Email from the chief minister of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province C V Wigneswaran in response to an

ABC reporters’ questions:
How safe is it for Sri Lankans seeking asylum in Australia to be sent back to Sri Lanka by Australian
authorities?
Response: It is because life is intolerable in Sri Lanka particularly in the North and East that I believe
people are seeking asylum elsewhere. The very same Army which fought the War and are now
subject to International War Crimes' investigation are still in large numbers positioned in the North
and East. It is estimated that at least 150000 Military personnel are occupying the North and East if
not only the North. They have taken over every aspect of civilian life - they have taken over fertile
lands of the people and are cultivating, they have brought in people in large numbers from the South
to help them in fishing depriving the locals of their livelihoods, they have taken over businesses, they
have taken over farms both Government and private, they are asking for the vesting of large tracts
of State and private lands in the Military, they are using up sources of precious water which should
be available to the people by taking them away by bowsers and most significantly our women folk
have become the most vulnerable sections of our community. Added to this tragic situation it has
been exacerbated by the severe drought that prevails in the Northern Province at present.
What dangers, if any, are there for suspected former Tamil Tigers?
The same danger that hundreds if not thousands are presently facing behind bars and in unknown
places of detention. A proper survey of those in custody has still not been made by any credible
organisation. There is a Commission trying to find out what happened to those who have
disappeared after having been handed over to the Military. The draconian Prevention of Terrorism
Act is still in force. The Army is out everywhere in large numbers. The Police fear the Army and
therefore are ineffective against them. Politically every attempt is being made to equate legitimate
democratic political parties among Tamil speaking people to appear to be some form of Terrorist
outfits. You decide what dangers lie for suspected Tamil Tigers.
Is the Australian prime minister Tony Abbott correct when he says that Sri Lanka is now a peaceful
country?
Absence of war is not peace. With 150000 soldiers around in the North and East certainly it must
appear to be peaceful. With the Press being fully controlled by the Government in power certainly it
must appear to be peaceful. With an Executive Presidency and with an Eighteenth Amendment to
the Constitution which grants complete control of everybody and everything in administration and
governance certainly it must appear to be peaceful. Is it peaceful? Again you must decide. How can I
contradict a Prime Minister of a Country that I have so much regard for?

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