It’s trendy to shed tears for IDPs here

A £1m government scheme to help failed asylum seekers and their children return home resulted in just one family leaving Britain – BBC Headline

Could the British Government be so generous about asylum seekers and their children?  Nothing like it; this is just the cost of a dismal failure.

And the story reveals something more that is good for us, and BBC that ran the story, to chew on.

Campaigners in the UK for the welfare of those who fail in attempts to seek asylum in the UK, estimate that each year 2,000 children are locked up in immigration removal centres with their parents who have been refused asylum. Together with the parents, the numbers locked up in "removal centres" must be at least 4,000.

The Home Office has denied this estimate of children locked up, and for the first time broken the veil of secrecy about it admitted to having 991 children so restrained in 2008. Mull the number – 991; not so small is it?  And this is in a country that offers so much promise to would be asylum seekers, almost to the point of tempting them to leave their homelands and seek asylum in this so-called showpiece of democracy, and care for minorities.

These figures of children locked up for years, even with their parents, would seem only of academic interest, but for all the fuss that Gordon Brown, his tottering Cabinet and badly shaken Labour Government on the verge of a major electoral rout, and the BBC too, are making about the IDPs in Sri Lanka.

Yes, I mean the over 250,000 Sri Lankan Tamil citizens of Sri Lanka who are at present internally displaced and live in refugee centres, that the British do-gooders would refer to as  "detention" or "holding camps". Initially some used to call them concentration camps, not for the concentration in numbers of escaped hostages from terror who are there, but because of barbed wire around them and the presence of military personnel there.

Pictures of the Yard’s Wood detention centre in Bedford, where most of these families have been "locked up", do not have barbed wire around it, for sure. But it has very high metal fencing and huge, strong metal gates. My guess is that all this precaution is to prevent any outsiders from entering the place and not for any fear of those held there escaping to greater freedom outside. May be it’s the other way around.

Let’s admit we can’t spend one million pounds or even a million rupees on ensuring that just one family leaves the refugee villages in North, even after one year. We will not be able to do this even if we get the IMF loan that the UK and the US State Department are trying to block, and even if we get more aid from the so-called international community that is niggardly in helping Lanka face this challenge.

But, unlike the British who have sent out only one family of those locked up in camps after one year, Sri Lanka has clear plans to resettle all of the IDPs in six months time, to safer and well provided for areas, most likely to the homes they were living in. That was before being forcibly uprooted from their homes and herded around from place to place like animals, by the LTTE, the so-called liberators of the Tamil people, for whom the BBC that now talks of holding camps for failed asylum seekers and their children, and many British politicians of Gordon Brown and his ilk, had a great regard and an undisguised sympathy for.

Guess who has now joined the chorus of pleaders for the Sri Lankan IDPs. It is Rohini Hensman, a former Sri Lankan who once pleaded the Tamil cause with a modicum of sanity, but later joined the bandwagon of pro-LTTE   Sri Lanka bashers allegedly in the name of the Tamils here. But, in fact to further of cause of the expatriate Sri Lankan Tamils, who had severed all links with their homeland, (which was not Eelam that never existed) and were funding the LTTE in all its policies of savage brutality, against the Sinhalese, Muslims, and particularly against the Tamils who either opposed it or had no choice but to be corralled by its killers in the areas under its control.

To Rohini Hensman, described in "Groundviews" as "a noted commentator", now living in the comfort of the UK, the IDPs are "Vanni civilians still hostage in Sri Lanka and a virtual Sinhala-Buddhist dictatorship".  

We are back again to the allegations of Sinhala-Buddhist dictatorship, the denial of fundamental rights in preventing the IDPs from living with families willing to take them, there is still starvation and more dying daily, with the sick, injured pregnant women and mothers with babes still vulnerable. She also warns that "with the monsoon, it is likely that gastrointestinal disease will kill thousands. Why, then, are these unfortunate people being penalized like this, she asks.

There was a time during the Cold War that a person who wished to have a piece published in the Reader’s Digest could be sure of achieving it if the piece was a so-called expose or strongly critical of the Red Russian Bear. That was when Communism of the Soviet style was the great evil.

Today, there is the certainty of publication and dissemination of the most outrageous untruths about Sri Lanka, and especially about the treatment of IDPs in the North if you write to anything that has a connection with the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) which Is more of the propagation of Saravanamuttu Think, that hardly offers policy alternative but is well funded to distort even alternative thinking to it its narrow purpose of serving is foreign paymasters. That is just what Rohini Hensman is doing, with a whole lot of unsubstantiated, generalized allegations about conditions of the IDP relief centres. This is bunkum that is not in keeping with the standards of "Groundviews", although I do not agree with them all.

Remember the CPA – Peace Council axis shouting out about the invincibility of the LTTE and towards the latter stages, when the LTTE was about to be routed, going on to lament an imminent bloodbath about to happen; prophesies that did not come true. The tribe of those discovering the profitability of having a go at Sri Lanka through supposed concern for the IDPs is fast increasing.

True there were great hardships in the beginning, when the Tamils poured in unexpected thousands into the arms of "Sinhala-Buddhist" troops of a Sinhala-Buddhist dictatorial regime, to escape the terror of their own liberators. But things are different today. There are also necessary constraints to freedom as yet, because of the nature of the enemy that was defeated, and the large numbers who had willingly or not, been forced into its campaign of terror and belief in the correctness of the policy of terror. That’s not relevant to those who find in the IDPs a good chance for a profitable, international wail.

Hensman and others had better start shedding tears for the families with children who are being locked up in holding centres for years, even at the cost of one million pounds per family, and ask some questions about their fundamental rights. They could also ask for a retainer from manufacturers of barbed wire, for bringing their product to public attention so often. Possibly Hensman, is so far removed from reality in Sri Lanka, that she does not know that barbed wire is widely used here to protect from intruders and not necessarily to prevent escape from within such marked boundaries. Or else, her home in Sri Lanka would have been of the more expensive sort that had a parapet wall round it, with shards of broken glass on top for added protection, and a sign at the gate that said "Beware of dogs".

It is better if such people mind their business in their countries of adoption to which they cling, and not present wrong pictures of a country they left, and have no allegiance to anymore. Shut your eyes when Britain locks up children in holding centres; its trendy to shed tears for IDPs in Sri Lanka.

www island.lk

Copyright©Upali Newspapers Limited.

Hosted by


Upali Newspapers Limited, 223, Bloemendhal Road, Colombo 13, Sri Lanka, Tel +940112497500