Thursday, July 3, 2014

Abbott's "peaceful Sri Lanka" claim contradicted by his own government

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has a strange grasp of the concept of “peace”. Today, while speaking to Melbourne radio station 3AW, Abbott made the following observation:

“I want to make this observation, Sri Lanka is not everyone’s idea of an ideal society, but it is at peace.”

Tony Abbott visits Sri Lanka last year.


This was in response to questions about what has happened to two boatloads of asylum seekers. There is some confusion as to whether the asylum seekers are being towed back to Sri Lanka, or whether there will be a mid-ocean transfer of the asylum seekers to Sri Lankan naval vessels, but according to Abbott, none of this matters... because Sri Lanka is “at peace”.

Really?

Let’s take a look at smartraveller.gov.au, the Australian government’s official travel advice portal for Australians planning to head overseas.

The entry for Sri Lanka was updated on 24 June 2014, so it’s pretty current. Wonder what it says?

Hmmm. Here’s some of the Australian government’s advice to Australians planning on travelling to “peaceful” Sri Lanka.

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Sri Lanka at this time because of the unpredictable security environment.

“Unpredictable.” Doesn’t sound too peaceful.

Security forces maintain a visible presence throughout the country. Military and police checkpoints are present along some roads and road closures can occur without warning.

Peaceful, because loads of visible security and military personnel is inherently reassuring, yes?

You should avoid all demonstrations and large public gatherings as they may turn violent or be a target for politically-motivated attacks. Police have used tear gas in response to protests.

Tear gas! I wonder if these were “peaceful” protests?

In the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, which includes Mannar, Vavuniya, Mullaitivu, Kilinochichi and Jaffna Districts, post-conflict security force activity is ongoing.

I’m starting to feel a little uneasy about this “peaceful” destination…

In both the Northern and Eastern Provinces you should stay on main roads and pay close attention to signs warning of danger from landmines.

Peaceful landmines. Check.

And the overall recommendation?

Exercise a high degree of caution.

Peace, Prime Minister? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.





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