Australian journalist Laurie Oakes on our government’s stance towards Tamil refugees. We learn nothing from history except that bashing aslyum seekers is allegedly popular with the electorate. The shame:
We’ve heard Kevin Rudd promising tough action to stop asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat. We’ve heard him condemn people smugglers as vermin.
What we have not heard from the prime minister is any criticism of the Sri Lankan Government for creating a situation which drives ethnic Tamils into the arms of smugglers in the first place.
Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor has agreed to send Australian police to Sri Lanka to help the government there clamp down on the exodus of asylum seekers.
But there has been hardly a peep out of Rudd or any of his ministers about the appalling camps in which an estimated 300,000 Tamils are being held following the end of the Sri Lankan civil war.
“I understand something of the plight of people around the world,” Rudd said yesterday. Of course he does.
He knows exactly what is happening in Sri Lanka. He knows how the displaced Tamils are treated by the Sri Lankan Army. He knows the Sri Lankan Government denies international aid organisations access to the camps and shuts out the international media so conditions cannot be reported.