Tamil who turned against Tigers urges more aid to repatriate refugees

  • Stuart Rintoul

In Australia`s Tamil Community, NOEL Nadesan has been, by his own reckoning, the No1 enemy of the Tamil Tigers;

He is an outspoken critic of the war in Sri Lanka who said the “glamour and the glory” of the separatist struggle had disappeared, leaving only “the grim suffering of our people”.

Dr Nadesan was the Tamil who turned; the founder of a Tamil medical unit supported by the Tamil Tigers in the 1980s who believed violence was necessary, but who came to believe that the separatist dream of Tamil Eelam was a dangerous delusion and its leaders sadistic terrorists.

A veterinary surgeon in Melbourne, Dr Nadesan established an Australia-wide community newspaper, Uthayam,printing 10,000 copies a month for 13 years. He used it to urge peace in Sri Lanka. More than once the paper was burned in protest by supporters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

In March last year, he led a diaspora delegation of Tamils living in seven countries into talks with the Sri Lankan government. He is helping to establish a hospital in his family’s village.

Dr Nadesan backs the federal government’s decision to lift the freeze on the processing of asylum claims for Sri Lankans. He said yesterday the situation in Sri Lanka had improved greatly since the end of the 26-year war on May 19 last year, with many opponents of the government now released from prison.

He said he did not believe any Sri Lankan refugees could hold legitimate fears for their life.

Rather than providing asylum, he would like to see the Australian government doing more to aid and repatriate former refugees.

Dr Nadesan also offered an insight into Australia’s Tamil community, saying that LTTE representatives who were sent to the negotiating table during the war, many of whom were living in Australia, were “imbeciles”.

In March last year, in a searching article titled “Let my people go in peace”, Dr Nadesan wrote: “We have looked the other way when our entire leadership was liquidated, not by the Sri Lankan government but by our own people.”

Dr Nadesan said Julia Gillard’s decision to try to shift asylum-seekers to East Timor, or Manus, or some other offshore destination, did not appear different to John Howard’s Pacific Solution.

“It doesn’t fit into the principle of giving protection. It is a political decision to process people away from the mainland,” he said.

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