Anyone who legitimately believes the mantra oft touted as in successful tones by Canberra that the boats have stopped is a shade naive. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has dodged questions regarding speculation that two boats of Sri Lankan asylum seekers - specifically those from the Tamil region, still ruled by Sri Lankan military occupation following the cessation of the civil war some four years ago - were handed back to Sri Lankan Navy following a processing interrogation that comprised a mere four questions.

Through the week, the fate of the boats has remained unknown, after civilian contact was lost over the past weekend. According to Fairfax Media, one boat was asked four questions via teleconference before being handed over to the Sri Lankan navy. The questions asked were what is the passengers' name, their country of origin, where they had come from and why they had left. 50 asylum seekers were handed over on one boat, and a further 153 seekers were on the other.

Speaking to 3AW today, Prime Minister Abbott painted the picture that Sri Lanka was a "society at peace" following the end of the bloody civil war in 2009. He went further, praising the alleged advancements in human rights the country has made, "But I want to make this observation, Sri Lanka is not everyone's idea of the ideal society but it is at peace . . . a horrific civil war has ended. I believe that there has been a lot of progress when it comes to human rights and the rule of law in Sri Lanka."

Noted human rights lawyer Julian Burnside, however, had a much graver assessment of the situation in Sri Lanka. In a posting on his website, Burnside claimed the following to be true:

1. Abbott says Sri Lanka is ‘a society at peace’ yet his own Foreign Affairs department latest travel advisory, issued last month, says: “We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution due to the unpredictable security environment.”
2. The Sri Lankan government is currently under investigation by the UN for war crimes and crimes against humanity, accused of the pre-meditated murder of as many as 70,000 innocent Tamil civilians at the end of the civil war in 2009. The Sri Lankan government has refused to co-operate with the investigation and has threatened to prosecute any of its citizens who give evidence.
3. Under Abbott, Australia refused to join its traditional allies such as the US and UK in supporting the investigation. Instead it has aligned itself with the likes of China and Russia in trying to block any independent investigations into these war crimes.
4. Torture and rape are common occurrences in post-war Sri Lanka, as documented in many reports. Human Rights Watch last year detailed 75 cases of rape and sexual torture of men, women and children in custody, almost half of them had taken place since the war ended and about a third had been citizens returning to the country. The UK Foreign secretary, William Hague, announced last month his government was investigating the rape and sexual torture of returned Tamil asylum-seekers.
5. The Sri Lankan military has increased in size since the end of the war. There is a military occupation in the Tamil homelands in the north, with one soldier for every five people.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison denied the existence of the boats in a farcical exchange with media, posted on the Asylum Seekers Resource Council's Facebook page:



And when asked today if the Australian people had a right to know what was happening with asylum seekers on the boats, Prime Minister Abbott responded, "The public deserve safe and secure borders."

On this particular issue, the Abbot Government is displaying political action that's about as transparent as solid concrete.

Photo: Stefan Postles via Getty Images.

via SMH.