The Rest

Jan 7, 2014

Is Australia complicit in the Tamil genocide? The tribunal is in

A tribunal of academics and activists has found the Sri Lankan government guilty of the genocide of its Tamil minority. Retired diplomat Bruce Haigh was at the tribunal as an expert witness and asks: is Australia also to blame?

Tamil protest

Last month I travelled to Bremin, Germany to appear before a tribunal of 11 judges as an expert witness on the treatment of Tamils from Sri Lanka by the Australian government. The tribunal unanimously found Sri Lanka guilty of the crime of genocide — and Australia could be found to be complicit because of its treatment of Tamil asylum seekers and recent gifts to the Sri Lankan regime.

I took the opportunity at the hearings, held on December 7-10, to ask some of the Tamil witnesses from within the country whether they thought the Australian High Commission in Colombo had been informed about the genocide. They said yes — they had briefed Australian diplomatic officers. It raises the question of what was done with that information; the assumption must be that it had gone to Canberra and been ignored for reasons of policy and politics.

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