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Plight of Tamils hidden behind Sri Lankan Diplomacy: Bruce Haigh

[TamilNet, Monday, 6 July 2009 20:11 2 Comments]

Bruce_Haigh_100 Western countries must look beyond government to government relations with Sri Lanka in order to grasp the Tamil issue, said former Australian diplomat Bruce Haigh in an address in Parliament. Highlighting three decades of reporting “skewed very much in favour of the Sri Lankan government” that has made it “possible all through the years to demonise the Tamils”, Haigh said commonwealth nations should have played a larger role in establishing permanent peace in Sri Lanka and needed to see beyond the post 9/11 spheres of politics to independently deal with the conflict.

Speaking at a forum held in Parliament on 17 June to discuss human rights in Sri Lanka, Haigh, a former Deputy High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, slammed Australia’s previous policy of requesting police reports for Tamils seeking refugee status, as it bought attention to their families in Sri Lanka.

“It made no sense what so ever and it was wrong. But the mindset in Canberra was that this was what should be done, this was the official structure and that structure should be engaged with” Haigh explained, saying Australia’s approach to Sri Lanka was much like that towards South Africa, where “Australian government took the position that they were against apartheid but they weren’t necessarily against the structures and formations of the South African government”.

“You can’t just be against apartheid and not be for black South Africans and their rights, so better that your government and your embassy and so on come out in favour in terms of their policies and their statements and support the aspirations of black South Africans. Its been as I say the same in Sri Lanka, where in my experience the reporting was skewed heavily in favour of the Sinhalese and not at all for the Tamils” said Haige.

Highlighting the “huge contribution to the productivity of this country and also to the life of this country” made by Australia’s Tamil Diaspora, Haigh said the war against Tamils was utilized by the Bush administration as a victory on international terrorism and said commonwealth nations should have played a role in establishing a permanent peace between the two sides.

“I could never understand why Australia and other commonwealth countries allowed Norway to just run with this and I think the reason was because the commonwealth didn’t want to pick up on it. It should have been a commonwealth initiative out of the commonwealth secretariat in London, and it would have carried more weight had it been done by the commonwealth secretariat”

Expressing disappointment over Australia’s inaction, Haigh highlighted failed approaches in dealing with regional civil unrest in West Papua, East Timor and Papua New Guinea as indicative of a federal Government that “does not want to do is to grapple with difficult problems, it sweeps them under the carpet”.

Haigh also revealed a pressuring phone call received just hours earlier regarding his address to the forum, pointing his finger at Sri Lankan Government representatives in Canberra. “I do know the Sri Lankan embassy is based in Canberra and I will be seeking to find out where this telephone call came from because it reminded me of South Africa, an act of intimidation”.

 

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2 Comments »

  • a.carunakaran said:

    so far mr.bruce haigh is the only person who has understood the problem in sri lanka.his analysis should be an eye opener for other leaders around the world, excepting india,china and russia.

    we will wait to see how many leaders around the world would respond to the analysis.

  • Kamal David said:

    Why are we letting Bruce Haigh deal with Sri Lankan Tamil Issues? I would seriously read up on what he did in South Africa before jumping into conclusions asking for his opinion. This is something we as Tamils have to figure out. These western and Aussie blokes are reacting to current issues. These bogus farts cannot help us learn how to deal with social issues of a minority that has come about as a result of western mistakes played out for over 100 years!