Lankans using civil war as excuse to seek asylum: Envoy

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Canberra (Australia), Nov.8 (ANI): Sri Lankans are using the civil war as an excuse to seek asylum abroad, the country's high commissioner to Australia has claimed.

Senaka Walgampaya said many Sri Lankan asylum seekers were actually "economic refugees" wanting a better life in Australia.

"As far as we can see, all the people who are seeking asylum in Australia are seeking to come here for a better life," he told Channel 10.

"Also, most of them have their friends and relatives here ... they are coming here to join up with them," he added.

"They are making use of the post-conflict situation in Sri Lanka to make that excuse to seek asylum in Australia," he said.

Walgampaya's comments come as the stalemate aboard an Australian customs ship holding 78 asylum seekers off Indonesia continues.

Australia has been trying for two weeks to persuade the group of ethnic Tamils to voluntarily disembark the Oceanic Viking and enter the Tanjung Pinang Detention Centre on the Indonesian island of Bintan.

But the group has refused, adamant they want to be taken to Australia even though they were rescued in international waters within Indonesia's search and rescue zone.

Walgampaya said: "Sri Lanka suspects a lot of these people are fugitives from justice, so in that event they have to be brought to justice."

"But if they've not committed any offence and they are perfectly innocent people, well then there is no problem - Sri Lanka will take them back and they can enter civilian life," he added. (ANI)

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