Tigers by boat
Victor Rajakulendran of the Australasian Federation of Tamil Associations today told ABC News (Australia) that Tamil Tigers fleeing Sri Lanka could well be amongst boat people trying to reach Australia. This seems to support Liberal backbencher Wilson Tuckey's claim that terrorists could be amongst Sri Lankan asylum seekers headed to Australia. There is disagreement on the nature of the LTTE, however – are they terrorists or freedom fighters? In any event, the threat to Australia and Australians posed by Tamil Tigers, if any, is not apparent.
That said, the war in Sri Lanka has only just ended and it is highly likely the Sri Lanka government will in the future legally pursue any Tamils involved in the LTTE's more brutal and ruthless activities. A very close vetting of any Sri Lankan asylum seekers is therefore appropriate.
The apparent lack of threat is actually irrelevant to any decision to allow asylum seekers, or anyone else for that matter, into the country. Charles Zentai posed no threat to the community, evidenced by the fact that he lived in Australia for many years without apparent problem. He stands accused of war crimes – the World War II beating to death of a Jew – and is in the process of being extradited to Hungary for trial. Despite what The Boys From Brazil, Marathon Man and other fictional accounts would lead us to believe, most of the war criminals who fled Europe after the World War sought to be model citizens in their adoptive countries. So it will be with ex-Tigers coming to Australia.
There is the odd case of Paul Schaëfer, an ex-Nazi who set up his own personal German utopia in Chile, however. He is implicated in political disappearances orchestrated by the Chilean government but was ultimately convicted of child sex charges.
Anyway, it's not like I'm going to lose any sleep over Sri Lankan refugess but it would be comforting to know that they will be checked very carefully before being allowed entry – any future charges of war crimes could prove both embarrassing and costly for Australia.