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Sinister thinking behind Tamil incarceration: Doctor John Whitehall

[TamilNet, Monday, 6 July 2009 06:43 No Comment]

John_Whitehall The Sri Lankan Governments thinking that “the concept of Tamil autonomy or freedom or even culture should be beaten to its knees and never rise again” can be compared to the actions of Joseph Stalin, said leading Australian Pediatrician Dr John Whitehall, describing government internment facilities as “concentration camps”, and saying the imprisonment of 300,000 refugees was much more sinister than he originally thought. "The concept that you can indefinitely incarcerate a population to change their thinking is frightening," he observed.

Speaking at a forum held in Parliament on 17 June, discussing human rights in Sri Lanka and Australia’s need to act, Whitehall, the director of Townsville Hospital’s Neonatal Unit who visited Ki’linochchi in 2004 to train medical workers, also described the LTTEs former governance over the traditional Tamil homeland as an established civil administration.

"In my observation, The Tigers were not similar to the Vietcong, whom I had observed from a distance when we worked in Vietnam many years before. They [the Tigers] did not emerge from holes in the ground at night to do their business. This was in fact a practicing established civil administration. It wasn’t perfect of course. It was to say the least autocratic. Nevertheless, there was the ability to discuss [...]," said the doctor who has co-authored a book, ‘War and Medicine’, a collection of short stories from the medical practitioners in the North-East.

Highlighting conversations with LTTE officials, over the future plans of improving governance if autonomy was achieved, Whitehall said support for the liberation movement was founded within the “concept of self preservation of their race, of their religion, of their culture”.

“The people were thinking we want our freedom, we want autonomy, we want respect of our culture. These things are not easily or ever eradicated. But the concept that you can indefinitely incarcerate a population to change their thinking is frightening” Whitehall said, comparing Sri Lankas imprisonment of refugees to Joseph Stalin’s execution and starvation of thousands of Ukrainians.

Urging the Australian Government to involve itself in the crisis “for the humanity of it as a nation”, Whitehall said allegations of war crimes by human rights commissions made the need for access to camps vital.

In a wide ranging address, Dr Whitehall also highlighted the role of China, Cuba and Russia in the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) regarding the "pusillanimous decision by the human rights council to ratify the behaviour of the Sri Lankan government", which has established an "International precedent that these countries can wage ruthless and unrelenting war on their minorities using all kinds of weapons to do the job."

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