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I first picked up on Sri Lanka war crimes because Antony Loewenstein told me how they outweighed Israel’s actions in Gaza. Here’s his piece condeming the reports that Australia may grant asylum to the former head of the Sri Lankan army, Sarath Fonseka:

I have spoken to several individuals who were in the combat zone in the final months of last year’s war and they have detailed the government’s deliberate shelling and bombing of civilians and infrastructure, including hospitals. Human Rights Watch has demanded international accountability for countless violations.

Jake Lynch, director of Sydney University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, has documented Canberra’s “official hand-wringing … accompanied by a notable pusillanimity” when faced with Sri Lanka’s crimes. Trade has trumped human rights time and time again….

Of course, the issue of investigating war crimes should not be solely directed at leaders and officials in developing countries. The international legal system remains fundamentally deficient due to the highly selective nature of its usual mandate. Why, for example, aren’t there serious questions asked when senior Israeli ministers visit Australia, some of whom are accused by the UN Goldstone Report of committing war crimes in Gaza?

The aftermath of Sri Lanka’s recently disputed election puts even more pressure on Canberra to take its global responsibilities seriously. Failing to do so would simply add another chapter in the already dismal history of Australia allowing sanctuary to killers, brutes and generals.

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