Amanda Hodge thinks Sri Lanka Navy is now the reason for influx of Tamil asylum seekers headed to Australia

It's baffling how a reputed publication like The Australian can continue to allow it's South Asian correspondent, Amanda Hodge, to publish blatant lies. I guess fact checking is no longer a requirement.

Hodge is either naive and ignorant, or too emotionally attached to half truths which makes her feel that bashing some of Sri Lanka's people and their democratically elected government is a form of activism to help the voiceless.

In an article titled Sri Lankan navy 'forcing refugees further afield' Amanda claims the Sri Lankan Navy is now the reason why Tamils are 'fleeing persecution' and heading to Australia instead of India. She is also under the impression that James Elder was expelled from Sri Lanka for speaking out about malnutrition in refugee camps.

Sri Lanka has over 4 million Tamils. Less than 500 have headed in recent times to various parts of the world on boats seeking asylum. Most of these asylum seekers claim to be fleeing persecution. The 250 asylum seekers on a boat in Indonesia have already admitted to living in Indonesian for at least 5 years. One of the men on board has been identified as a refugee deported from Canada due to violent gang crime.

National Post,
In Toronto, police watched the news footage coming out of Indonesia on YouTube and instantly recognized "Alex." He was Sanjeev Kuhendrarajah. And he wasn't a businessman with an MBA degree, as he had told reporters, he was a Toronto gang member.
The 78 male asylum seekers who arrived in Canada by boat are being detained by Canadian border protection authorities. Initial investigations have revealed that most of the men may have ties to the Tamil Tigers. Both the asylum seekers and the vessel in which they travelled to Canada have tested positive for explosives. It was also revealed that the vessel departed from an Indian port not Sri Lanka.

Globe and Mail,
Canadian officials allege trace amounts of explosives were found in a cargo ship that carried 76 Tamil migrants to Canada's West Coast last month, defence attorneys for migrants say.

In affidavits filed last week, the Canadian Border Services Agency makes the allegations of the find in the Ocean Lady, and on the clothes of some of the men inside.
None of these individuals were fleeing Sri Lanka, or camps. Many of these individuals have been residing in other parts of the world and have realised that with peace dawning on Sri Lanka this is their final opportunity to get into a developed nation.

As for James Elder, his comments in the following video led to his expulsion. He was not expelled for "speaking out on child malnutrition in refugee camps," as Amanda thinks.

Elder was expelled for certain comments he made to the media during the final stages of the conflict. He was referring to civilians trapped in the conflict zone and not about malnutrition in camps. The UN confirmed the Tamil Tigers were holding civilians as a human shield to protect it's leaders.

"We strongly condemn the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] terrorist organization for the use of civilians as human shields and for not allowing them to leave the area of conflict," he said.

"In this regard, the Security Council members... demand that the LTTE immediately lay down arms, renounce terrorism, allow a UN-assisted evacuation of the remaining civilians in the conflict and join the political process for dialogue in order to put an end to the conflict."
Palitha Kohona who is now Sri Lanka's ambassador to the UN made it very clear that the role of UNICEF and it's staff was not one which required it to make statements to the press based on hear say. Elder nor UNICEF had access to the conflict zone. Elder's comments were not based on official UN research, but an assumption he made after receiving an E-mail from an anonymous source.

AFP reports that Elder was expelled for making statements without research or fact checking towards the end of the war in May. Nothing to do with camps or malnutrition as Amanda claims.

"Mr. Elder was doing propaganda in support of the LTTE," Kohona told AFP on Sunday. "It was unacceptable. UN officials are meant to be impartial and the government took a very dim view of it."

"Towards the end of the conflict, he issued statements that were not researched, not exactly based on fact, but reflective of the LTTE."
That's not all of it. Amanda Hodge then quotes an unknown Brahma Chellaney,

"In the name of fighting remnant Tamil Tigers they attack boats of refugees; they have arrested people and sunk boats.That's the reason why you're getting boat people through Indonesia and other points; otherwise these guys would all be coming to India."
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both stark critics of Sri Lanka have never reported the Sri Lankan Navy attacking any refugee boat. The UN hasn't either. In fact this claim from Chellaney on Hodge's piece is the only recorded instance.

If Chellaney is correct, why are they not seeking refugee status in Indonesia, Singapore, or Thailand? Why Australia and New Zealand? Is the Sri Lankan Navy in the way of those countries?

Such irresponsible reporting is the reason why Sri Lanka is extremely apprehensive of the foreign media. Such careless reporting only helps spread the flames of extremism. Tamils reading such concocted garbage will have no trouble forming an impression of Sri Lanka right along the lines of these ignorant Australian journalist.

If Tamils were indeed being persecuted in Sri Lanka the exodus will be mass. I repeat, mass! Do the math. 18% of Sri Lanka's 21 million people are Tamils. Close to 40% of residents in Sri Lanka's economic capital Colombo are Tamils. The most successful businessmen in Sri Lanka are Tamil. Not only will the economy collapse, but all of Sri Lanka will collapse without it's valuable Tamil citizens.

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