Newsletter

Sri Lanka elects new president, Tamils fear reprisals

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, former defence secretary and alleged war criminal has been elected as Sri Lanka's next president. 
 
The Tamil community within the island had participated in large numbers exercising its democratic will. However, analysis of results show that the country's ethnic division is at its furthest, with areas comprising the Tamil homeland in the NorthEast of the island voting against Mr. Rajapaksa. This forecasts a great challenge that lays ahead for genuine 'reconciliation', as well as legitimate fears of further violence and persecution of communities that are perceived to not have contributed towards Mr. Rajapaksa's election win. 
 
While the protest of families of disappeared Tamils seeking information on their loved ones who went missing after being taken into custody by Sri Lankan Armed Forces has now reached over 1000 days one of the main claims in Mr. Rajapaksa's campaign was that he would not recognise an agreement between the Sri Lankan government and UN Human Rights Council to investigate alleged war crimes during the island's ethnic war. 
 
The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) calls on the Australian government to use its relationship with Sri Lanka to monitor and ensure that rights within the island of human rights defenders, journalists and Tamil activists are not curtailed, and that the Tamil community which has been subjected to persecution, violence and abuses by consecutive governments for decades is yet again not punished for simply exercising their democratic will.
 
Media contact: Dr. Sam Pari, Spokesperson, ATC - 0416206431
18 November 2019

Buddhist mob defy court orders and conduct cremation on land deemed holy Hindus

The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) is deeply disturbed by events on 23 September 2019 in the north of the island of Sri Lanka whereby a Buddhist mob defied court orders by cremating the body of a deceased Buddhist monk on land deemed holy to Hindus. Further disturbing is that this took place under the protection of the police force.
 
The Mullaitivu district court had prohibited the cremation of deceased monk Colombo Medhalankarakiththi on land deemed holy by local Hindus and owned by local Hindu temple, Neeraviyadi Pillayar Hindu kovil. Police blocked local Tamils who protested the cremation thereby providing access to the Buddhist mob to undertake the cremation without hindrance. Witnesses recollection and footage suggest Buddhist monks reportedly attacked Tamil civilians and lawyers who were present to request enforcement of the court orders, while police officers watched on without taking any action. Sinhalese from the south of the island had been transported to the site. The incident was led by extremist Buddhist monk Galagodaaththe Gnanasara, who heads Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) and has on a previous occasion been convicted for contempt of court only to receive a presidential pardon soon after. 
 
"Buddhist monks boldly defying a court order with police presence and inaction, and in effect under police protection, shows us that in Sri Lanka rule of law is secondary to Buddhist hegemony," said ATC Chairperson, Manokaran Manickavinayagam. "This incident is a perfect example of the blatant injustice faced by Tamils and the impunity perpetrators in the island enjoy."
 
25 September 2019

The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) joins the hundreds of thousands of Australians who have called to stop the forcible removal of a Tamil family of four facing deportation to Sri Lanka

The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) joins the hundreds of thousands of Australians who have called to stop the forcible removal of a Tamil family of four facing deportation to Sri Lanka.  
 
As mother, Priya, father, Nadesalingam, and their two Australian born daughters, Kopika, aged 4 and Tharunicaa, aged 2, are held on Christmas Island, separated from their support network in mainland Australia, the ATC urges the Australian government and the Minister for Immigration to heed to calls of Australians of all walks to lives, and use their discretionary powers to allow the family to continue their lives in Australia.   
 
"Above all this is a deeply humanitarian issue - a young hard working family with two Australian-born children fully integrated into Australian society and now fearful of returning to Sri Lanka," said ATC Chairman, Manokaran Manickavinayagam. "The incredible support they have received from all walks of Australia makes us proud and shows the true compassion of our country. The single act of their deportation, as though the intention is to convey a message of toughness, will be a severe, long lasting blot and national shame. We plead with the Minister of Immigration and the Prime Minister to intervene in this last minute in the name of humanity and compassion," he added.   
 
The ATC is further concerned that the plight of the family has been well publicised in Sri Lankan media which may exacerbate the risks they already face upon their return and their intention to lead a peaceful life.  
 
Recent developments in Sri Lanka, in particular the appointment of Shavendra Silva who has been implicated in war crimes and crimes against humanity as the new Commander of the Sri Lankan Army, have been met with widespread condemnation.

 31 August 2019

ATC vows to continue to strive for justice, peace and freedom for Tamil People

Ten years since the war in Sri Lanka came to a brutal end, the Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) stands in solidarity with the Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka and vows to continue to strive for justice, peace and freedom for the Tamil people. The ATC joins 60 other organisations worldwide in endorsing the below statement:
 
On 18 May 2019, ten years since the Sri Lankan state’s genocide against the Tamil nation reached its peak, we stand in solidarity with our brethren in their quest for justice. 
 
We believe that an international independent investigation is the only credible path to achieve criminal accountability and justice for mass atrocity crimes committed against the Tamil people, including for over 146,679 Tamil people unaccounted for during the final stages of the war in the Vanni region. 
 
Sri Lanka's continuing state oppression and persecution of the Tamil people and its persisting military occupation of the Tamil homeland only further justifies the Tamil nation’s struggle for self-determination. 
 
We declare today that we will stand in solidarity with the Tamil victims and survivors, and pledge to continue to strive for peace, justice and freedom for the Tamil nation.
 
Visit www.tamiljustice.com for more information
Media contact: Dr Sam Pari, Spokesperson, ATC 0416206431

10 Years on Sri Lanka continues to evade justice

May 2019 marks a decade since the final days of the war in Sri Lanka, a period which saw thousands of people killed and disappeared as Sri Lanka accelerated its genocide against the Tamils. Despite two UN initiated reports, several UN
Human Rights Council resolutions and a multitude of reports by human rights organisations, Tamil victims and survivors are no closer to receiving justice.


What alternative paths exist for Tamil victims and survivors? Is a hybrid mechanism possible? Should a fully international tribunal be sought?

Join us as we explore these questions in conversation with Dr Helen Jarvis, who has been a judge at the 2013 Permanent Peoples Tribunal on Sri Lanka, and has served as Chief of Public Affairs and Chief of Victims Support Section
of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).

We will also be joined by Mr Ana Pararajasingham, who is a political analyst, author and expert on Sri Lankan and Tamil political affairs.

Attendees are kindly requested to register: tinyurl.com/y2jw95vf

Monday 29 April 2019 6.30pm – 8pm

Wesley Mission, 220 Pitt St, Sydney

Light snacks and beverages will be served

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