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In Sri Lanka, Rudd has emulated Whitlam's willful blindness to the 1975 invasion of East Timor

The callous and evil slaughter and rape of ethnic Tamils last May by the Sinhalese armed forces in Sri Lanka compares with the Indonesian mass murder of East Timorese in the Indonesian Invasion of 1975 and again in the 1991 Dili Massacre.


In September 1974, in central Java, Australia's Prime Minister Gough Whitlam told Indonesia's President Suharto that East Timor was “too small to be independent”. EAST TIMOR: The Indonesian-Australian invasion

"On 7 December 1975, Indonesia invaded East Timor involving a naval bombardment of Dili, seaborne troops, paratroopers. On December 10, a second invasion resulted in the capture the town off Baucau followed shortly after by up to 15,000 troops landing at Liquisa and Maubara. By April 1976 Indonesia had some 35,000 soldiers in East Timor. Indonesian Foreign Minister Adam Malik later on suggested that the number of East Timorese killed in the first two years of the occupation was "50,000 people or perhaps 80,000".

At the start of the occupation, FRETILIN radio sent the following broadcast: "The Indonesian forces are killing indiscriminately. Women and children are being shot in the streets. We are all going to be killed.... This is an appeal for international help. Please do something to stop this invasion." One Timorese refugee told later of "rape [and] cold-blooded assassinations of women and children and Chinese shop owners".[15] Dili's bishop at the time, Martinho da Costa Lopes, said later: "The soldiers who landed started killing everyone they could find. There were many dead bodies in the streets — all we could see were the soldiers killing, killing, killing."

SOURCE: George Washington Univerity

All Australian governments, Liberal and Labor, have been and remain complicit in their willful blindness of East Timor.


A generation later, Prime Minister Rudd betrayed the Tamils when in October 2008 Rudd sided with the Sinhalese regime and formally declared Sri lanka's separatist Tamil Tigers a terrorist group, and so sat back while the dogs of war were unleashed on the Tamils.

Since coming to power in November 2007, Rudd has had a chance to review Australia' s foreign policy created under the previous Howard Government. Instead, Rudd has blindly followed Howard's support for the US supporting the Sri Lankan Sinhalese civil conflict against the Tamils, dismissed and illegitimised as terrorists. Rudd has stood by human rights abuses against Tamils in Sri Lanka despite Australia being a regional neighbour of Sri Lanka and an influential joint member nation of the Commonwealth. The Sri Lankan government has for the past four years been slaughtering ethnic Tamils as part of a deliberate strategy of genocide.

Back in October 2008, Dr John Whitehall a Queensland-based pediatrician with recent direct experience in Sri Lanka reported of the "great human tragedy" unfolding in Sri Lanka.

"The silence of Western media and government has emboldened the majority Sinhalese to embark on a renewed campaign to dispossess and kill the Tamil people.

The Tamil-controlled north-east of Sri Lanka thunders "day and night" under bombardment from the forces of the Sinhalese government in Sri Lanka's capital Colombo as they attempt to destroy Tamil autonomy.

Against this backdrop, "a great human tragedy" is also "exploding", according to Fr James Pathinathan of St Theresa's Church in Kilinochchi, the administrative capital of the de facto government of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

From the eye of the storm, Fr Pathinathan, who is also president of the local Justice and Peace Commission, reports that "deaths, injuries, displacements and attendant misery pervade the lives of innocent Tamil civilians... and the draconian economic embargo imposed slyly... has become a monstrous obstacle in giving relief and solace to the 170,000 persons recently displaced".

The Sri Lankan Government's economic embargo, involving the closure of roads and ports of access for food, medicines, and fuel for an already destitute population, has conventional arsenal, cluster bombs and white phosphorus bombs.

End Western complicity in war crimes
The foreign ministers of Britain, France and Sweden tried to get into Colombo to discuss the humanitarian disaster with the GoSL. The Swedish foreign minister could not even get a visa to enter the country. The other two got there and returned saying that they had “tried very hard” but achieved nothing.

In the face of increasing international concern at the civilian casualties, the Tamil Tigers declared a unilateral cease-fire. The GoSL refused to reciprocate saying that the offer was a "joke".

On May 21, 2008 Sri Lanka was tossed out of the UN Human Rights Council on account of its outrageous human rights record.

However, little or none of this is mentioned in the Australian media. Australians have a right to ask why.

The Australian Government has failed to act in condemning a serious abuse of human rights by a country with which it shares an ocean.

Commercial and geo-political considerations are clearly more important than humanitarian ones, however serious. Indeed, in giving "aid" to the Rajapaksa government in the middle of its killing spree against the Tamils, the Rudd government has been in political solidarity with the Rajapaksa's military mission.

This is simply not acceptable, and damages the image of Australia by its failure to condemn a murderous regime that h

It is easy to see how Tamils believe that the Sinhalese are bent on wiping them out. In 1948, Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) gained independence from the British. Not long after, in 1956, the Sri Lankan parliament passed a Sinhala Only Act. This relegated Tamils to the status of second-class citizenry.

It also exposed them to the repeated violence that culminated in the disgraceful race riots in 1983 when Sinhala mobs guided by voting-lists set out to destroy Tamil homes and even antiquities such as the library in Jaffna.

Sinhalese forces themselves invaded Jaffna and subjected the local population to barbaric treatment.

They were even prepared to murder journalists in their bid to intimidate the Tamil press. Every day, Tamils in non-combat areas "disappeared", having been taken away in the backs of notorious white vans.

Underlying this conflict lies deep racist sentiment. I personally have been astonished by the number of educated Sinhalese who boast of an "Aryan" heritage, compared to the "Dravidian" origin of Tamils. The former implies some northern origin from lighter-skinned and educated forebears; the latter implies an origin in the jungles of India. This antagonism is fuelled by fundamentalist Buddhist proclamations that ancient texts identify "foreign devils" who should be expelled.

Military destruction

This racism is supported in practice by the Marxist-Leninists of the People's Liberation Front (JVP) which holds 40 of the 225 seats in parliament and is part of the government coalition. Proclaiming Lenin's doctrines of central dictatorship by the vanguard of the proletariat, it has vigorously urged military destruction of Tamil hopes for autonomy.

As bombs have begun to fall on the town of Kilinochchi, causing the population to flee, Fr Pathinathan has declared that "the call of the hour is urgent" and pleads for "the people of goodwill all over the world" to "protect the people of Wanni [north-east Sri Lanka] who are threatened with death and destruction and dehumanisation".

But few people seem interested. With the Tamil homelands cut off more effectively than Biafra in the Nigerian civil war, who wants to see pictures of starving children?"
[SOURCE: SRI LANKA: Plight of persecuted Tamils worsens, by Dr John Whitehall, News Weekly, 25-Oct-08]

International Pen on 10 Sep 2008 reported in an article ['SRI LANKA: Tamil journalists detained] the detention and alleged torture of Tamil journalists V. Jasikaran and J. S. Tissainayagam, whom by then had been held by the Sri Lankan government in Colombo for six months under terrorist legislation, apparently for their critical writings.

According to International PEN's information, on 6 March 2008 V. Jasikaran, a Tamil journalist, owner of the E-Kwality printing works and reporter for the news website Outreach Sri Lanka (, was arrested with his wife V. Valamathy, by the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) in Colombo. The following day, on 7 March, Tamil journalist for the Sunday Times newspaper and editor of Outreach Sri Lanka, Jayaprakash Sittampalam Tissainayagam, was also arrested by the TID, following a visit he made to the offices of the TID requesting information about the detention of his colleague.

Initial reports suggested that V. Jasikaran and J. S. Tissanayagam were accused of receiving money from the Tamil Tiger rebel group; however it is widely believed that the two men are targeted for their reporting and analysis on the ongoing conflict between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) in the northern part of the country.

According to Amnesty International, ‘The Emergency Regulations, issued by the President, introduce broad-based and vaguely-defined "terrorism" offenses, which have been used to silence critical journalists and generally suppress freedom of expression in Sri Lanka.'

J.S. Tissainayagam was held under renewable 90-day detention orders for five months before being charged on 25 August 2008 as follows: 1) offences under the Prevention of Terrorism Act: in respect to printing, publishing, and distribution of the magazine North Eastern Monthly, between 1 June 2006 to 1 June 2007; 2) offences under the Prevention of Terrorism Act in respect of bringing the government into disrepute by the publication of articles in said magazine; and 3) the violation of Emergency Regulations by aiding and abetting terrorist organisations through the raising of money for said magazine. It is said that North Eastern Magazine was known to be a pro-Tamil English-language publication that closed down over a year ago. It was not considered to be pro-LTTE. His trial is due to start on 18 September 2008.

On 19 March, J. S. Tissainayagam filed a complaint before the Supreme Court, claiming that since his arrest he had been tortured, suffered discrimination because of his ethnicity and denied equal protection under the law.

Fellow Tamil journalist V. Jasikaran has also reported being subject to torture since his arrest. On 23 June, V. Jasikaran stated in court that he had been assaulted by members of the TID and the police during his detention."

Around this time the Sri Lankan foreign minister Rohitha Bogollagama visited Australia requesting Australia to join countries such as Britain and the United States in taking the step against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Rudd Government received requests from the Sri Lankan Government to formally declare the separatist Tamil Tigers a terrorist group. ' Australia urged to list Tamil Tigers as terrorists' [AFP/Reuters, 13-Oct-08].

Rudd obliged, ignoring the worsening persecution of the Tamil population by the Sinhalese government.

In a statement by Dr Brian Senewiratne (MD, FRCP, FRACP) 7 May 2009 entitled 'Genocide of Tamils and atrocities in Sri Lanka while Australia looks on'

"Last week the Sinhalese-dominated Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) succeeded in its immediate aim of ending the armed resistance of the Tamil people, who live in the North and East of the country. "Bloodbath on the beach" was how the United Nations described the battle and we are yet to see the full extent of this major humanitarian catastrophe.

The GoSL of Mahendra Rajapaksa claims it has triumphed in a "war on terrorism". What it has really been doing is fighting the Tamil people to force them to accept Sri Lanka as a Sinhala-Buddhist nation. It is about the alliance between the religious fundamentalists and the state chauvinists who together, with the backing of key Western countries - have been able to deny the Tamils their rights. According to international law expert Professor Francis Boyle of the University of Illinois, the Europeans and the United States gave the green light to Rajapaksa to go ahead and destroy the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and their homeland.

There had been progress on a negotiated settlement between the GoSL and the LTTE, and even discussion about a federal structure for Sri Lanka, but Rajapaksa terminated the talks and the ceasefire and resumed the fighting, and now the world is witness to the dreadful consequences.

...It is a genocide when a war against 10% of the population over three decades culminates in the death of 10,000 people in a few months, about 100,000 in the last 32 years. It is genocide when governments try to wipe out a people's political voice and drive half a population into the diaspora.

Sri Lanka's Tamils are now facing genocide or internment in concentration camps that masquerade as "refugee camps". The Tamil civilians were supposedly "liberated" from the Tamil Tigers by the GoSL. But if they are liberated people, why keep them behind barbed-wire fences, and why are international observers, including the media and humanitarian workers, prevented from visiting these camps?

There are 154,000 Tamil civilians, some in tents, others under trees, in 24 camps, behind barbed-wire fences. The tents are for five people, but house between seven and 21. Living conditions are appalling, with deliberate starvation and the denial of adequate medical help.

The women and girls are raped by the Armed Forces, pregnant women are aborted and some even sterilised. The GoSL would deny all this. Can foreign observers check these allegations? No they may not. Why? Because it is an "internal affair". We beg to differ.

There are some 120,000 Tamil civilians left in the government "safe zone", which has been regularly bombed by its armed forces. Even hospitals have not been spared. The defence secretary, the president’s brother, in an interview with British media, said that bombing of hospitals is "acceptable". This contravenes the first and fourth sections of the Geneva Convention, signed and ratified by the GoSL.

The GoSL expelled all humanitarian workers and agencies, including UN agencies, from the conflict zone so that genocide could be done without witnesses. This has not been done in any other country in the world.

More than 6000 Tamil civilians have been slaughtered in just the past four months. Last week, the only obstetrician in the area was gunned down by the Armed Forces. Why? Genocide.

Kfir jets, bombers, multi-barrel rocket launchers and helicopter gunships have been used by the GoSL dropping, in addition to conventional arsenal, cluster bombs and white phosphorus bombs.

End Western complicity in war crimes
The foreign ministers of Britain, France and Sweden tried to get into Colombo to discuss the humanitarian disaster with the GoSL. The Swedish foreign minister could not even get a visa to enter the country. The other two got there and returned saying that they had “tried very hard” but achieved nothing.

In the face of increasing international concern at the civilian casualties, the Tamil Tigers declared a unilateral cease-fire. The GoSL refused to reciprocate saying that the offer was a "joke".

On May 21, 2008 Sri Lanka was tossed out of the UN Human Rights Council on account of its outrageous human rights record.

However, little or none of this is mentioned in the Australian media. Australians have a right to ask why.

The Australian Government has failed to act in condemning a serious abuse of human rights by a country with which it shares an ocean.

Commercial and geo-political considerations are clearly more important than humanitarian ones, however serious. Indeed, in giving "aid" to the Rajapaksa government in the middle of its killing spree against the Tamils, the Rudd government has been in political solidarity with the Rajapaksa's military mission.

This is simply not acceptable, and damages the image of Australia by its failure to condemn a murderous regime that has the temerity to call itself a "government", and for failing to institute sanctions on Sri Lanka until the killing stops.

The Australian Government and the Australian media have a serious case to answer for their silence and indifference towards a horrendous genocide. This must stop. The Australian government has a duty - not only to Tamil Australians, but to all those with a conscience - to make every effort to assist now. This must include:

Demanding that the Sri Lankan government be tried before the International Criminal Court for war crimes. This was a war conducted away from any international scrutiny. This massacre was largely hidden. But there has been enough independent information to know that the Rajapaksa government has committed war crimes.
Pressuring the Rajapaksa government to allow Tamils the right to decide where they live, including settling in Australia if they wish.
Ending all aid and support to the Rajapaksa government while it continues its genocidal policy against Sri Lanka's Tamil people."

How similar to the Indonesians treatment for East Timorese? Just like the Indonesians, the Sri Lankans justify banning international monitoring on the basis that it is an 'Internal affair".

Tamils in Sri Lanka have been subject to ethnic discrimination by successive Sri Lankan governments since Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948. Successive Australian governments have done nothing to acknowledge the right of ethnic Tamils to self-determination or to encourage a non-violent political solution.

'Silence is the voice of complicity'

(Click for Sideshow - WARNING! Images may disturb.)


Certainly the brutal mass killings of Tamils appears to be amongst the worst possible solutions to the conflict, but it is difficult to know if any solution to this conflict would have been a wholly right solution. The alternative almost certainly would have been years more of bloody conflict.

The closest that the Tamil and Sinhalese communities appeared to have gotten towards arriving at a solution was in 2002 where there were there were peace negotiations between the Tamil Tigers on the one hand and the Sri Lankan Government on the other.

Those negotiations were unilaterally ended by the Tamil Tigers. So, to some extent, the Tamil Tigers themselves are culpable, together with the Sri Lankan Govenrment for the tragedy which has befallen their people.

My comments posted to Tigerquoll's earlier article on the issue of the slaughter of the Tamils may also be of interest.


You raise two points, to which I reply:

(1) On the issue of "negotiations", according to Dr Brian Senewiratne (quoted above) stated "In the face of increasing international concern at the civilian casualties, the Tamil Tigers declared a unilateral cease-fire. The GoSL [Sinhalese-dominated Government of Sri Lanka] refused to reciprocate saying that the offer was a "joke".

On May 21, 2008 Sri Lanka was tossed out of the UN Human Rights Council on account of its outrageous human rights record."

It is important to obtain the facts, else the risk is that misinformation enables criminals to justify atrocities and escape prosecution. From what source do you claim "those negotiations were unilaterally ended by the Tamil Tigers."?

Look at one source SRI LANKAN TIMELINE':

"By February, Berlin becomes the venue for talks, and Tokyo in mid-March. By the sixth round of talks in Japan, both teams are seasoned in confronting politically sensitive issues, such as moving an army camp in Sri Lanka's north and reports of LTTE shipping arms to Sri Lanka. Also discussed are human rights problems, such as reports of the LTTE’s continued child conscription.

On Apr. 14, the U.S. government hosts a meeting of donor countries and organisations for reconstruction in Sri Lanka. Colombo is present but the Tamil Tigers are not invited, because they remain on Washington’s banned list of terrorist groups.

On Apr. 21, the Tigers tell Wickmeresinghe that it is suspending participation in the peace talks, due to their exclusion from the Washington meeting. The LTTE also announces it is not attending a donors’ meeting Japan is hosting in June."

Comment: One could conclude here that the US action on 14-Apr-03 to exclude the Tamils from the peace talks was a provocative catalyst for the demise of the peace talks and the return to civil conflict.

(2) To conclude that the "Tamil Tigers are culpable for the tragedy which has befallen their people" implies that poorly employed strategies and tactics by the Tigers meant that the Tamil people were part responsible for their own genocide. It is akin to claiming that a victim of rape deserved it.

'One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.' In any conflict, no amount of violence by either side ever justifies perpetuating further violence. No people deserve mass murder or genocide. In a civil war neither side is right or wrong. Both are perpetrators in perpetuating conflict.

In Sri Lanka, one side obtained massive military advantage since 2005 from international support (UK, USA) and then shut out international monitoring so it could obliterate the other side. The core issue in this article is that the Sinhalese were allowed to do escalate the conflict and indeed supported and encouraged. The international community was complicit by:

(1) Establishing in 1948 a political framework that legislated one ethnic group having more power than the other (like Palestine). The Ceylon Citizenship Act, effectively decitizenized ethnic Tamils;

(2) Supplying arms and intelligence to one side;

(3) Doing nothing when shut out of monitoring;

(4) Turning a blind eye when the violence escalated into Genocide (just like it did with Rwanda in 1994);

(5) Doing nothing to stem the suffering of Tamil civilians now;

(6) Allowing the perpetrators of war crimes (on both sides) to go unpunished.

Tiger Quoll
Snowy River 3885

Firstly, my earlier comment was written rather hastily in the early hours of the morning when I was tired, so they were not well put and may seem simplistic.

Whilst I think it is critical to know of human rights abuses up to and including genocide -- if that can accurately describe what is happening there -- it's important that what we write helps to show the way to an eventual solution to the problem at hand rather than appearing to imply that all the fault for the conflict lies on one side and not the other.

Whilst measures to prevent the shocking abuses of human rights by the victorious Sinhalese are urgently necessary, we need to think beyond that and be able to suggest how this would not merely lay the groundwork for a future resumption of the conflict.

My basis for accusing the LTTE of unilaterally withdrawing from the peace negotiations was my own recollection of the news reporting at the time, reading more recent articles giving historical overviews of the conflict and an article on John Quiggin's web site, which I quoted from in my comment on your earlier article.

Whilst the exclusion of the Tamil Tigers from the meeting on 14 April 2003 (and not 2002, sorry) by Washington was an unjustified provocation, was it an appropriate response by the LTTE to withdraw from the peace process?

It appears that within Sri Lanka that action played into the hands of the hard-line Sinhalese nationalists and undermined those in the Sinhalese community who wanted a negotiated settlement. The Wikipedia article states:

On October 31 [2003], the LTTE issued its own peace proposal, calling for an Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA). The ISGA would be fully controlled by the LTTE and would have broad powers in the North and East. (see the Full text of the proposals) This provoked a strong backlash among the hardline elements in the South, who accused Prime Minister Wickremasinghe of handing the North and East to the LTTE. Under pressure from within her own party to take action, Kumaratunga declared a state of emergency and took three key government ministries, the Ministry of Mass Media, the Interior Ministry and the crucial Defense Ministry.[69] She then formed an alliance with the JVP, called the United People's Freedom Alliance, opposed to the ISGA and advocating a harder line on the LTTE, and called for fresh elections. The elections, held on April 8, 2004, resulted in victory for the UPFA with Mahinda Rajapakse appointed as Prime Minister.

The article continues:

Initial fears of a resumption of the conflict were proved unfounded when the new government expressed its desire to continue the peace process and find a negotiated settlement to the conflict.

Nevertheless, it is clear that the dynamic that led to the military annihilation of the LTTE and the subsequent humanitarian disaster had been set in train.

In fact, I think it could be fairly argued that by withdrawing from the negotiations, the LTTE actually played into the hands of the US.

I am not convinced that the LTTE were left with no other choice but to withdraw from the negotiations.

It seems to me that this was as much a continuation of its own narrow nationalist agenda, which excluded concerns about Muslims as well as Sinhalese in the Tamil majority areas, as it was a response to the provocation by the US.

In the past the LTTE had been guilty of its own ethnic cleansing in Tamil controlled areas and other human rights violatition as I wrote in my comment on your earlier article.

Of course, instead of strengthening its own hand, its withdrawal from the negotiations appears to have led to its own destruction.

I think it is problematic trying to say what our Government should and should not do.

In the 1960's it was open and shut. Australia should have sent soldiers to prop up the South Vietnamese dicatatorship.

In 2003, Australia should not have particapted in the illegal invasion of Iraq.

In regard to the Sinhalese/Tamil conflict the complete answer is not altogether obvious.

Clearly Australian as an international citzen has an obligation to raise its voice to see that basic principles of human rights are adhered to.

It should also not take the side of the Sinahalese in the conflict as the US clearly has done.

But that should cut both ways.

It is not inconceivable that effective international intervention to prevent the humanitarian disaster of 2008 could also have given the LTTE the necessary breathing space to resume the conflict at a later point.

So the international intervention should also have comprised strong diplomatic pressure on the LTTE as well as the Sri Lankan Government to resume negotiations in good faith.

Of course it's unlikely that this Australian Government, being the sycophantic servant of international corporations that it is, will ever play any constructive role towards helping find just and equitable solutions to any of the world's armed conflicts.

Nevertheless, we should still try to put forward realistic and complete proposals for what it should be doing if that were not the case.

Australia should have then and should now play a leadership role as an influential first world democracy which stands by human rights. Sri Lanka is a regional neighbour of Australia. Both countries are part of the Commonwealth. Australia in many regional forums has had ample opportunity to raise and support a peacekeeping effort for the civil conflict and to provide humanitarian support.

When Sri Lankan president Rajapksa rejected international monitoring, and barred international humanitarian agencies and journalists, the alarm bells were ringing. Yet Australia did nothing.

In the end it was immoral China that was critical in allowing the Sinhalese to exterminate the Tamils, as the following account reveals:

'China helping 'Sri Lanka in battle against Tamil Tigers' by The Tehran Times’s South Asia correspondent, Jeremy Page:

China has strategic shipping interests in Sri Lanka and has been investing over $1 billion at the southern coast town of Hambantota in Sri Lanka, building a large for China "to use as a refueling and docking station for its navy, as it patrols the Indian Ocean and protects China’s supplies of Saudi oil.

Ever since Sri Lanka agreed to the plan, in March 2007, China has given it all the aid, arms and diplomatic support it needs to defeat the Tigers.

China has cultivated ties with Sri Lanka for decades and became its biggest arms supplier in the 1990s, when India and Western governments refused to sell weapons to Colombo for use in the civil war. Beijing appears to have increased arms sales significantly to Sri Lanka since 2007, when the U.S. suspended military aid over human rights issues.

Many of the arms have been bought through Lanka Logistics & Technologies, co-headed by Gotabhaya Rajapksa, the Defense Secretary, who is also the President’s brother.

In April 2007 Sri Lanka signed a classified $37.6 million (£25 million) deal to buy Chinese ammunition and ordnance for its army and navy, according to Jane’s Defence Weekly.

China gave Sri Lanka — apparently free of charge — six F7 jet fighters last year, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, after a daring raid by the Tigers’ air wing destroyed ten military aircraft in 2007. One of the Chinese fighters shot down one of the Tigers’ aircraft a year later.

“China’s arms sales have been the decisive factor in ending the military stalemate,” Brahma Chellaney, of the Centre for Policy Research in Delhi, said. “There seems to have been a deal linked to Hambantota.”

Since 2007 China has encouraged Pakistan to sell weapons to Sri Lanka and to train Sri Lankan pilots to fly the Chinese fighters, according to Indian security sources.

China has also provided crucial diplomatic support in the UN Security Council, blocking efforts to put Sri Lanka on the agenda. It has also boosted financial aid to Sri Lanka, even as Western countries have reduced their contributions.

China’s aid to Sri Lanka jumped from a few million dollars in 2005 to almost $1 billion last year, replacing Japan as the biggest foreign donor. By comparison, the United States gave $7.4 million last year, and Britain just £1.25 million.

“That’s why Sri Lanka has been so dismissive of international criticism,” said B. Raman of the Chennai Centre for China Studies. “It knows it can rely on support from China.”

But the core issue is the mass slaughter of Tamil civilians and the prospect that these war crimes by the Sinhalese regime and military will go unpunished. Again Australia is silent on this.

I refer you to the recent account of the slaughter of surrendering Tamils by Fairfax Media's Asia-Pacific editor, Hamish McDonald dated 9 January 2010, entitled:'Dangerous politics of betrayal':

"About 7am on May 18 two senior leaders of the beleaguered Tamil Tigers and a dozen family members walked out of their last stronghold on a sliver of beach and walked towards the front line of the besieging Sri Lankan Army, waving large white flags.

The surrender of the senior cadres - Balasingham Mahendran, alias Nadesan, and Seevaratham Prabhakaran, alias Pulidevan - came after hectic calls by satellite telephones the previous night to Sri Lankan officials and politicians, foreign diplomats, United Nations and International Red Cross officials and a British journalist.

Through the phone calls, the Tiger cadres had been passed assurances from Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa that they would be safely received by the army if they advanced under white flags held high. For the foreign parties, it seemed a last hope of saving thousands of trapped civilians from slaughter by Government artillery in the collapsing Tiger perimeter.

According to a meticulous reconstruction by the well-connected Colombo journalist D.B.S. Jeyaraj what happened was this:

After daybreak Nadesan and Pulidevan walked out holding two white flags with 10 or 12 others, including women and children. A second group followed about 100 metres behind. The first group were surrounded by soldiers of a special forces unit, and brought back to meet special forces officers. The two cadres identified themselves and said they had been guaranteed safety by the President.

The army officers made Nadesan and Pulidevan kneel down and began interrogating them. The others were taken to one side and also made to kneel. Nadesan's wife, a Sinhalese, understood the threats being made by the officers and began screaming pleas in Sinhala. The two cadres then fell dead in a burst of firing, and guns were turned on the other group, killing Nadesan's wife and several others. As they fired, the soldiers called her a ''bitch'' and ''prostitute'' for marrying a Tiger.

Until recently the story from the Government has been that while last-minute surrender negotiations had started, its frontline troops were unaware of any such attempt to surrender; if Nadesan and Pulidevan were killed in no-man's land making such an attempt, they were shot in the back by their own side, which had made a practice of shooting those trying to flee.

The Tigers' resistance collapsed completely a day later, and their leader, Vellupillai Prabhakaran, died with family members in an effort to break through Government lines. No bodies were kept for forensic examination. Rajapaksa went on to claim the political rewards of finishing a 25-year insurgency, which had been expected to culminate with a sweeping victory in the new presidential election on January 26.

Unfortunately for Rajapaksa, hubris may be bringing an early nemesis.

His triumph was shared by the army chief, General Sarath Fonseka, a Sinhalese nationalist who wanted to keep the army on its strong war footing and expand it. The President sidelined him to a less powerful combined services command. The slighted Fonseka decided to stand for the presidency himself and, over the last month, has dropped some bombshells.

On December 13 Colombo's Sunday Leader ran an interview with Fonseka in which he claimed that Rajapaksa, via a related adviser and the Defence Secretary (and his brother), Gothabaya Rajapaksa, had ordered Brigadier Shavendra Silva, commander of the Army's 58th Division in the sector where the surrenders occurred, not to accept any Tiger leaders attempting surrender and that "they must all be killed".

The claim has created a furore in Sri Lanka and beyond. Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, has written to ask for clarification.

The President and all parties named have issued denials, and Fonseka, perhaps realising that his statement might damage his vote among veterans, has ''corrected'' his story to say that while the illegal order was given by the Rajapaksa clan, the soldiers rightly ignored it."

Tiger Quoll
Snowy River 3885

Whilst I accept what Tigerquoll has written, my essential point remains that a conflict such as this is unlikely to be resolved fairly if one side or the other are implicitly held to be wholly to blame for the conflict.

In the few years when, relatively speaking, the LTTE had the upper hand in the conflict they did not behave wholly commendably, and were this situation were to occur again there is no guarantee that they would behave any better.

I believe that any international campaign to uphold the human rights of the Tamil people has to acknowledge that problem and propose a solution to that problem if it is to hope to succeed.

Of course the scale of the crimes committed by the LTTE were vastly less than those since committed by the Sri Lankan military and the LTTE did not deserve to be singled out to be effectively equated with Islamist extremists (falsely) blamed by the Bush Administration for 9/11 and other atrocities and, accordingly cut off from aid and diplomatic support whilst at least one major superpower -- ironically 'communist' China and not the US --- ganged up with the Sri Lankan military against the LTTE.

I am not sure of the value of putting so much of the spotlight on our own Prime Minister Kevin Rudd over this, rather than those more directly responsible -- namely the Sri Lankan Government, the US, China and Pakistan.

His silence is, of course, typical of the moral cowardice we have come to expect of him, but it may actually prove to be preferable than such a Government playing a more proactive role in these kinds of conflicts.