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​Abbott’s close link with Rajapaksas was ‘a mystery’-Ranil

22 February 2015 01:41 pm - 22     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s close relationship with the Sri Lanka’s Rajapaksas was ‘a mystery’ to Sri ­Lankans, and that Australia’s ­new Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, would be unlikely to get the warm welcome received under the previous ­government.

In an exclusive interview with The Australian, the veteran polit­ician also said that the Australian government’s silence on alleged human rights abuses was the price it paid to secure co-operation from the former Rajapaksa government on stopping asylum-seeker boats.

In a weekend interview at the Prime Minister’s official Temple Trees residence in Colombo, Mr Wickremesinghe confirmed the involvement of “people connected to the previous government” in people-smuggling operations.

“It was being done by people with Rajapaksa connections, but once this deal was done between Australia and the Rajapaksa government, where you looked the other way (on human rights abuses), then secretary of defence got the navy to patrol,” he told The Australian. “You could not have got anyone out of this country without someone in the security system looking the other way, the police or the navy.”

He understood people-smuggling was a major issue for Australia and his government would continue to crack down on departures. “This should have been done anyway (by the Rajapaksa government) but they didn’t do it. They wanted to strike deals,” he said.

The Sri Lankan Prime Minister said former immigration minister Scott Morrison had breached protocol by refusing to meet with then opposition Tamil National Alli­ance politicians when he last visit­ed Sri Lanka and as a result his successor could receive a frosty reception from the TNA, now a key member of the new ­ruling coalition.

“It was a slip-up on the part of the Australian side,’’ he said. “I am not against the Australian government, but I think you must learn from your experiences. Some other countries must also that fully backed the Rajapaksa regime. When human rights were being trampled, and democracy was at bay, these countries were sil­ent. That is an issue for Sri Lanka.”

Australia has been accused of refusing to speak out on alleged war crimes committed in the last months of Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war with Tamil separatists in which as many as 40,000 civilians were killed, and on subsequent ­allegations of human rights abuses, because it needed the Sri Lankan government’s support to stop the flow of boats. While fellow Western nations have pushed for an independent investigation through the UN Human Rights Council, Australia has said it is not its place to publicly lecture Sri Lanka on human rights.

Mr Wickremesinghe, the 65-year-old leader of Sri Lanka’s ­centre-right United National Party, became Prime Minister for the third time last month after ­former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and his powerful family were voted out of government. The new administration has promised to punish those who ­illegally profited under the Rajapaksa regime’s “crony capitalism”.

  Comments - 22

  • Sam Sunday, 22 February 2015 10:13 PM

    50 Odd days more to go dood !!! Get on with the program, instead of talking BULL !!!

    Uditha Monday, 23 February 2015 12:49 PM

    Hello! Rajapaksa gov sold our country to China...I rather be friend with Bankrupt country than be a slave to China!

    HA Thanthirige Tuesday, 24 February 2015 11:31 AM

    Our dear PM, as the youngest Education minister proposed the Education white paper which wrecked havoc and was protested by all. More recently an Army Intelligence unit was wiped out due to negligent mis-handling information. There is no published conclusion about the floating armory, except the loss of revenue to the country. Now internal linen being washed in public. State secrets, and state Policy, is preferred not split for the consumption of all non-Sri Lankan elements to be used against our dear motherland.

    Senator Tuesday, 24 February 2015 11:33 AM

    More of this type of small talk before elections please..

    Waco Tuesday, 24 February 2015 06:04 AM

    Antagonise all our friends. You will neve be elected by the people.

    sss Sunday, 22 February 2015 07:29 PM

    do not sabotage it like you did to army intelligence unit

    Don Sunday, 22 February 2015 07:47 PM

    The truth must be told so that no one behaves the way the Mara family did.

    ANDPER Monday, 23 February 2015 06:17 PM

    If this is true this guy RW has gone off his head too

    Arjuna Ranawana Sunday, 22 February 2015 08:53 PM

    Take immediate action. Otherwise One you should have to say I sorry . I am too late

    gayan Sunday, 22 February 2015 08:55 PM

    Our PM wants the world to accuse our country of human rights violations. Only God save this country.

    Mohan W Sunday, 22 February 2015 08:59 PM

    Regret in the manner some remarks had been made. First it was China and now Australia. They were our true friends at difficult times.

    Waco Sunday, 22 February 2015 09:02 PM

    Do not criticised Australiia or Australisn Politicians.Thry are superior quality gentlemen. You are not a Priminister appointed by the people. Get lost.

    Citizen Sunday, 22 February 2015 09:06 PM

    WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING?

    Kavinda Sunday, 22 February 2015 09:17 PM

    No wonder our PM lost 29 times and even this time he was not elected by people.

    Cuckoo Sunday, 22 February 2015 09:17 PM

    Boat people were Rajapskse business.

    Samantha Sunday, 22 February 2015 09:23 PM

    Australians were the only ones who saw the truth as truth. That is why they liked MR. Aussies are straight forward unlike Americans, Brits and Canadians.

    Samantha Sunday, 22 February 2015 09:26 PM

    you did not get elected as PM. Get the votes from people and talk about . You are a puppet of bankrupt western powers who want nothing but chaos in countries like SL. China is our true friend so as Australia.

    Waco Sunday, 22 February 2015 09:27 PM

    Mr.Wickramasinghe, Please apologise and withdraw your entire statement.

    lawry Sunday, 22 February 2015 09:31 PM

    Some times truth hurts. So it is better for us pretending not to know. Or is it so?

    TMA Sunday, 22 February 2015 09:31 PM

    Not country. Mahinda

    Prem Nath Tuesday, 24 February 2015 02:07 PM

    In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.

    Waco Sunday, 22 February 2015 09:40 PM

    The best you can do to Sri Lankan politics, is to retire.


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