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Minister Morrison's Comments Nothing More than Propaganda

Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) expresses utter dismay and strongly condemns the decision by Minister Scott Morrison to not meet the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) or Tamil civil society leaders during his recent visit to the northern city of Jaffna.

Senior TNA MP and lawyer MA Sumanthiran stated that most foreign delegations that visited the north always made the effort to consult with a wide range of stakeholders, including the elected Tamil representatives, to gauge the real situation faced by Tamils. He alluded to the recent visits of British Prime Minister David Cameron, former Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid, Singapore Foreign Minister K Shanmugam, and most recently, South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Sumanthiran MP also expressed disappointment that Mr. Morrison had squandered the opportunity to learn more about the plight of Tamil citizens in the war-ravaged North, despite repeated effort by the TNA to arrange a meeting with the Minister.

Australian Tamils are also deeply concerned about the secretive nature of Minister Morrison’s visit to the North, where he would meet only with the government appointed, retired military commander cum governor, while the popularly elected Chief Minister of the Northern Province, former Supreme Court Judge CV Wigneswaran, was kept in the dark. There is disbelief within the Tamil community that Minister Morrison would choose to go along on a government guided tour, while not meeting even a single elected Tamil representative from the war-ravaged area.  After being a willing participant of such state-orchestrated visit, any comment now he makes about the conditions in the Tamil areas should be viewed as nothing more than propaganda statements to suit the agenda of both the Sri Lankan and Australian governments. 

The International Community and the United Nations recognise that Sri Lanka is not a society at peace, and are taking steps to promote accountability, rule of law, and reconciliation in that country.  However, the Australian government, in contrast to our close allies, has chosen to either ignore or down play the ground reality for Tamils, with the expectation that such appeasement would contribute to the success of its ‘stop the boats’ policy.  In this context, ATC appeals to our government to adopt a balanced foreign policy approach, with respect for human rights as a key component.

 

Media contact: 1300 660 629

PM's Comments on Sri Lanka- Shameful and Obsequious Brand of Appeasement

Australian Tamil Congress strongly condemns the statement made by Prime Minister Tony Abbott that Sri Lanka is at peace after end of civil war and that there has been a lot of progress when it comes to human rights and the rule of law in Sri Lanka.  Prime Minister’s comment is a particularly shameful and obsequious brand of appeasement by Australia, and it wrongly elevates the politics of perceived national interest over widespread concerns about human rights and rule of law in Sri Lanka.

Furthermore, this statement is in stark contrast to those from our close allies such as US, UK, Canada and other progressive Western Nations, all of which have adopted a consistent and principled position of being highly critical of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka.  It is commonly accepted that the human rights record of the Sri Lankan government is appalling, and for this reason, Sri Lanka is under increasing scrutiny of the International Community.

  • On June 25th, 2014, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay announced that three distinguished experts will advise and support the UN international investigation team set up to conduct a comprehensive investigation of alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka, as mandated by UN Human Rights Council resolution in March 2014. 
  • Aiming to stem the tide of violent attacks and recrimination against Sri Lanka’s Muslim and Christian communities, a group of United Nations human rights experts called on the government of Sri Lanka (July 03, 2014) to adopt urgent measures to stop the promotion of racial and faith-based hatred, and to end “the atmosphere of impunity” fuelling hate speech and violence by Buddhist extremists.

In the recent past the Australian governments have not adopted strong positions on human rights violations in Sri Lanka, primarily due to their need for cooperation with the Sri Lankan government in handling the asylum seeker issue.  However, it is important that Australia maintains a healthy de-link between these two issues, and such an enlightened policy approach is not only principled, but also in Australia’s long term national interest by promoting genuine transformation and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.

Australian Tamil Community is deeply concerned about the fate of the Tamil refugees, and in particular, about the reports that they have been handed back to the Sri Lankan Navy in mid-sea.  If these reports are correct, it will be a travesty to Australia’s foreign policy, and more importantly, this will be a serious breach of the accepted international norms and obligations that will bring long-lasting shame to the country we proudly call ours.

Media Contact: 1300 660 629 

 

ATC Calls on Government to Ensure Safety of Stranded Asylum Seekers Off Christmas Island

A boat carrying asylum seekers is stranded off the waters of Christmas Island over the last few days.  It is claimed that the boat originated from a South Indian port  with 153 Tamils on board, which includes 37 children and 32 women. , There is a serious damage in the engine of the boat and the people are in need of desperate help.

Australian Tamil Congress calls on our government to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of the stranded people who appear to be in dire conditions in the sea.  If the people on the boat eventually choose to apply for protection, ATC calls on our government to faithfully apply the necessary procedures to assess their claims under the UN Refugee Conventions to which Australia is a signatory  ATC requests the government to provide necessary mental and physical health services for these people to overcome their traumatic experiences during and after war in Sri Lanka.      

Media Contact: Dr Bala Vigneswaran- 0404404777

Hon Sumanthiran MP Visit to Australia

ATC as part of the lobbying efforts for the UN Human Rights Council session in March 2014 invited Hon Sumanthiran MP to Australia on a brief visit. He traveled all the way from Geneva to be here. We held several forums in Parliament House, at University of NSW and Australian National University, private meetings with politicians and many eminent persons. We had exceptional media coverage. Click the link for full coverage.  http://www.australiantamilcongress.com/en/images/PDF/MAS.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sri Lankan security forces blamed in report for crimes against humanity



 Public Interest Advocacy Center, a nonprofit legal advocacy group in Australia, in consultation with prominent international jurists, have released a report with new evidence that the government forces systematically destroyed mass burial sites of civilians during civil war.The report  backs calls for an international inquiry.

Please find below links to few media coverage on this report including ATC spokesperson Dr Sam Pari's comments on ABC radio.

ABC- (includes ATC's  comments)- Click here
Fairfax media - Click
here
New York Times - Click here 
Australian Greens -Press Release-Click here
Al Jazeera -Click here

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