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  • The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) expresses its disappointment on the shortcomings of resolution 40/1 ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’ adopted at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), as it fails to set a clear pathway for accelerated progress on achieving transitional justice and accountability for mass atrocity crimes committed in Sri Lanka. There have been seven such resolutions with Sri Lanka itself co-sponsoring the last three. However, ten years since the war which saw the peak of mass atrocity crimes committed against the Tamil population,...
  • As we approach the tenth year since the war in the island of Sri Lanka came to a bloody end, there still exist discrepancies as to number of dead. The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) will be assisting in a project launched by two international NGO’s, the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) and the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG), which aims to estimate the number of dead and disappeared.  Volunteers from ATC will assist those wishing to provide the relevant information required to record the deceased or disappeared due to war, and coordinate the project in Australia....

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  • 11-01-2019
    Yet another New Year dawns almost 10 years since the worst of the genocidal onslaught against the Tamil people by the Sri Lankan state with no sign of the victims receiving justice in the near future. More than three years after UN Human Rights Council (HRC) Resolution 30/1 on Sri Lanka, to-date Sri Lanka has taken very few steps to fulfil its obligations and none of those implemented have produced any substantive outcomes for those most affected by the war. The current President and the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka have made repeated statements rejecting some of the most important...
  • 05-06-2017
    The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) expresses deep concern over the lack of concerted actions by the Government of Sri Lanka on addressing the issue of the missing persons, as the continuous protest by their relatives has gone past one hundred days. The reports of intimidation and disruption of the peaceful protests by the Sri Lankan armed forces is deeply troubling. Despite its commitments made to the member states of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein at this year’s session in March, the Government of Sri Lanka has...

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Chifley Electorate: Tamil Community

Mr HUSIC (Chifley) (22:20): Last Sunday I had the pleasure of attending a special ceremony at Blacktown's Bowman Hall marking the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Catholic Association of Sydney Tamils. The association is headed up by President Ansalm Jehenthiran and Secretary Seles Guraratnam. I was invited to the evening by someone I have great regard for within the community, Mr John Niven. The evening drew massive support from Tamil Australians. They were joined by a number of special guests including the Bishop of Parramatta the Most Reverend Anthony Fisher; Father Vincent Savarimuthu; the secretary of Sub Continent Friends of Labor, Harish Velgi; New South Wales Opposition Leader and member for Blacktown, John Robertson; and someone who has been such a passionate and energetic supporter of Tamil Australians, the member for Toongabbie, Nathan Rees.

The Catholic Association of Sydney Tamils has quietly attended to the welfare and wellbeing of newly arrived Tamils. The work is hard, trying and emotionally challenging. To maintain that level of support and effort over 20 years is simply a triumph. By the accounts detailed on the night and judging by the support present, it is clear the association's work is held in deep regard. But I would also imagine the work is valued and welcomed by those families who have, in desperate circumstances, sought to start a new life in a more peaceful environment than the one they fled—something we should be mindful of in this special week, Refugee Week.

Many Tamil families have settled in Western Sydney, particularly in the electorates of Chifley and Greenway. I have had the opportunity to meet with a range of community groups who aim to enhance the welfare of Tamil Australians. The work done by the Australian Tamil Congress in bringing awareness about issues concerning the Tamil community in Australia, in particular the suffering and injustices faced by their loved ones in their homeland, is exceptionally important. I have appreciated working with their members and I especially thank Varuni Balachandar. I was grateful for Varuni's invitation to attend photographer Shelley Morris' exhibition 'Sounds of Silence' held here and organised by the Australian Tamil Congress. These unique initiatives help in opening the eyes of the wider community to issues close to the Tamil community.

I have also welcomed the considered and thoughtful insights provided to me by Mr Siva Sivasubramanium and Dr Mano Mohan from the Australian Tamil Electoral Lobby. In meetings I have had with the group, I have recognised the studied and intelligent approach they apply to issues of concern to their community. They are such strong, tireless representatives and I would like to record my thanks for their assistance and advice.

While in this place we as representatives seek to advance and promote the interests of the electorates we serve, it is incumbent upon us to consider and alleviate the plight of those in terrible situations. While much is made of the fact that a fierce conflict within Sri Lanka has abated, there are still civilians—men, women and children—who continue to suffer. Many remain stuck in internment camps. If they emerge from the camps, the opportunities they have to rebuild their lives are sparse and constrained. There is a critical need to support Tamil resettlement within Sri Lanka. Through AusAID we should extend whatever assistance we can to ensure that peace in Sri Lanka is made more durable through a fair, equitable spread of resources to enable a smoother, faster resettlement process. But besides a desire to improve material conditions, there is another pressing need. We cannot expect people who have been mired in embittered conflict to reconcile without achieving justice for those who have suffered atrocities, who have been victims of war crimes. The United Nations has been hampered in its efforts to conduct a thorough investigation into this matter and I urge the Australian government to continue to support calls for those responsible to be brought to justice and to ensure that those who have suffered can savour true peace.

On an unrelated note may I also take this time to commend the work of some other people within the Chifley electorate who are committed to seeing change and improvement in the lives of those less fortunate. The Blacktown Fairtrade Working Group was set up last year by some young, dynamic local residents who are passionate supporters of Fairtrade, the movement that is pushing to see companies maintain decent working conditions, promote local sustainability and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. I would particularly like to recognise Rooty Hill resident Patricia Kumar for her strong advocacy and tireless effort in encouraging other locals to support Fairtrade. As a result of her lobbying, I signed my office up to the Fairtrade pledge, to ensure we use products that meet the Fairtrade accreditation standards. Congratulations to Patricia for her considerate work.

More shocking evidence on War Crimes in Sri Lanka.

Channel 4 News -Sri Lanka 'war crimes' soldiers ordered to 'finish the job'

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Exclusive: two Sri Lankans who witnessed the violent final showdown of the country's 26-year civil war claim a top military commander and Sri Lanka's defence secretary ordered war crimes.Warning: You may find parts of this report distressing.One of these eyewitnesses, an army officer, accuses Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa - the president's brother - of ordering Brigadier Shavendra Silva to execute Tamil rebel leaders, whose safe surrender had been guaranteed by the president.The other new witness, who was also operating with Brigadier Shavendra Silva's 58 Division on the front line during the final assault, claims the Brigadier was ordered by the defence secretary "to finish the job by whatever means necessary."'Licence to kill'He said this was interpreted by the soldiers as a licence to kill. He described how he had watched as Sri Lankan forces shot dead unarmed Tamil women and children. It is the first time this allegation has been made.The war was won by Sri Lankan government soldiers two years ago. The rebel leadership was virtually wiped out.They shot people at random. Stabbed people. Raped them. Cut out their tongues, cut women's breasts off. I saw people soaked in blood. - 'Fernando'As the army closed in, around 130,000 Tamil civilians had been trapped on an ever-shrinking shard of land on the north-east of the island alongside the besieged rebel fighters, who are accused of using them as human shields.The Sri Lankan president said no civilians were killed by the army during the final assault. But the United Nations now believes that up 40,000 civilians were killed during the last few weeks of the conflict. Others estimate the toll to be higher.

The Sri Lankan soldiers' whose hearts turned to stone'

Australian Tamil Congress 2nd Annual General Meeting

We invite members of the Australian Tamil Community to participate in our 2nd AGM.

ATC Executives will provide an update on achievements to date and planned activities for the future.

Your participation will give us an opportunity to listen to your opinions to enhance the future of ATC.

When: Sat. 17th September 2011 at 6:00pm

Venue: Homebush Boys High School, Bridge Road, Homebush

Australian Greens call for Sri Lanka to be suspended from Councils of the Commonwealth

Australia’s Green Party has called upon the Australian government to suspend Sri Lanka from the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM) to be held in Perth next month.

Sri Lanka should be suspended from the Councils of the Commonwealth, says roundtable

Posted on 20. Sep, 2011

A round table held at Federal Parliament today resolved to call for a suspension of Sri Lanka from the Councils of the Commonwealth pending an international independent investigation into war crimes (see backgrounder below). This is the first time that groups in Australia have publicly made this call.

Greens Senator for NSW Lee Rhiannon said: "Sri Lanka will continue to be the elephant in the room in Commonwealth forums until allegations of war crimes and discrimination are independently investigated and addressed.

"Last week Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper set the bar for Commonwealth leaders to follow in questioning whether Sri Lanka should continue to host the 2013 CHOGM meeting unless it can prove it has made progress on investigating alleged war crimes.

"With CHOGM shortly to be held in Perth the Australian government needs to add its voice and ensure that all Commonwealth nations uphold principles of human rights and the rule of law", said Senator Rhiannon.

The Hon John Dowd said: "It would be a disgrace to the whole Commonwealth if CHOGM were to be held in Sri Lanka prior to Sri Lanka dealing with the war crimes committed there.

"There will be no justice for the people of Sri Lanka or solution to the problems unless the crimes committed on both sides are dealt with.

"The Commonwealth must suspend Sri Lanka from its membership. Failure to do so will mean all members condone the recent history of Sri Lanka" said Mr Dowd.

Dr Sam Pari, spokesperson for the Australian Tamil Congress said: "The Sri Lankan regime needs to know that perpetrators of war crimes cannot simply continue to evade accountability with impunity, and deny justice to their victims.

"A tribunal for the Tamil killing field should be turned into a global symbol of deterrence for other authoritarian regimes willing to kill their own civilians. Without a tribunal, the Tamil killing field becomes a horrific precedent suggesting that in our era, states can escape unscathed for egregious violations of human rights law.

"Suspending Sri Lanka will send a strong unambiguous message to Sri Lanka: as long as you continue to obstruct an international independent inquiry into war crimes you will face consequences", said Dr Pari.

The roundtable resolved the following:

We call on the Australian Government and the Federal Opposition to:

1. Support calls for Sri Lanka to be suspended from the Councils of the Commonwealth until the government of Sri Lanka agrees to an international independent investigation into war crimes, restoration of human rights and the rule of law and the implementation of all of the recommendations of the UN Expert Panel Report on War Crimes in Sri Lanka. Failing that event occurring within a reasonable time that steps be instituted to suspend Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth.

2. Oppose Sri Lanka hosting CHOGM in 2013.

We call on the Prime Minister Julia Gillard to follow the lead of Canadian President Stephen Harper in saying he will not attend CHOGM in Sri Lanka in 2013 if there is no progress in Sri Lanka's human rights and the establishment of an independent investigation into war crimes.

The round table, hosted by Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, looked at furthering the call for an independent war crimes tribunal for Sri Lanka. Participants were: the Hon John Dowd AO QC (President of the International Commission of Jurists Australia); Dr Sam Pari (Australian Tamil Congress); Associate Professor Jake Lynch (Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, Sydney University); Dr Ben Saul (Professor of International Law and Director of the Sydney Centre for International Law at Sydney University); Peter Arndt (Executive Officer of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission Brisbane); Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon.

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