Time was when the so-called Tokyo Co-Chairs considered it their burden to control the destiny of this country. They used the carrot of aid pledges as well as the stick of veiled threats to make Sri Lanka pander to their whims and fancies. It was they who decided how terrorism should be tackled and their remedy only worsened the malady.
Today, Australia and Indonesia are acting as if Sri Lanka were not existent. They are trying to solve, without Sri Lanka`s involvement, the problem of LTTE-instigated illegal migration of economic refugees to Australia. What we are being made witness to is Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark!
The Australian government has reached a bilateral agreement with Indonesia to intern the Sri Lankan refugees on the latter`s soil and undertaken to meet the cost of their welfare. That is, no doubt, a step in the right direction, where the immediate humanitarian needs of refugees are concerned. But, what is disturbing is Australia`s callous disregard for Sri Lanka`s right to be involved in investigating the LTTE-run human smuggling operations. Even the Australian Opposition has pointed out that there should be a dialogue between Sri Lanka and Australia on the issue.
There is much more to the boatloads of Sri Lankan economic refugees being delivered to various countries than meets the eye. Using refugees as a weapon is a tactic the LTTE has employed very effectively. It even managed to shock India into action against Sri Lanka in the 1980s by causing an exodus of refugees across the Palk Strait. Now that the LTTE`s military machine has been destroyed, the Diasporic Tigers are creating media events to promote their macabre cause camouflaged with human right. Earlier Prabhakaran reduced civilians to cannon fodder and today his mentors who backed his war from a safe distance are abusing civilians to cast Sri Lanka in a bad light. Evidence has surfaced that an LTTE vessel which transported lethal cargo across the globe some moons ago is now carrying illegal immigrants. A ship carrying refugees that Canada intercepted recently has been identified as Ocean Lady (formerly known as Princess Easwary). It is one of the ships the LTTE used to feed its floating arms warehouses on the high seas.
The Ocean Lady had set sail from an Indian port much to the astonishment of LTTE watchers. India could not have been unaware of the movements of that vessel. Its crew members are obviously au fait with the LTTE arms smuggling operations. If it had been captured in the Indian waters and Sri Lanka`s assistance sought to interrogate its crew, a great deal of information could have been elicited about the terrorist arms smuggling operations for the benefit of the whole world. The sheer number of arms and ammunition being detected in the Vanni is indicative of the scale of the LTTE arms smuggling operations. Little wonder that the world continues to be plagued by terrorism with countries not co-operating with one another the way they should to face common challenges and threats.
The manner in which Austria is handling Sri Lankan refugees points to a mindset that the right to be heard internationally is a luxury only big nations could afford. A valuable suggestion that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov recently made in Colombo comes to mind. He said in a speech: `A new international system of global governance emanating from the principle of equality of the sovereign states should be built around the United Nations and on the firm foundation of its Charter.` Lofty as this goal may seem, big bully nations will do well to strive to achieve it, if the global community is to manoeuvre out the mire it finds itself in.
Australia must engage Sri Lanka in handling the LTTE-instigated influx of refugees aimed at promoting terrorism by `humanitarian` means.