Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott has defended his decision not to join the “human rights lobby against the tough but probably unavoidable actions taken to end one of the world’s most vicious civil wars which took place in Sri Lanka”, the Australian reported on Monday.
The United Nations has been pushing for an investigation into allegations that up to 40,000 Tamils were killed by Sri Lankan government troops in the final months of fighting in the civil war, which ended in 2009.
In a 3,700 word essay published over the weekend in Quadrant, Mr. Abbott wrote that he was sure former president Mahinda Rajapaksa would have been pleased if Australia did not join the chorus of international criticism.
Both countries became even stronger partners in the Abbott government’s most urgent initial task — to end the people-smuggling trade and deaths at sea, he said.
Mr. Abbott acknowledged that his tough boat crackdown, Operation Sovereign Borders, could have foundered on numerous occasions.
Government lawyers had claimed that the operation was beyond power while some senior officials fretted about the consequences for Australia’s relationship with Indonesia.
“But the government simply had to stop the boats — our national interest and our self-respect as a country demanded it,” he wrote.