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No need for Sri Lankans to flee

2013 Dec 30

The Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Australia says Sri Lankans no longer have any reason to flee to Australia as the country moves towards reconciliation.

Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe told The Daily Advertiser the civil war and its fallout has been “fully settled”.

“Terrorism was defeated in Sri Lanka against terrorists,” he said. ”But they are trying to accuse Sri Lanka of various wrongdoings which are not true. Sri Lankans need not come to Australia anymore as asylum seekers or refugees.”

“They are not being persecuted.”

Samarasinghe attended a Sri Lankan community event at the weekend, paying tribute to the contributions of Sri Lankans to Wagga, where about 100 Sri Lankan families call home.

Sri Lanka is a nation scarred by a decades-long civil war that was finally brought to an end in 2009 with the government forcing a complete defeat of the Tamil Tigers.

The government and the Tamil Tigers were accused of war crimes during the conflict. Admiral Samarasinghe is a former navy chief who commanded the navy during the civil war’s final years.

According to the UN, more than 30,000 civilians died in those final years of conflict and more than 14,000 people are seeking asylum.

Admiral Samarasinghe said the Sri Lankans living in Australia came looking for a better life.

“Sri Lankans have deep roots in Australia,” he said. ”They make very responsible citizens, very disciplined with no trouble and very friendly. For Sri Lanka, Australia is a second home.”

Most Sri Lankans living in Wagga are employed in education and health service sectors. Admiral Samarasinghe highlighted education as a major link between Sri Lanka and Australia.

“A lot of students are coming to Australia,” he said. ”With the new Colombo Plan, there will now even be Australian students going to Sri Lanka. This is a link that will flourish. We are expecting our relationship to go from strength to strength.”

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