Australia gives drones to Sri Lankan police

May 5, 2021
Activists are concerned the drones will be used to help prevent Tamils from fleeing Sri Lanka by boat and monitor political activists.

The Tamil Refugee Council (TRC) has condemned the Australian government for supplying five drones to the Sri Lankan police.

The TRC says the drones, given by the Joint Agency Taskforce Operation Sovereign Borders, will likely be used to help prevent Tamils from fleeing Sri Lanka by boat and monitor political activists.

The gift comes at a time when political repression in Sri Lanka is worsening following the election of Gotabaya Rajapaksa as president. Rajapaksa presided over a genocidal massacre of Tamils in 2009 when he was defence secretary.

The most recent meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) expressed "serious concern" at the "deteriorating situation of human rights in Sri Lanka".

It cited the militarisation of civilian government functions, the erosion of the independence of the judiciary, impunity for perpetrators of human rights violations, marginalisation of Tamils and Muslims, restrictions on religious freedom and media freedom, arbitrary detention, torture and sexual violence.

The UNHRC expressed concern about "surveillance and intimidation of civil society". The drones supplied by Australia could play a role in such surveillance.

The Australian government gave Sri Lanka two patrol boats in 2013 to help stop Tamil refugees leaving Sri Lanka by boat for Australia.

The TRC has called on the Australian government to "stop providing the Rajapaksa government with equipment and weapons that could in any way aid its ongoing oppression and persecution of Tamils".

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.