Commonwealth, ANZ Hypocrisy on Sri Lanka, Relevance to Fiji

By Rod Ewins

The Canadian Government has put the Australian government AND HM Loyal Opposition (a.k.a. Opposition Coalition) to shame by seizing the high moral ground on the issue of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting being held in Sri Lanka this year. Canada is boycotting the meeting on the grounds of the ongoing egregious violations of human rights in Sri Lanka, and is calling on other Commonwealth countries to do the same. Both sides of politics in Australia have rejected this call and say it is important for Aus to attend CHOGM.

That serious abuses and reportedly murders continue in Sri Lanka is not just a rumour. It has been reported by a number of human rights groups, and by individuals who have suffered at the hands of the government's torturers there, as recently as a few weeks ago. A man on a visa in Australia had to return there recently, and was grabbed by the "police" and tortured, including criss-cross branding all over his back with red-hot metal bars. He was interviewed on television and showed the still-0livid evidence on his back. He was only released and allowed to return to Australia when his uncle paid a large bribe. However his injuries are such that he can no longer work, and faces the likelihood of - wait for it - deportation back to Sri Lanka!! The Sri Lankan ambassador to Australia accused him of fabricating his claims, while the political line from both sides here is that these things may have occurred once but not now, where all things in SL are onward and upward and it is a perfectly safe place to send refugees back to.

So why is the evidence being ignored by the Commonwealth and Australia in such a wilfully perverse manner?  In the case of Australia, the answer seems pretty obvious: because of the number of refugees from SL who continue relentlessly to land in Australia seeking safe haven, and the bipartisan policy of sending a large number of them right back where they came from. To admit the true nature of the regime there would mean Australia would have to admit it has been, and continues to, knowingly send innocent people into terrible peril, made more pressing by the fact that they have dared to try and escape it, and the vengeance this is likely to elicit from the regime. And to STOP sending them back to God knows what awaits them in SL, would make the official figures on refugees (so-called "illegal immigrants") look even worse than they already are in such times of war and upheaval in SL and Afghanistan. All only months out from an election where each side is jockeying to see who can seem tougher on these "boat people." In the case of the Commonwealth, the logic is more difficult to figure out. Perhaps it is simply that they cannot contemplate admitting that the atrocities continue to occur in a country they have made not the slightest attempt to expel from their ranks, something they were quick to do to Fiji.

Which is of course why I am writing about this to a group interested in Fiji. The sheer hypocrisy of the political stance of both  toward Fiji, while showing bipartisan support for the imagined "liberalisation" putatively occurring in the SL regime, beggars belief. I in no way support the abuses and murders that have occurred in Fiji since the Bainimarama Coup. I have commented in writing on a number of occasions that it is the most serious blot on VB's record, that he has not condemned and aggressively pursued the perpetrators. But whatever has occurred in Fiji seems trifling compared with what is now emerging about the manner in which the SL regime finally put down the rebellion in that country, with thousands of deaths, and the ongoing total disregard for values that any civilised society should hold as essential.

So this is just the latest glaring hypocrisy in Australia's and  the Commonwealth's attitude to Fiji. Again, it is motivated largely by an inability to admit that they have been wrong all along - even though in this case, the main result would be a loss of face and having to eat crow, a dish they, more than most, seem to find totally unpalatable. Disgustedly, I have therefore not the slightest expectation that the politicians in London or in Canberra will have a change of heart on either Sri Lanka or Fiji.


Anonymous said…
George Orwell words in the novel '1984' rings true and is now becoming reality in the21st century: "War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength." The collective stances of Australia and the Commonwealth has always maintained a double standard and this is nothing new.

The world can see the 'double speak' in the positions adopted by the Commonwealth, France, US in numerous conflict ridden locations around the world and some in cases, violence and terrorism are are being perpetuated, aided and abetted by the same ignoble group of countries under the banner of democracy and human rights.

"In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
George Orwell
Patriot said…
Hello Australia and NZ, We are growing up and someday our children will thank us for moving this beautiful nation forward! The pacific have always been considered an insignificant part of global politics. But China has changed all of that! We can only become more independent and become a strong and sovereign nation.. too much worry about what the ANZ thinks about us will distract from the real work on the ground. Thanks to everyone working diligently to move this nation forward. We should simply stay out of the commonwealth and the forum! Why .. because we owe it to our children! Build our own independence and strength instead of relying on foreign boomerang Aid! as for Human Rights.. it depends who the boys club want to talk about! It has been said before.. on the global scale...making the so called wealthy democratic and foreign PR holders do a 800m run-around at QEB is not that bad! It is a good exercise to supply more oxygen to their privileged brains. Elections around the corner and the thugs know that this time pain will be felt if they distrub the peace! They will not dare this time round! Go democracy...ha...not really.. thank you Frank for making things right!!
John said…
How true this is. And it is not only Sri Lanka, it is Indonesia (Irian Jaya), China, Pakistan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos etc. What Australia essentially does is to use Fiji as a showcase to establish democratic credibility in Foreign Affairs. In a world where realpolitik reigns, it must feel good for Gillard and her cronies to stand on some moral high ground with regard to Fiji's regime. But wagging the finger about a it of torture of convicts does not take into account what happens on the ground in Fiji. The vast majority of people in Fiji want to be protected from criminals, they want a strong leader in line with the traditional chiefly system where unelected nobles rules for centuries. In relative terms, the Fiji regime would win the human rights award anytime when compared with most other Banana Republics. Now what do we have to expect from the incoming government in Australia? I don't want to hold my breath, but a right wing hardliner such as Abbott would probably not want to blow the opportunity to show that he has different ideas. It will, however, be up to Fiji's rulers to prepare the playing field for a re-engagement with Australia. And in the constitution making and election process there are about five hundred opportunities for Bainimarama and Khaiyum to put their feed into their mouths. Unfortunately, up until now these two have rarely missed an opportunity to suck their own toes.
A Higher Power Awaits said…
Croz et al

Wawa mada! There is nothing whatsoever "trifling" about any human rights abuse: in either Fiji or in Sri Lanka. Is it merely a trifling matter of degree when any human being (prisoner or innocent civilian) is brutalised, humiliated? Especially when this ignominious treatment is for public showing? It is a hideous expose of the perpetrators. Just as Guantanamo and Abu Graib were and still are. We have just seen a BBC Documentary by presenter Charles Haviland who has spent four years in Sri Lanka. Yes, a war has ended but the trauma continues. The trauma in Fiji has never ended either. Do you want proof of this? Feel free to ask for it. Why should anyone have to enter a numbers game on such matters? Or measure the degree and depth of trauma which is essentially a subjective factor? The Solomon Islands report on the Truth & Reconciliation Commission has only just filtered out to the public domain. Five years since it was initiated in 2008. What a travesty of justice that is! For all concerned. The hypocrisy of those who had a hand in this delay shouts to Heaven for vengeance. All who impose trauma upon defenceless, innocent civilians for their own, peculiar vision of "The Way the World Should Be" shall answer eventually to a Higher Power. But we live awaiting justice and reparation 'Here and Now'. Does anyone dare oppose us? Shall anyone dare thwart us? Try your level best, you will fail.
Gatekeeper said…
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the Truth is a revolutionary act".

Well spoken, George Orwell. You got it right! We are so immersed in lies that we have forgotten when the first one was told. And like Alice Through the Looking Glass, everything is now the reverse or obverse of reality. Indeed, there is no reality. For we have created a growing Hell on Earth. "The Way the World Should Be"......? Think of Aleppo, think of Damascus and Israel has let loose with 16 fighter planes just this morning. The real War of Lies is just beginning.
Anonymous said…
Roy Ewins - Commonwealth ahs been following its written guidelines on expulsion following coups, nothing more or nothing less - so stop moaning with the constipated Crosbie Walsh
The Duty to Best Protect said…
Less than three days ago, General Ashkenazy, a recent Chief of the Israeli Defence Force, declared on CNN Interview with Christiane Amanpour that there was now 'Not an option to do nothing in Syria'. It seems that the General knew of what he spoke. It might behove us now to consider that in the endeavour 'To protect', it is the State of Israel and the Canadians in whom we might have most trust? They will protect their best interests and those of their citizens. They will act pre-emptively if required based upon sound evidence. They are in a position to acquire such evidence. Meantime, The March of Folly lumbers on. Reliant upon others for such evidence, how may we 'Best Protect' our citizens from harm? The harm of our own decision-making?

"Across the march of thirty centuries, Tuchman brings to life the dramatic events which constitute folly's hallmark in government: the fall of Troy, symbolic prototype of freely chosen disaster; the Protestant secession, provoked by six decades of spectacularly corrupt Papacy; the British forfeiture of the American colonies' and America's catastrophic thirty year involvement with Vietnam." (Barbara Tuchman - Pullitzer Prize-winning Historian 1984).

Anonymous said…
The immoral world of politics is not guided by the truth. It is guided by expediency. The Commonwealth, is no exception. The passing of draconian anti-terrorism laws in developed countries attracts not even a murmur from the Commonwealth or the UN. Immigration laws have "the courts cannot review these laws" provisions left right and centre in developed countries. Yet not a murmur from the Commonwealth. Asylum laws. refugee laws and criminal laws showcase right wing totalitarian conduct in so-called enlightened countries. And still not a murmur. The shouts are all for Fiji.

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