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UN Human Rights Chief calls for Hybrid Court to Investigate Sri Lankan War Crimes‏

Yesterday, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released its long awaited report into human rights violations in Sri Lanka 2002-2011.

The violations revealed in the report, characterised by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid, as “among the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole”, makes a harrowing reading, presenting evidence of horrific level of abuses suffered by the Tamil civillians at the hands of the Sri Lankan soldiers, including indiscriminate shelling, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, denial of humanitarian assistance, ill treatment of IDPs, torture and sexual violence.

The report recommends the establishment of a hybrid special court, integrating international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators, as essential.

 

Australian Tamil Congress Congratulates the Tamil National Alliance

The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) congratulates Mr. R. Sampanthan and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) on their resounding election victory in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka. The Tamil people have once again given the TNA, and its leader Mr. R. Sampanthan, a strong mandate to negotiate a political solution.

 The Tamil people have also sent a clear message to the new Sri Lankan government and to the international community that they are firmly behind the TNA and its leadership; they are anxious to see a just political solution to the long standing Tamil national question; they want to achieve accountability for war time excesses through honest implementation of the relevant UN resolutions and processes; and they want to address matters of immediate concerns, such as land and livelihood in the north and east, without any further delay.

 As an organization that has worked with the TNA for several years, we seek the full support of the international community, including India, to help implement the legitimate demands of the Tamil people through a negotiated power sharing arrangement.

 Overall, the ‎citizens of Sri Lanka have once again voted for the consolidation of progressive changes that began with the January 2015 presidential election.‎ ATC would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Ranil Wickramasinghe, the leader of the United National Party, and President Sirisena on this remarkable election outcome, and is hopeful that they will continue to strive together for far-reaching constitutional changes for the good governance of the country.  

 ATC respects the wishes of the Tamil people and reiterates our commitment to work with TNA and all other relevant stakeholders to achieve equality, justice, peace and prosperity for our people.

 The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) congratulates Mr. R. Sampanthan and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) on their resounding election victory in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka. The Tamil people have once again given the TNA, and its leader Mr. R. Sampanthan, a strong mandate to negotiate a political solution.

 The Tamil people have also sent a clear message to the new Sri Lankan government and to the international community that they are firmly behind the TNA and its leadership; they are anxious to see a just political solution to the long standing Tamil national question; they want to achieve accountability for war time excesses through honest implementation of the relevant UN resolutions and processes; and they want to address matters of immediate concerns, such as land and livelihood in the north and east, without any further delay.

 As an organization that has worked with the TNA for several years, we seek the full support of the international community, including India, to help implement the legitimate demands of the Tamil people through a negotiated power sharing arrangement.

 Overall, the ‎citizens of Sri Lanka have once again voted for the consolidation of progressive changes that began with the January 2015 presidential election.‎ ATC would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Ranil Wickramasinghe, the leader of the United National Party, and President Sirisena on this remarkable election outcome, and is hopeful that they will continue to strive together for far-reaching constitutional changes for the good governance of the country.  

 ATC respects the wishes of the Tamil people and reiterates our commitment to work with TNA and all other relevant stakeholders to achieve equality, justice, peace and prosperity for our people.

 

GTF-ATC Congratulates President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe on passing of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution

Global Tamil Forum (GTF) congratulates the leadership shown by all Sri Lankan political parties and their Parliamentarians, and in particular the leadership shown by President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe on successfully adopting the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Passing of the 19th amendment along with other steps taken to democratise the state and its institutions have significantly altered the unfortunate political culture and practices adopted in Sri Lanka in the recent past. These newly adopted progressive changes annul the trend set by the previous regime, and effectively place the country back in the right course to work towards more meaningful and democratic constitutional changes in the future.

We are aware that the government’s 100-day program could not be implemented in full to meet all its ideals and the 19th Amendment too in its adopted form has lot to be desired. Despite that, the spirit of change and the new political atmosphere involving consultations and compromises are breathtakingly fresh in the context of Sri Lanka and give hope that such conditions, if further developed, will be conducive to resolve other pressing issues faced by the people.

We also recognise the positive steps the government has taken to address certain immediate concerns of the Tamil people. These include removing of military Governors and appointing civilians as Governors for the Northern and Eastern Provinces, transferring of small sections of land back to the rightful owners, releasing of a few Tamil political detainees and the review of the proscription of Tamil diaspora individuals and entities. Though limited in scope they are still significant.

However, large swathes of private land are still illegally occupied by the military, disproportionate number of military personnel still remain in the North and East, intimidation and arbitrary arrests still continue, military remains engaged in day to day life of Tamils in North and East, sexual violence continue against the tens of thousands of war widows and others, Tamil men and women still live in fear even more so in the Northern and Eastern provinces, several hundreds of political prisoners still remain in custody without being charged, the Prevention of Terrorism Act still not repealed, above all the Tamil National Question remains unresolved.

Momentum developed by passing of the 19th amendment and other positive initiatives taken to provide limited relief for the Tamil people, should be developed further to be stepping stones, to resolve the long standing Tamil national problem in Sri Lanka. In this context, it is important that the government accelerates implementing these initiatives and also takes meaningful steps to comprehensively address the issues related to alleged war crimes, serving of justice, political resolution and reconciliation.

Global Tamil Forum, for its part, is fully committed to playing a constructive role in making all these reality.

Guidance for making submission to the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka

Guidance for making a submission to the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka ("OISL")

Australian Tamil Congress Evidence Collection Assistance Team has been working with legal professionals in coordinating evidence collection for the past three years. Our experienced team will be assisting those willing to provide evidence.
 
If you or anyone you know wishes to provide any evidence, please contact us on 1300 660 629(Australian callers). If you need  guidance to write your statement please click here

 

Australian Tamils welcome court injunction halting return of asylum seekers.

The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC), a national organisation representing Australian Tamils, has welcomed a high court interim injunction till 4pm today which will prevent Australian authorities from handing 153 Tamil asylum seekers over to the Sri Lankan navy.
 
"This high court decision is representative of the true Aussie spirit - of ensuring, not denying, a fair go to everyone," said Mr Bala Vigneswaran of the ATC. "These individuals, apparently intercepted in mid-sea as they fled persecution to seek asylum, have a right to a just hearing of their case as per international laws and the UN Refugee Convention. Australia is signatory to this convention, and returning these men, women and children to the very people they are escaping from, without a fair process, is not only in breach of Australia's international obligations but also morally abhorrent," he added.
 
53 Australian legal scholars have also joined in condemning Australia's rapid and inadequate screening interviews at sea and returning of asylum seekers to Sri Lanka.
 
Credible international agencies and eminent persons have documented abduction, arbitrary detention, torture, rape and sexual violence against persons returned to Sri Lanka, who had sought humanitarian protection in other countries.
Earlier this year, the UN Human Rights Council approved an international war crimes inquiry into alleged war crimes committed in Sri Lanka.  
 
The ATC calls on the Australian government to put human rights above political gain and process claims for protection in a robust and fair process.
 
Media contact: Dr Bala Vigneswaran 0404404777

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