Latest News

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.







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
New York Times - Click here 
Australian Greens -Press Release-Click here
Al Jazeera -Click here

Australian Senate Joins Emerging International Calls for International Mechanism to Investigate War Crimes

Australian senate today moved a successful Senate motion calling on the Australian government to support such an investigation and the motion urged the Australian government to Co Sponsor the U.S Resolution to on Sri Lanka at the March Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The Senate motion was moved by the Labor Party and the Australian Greens with the support of the Independents. This motion comes at a crucial time as the international community prepares to vote at the UN Human Rights Council on a Sri Lankan war crimes investigation,

Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) has been lobbying tirelessly over the past few days to ensure a successful motion.

The ATC is delighted Australia's main opposition has supported the growing international call to establish an International mechanism to investigate the allegation of war crimes and crimes against humanity . This shift was possible because of continued support of Michelle Rowland MP (Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs) and several other MPs who were supportive to calls for truth and justice.

We are thankful to the Australian Greens for their continued steadfast support especially Senator Lee Rhiannon whose support has been inspiring and Senator Christine Milne.

   The motion

Senators Stephens, Moore and Rhiannon and Senator Milne to move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes Australia’s co-sponsorship of the:

(i) 2012 United Nations (UN) General Assembly Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution calling on the Sri Lankan Government to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission of Sri Lanka and to take credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans, and

(ii) 2013 UN General Assembly HRC resolution expressing concern at continuing reports of violations of human rights in Sri Lanka, and reiterating the call on the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the Commission’s recommendations and to fulfil its commitment to conduct an independent and credible investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law;

(b) notes:

(i) continuing reports of violations of human rights in Sri Lanka, and international concerns about insufficient progress by the Government of Sri Lanka in addressing justice, reconciliation and accountability, and

(ii) the forthcoming update to the HRC 24th session on the progress of the 2012 and 2013 resolutions;

(c) calls on the Australian Government to:

(i) maintain Australia’s strong record of support for human rights at the 24th session of the HRC, including in relation to Sri Lanka,

(ii) support the United States in its call for the ‘international community to establish an independent international accountability mechanism to evaluate reports of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other human rights violations committed by both sides during and after the war in Sri Lanka’,

(iii) co-sponsor any United States resolution at the UNHRC in March 2014 regarding Sri Lanka’s progress on accountability and human rights, and

(iv) urge the Government of Sri Lanka to:

(a) allow unimpeded access for media, international aid agencies, and human rights groups into all regions of the country, as well as to detention sites that may hold political and war prisoners, and

(b) end its media restrictions, including the obstacles to the flow of information in the north and east, and bring to justice those responsible for attacks on journalists and newspaper offices.

Page 4 of 7