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Counting the Dead- ATC Assisting in collecting data in Australia

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. Names and details will be collected over the next three months with the aim to have a collated list by May 2019. ITJP and HRDAG have assured confidentiality in the collection process. 
ATC will also engage in protecting the privacy of those involved. We urge those who wish to volunteer for this project, or those with details of anyone who has deceased or disappeared in the island of Sri Lanka due to the war, including as far back as 1983, to contact us via email on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us on 1300 660 629.

முள்ளிவாய்க்காலில் இடம்பெற்ற தமிழ் இனஅழிப்பு முடிவுற்று பத்து ஆண்டுகளை எட்டுகின்ற போதிலும், படுகொலைசெய்யப்பட்டவர்களின் எண்ணிக்கை இன்றுவரை உறுதிப்படுத்தப்படாமலேயே உள்ளது. இத்தகைய பின்னணியில், படுகொலைசெய்யப்பட்டவர்களினதும், பலவந்தமாக காணமற்போகற்செய்யப்பட்டவர்களினதும் எண்ணிக்கையை அறியும் முகமாக, உண்மை மற்றும் நீதிக்கான சர்வதேச செயற்திட்டமும் (The International Truth and Justice Project) மற்றும் மனித உரிமைகள் தரவு ஆய்வுக் குழுமமும் (Human Rights Data Analysis Group) இணைந்து மேற்கொள்ளும் செயற்திட்டத்திற்கு அவுஸ்ரேலியத் தமிழர் பேரவை உதவிகளை வழங்கவுள்ளது. 
படுகொலைசெய்யப்பட்ட மற்றும் பலவந்தமாக காணமற்போகச்செய்யப்பட்டவர்கள் தொடர்பான தகவல்களை பதிவுசெய்ய விரும்புவர்களுக்கு அவுஸ்ரேலியத் தமிழர் பேரவையைச் சார்ந்த தொண்டர்கள் உதவிபுரிவதோடு, இந்த செயற்திட்டத்தையும் அவுஸ்ரேலியாவில் ஒருங்கிணைக்கவுள்ளனர். சேகரிக்கப்படும் தரவுகளும் தகவல்களும் ஒன்றுதிரட்டப்பட்டு மே 2019 ல் ஒரு பட்டியலை பெற்றுக்கொள்ளும் நோக்கில், பெயர்களும் தொடர்புபட்ட தகவல்களும் எதிர்வரும் மூன்று மாதங்களுக்கு  சேகரிக்கப்படும். சேகரிப்பு முறையில் இரகசியத்தன்மை பேணப்படும் என்பதற்கு உண்மை மற்றும் நீதிக்கான சர்வதேச செயற்திட்டமும், மனித உரிமைகள் தரவு ஆய்வுக் குழுமமும் உத்தரவாதம் வழங்கியுள்ளன. இந்த செயற்திட்டத்தில் ஈடுபடுபவர்களின் இரகசியத்தன்மையை அவுஸ்ரேலியத் தமிழர் பேரவையும் பேணிப் பாதுகாக்கும். 
இந்த செயற்திட்டத்தில் இணைந்து பணியாற்ற விரும்புபவர்களும், இலங்கைத் தீவில் 1983 ம் ஆண்டிலிருந்து போரினால் மரணமடைந்தவர்கள் மற்றும் காணமற்போனவர்கள் தொடர்பான தகவல்களை வழங்க விரும்புபவர்களும் கீழ்வரும் மின்னஞ்சல் அல்லது தொலைபேசி இலக்கத்தின் ஊடாக எம்மைத் தொடர்புகொள்ளவும் - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 1300 660 629
7 January 2019

ATC refutes statement made by Minister Mano Ganesan that it is safe for Tamils to return to Srilanka

Mr Ganesan wants the asylum seekers in Australia to return to Sri Lanka. He claims that it is safe for them to return, “If anyone has broken any law, they may be questioned about it," he tells SBS Tamil. "But, they will not be taken to torture camps.”  

However, not all Tamils in Australia subscribe to that view.  

Dr Sam Pari, spokesperson of the Australian Tamil Congress says, “There is evidence that torture and arrests continue in Sri Lanka, even after the new government has taken office, with the International Truth and Justice Project alone documenting at least 36 cases of Tamils being tortured."

The International Truth and Justice Project, named by Dr Pari, is just one of many rights groups who allege the abuses are still continuing despite the war ending, officially, in 2009.

There remains no independently verifiable documentation of this though, as  there has been no international inquiry into war crimes and human rights abuses committed during or since the civil war by either the government or the rebel Tamil Tigers. This is despite repeated calls for an inquiry from no less than the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Dr Sam Pari of the Australian Tamil Congress says that "Sinhalese attorney and human rights activist, Lakshan Dias, has fled Sri Lanka this month because of threat to his life by the Justice Minister."

"Bold statements such as this by Minister Mano Ganesan makes one question his credibility.”

While activist Lakshan Dias's current whereabouts could not be confirmed, various rights groups and bloggers report that the prominent lawyer has left the country following speaking out on alleged human rights abuses against the Christian community. The American-headed NGO Human Rights Watch reports that on June 17, 2017, Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe threatened to “take necessary steps to remove Mr. Lakshan Dias from the legal profession” after the outspoken lawyer alleged attacks on Christians at 160 churches across the country.  

Full Article : Click here


ATC statement on recent issues in the NPC

The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) wishes to express its disappointment at the events unfolding within the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) surrounding the corruption investigation of Northern Provincial Council (NPC) ministers, and the attempts by certain factions in TNA with the support of the Opposition, to impeach NPC Chief Minister, Justice Wigneswaran. 

The ATC has worked with the TNA over the last several years to help bring about justice for the Tamil people in the island of Sri Lanka. With due respect for elected political representatives, the ATC supports the need for investigations into corruption allegations of those in public office. Furthermore, the ATC strongly believes corruption should be stifled and investigations should take place in a free and fair manner, without the intimidation of witnesses or acts undermining independent investigations.
The ATC condemns any acts disrupting political honesty and integrity, and has confidence that elected representatives of the TNA understand that their democratic rights should be exercised to reflect the aspirations and needs of the people who voted them in.
As a supporter of democratically elected Tamil representatives, the ATC, as a diaspora organisation with interest in the well-being of kith and kin living in the island of Sri Lanka, urge the TNA to amicably resolve any grievances and bring to an end this highly divisive issue.
The ATC also urges Chief Minister, Justice Wigneswaran to take necessary steps to unite all TNA members and deliver tangible socio-economic benefits for our people who have been affected by the war. The ATC hopes the NPC lead by the Chief Minister, Justice Wigneswaran will function with more vigour and focus on improving the education and living standards in the Northern Province

Collective memorialisation is a fundamental right

29 May 2017

The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) is deeply disturbed and strongly condemns the ongoing acts of surveillance, intimidation and harassment by the Sri Lankan state of family members and civil society leaders found engaging in commemoration activities of loved ones who perished eight years ago.  

This month Tamils world over marked the 8th year since over a hundred thousand Tamils were killed due to the Sri Lankan government's military onslaught in the island's north - a campaign riddled with allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity. 

On 17 May, ruling that it threatened “unity" and "national security" a local court issued a two week ban on memorialisation activities near a commemoration monument in Mullivaikkal East that had been erected earlier. Over the past week several reports have risen of acts of intimidation and harassment by Sri Lankan police and military of those involved in memorialisation events. The most prominent has been the repeated summoning for questioning by the police of Fr. Elil, a Tamil priest involved in such remembrance events. He along with a young Tamil man who assisted in creating memorial stones have been interrogated and asked to sign statements in Sinhala, a language not native to them.

Collective remembrance is a community’s fundamental right and peaceful gatherings help heal a grieving community. Acts of intimidation and obstruction of such fundamental rights goes against ‘good governance’ and ‘reconciliation’. 

The ATC is humbled to hear, however, that amidst such threats by the state, Tamils in the North and East of the island of Sri Lanka continued to publicly commemorate the ‘Mullivaikkal Remembrance Day’ on 18 May with Tamils around the world, including Australia, joining them.

Meanwhile, ATC stands in support with the families of the disappeared holding a peaceful protest in Kilinochchi. This protest demanding answers from the Sri Lankan government on the whereabouts of disappeared family members has now reached its 100th day.

For further details: 

Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research

Amnesty International

The International Truth and Justice Project 

Sports journalist Trevor Grant dies, aged 65 -The Age-Greg Baum


Trevor Grant, who died on Sunday, was brave in everything he did.

As a sports journalist for 40 years, he took the mission of speaking truth to power more to heart than any of his kind. At media briefings, he was invariably front and centre, asking the hard questions, and not in the least intimidated by any of the hard men he was confronting. Some heads are still shaking now. His writing had the same direct quality, but was also elegant and beautifully crafted, a rare combination. The byline alone told you the story would be worth reading.

After retiring early from journalism, Grant – Shorty, or Shortarse to all – took his zeal and compassion in a new direction, as an activist for the disenfranchised and downtrodden. He worked on behalf of refugees, especially from Sri Lanka, and wrote a book on atrocities in their homeland, Sri Lanka's Secrets  How the Rajapaksa regime gets away with Murder. Geoffrey Robertson wrote the foreword. In 2013, the former cricket writer led a movement to boycott the Sri Lankan cricket team in Australia.

Grant tackled other improprieties; for instance, poker machines in the AFL. Periodically, he turned up in the letters pages of the papers he once graced as a journalist. On air, in print or in person, always one quality shone through, that authorities were not going to get away with it.

His last challenge was cancer. In 2015, aged just 63, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, the asbestos cancer, almost certainly from decades of working in two newspaper offices. While undergoing sometimes gruelling treatment, he pursued the media companies for damages and wrote and spoke about his plight, not in self-pity, but so that others might understand and be emboldened. The injustice hurt more than the cancer. But on Sunday, he succumbed, aged just 65.

Grant, one of three brothers, was born in 1951. He went to Hampton High and began in journalism as a copy boy and cadet at the short-lived afternoon paper Newsday in 1969. He soon showed his talent with a front page story on Vain, the champion racehorse. When Newsday closed the next year, he moved to the Sporting Globe, then The Herald (both now defunct). After an enterprising stint in England, he returned to work for The Age until 1989 then for the Herald Sun until 2009. He wrote brilliantly about AFL, cricket, golf and racing, indeed on any topic where there was a story to be told or a wrong to be righted.

He was boon companion on cricket tours, without ever allowing himself to be lulled. In Pakistan in 1988, for instance, his hard line against the machinations of team management would rebound on him for years. He had no regrets, nor was he shaken in his stance.

He was an avid and capable golfer, though of course yearned always to be more capable; he could not have been more avid. He was also a fervent Collingwood supporter and a selector of their team of the century, but there are plenty of Collingwood people to tell you that he never let his love of the Magpies get in the way of his journalistic integrity.

He had the utmost respect of his peers and elders, and was warm and solicitous towards all colleagues, and so had a wide circle of friends. For them all, this is a sad day.

Grant accepted that he was dying, saying it comes to everyone, but to him sooner rather than later, and so until the end he displayed astonishing equanimity about it. That did not mean that was any easier for him than anyone else. It just meant that he approached dying the same way he approached living, with all the courage he had. He is survived by a son, Matthew, and a daughter, Caroline.

A memorial service will be held at Woodlands Golf Club at 2pm on Friday.


Trevor Grant

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