An open Letter to the Australian Foreign Minister
| by Fr Pan Jordan OP
( December 19, 2012, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) You were too much focus on stopping the boats leaving the Sri Lanka, but the reasons why people are leaving have not been addressed, said in his open letter to Senator the Hon Bob Carr, Foreign Minister of Australia by Fr Pan Jordan, on his recent visits to the Island nation.
Here full text of the letter,
Dear Foreign Minister,
Your visit to Sri Lanka has interestingly drawn the attention of many; your agenda and progress in Sri Lanka was keenly observed by many more, but it was unfortunate that with your busy schedule you could not visit Jaffna. Then you would have understood yourself, the situation in the North; also talking to people in the North would have given you a different perspective. I like to stress the solutions to the problem are beyond stopping the boats leaving Sri Lanka shores. I hope the High Commissioner of Australia in Colombo and/or the Tamil National Alliance members of parliament would have briefed either you or your staff who accompanied you to Sri Lanka, as to what is happening to Tamils in Sri Lanka. One should take note that the past undertaking by President Rajapaksa and his ministers, for example, with UN Secretary Generals, Indian Political leaders, the USA diplomatic officials etc, have never been honoured. Anyone examining these agreements will notice that they are often made to meet the immediate contingency of that period, primarily to delay any adverse reaction to Sri Lanka policy and action from the West, thereafter no agreements have been implemented. A good recent example is the UNHRC resolution passed at the 19th session on 23rd March 2012, had that been implemented the boat arrival from Sri Lanka would have declined, failure increase the boat arrivals. Failure of GoSL to implement UNHRC resolution will be reviewed at the 22nd session in March 2013 and there are many more unfulfilled promises, since President Rajapaksa came to power in January 2006. Stopping the boats will happen only when agreements are implemented, giving aid to stop the boats will enrich some of the politicians.
Though you were not able to visit Jaffna, the recently published article by Prof Ratnajeevan Hoole “Tamils Opting Out of Sri Lanka?” explains the situation faced in the North East Sri Lanka by the Tamils and the reason they are leaving the shores. From statements and press reports out of Sri Lanka, the main focus of the visit is to stop the boats leaving Sri Lanka shores to Australia. Too much focus on stopping the boats leaving the Sri Lanka, but the reasons why people are leaving have not been addressed. The article talks of corruption and it is known that the corruption is way of life with more than 90 out of the 225 members of parliament are Senior Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, Ministers etc., this is happening for the first time in the history of Sri Lanka to keep the members happy and maintain the two-third majority. Whatever agreement one makes with current government of Sri Lanka, inducement etc., if the accountability and reconciliation is not addressed, the people will not enjoy their freedom and will be in the lookout for an opportunity for their freedom in a foreign land, which is easily achieved with corruption extending to the top people of the society in the country.
The news item in Sri Lanka media “Australia assures support for Commonwealth summit” purportedly by you is very disturbing, considering Canada and the UK have already indicated to Sri Lanka that unless accountability and reconciliation is addressed their support is not assured. I hope, the above statement attributed to you is not true; if it is, I hope your assurance is conditional.
Fr Pan Jordan OP