the lies – even the web entries may be removed, luckily print outs of the mainstream media quoting the estimates prevails as evidence. What needs to be noted is that Indian embedded journalist Murali Reddy reported that from 13th May 2009 there were NO CIVILIANS in the 1.5sq.km strip the LTTE were restricted to.
    The Sri Lankan Government census by Tamil teachers in Feb/Mar 2012 placed the number of war related deaths at 7432.
    The University Teachers for Human Rights-Jaffna in a Special Report No. 32 of 10 June 2009 and Special Report No. 34 of 13 December 2009 have placed the dead between 20,000-40,000.
    The UN Panel of Experts in their 2012 report says that the number of civilian deaths could be as high as 40,000 (this does not mean 40,000 dead – those mainstream media have jumped to quote the number but have conveniently forgotten the ‘could be as high’ clause)
    Dr. V. Shanmugarajah – says the death toll is closer to 1000 (thousand)
    UN Secretary General’s Internal Review Panel estimates ‘upto 70,000 civilian deaths) – November 2012.
    Gordon Weiss (former UN spokesman in Sri Lanka in order to sell his book The Cage) placed the death toll between 30,000-40,000 but had to reduce the number to 10,000 at a book launch in Australia in June 2011.
    The Times of London – 20,000
    Amnesty International – has been extensively quoting 40,000 figure
    Bishop of Mannar, Rayappu Joseph – claims 147,000 as missing (It is strange that he has not placed one single name of the missing with the Commission though he can rally numerous priests to sign letters and sent to the UNHRC calling for international investigations against Sri Lanka.
    Alan Keenan the Project Director of International Crisis Group Sri Lanka placed civilians killed in the Vanni between 40,000 – 147,000
    The Institute of Conflict Management, Delhi – 11,111
    Independent Diaspora Analysis Group-Sri Lanka – 15,000-18,000
    Rajasingham Narendran – ‘My estimate is that the deaths — cadres, forced labour and civilians — were very likely around 10,000 and did not exceed 15,000 at most’
    Muttukrishna Sarvananthan of the Point Pedro Institute said “[approximately] 12,000 [without counting armed Tiger personnel] “.
    Dr. Noel Nadesan: “”roughly 16,000 including LTTE, natural, and civilians”.
    Data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal, data “primarily based on figures released by the pro-LTTE Website Tamil Net”, put the casualty figure for civilians inside Mullaithivu at 2,972 until 5 April 2009.
    13 March 2009 – UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay’s press release said that ‘as many as 2800 civilians ‘may have been killed’.
    The Guardian editorial ( Sri Lanka: Evidence that won’t be buried (June 15, 2011),) – 40,000
    Editorials by The Times and The Sunday Times in late May 2009 related investigations the papers had conducted that revealed more than 20,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the final
    Publication titled “Genocidio: (Primera entrega) – La masacre de los Tamils en Sri Lanka,” [Genocide: (First Delivery) The Slaughter of Tamils in Sri Lanka], the Argentinean periodical La Tarde (diario) in a Spanish language article – 146,679 Tamils disappeared or killed between 2008 and 2009, of which 40,000 deaths occurred in the 48 hours of the final assault
    Arundhati Roy, Indian commentator – “Government of Sri Lanka is on the verge of committing what could end up being genocide” and described the Sri Lankan IDP camps where Tamil civilians are being held as concentration camps. April 2009
    Michael Roberts based his estimates between 10,000 and 18,000
    Thereafter, those keen to take potshots at Sri Lanka began to quote figures at fancy and Sri Lanka ended up having to respond to numbers that were being quoted without any evidence or any proof.

    What needs to be reiterated is that with the Commission to make their report to the President by 12 August 2014 unless a fresh extension is requested, none of those making allegations have made attempts to place their allegations with the Commission.

    Does that not look strange? When there is a mechanization in place why are these foreign entities making the allegations not submitting the dead with names and other details? Surely, if they could confidently quote numbers why can they not come forward with the names of the missing?

    In wedding ceremonies there is a dramatic moment where the minister says If any of you has reasons why these two should not be married, speak now or forever hold your peace”.

    Similarly, a Commission has been appointed to investigate missing persons between period 1983 to May 2009. All those who have been for the past 5 years making allegations should have come forward to make their claims either through their local parties and place on record their allegations of supposed dead. It does not matter whether the figure is 1 or 300,000 the entities making allegations need to now give names of the dead – if they cant do so they should forever hold their peace (piece too – by stopping the lies dished out via mainstream media)

    • Daniel says:

      You have shared with us a lot of information on the domestic politics of Sri Lanka and has thereby been far more informative than a Prime Minister who dismissively says “Sri Lanka is not everyone’s idea of an ideal society, but it is at peace.”

      The problem here is the politics of _Australia_ and a government that neglects to assess asylum seeker claims. What is the solution some ask. Assessing claims in a timely manner _is_ a solution, an on-going one, for the on-going problems of the complex and conflict-ridden world of which we are a part.

      In contrast, the government offers the one-off solution of “stopping the boats”. However, history never ends, and one-off solutions are just a pipe-dream.

      If only the government took you on as a consultant.🙂

      • Fish Bait says:

        In the age of the internet – ‘I didn’t know’ is not an excuse when Australia is near hysterical with Sri Lanka. Put google to good use. Find out what the actual state of play in Sri Lanka is about. The ALP has been conspicuously silent for good reason – they have the facts before them. Only the vacuous Green and their very real links to the LTTE (google Brahmi Jegan when you are bored and look at her links to both the LTTE and the Greens. She was in PR division of the LTTE in the UK + was a Senate candidate for the Greens in NSW) – have whipped up hysteria about Sri Lanka.

        And another point – Sri Lanka is not the Nazis. Tamils are not being rounded up and gassed. Furthermore, Tamils, like all Lankans have freedom of movement. They are not restricted to ghettos like Palestinians. They are not bombed daily like in Israel. They do not have water and power cut off.

        Information before hysteria

        • Little Fish, Big Pond says:

          “In the age of the internet – ‘I didn’t know’ is not an excuse .. Put google to good use. Find out what the actual state of play in Sri Lanka is about.”

          Right back at ya.

          • Fish Bait says:

            Researching the state of play involves not taking at face value what is being reported by media outlets holis bolis. I live between Australia and Sri Lanka (down South, not far from Aluthgama and my business interests take me to Trinco and Batticoloa)…it involves talking to people and working with them day to day. To divorce yourself from the hysteria that surrounds the reports in the Australian media

  33. Vonna says:

    Ok so if these people sent back included women with nursing babies and children we can at least assume that those under, say 10 are defiantly not terrorists. Does it really make a difference to the morality of sending them back whether the government or the Tamil Tigers are the ones who will kill them?

    • Fish Bait says:

      Because the odds are that they will be released and going back home to their families very shortly. Despotic the regime is to people who oppose them politically but they generally leave average folk alone. The folk on the boats are very average – they have none of the politically active amongst them. The politically active are too smart to get on boats. The beat up is exactly that – beat up

  34. Pingback: Another "Boat People" thread... - Page 4

  35. Sri says:

    Great write up. I am going to share this.

  36. Tel says:

    The really good time for re-thinking Abbott would have been BEFORE the election, don’t you think? And, unfortunately, it would seem a disproportionate number of us …. didn’t…..

  37. Shmiko from Planet Earth says:

    Have a look around. 95% of the world’s population live in crap, fucked up places. None of this is Australia’s fault or responsibility. Australia is the greatest country on Earth. Most of the world’s population would gladly leave whatever shit-hole they now inhabit (Sri Lanka, the Middle East, Africa) to come here. To be able to live in Australia would be akin to winning a lottery. Your plan to surrender the boarders to whoever wants to come here, at any time and by whatever means would be a disaster. While it may give you a warm feeling to cast yourself as morally superior to the Australian government and the majority of your fellow citizens, in reality, you only act to try to tear down that which has been built up by generations through hard work and ingenuity. Shut up and get out of the way of those of us trying to make Australia even greater.

    • geoff lemon says:

      I think you need to read my argument again, rather than retreat straight to your accustomed trench.

      Also, nothing about this shitfulness gives me a warm feeling. Nothing at all.

    • geoff lemon says:

      I guess I can sum it up briefly, actually: you’re confusing “surrendering the borders” with severely mistreating people. You’re drawing that mistaken conclusion that not doing one implies doing the other. It’s like me saying that the only solution to my neighbour’s loud music is to shoot him in the head. If I don’t shoot him in the head, I’ll be kept awake all night. Doing something clearly immoral to solve a problem is not an acceptable solution.

      Also I think you’ll find people in most parts of the world are pretty patriotic about their own countries, and would prefer to stay with what they know. They leave when conditions beyond their control get really bad. There has always been migration, but the bulk of people born somewhere prefer to stay put.

      Lastly, fucking over vulnerable people because we can’t be bothered coming up with a solution does not indicate greatness. It makes our country the opposite.

    • ianuniacke says:

      If you say that living in Australia is akin to winning a lottery, how does that apply to yourself, and have you (in effect) won a lottery? And if so what gives you more validity to live in Australia than these people?

      Also I suspect a lot of people in Europe said the same thing about the Jews (that it’s not our responsibility). It may or may not be a “responsibility” but that didn’t stop Hitler annexing many countries in Europe and by the same token turning a blind eye to fascism in our modern age doesn’t stop that fascism coming to and affecting other countries.

  38. Ajan says:

    Thank you for this Geoff. As an Australian Tamil I will not get drawn in to the debate about whether Sri Lanka is safe for tamils/minorities or not (one has to only look at the history of the country and the atrocities committed in the last few weeks regarding other minorities in SL).

    However I hold my adopted country to a higher standard than what I hold a pariah state like SL. I thank you for writing this article and holding Australia and it’s politicians to a higher standard than what is being delivered right now.

    • Fish Bait says:

      Ajan – if you believe that Australians may be held to a higher standard than Sri Lankan – you are incredibly naive. You only have to look at Australia’s history to know that racism is entrenched and a part of it’s day to day life. Do not get me wrong, I love the time I spend in Australia – but the Australian govt is subject to the same excesses and human cruelty as any other.

      It might behoove you to remember that Aboriginals people in Australia did not get the vote until 1967 and Terra Nullius was not overthrown until Mabo 1992. Take a trip up north or have a chat with an Indigenous Australia about the high standards of equality and justice you can hold Australia to before you disparage the country I suspect you were born in. Loving Australia does not need to make you blind to it’s faults and scathing of Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka for all it’s faults is a beautiful place with warm people.

  39. jason_recliner says:

    Great stuff, Fish Bait. All too often the pro-asylum seeker movement tugs at our heartstrings without backing up their emotive claims with facts. In my younger, more idealistic days I protested at Woomera in support of the asylum seekers. I don’t regret my actions but now, I’m a little older, a little wiser (at least I like to think so), and my viewpoint has changed pretty much 180 degrees. There are too many inconsistencies for me to support the cause any longer, it worries me that many arrive without adequate documentation (I’m aware of the excuses, but the risk of criminal and extremist elements entering the country is unacceptable IMO), and I wonder why so many transit through other countries where it is highly unlikely they would be persecuted, but continue onwards to Australia at considerable personal expense (and, supposedly, risk).

    Obviously, many Australians have it very good here, and it is a desirable emigration destination for many the world over. But a lot of those who would like to settle here do not need to (as opposed to want, for economic and social reasons), and there is no urgency which would validate illegal arrival by boat or other means. As my spouse is an immigrant herself, I am all too aware of the difficulties in settling here, but every illegal arrival makes it more difficult for people trying to do the right thing.

    Finally, do you really think Abbott and Co would be stupid enough to return these illegal immigrants to their place of origin without some sort of commitment from the local authorities that they won’t be persecuted? Any deaths / torture / rapes / whatever would make the Libs look mighty bad. Instead of comparing our government to the Nazis (a comparision which many Australians, myself included, resent), why not give them the benefit of the doubt and see what happens?

    • geoff lemon says:

      If you resent mention of Nazism, then you’re not understanding it. As I explained in the article, the point isn’t making comparisons of X being as bad as Y. The point is identifying ethical failings from a context where we have no doubt they’re wrong, then testing our own ethical decisions by comparison. It’s a valuable exercise when it’s done that way, as opposed to some sort of hyperbolic condemnation that so-and-so are Nazis.

      Do I think Abbott and Co would return them without assurance? Absolutely. I think they don’t give two shits, and they’re enjoying this episode as a chance to look ever more tough / forthright / resolute / other inapplicable positive adjective. If you “see what happens”, you’re risking people’s lives and wellbeing. That’s unacceptable. There are a lot of problems and assumptions in Fish Bait’s posts, as well as some interesting suggestions, but given the bulk of data it would take me another fortnight to compile a comprehensive response.

      None of this is about heartstrings, Jason. It’s about identifying what’s right and wrong, and holding our country to a high standard of behaviour. I want to be proud of where I come from.

      • jason_recliner says:

        Yes, the amount of data in FB’s posts was a little overwhelming. As I’m at the office and supposedly writing a report I, like yourself, unfortunately don’t have the time for such extensive referencing! I take your point about the Nazi reference. In that case, where Nazism is obviously wrong on every level, I personally feel that sending the asylum seekers back to Sri Lanka is not wrong.

        While I’m not exactly Abott’s biggest fan – I voted for him as the lesser of two dingbats – I don’t believe he is psycopathic. I think he would be appalled and ashamed to know that his personal actions had resulted in the rape / murder / torture of somebody, and will be acting accordingly. It will be interesting to see in coming weeks if this assumptuion is fair.

        Anyway, thanks for the interesting blog and discussions.

        • geoff lemon says:

          Always good to talk things out with people, it’s the internet shouters who get tiresome. Like anyone who behaves poorly for personal gain, I’m sure Abbott’s able to convince himself that there’s no real danger, no real problem and that everything will be fine. People who steal from work or lie to their wives or hit their kids find ways to rationalise it too. I’m sure he’s talked to Sri Lankan counterparts who’ve reassured him, and his party have certainly talked themselves into believing that any boat people are inherently bad for coming here and causing us a headache, so they deserve unpleasant treatment and have brought it on themselves. (The same as with his comments that someone attempting suicide is trying to morally blackmail us, he can’t see that someone’s actions might be about them foremost, not about us.)

      • Fish Bait says:

        More than happy to point you to evidence where evidence is needed for assumptions. I have tried to back myself up with stats and data where possible.

        To wit:

        14 Tamil Parlimentarians: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parliament_of_Sri_Lanka

        The official Sri Lankan govt website is in 3 languages – http://www.gov.lk/

        Tamil speaking population of Colombo: http://transcurrents.com/tc/2010/01/tamil_speaking_people_are_56_i.html

        Top Sri Lankan Tamil business people:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Balendra
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S._U._Ethirmanasingham
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._Maheswaran

        I am not including in this list Raj Rajaratnam who is currently in jail for fraud in the US – he donated USD$1 million to the LTTE when they murdered 600 Sri Lankan policemen at Elephant Pass – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1990_massacre_of_Sri_Lankan_Police_officers
        http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2011/09/tamil-and-raj-201109

  40. Cathy says:

    Thank you. So very much.

  41. Eugene Thomas says:

    I only have issue with your statement” Meet Australia,. the traitor who turned you in”.
    As a vetran and a volenteer, I claim that Australia is ME, and others like me.
    Dammed right you should write and keep writing of these horrid actions.
    I only ask you to lay the blame where it belongs with the poloticians, not we, the people.

  42. Sandy says:

    Meanwhile, you try to leave for another country and you may as well be a refugee because the minute you intend to migrate you are no longer eligible for benefits or aid of any kind.

  43. pachamama says:

    I checked out FB claim that Niromi de Soyza’s memoir is false and found this in Wikipedia.

    Sri Lankan Government response

    The quibbles regarding the book’s authenticity would seem to be rendered irrelevant by the Sri Lankan government, who do not seem to have any reservation confirming that de Soyza was indeed a member of the LTTE, and that the claims she makes are true.

    • Fish Bait says:

      I didn’t say that she wasn’t a member of the LTTE – I said that the memoir was found to be a fake. She was a member of the LTTE – and only received First Aid training – she never saw any active duty. She was hurried out of Jaffna by her parents. She is not game to have her book translated into Tamil because she will be panned by her own Tamil friends. I know someone who went to school with her – and they are laughing to high heaven.

      The blurb on the back of her book is packed with lies.

      She claims to be a the product of an interracial marriage – only when you read the book – you find out her mum was an Up Country Tamil and her father was a Jaffna Tamil. Next you’ll be telling me that they are two distinct races with ethno-linguistic barriers.

      She makes basic mistakes in translation in her first five pages I thought I was reading a joke book.

      Arrack – a beer? Really? It’s a spirit you damned fool!

      Nangi – little girl? – No it means sister in Sinhala.

      She has also extensively plagiarised.

      According to Tamil Tigress ( Pages 164 to 167)

      1. On the 10 th of October 1987 Niromi( as a civilian) participates in a 20 Km protest March against the IPKF.

      2. On the same day (Oct 10) The first female Tiger martyr Malathy dies in the battle against the IPKF.

      3. The following evening (Oct 11) Niromi leaves home and reaches her female Tiger base for good. ( strangely this night Prabhakaran visits Niromi’s base)

      4. Niromi and her female cadres spends the next two ( Oct 12 & 13) days in their base listening battlefront walkie talkie conversations.

      5. The following day ( Oct 14) Niromi and Kanchana visits Prabhakaran’s base on an assigned work. Following are Niromi’s exact words

      ” The following day,(Oct 14 ) Kanchana and I were asked by our female base leader, Kala, to visit Prabhakaran to collect funds to purchase combat-ready clothing for the girls. There was no time to have uniforms organised, so it would have to be jeans and shirts. So that afternoon Kanchana and I went to a house behind the university. We opened the three-metre high gate and let ourselves in. In the small, leafy front yard, Prabhakaran stood next to a pick-up truck onto which a 50-calibre machine gun was being fitted. Some of his body guards stood nearby. I was amazed at the low security around him-there were not even a sentry at the gate.”

      (Page 167)

      IPKF in their botched attempt( Aerial and Land) raided this above mentioned Prabhakaran’s house on the Early hours of Oct 12. As the winners of this battle Prabhakaran’s team left this premises well before the noon of the 12 th of the October 1987. So what Niromi writes is fiction. Secondly Prabhakaran’s residences whether in peace time or in war time had never been simply approachable as ludicrously described by Niromi. Please take into account that Parabhakaran’s security during this time was exceptionally vulnerable. The rest, readers judge yourselves.

      Following is an excerpt from the Tamil Tigress.

      ” Now Mahathaya turned his attention to us. ‘many of you will lose a few comrades in this war,’ he said. ‘Keep their dream alive by focussing on winning the war for them and for our people. If a comrade dies next to you, USE THEIR BODY AS A SHIELD AND CONTINUE FIGHTING’ ”
      -Pg, 205. Aus ed, 2011.

      This is an absolute demonisation of the LTTE and Mahathaya. Many former LTTE members confirm that neither their trainers nor commanders advised this. In fact the LTTE soldiers held great respect for the dead bodies of their comrades. Many LTTE fighters risked their lives to retrieve a body. Many fighters lost their lives in the mission. The LTTE hierarchy considered every dead body as a seed- a viththudal in Tamil. The dead bodies were not buried but planted as seeds according to the LTTE lore.

  44. Jacqueline says:

    You state “Every time Morrison commends our navy for their duty, he is stripping them of the honour their vocation should entail.”

    You have studied WWII history, surely you know that “I was only following orders” is not a credible excuse for individual actions. That was shown at Nuremburg.

    The Australian Navy are stripping themselves of their own honour.

  45. otionblog says:

    Thank you for your excellent post. I love the honesty, anger, and intensity. I’m glad it has been shared so many times.

  46. Jimmy Keane says:

    governed by a failed priest, well there’s the problem right there, oh there’s a faerie at the bottom of the garden and he is telling me what to do. wtf

  47. Monolith351 says:

    Unfortunately the values of leftism, cultural marxism and unrestrained philanthropy seem to be the dominant memes in the minds of the present day middle class intelligensia.

    Whilst much as has been written about the pathology of the left, and whilst the root cause may be fundamentally unknowable as unquantifable, we can at least easily observe their strategy.

    In this case, we can see that this article was essentially a derivative of the “appeal to moral high ground” trope – with an interesting suggestion that Australian citizens are in fact the real traitors (after all, what is a nation except as the vector sum of the inhabitants?).

    Reading this was strange, as traditionally, a traitor has been one who works _against_ the nation-state or group – not one who protects it.

    And protecting it, the Navy personnel and government are.

    Even ignoring the fact that these culturally incongruent que jumpers are over represented in crimes (analysis of the raw data in the “Victoria Police Crime Statistics” coupled with demographic data will show this, don’t look at the conclusions the professional shills who are products of the leftoid lie factory spew. Remember, their job is to obfuscate the truth, not to make it clear.)

    Then there is the economic cost involved, which to overlook has always been a hallmark of the left – government funds available for welfare are not infinite. And to think they are is surely an example of minor psychosis.

    In summations, SWPLs and SWPLettes, I know you to be intelligent people – you are blameless and please don’t be led further astray by the article’s author.

    • geoff lemon says:

      The most obvious fallacies here are that:
      a) I don’t know what “leftism” is or subscribe to anything similar, and political alignments are not an inherent part of doing the right thing;
      b) a traitor is someone who betrays something, and we’re betraying people who are asking our help because we refuse to assess whether they need it;
      c) your “over represented in crime” line is a caricature with no analytical credibility;
      d) it’s absurd to say we’re “protecting” our country from a handful of individuals requesting asylum;
      e) the economic cost is many, many times greater under our current policy of deploying ships and building overseas camps than it ever could be with welfare costs. Perhaps check what a year’s dole is worth and do some napkin sums before making such easily disprovable claims.

      • Monolith351 says:

        Geoff,
        I’m impressed that my post wasn’t relegated to the perpetual limbo of “awaiting moderation”, as usual for the pro-‘fugee ilk, as it has always been the modus operandi of the left to demonise or censor opposing views… could it be we have encountered a free thinker, rather than another drone of the Hivemind? I do hope that I is the case.

        a) Yawn…

        Certainly everything utterance, outside of mathematics and physics does, or can have political nuances. In fact, on the wild frontiers of the internet message boards, t’was on a politically biased site that I found the link to this very page.

        c) No analytical basis? Again, I see you deviating from the seemingly Crtl C + Crtl “humanist” script… unfortunately which in this case doesn’t support your ultimate argument anyway, as stated in “Youth, Crime and Ethnicity” (Collins 2002), it seems both ethnics from refugee nations and their offspring _are_ over represented in incarceration rates – so I suggest your safest course of action is to simply follow the well trodden path of the studies’ author, when confronted with hard data and state that they are over-represented due to the (conveniently) unquantifiable effect that the police and the legal system are waaaaaaaacist…

        However it’s not your fault, you were probably busy.

        If you had glanced at the “Victorian Police Crime Stats 2011/2012” and collated them with demographic data as suggested, you would have seen that refugees from Sudan are 400% over represented in assault charges and 700% in rape.

        Safer just to whisk these figures away with sampling bias on that part of the police eh? Even though rather draconian measures are internally enforced on Australia’s finest, for what Orwell would suggest as _Crimethink_.

        d) Erm… I in colloquial parlance, I concede that a handful need not refer to what one can actually hold in their hand, but can be a small number. I would not call the 10’000s of illegal arrivals, a “handful”.

        e) Whilst I am a fan of heuristics for difficult to model phenomenon, unfortunately the back-o’-napkin check you’ve done, conveniently ignores certain variables. The true welfare cost is much larger than the annual sum of Newstart as it must be administrated and coupled with Medicare etc and likely to be far higher.

        Categorically, this amount would be dwarfed by the costly ASIO required background check… So whilst I can concede that by far the majority aren’t terrorists… however, letting individuals into the country without any precautionary measures would soon amplify the number of those with terrorist leanings, once word circulated that we would accept anyone who could fabricate a passable backstory.

        M351

        • geoff lemon says:

          Sorry for the delay, I didn’t check the site for a little while. And I’m not interested in gagging discussion, that’s antithetical to the point. Allocating certain behaviours to ‘right’ and ‘left’ is pretty tiresome. I work in sports a lot, and hear the same shit about all Australian fans do this, all Indian fans do that, all soccer fans, all rugby fans, blah blah.

          Trying to tag social phenomena to an ethnic base is a thoroughly discredited form of argument. Rates of crime and incarceration rely on interception and rely on root cause: people’s place in the social scheme tends to dictate that behaviour. There’s plenty of crime being committed by white dudes in suits in the CBD, they’re just not the target of policing. Rob $300 from a shop and you go to jail, defraud a couple of million as a financial advisor and you’ll get promoted out of trouble or given a golden parachute. The very demographic make-up of people who even front the courts is skewed.

          Nauru alone is costing billions per year. Each person detained there averages a cost of several hundred thousand dollars. It’s absurd to claim that a streamlined assessment system would cost anywhere near that in initial Centrelink, Medicare, assessments and however many other associated costs. Plus we force people to stay on Centrelink because so many are banned by us from working.

  48. Chris says:

    The really interesting thing about terrorists is the definition. Someone who tries to gain an advantage by using violence or fright (Terror). Sounds just like the budget to me.

  49. This is an amazing debate and I thank the original author and those who have had something useful and meaningful to add, on either side of the debate.

    For my part, I refer you to the smart traveller website, an Australian government website that is updated regularly. It urges travellers to Sri Lanka to exercise a great deal of caution because of the unpredictable security environment. http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Sri_Lanka

    This is the first thing that is at odds with Tony Abbott’s assertion that Sri Lanka is ‘at peace’. Does he not read his own government pages? Evidently not.

    The second point I want to make is that none of us, not even the Tamils and Sinhalese who live here, can say absolutely what is going on for the people who risk everything, including their own lives, to get on a boat to come here. One thing is for sure, they have not taken this step lightly. It doesn’t matter how great a country Australia is, no one is going to make such a decision without a great deal of consideration. I have seen families wrenched apart, the husband and father electing to stay behind while sending his wife and children off, doubting that he will ever see them again. If those of you warbling at the ‘heartstring’ factor of asylum seekers care to talk to the people who have journeyed here, I think even your hard hearts would melt. If not, then I am ashamed to call you my countrymen and women.

    What I want, and what I believe most people want, is for asylum seekers to be treated with more humanity and respect, to have the government find a way to hear their stories and work through the paperwork, and then make a more informed decision about their validity and need. This is clearly not happening under the current regime. Why is this such a hard thing to ask? The answer – it isn’t!

    • Fish Bait says:

      By your reckoning -Australia should accept holis bolis asylum seekers from all countries that have ‘Unpredictable Security Environment’ ? Here is a list countries them from the Smart Traveller site where we should accept each and everyone who is seeking asylum – they ALL have the same ranking as Sri Lanka in terms of security risk:

      1. India
      2. Thailand
      3. Indonesia
      4. Brazil – bummer for all those football fans
      5. Bangledesh
      6. Israel (bombing Gaza is an issue)
      7. Jamaice (guess all that pot doesn’t make the Jamaicans peaceful eh?)
      8. Jordan (oh yeah…next to Syria)
      9. South Korea (living next to Kim Jong Il just kills your reputation)
      10. Mexico…

      Basically if you are not country where everyone drives in a straight line – then you have an adverse security risk associated with it. Smart Traveller is actually a boring traveller.

    • Fish Bait says:

      By the way – I agree with you entirely that people who are seeking asylum should be treated with the utmost respect. They should be treated humanely and with dignity that is a reflection of the of the just and compassionate nation Australia is.

      And by the way, I do not dispute that people in Sri Lanka are fleeing with just cause. There is a degree of political intimidation – my businesses would not survive if I didn’t have my hand in my pocket to hand over facilitation payments – but not of the scale that is being reported. Sri Lankan functions reasonably well..the war is over – and we need to build bridges.

      People are fleeing poverty. Grinding poverty. And poverty and hopelessness cuts across all ethnic groups in Sri Lanka. If I could tell you stories..oh my dear..children who faint at school because they have had nothing to eat for days. Parents who are forced to boil grass and give juice to babies. I look after one family in the north near the border with Jaffna – the father abandoned the family. The mother was died after being bitten by a snake and the grandmother is looking after two sons and a grand daughter. I know of the family because the eldest girl won a scholarship to University – but has insufficient funds to cover board and lodging. I help out where I can.

      And can I tell you of orphanages in Sri Lanka? Children orphaned by the war? Children orphaned because one of their parents go to the middle east to work and then the other parent abandons them? Some of these girls are then trafficked for sex.

      Can I tell you about the Sri Lankan women who are raped by their employers in the Middle East? These aren’t spurious allegations of rape – but documented with rape kit and children of rape to boot. These children were deemed stateless until very recently and the Sri Lankan citizenship laws re-drafted because they were born to Sri Lankan mothers in the middle east. Saudi Arabia would not accept them either. There are 100s of cases of young boys who were then taken from their mothers and used by the Saudis to their merciless camel riding games. Can I tell you about that?

      Can I tell you about young graduates who cannot get jobs?

      Can I tell you about the $100 millions of pounds Sri Lanka spent in 2012 to make Sri Lanka the ‘country’ to visit only to have the Tamil lobby in overseas countries destroy that campaign for their political gains? We have 1000s people ready in hotels for guests who didn’t come because the multi-million pound campaign in Europe was targetted by LTTE operatives. Hoteliers and the tourist industry nearly collapsed.

      Can I tell you about the campaign not to buy Sri Lankan tea? Yes – spear headed by the Tamil LTTE lobby in western countries. Can I tell you that tea is a low margin business and this lead to lays offs in on massive scale at the plantations. And Tamil estate workers committed suicide en mass. There was one case of one plantation closing and all 40 workers killing themselves as the planter headed back to Colombo to find himself a new job.

      Now you can tell me about the plight of the Tamils in Jaffna.

  50. Bruce says:

    Loved the article, great work, keep it up, there is a silent mass out here reading, watching and getting ready to move. It’s just not Tony Abbott and co, it’s all Australian Politicians who have disgraced themselves, their country men and humanity in general by allowing this behaviour to unchecked.

    The similarities between Scott Morrison’s and the Australian Governments behaviour and the Nazi persecution of the Jews is bang on, the shame they have put on themselves is incomprehensible apart from the fact that Tony is a pom who never renounced dual citizenship and therefore is an illegal politician anyway………………..

  51. John Brookes says:

    Well said. The very least asylum seekers deserve is to have their claims assessed properly. in this case that clearly wasn’t done.

  52. Geoff,

    That was a great article. I didn’t enjoy reading it – it made me feel sick. Lately there have been a lot of decisions made in Australian politics which have nauseated me. I love this country, but the direction we’re taking is frightening. Democracy or no, the people seem to have little power to enforce any morality in our leaders… unless this really is what the majority of people want.

  53. Hamsteh says:

    I would like to extend my thanks for sharing such a well-written piece.
    I have also enjoyed reading every one of the comments, including the intelligent discourse between some of those commenting.
    I will say this, however, I believe that the true point of your article has been missed in some of these discussions – that the semantics of just how dangerous Sri Lanka is, or whether our economy can support future immigration, etc… is not important – that the true message is that these people _NEED_ to have their claims properly assessed and we _MUST_ know without any doubt that we are not sending them to their deaths in our ignorance.

  54. Simon says:

    http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/westfield-parramatta-stabbing-kazem-mohamadi-payam-will-defend-murder-charge-lawyer-says-20140708-zszvd.html

    For Reference: “Mr Payam was granted a permanent protection visa to live in Australia after arriving as an “illegal maritime arrival” in February 2010, a spokesman for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said.”

    • geoff lemon says:

      Sure. Nowhere have I said that everyone who arrives here is a genuine refugee. I’ve said you can’t send people back without making a careful and adequate assessment of their claim.

  55. HUYA says:

    Unfortunately it seems that often those who choose to “lead” are exactly the wrong people for the job.

  56. Thanks. Important. The truth will out, whether you are an unaware participant or a clear-sighted one. Australia, for the time being, might prosper from not making its mind up, especially in terms of returning supplicants, but it does still leave your theory of why they are leaving and risking their lives at sea. I know I wouldn’t chance it unless i had to.

  57. andrewlorente says:

    Living in the US I haven’t heard much at all about Sri Lankan refugees. I vaguely recall hearing the phrase “Tamil Tigers” a while back, and that’s about it. Now I’m disgusted at a) our media’s parochialism in ignoring the situation and b) Australia’s official stance on it. At least Australians can be proud to count you among their countrymen.

  58. Michael Shanahan says:

    I couldn’t possibly know if what FB says is true or not (I couldn’t even read it all). Let’s say it’s all true. Let’s say nobody on that boat was eligible for asylum. Let’s even go with Savage and call them all terrorists (including the babies). Even with this extreme concession to these “arguments”, intercepting them at sea and handing them over to the Sri Lankan government is still morally reprehensible. Without giving another thesis FB – are you really defending this behaviour?
    You can’t argue that “the means is justified” because you’re best guess is that the outcome was correct – that’s missing the point.

  59. John says:

    Thank you for an excellent article.

    It seems to me that there is another danger here. Anti-semitism certainly existed in pre-Nazi Germany but not at the levels it did in other European countries, particularly to the East. The relentless propaganda from the Nazis, channeled through new media, is often given as one of the reasons that allowed ‘ordinary Germans’ to commit the atrocities they did. It seems to me that our politicians are degrading us as a people, pandering to our worst tendencies and making us a more racist, less charitable people. I don’t think this happened post WW2 when politicians defied public opinion to allow Jewish refugees to emigrate. We are, thankfully, very far from being Nazi Germany but the conditions in which we live are also very far from the early 30’s in Europe. If things ever got even a little difficult in Oz I would hate to think what our politicians might be able to sell us.

    • Chris Sanders says:

      Thank you Geoff for your post

      What is terrorism? When a government discriminates you, persecutes you, murders your brothers and sisters based on the language you spoke or the religion you follow, you fight back?
      Can you imagine yourself in that situation? Would you not defend yourself?
      Every one of you would say yes. Is that terrorism?
      Im not supporting the LTTE. No one has the right to kill another human being. Whether they are a civilian or not. I do not support violence against violence.
      But every time I speak to someone who has been through the ordeal of living as a tamil in Sri Lanka, i find it hard to tell them that using violence as a self defence is wrong.

      I myself am a tamil (My grand parents migrated there from India). I never sympathised with the LTTE nor did I support what they were fighting for. Honestly I did not even know I was being discriminated. I was 8 when the state sponsored riots took place in Sri Lanka where thousands of “Tamil speaking” people were hacked, beaten, burnt to death.
      I can still remember the sound of the mob marching down our street asking people if there were any tamils in their house.
      We were hiding in a Sinhalese neighbour’s house. We had moved moved to the area only recently and were not registered voters. Had we been, our family may not have survived. I should we were saved by our Sinhalese land lord.

      To cut a long story short, life as a tamil was never easy. Even in Colombo, the commercial capital. I pretended to be a Sinhalese lot of the times.

      I am not justifying violence or saying what LTTE did was justifiable.
      All Im saying is, try to see it from the eyes of a Tamil as to how hard it is to live as a Tamil in Sri Lanka. Try to understand the life of a tamil in Sri Lanka.
      I would’ve faced only 1% of the difficulties faced by the people in the North and the East.

      The first thing I felt when I landed in Sydney, someone who was not from the war zone, was freedom! I can openly converse in my mother tongue. I can be me!

      These people fleeing the country just want that. Just to live somewhere without fear.

      Are we so inhumane to turn them away?

  60. charles says:

    Great writing, thank you.

  61. Pingback: Meet Australia, the traitor who turns you in | lmrh5

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