Commonwealth, ANZ Hypocrisy on Sri Lanka, Relevance to Fiji
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.