Even as apprehensions are rising regarding reports that the Australian government has handed over 153 Tamil refugees to the Sri Lanka Navy, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has praised Sri Lanka, the island where a structural, protracted genocide is happening against the Eezham Tamil nation, as a "society at peace". Speaking to 3AW on Thursday, Abbott had further said that "there has been a lot of progress when it comes to human rights and the rule of law in Sri Lanka.” However, the Tamil Refugee Council has said that at least 11 of the fleeing refugees had been tortured by the GoSL forces earlier. The Australian government, which had no concerns for the thousands of Eezham Tamils who were slaughtered in 2009 and ignored the plight of more than 146,000 Eezham Tamils reported missing, is determined to return the 153 refugees despite widespread criticism against the move.
There were at least 37 children in the boat carrying 153 Eezham Tamil refugees and one of them is three months old and severely ill, independent media reports said.
Abbott, who should be well aware of the figures of missing people as documented by the Bishop of Mannaar, not to mention cases of ongoing torture and rape as documented even by organizations within the Western establishments, has chosen to praise the genocidal Sri Lankan state instead, Tamil activists in the island complain.
Australia was supporting the US-led alliance that abetted the genocidal Sri Lankan State to conclude the war in a massive onslaught in May 2009. Apart from the thousands who were killed and wounded, more than 146,000 still remain unaccounted for.
Australia, like the other players locked in the geopolitical game, has not cared about those who have been reported missing. Now, the same country is becoming directly responsible for the disappearances, torture and the slaying of the fleeing Eezham Tamils in the hands of the genocidal Sri Lankan State.
When the Australian Government is not prepared to care for the disappearance of 146,000 Tamils, how could one expect it to care about 153 Tamils is the question asked by Tamils who are at the receiving end.
”It is absolutely wrong for Australia to return people seeking asylum to the countries in which they were being persecuted. It is wrong. It is shameful," said Australia’s Greens leader Christine Milne.
Labor’s immigration spokesman Richard Marles has also gone on record stating that it would be a disgrace if asylum seekers were handed over to Sri Lanka, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
Fr Maurizo Pettena, the director of the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office, said the underlying discrimination in the island of Sri Lanka remains a violent reality for many of the Tamil people even though the war had come to an end.
"At a time when we are witnessing some of the greatest humanitarian challenges and highest numbers of displaced people around the world, it is crucial Australia remains a country of refuge for those suffering from persecution," he said in a statement issued by Australian Catholic Bishops and the Jesuit Refugee Refuge Service Australia (JRS).
Following the conduct of the Australian government, the plight of Eezham Tamil refugees in Tamil Nadu State has also gained attention as many of the refugees in the Indian camps were also fleeing towards Australia. The Australian government also waged a campaign targeting the Eezham Tamil refugees in Tamil Nadu that they would be handed over to Sri Lanka if they were caught in the seas.
Under India’s Foreigners Act 1946 and Citizenship of 1955, all non-citizens who enter India without visas are seen as illegal immigrants. Even the possession of a UNHCR refugee certificate does not bring any protection from detention.
“Unlike India however Australia is not only a signatory to the UN Convention on Refugees but helped write the Convention. Among all those who signed the Convention, Australia is currently the only nation that denies people asylum based on their mode of arrival,” the JRS statement said.
"Seeking asylum is not illegal and remains a human right with the Refugee Convention clearly stating that asylum seekers should not be penalised for their mode of arrival or lack of documentation," Oliver White of JRS further said.
Human Rights watchdogs around the globe including the United Nations’ refugee agency have expressed "profound concern" about reports that refugees seeking Australia’s protection are being intercepted and processed at sea.
“Tamils living around the globe should also learn a lesson on the so-called effectiveness of the campaigns being waged by the global human rights outfits on the matter,” an activist in the island said. “When even Australia is not prepared to listen to them, how could a genocidal State like Sri Lanka listen to their campaigns,” the activist questioned adding: “Tamils should pay more attention towards waging ‘system-changing’ political struggle than getting into the hands of the ‘regime-changing’ outfits.”