When Tony Abbott says that he accepts the horrendous war crimes committed in Sri Lanka, Peter Wicks says he doesn’t speak for him or the Australia he knows.
The last 50 years have seen some fantastic events and some huge steps forward for mankind, however it has also seen some of the worst that mankind can produce.
There have been atrocities over the last half century that defy belief and some of those responsible for these acts are even still alive today.
Before you delve further down the page I should warn you that there are some graphic images and video footage in this post that will upset some people, so please don’t say you were not warned.
In 1998, there would have been hardly a tear shed for the death of Pol Pot, the former dictator and ruthless leader of the Khmer Rouge. Pol Pot is credited with the deaths of up to 3 million Cambodians, which made up around a quarter of Cambodia’s total population.
Those in his camps were used as slaves and most died of disease and malnutrition, however many others were simply executed or some were killed in the most grotesque ways imaginable for the entertainment of the camp guards.
Pol Pot died whilst under house arrest in his bed.
Slobodan Milosevic was another one who got off lucky, dying of a heart attack in his prison whilst awaiting trial on March 11th 2006.
Milosevic was awaiting trial for war crimes that included ethnic cleansing and genocide.
Known as the “Butcher of the Balkans” he reportedly presided over the deaths of more than 200,000 people over 10 years in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.
In 1994, while the world watched on and did little, the Rwandan genocide went on for approximately 100 bloody days
The genocide was carried out by the Hutus, who massacred somewhere between 500,000 and a million Tutsis in the most brutal of fashions.
In 1998, Rwandan politician and commune mayor Jean-Paul Akayesu, was sentenced to life imprisonment for nine counts of genocide and crimes against humanity, which included the rape and sexual mutilation of women.
Also serving a life sentence for his part in the genocide is Jean Kambanda, who was the Prime Minister of Rwanda during the genocide.
We all remember the hunt for former Iraqi Dictator and war criminal Saddam Hussein.
Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons on his own citizens, massacred thousands of Kurds and Iraqis and, after the Gulf War, evidence of torture was discovered that appeared to be state sanctioned and carried out by members of Hussein’s Republican Guard.
Saddam Hussein was eventually captured after being pulled out of a hole in the ground in December 2003.
After facing trial for crimes against humanity, Saddam Hussein was given the death penalty and hung on the 30 December 2006.
For the people of Iraq, who faced years of fear and oppression under Saddam’s rule, his death was a cause for celebration.
For those who suffered at the hands of Pol Pot and Milosevic, it must have seemed cruel to see them both escape punishment so easily and die a relatively peaceful death when they themselves had been so inhumane and cruel in bringing about the deaths of others.
However, it is not just these people who need to face investigation for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
One would have had to be hiding in a hole like Saddam Hussein to have missed Kony 2012.
The social media campaign to try and bring about the tracking down, capture and conviction of Joseph Kony, thought to be hiding out in the Congo.
Joseph Kony is the leader of the “Lord’s Resistance Army”, thought to have recruited over 30,000 children for use as soldiers. Child soldiers recruited often kill their family while young girls are captured and used as sex slaves for the young soldiers.
It is not known how many have been killed by Kony and his forces, although conservative estimates by the UN put the number at over 100,000. Many of these deaths are amongst the most shocking and cruel deaths imaginable as soldiers compete to see who is the cruellest.
Joseph Kony is still at large.
We have all seen in news broadcasts over the past few years the atrocities that are ongoing in the civil war in Syria.
Syrian President Bashar Assad has been accused of war crimes with calls for action against his regime coming from all over the globe.
Assad’s regime has been notorious for crimes against men, women and children, including massacres, torture, and evidence of the use of chemical weapons.
The UN expects more than 5 Million refugees to come from Syria by the end of 2014 as a result of Assad’s rule. Estimates on the death toll have varied, with the UN saying that it is most certainly over 100,000.
Most of the world has condemned Assad and are keen to bring him to justice and investigate him and his regime for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
It beyond any doubt that those who commit genocide, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity should be hunted down and severely punished for their crimes.
Another nation where war crimes such as genocide, torture and ethnic cleansing are reported to have been committed is Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lankan civil war dragged on for 26 years and saw the deaths of over 100,000 people, mostly civilians.
One incident towards the end of the war saw 300,000 civilians trapped on a narrow beach, 40,000 of these civilians were gunned down by the Sri Lankan army and many atrocities were alleged to have been committed.
Last week, the Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka was boycotted by Canada, India and Mauritius as a protest against the human rights abuses and war crimes that have yet to see action taken.
British Conservative Prime Minister was also keen to address the violations of human rights and see Sri Lanka investigated for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Cameron stated during a press conference:
"Let me be very clear. If an investigation is not completed by March, then I will use our position on the United Nations human rights council to work with the UN human rights commission and call for a full credible and independent international inquiry."
Britain, along with many other nations, is calling for justice for the countless thousands of innocent civilians that were tortured and massacred — men, women and children.
Not to be outdone, Tony Abbott weighed in on the issue and, when questioned about the massacre and torture of civilians, stated:
"We accept that sometimes in difficult circumstances, difficult things happen."
I have never heard of a country being given a free pass for genocide and torture before and those who committed some of the atrocities must be pleased to hear that someone accepts and understands what they have done and how difficult it must have been for them.
The photo’s below are of some of the atrocities that Tony Abbott has accepted on our behalf when he uses the word “We”.
However Tony Abbott not only accepted the actions of the Sri Lankan regime, which he says must have been “difficult”, but he also thought that giving a couple of gifts was appropriate.
David Cameron calls for war crimes investigations, Tony Abbott gives away gifts.
So what gift is appropriate to give a nation who used its military to commit massacres and other crimes against humanity?
More military equipment of course.
Giving military equipment to a murderous regime accused of appalling war crimes and atrocities … what could possibly go wrong?
Tony Abbott has given the Sri Lankan government two Navy Patrol Boats, for them to use in any way they see fit, in return for them clamping down on asylum seekers fleeing the country due to tensions that still exist and, in many cases, seeing their family members executed.
The gift of military boats to the nation the UN accuses of war crimes costs Australian taxpayers $2 million. The cynical may say Abbott is trying to emulate his idol John Howard who allegedly paid bribes to Saddam Hussein’s regime via the Australian Wheat Board.
As mentioned, the use of the boats is totally unrestricted — the Sri Lankans can arm them with whatever weaponry they like.
On 19 November, Fairfax reported the actions of a similar Sri Lankan patrol boat at the end of the civil war when it came across civilians in a fishing boat.
The Sri Lankan Navy has been the persistent subject of war crimes allegations, especially during the final weeks of Sri Lanka's civil war in 2009, when Tamils fleeing the ever-diminishing conflict zone in the north-east of the island tried to escape by sea.
From the article:
Sri Lanka's Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission heard evidence from a woman who tried to flee in a fishing boat in the final days of the war, in May 2009: ''We held two white flags and on seeing the navy we called them, 'Aiya, Aiya [Sir, Sir]'. There was sudden shelling and eight died on the spot … navy hit, navy attacked and many people died.''
A message needs to be sent to Tony Abbott that his actions and his words on this matter are not just inappropriate, they are truly sickening.
The Australia I know does not accept, endorse, or tolerate genocide or torture — it goes against everything stand for as a nation.
Tony Abbott, when you claim "we" accept this, you sure as hell don’t speak for me.
(Cartoon by John Graham / johngraham.alphalink.com.au)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License
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