ATC in the media

ATC Welcomes the Announcement of an Independent Review Process for Adverse Security Assessments

Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) welcomes the announcement made by the Federal Government of its plans to set up an individual review process for asylum seekers who want to contest adverse ASIO findings. The refugees, deemed as threats to national security by ASIO, who would have been kept in indefinite detention will now have the right to have their adverse assessments reviewed by a former federal court judge.

While we believe that these genuine refugees deserve access to a full judicial appeal process, this announcement still gives much needed hope for 60 odd refugees, including infants and children, who otherwise face an indefinite detention without having the basic right to at least know why they have been assessed as a security threat to Australia.

ATC strongly believes that balancing of sensitive information important to national security and reviewing of the evidence provided by ASIO and verification of the authenticity and reputation of the source ensures that security decisions are made correctly and miscarriages of justice are avoided.

"Protection from harm is the right of every human being and that includes the refugees who have fled persecution by vicious governments just because of their ethnicity. Refugees, including Tamils fleeing Sri Lanka, who had been assessed as security threats by ASIO have been in detention for as long as three years including a pregnant mother and children who were born in detention and were to be held indefinitely in detention without being offered a right of appeal," said Dr Bala Vigneswaran of the ATC. "Considering the welfare of these refugees, appropriate steps should be taken to release them to live in the community until a final decision is reached. Certainly, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security is comfortable with this approach", he added.

ATC urges the federal government to review the cases of all the refugees deemed security threats with due haste and show that in Australia justice and protection are provided to everyone.

Media contact:

Dr Bala Vigneswaran, Australian Tamil Congress – 0404 404 777

Obituary: P.A Subramaniam

P.A. Subramaniam received his secondary education at the Jaffna Hindu College, and thereafter graduated from the then University of Ceylon, Faculty of Engineering in 1963. He then worked for the Public Works Department, the Department of Highways (as Superintending Engineer) and the State Development and Construction Corporation ( as Deputy General Manager) , specialising in highways and bridges. He was on the Board of Directors of the Ceylon Mineral Sands Corporation during 1970-77. He also served as a Honorary Secretary of the Institution of Engineers. He was also a member of technical committee that established the Ceylon Graphite Corporation and waObituary: P.A Subramaniams Secretary to the Committee of Inquiry into the Industrial Development Board of Ceylon.

PA undertook graduate studies at the University of Birmingham leading to a Master's degree in Engineering. He was made a Fellow of the Institution of Highways and Transportation, United Kingdom. He worked overseas in Nigeria for several years and spent over fifteen years ( including several years as Chief Engineer ) with international consultants ACER Hyder Consultants (Freeman Fox International), first in the Middle East and then in East Asia before settling down in Perth, Australia with his family. Fondly nick named "short sleeve" in some work places, he was always hard working, popular and won the hearts of his fellow engineers and site workers.

PA's great virtues were his "simplicity and intellectualism". Growing up in Jaffna during the early post-colonial period, he was attracted to Marxist explanations of society and approaches to eliminate economic inequalities, caste and race based discriminations in Sri Lanka and particularly Jaffna society. As a passionate student of Marxism and politics, he gained an in depth knowledge of both the theory and practice of conflicts between man, nature, classes and the state, and the dictates of local, regional and international entities. The benefit was there for us to see and be guided by. For the last five decades, PA stood out among his people for his intense opposition to all forms of human exploitation and oppression -both within and outside Sri Lanka.

Even before he completed his studies at the University of Ceylon, he had become a front line worker with the socialist movement in the South, continuing his active involvement throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Total disillusionment with the politics of the South, drove him closer during the last 15 years to Tamil political movements. He contributed actively to many publications notably the Economist and the Tamilnet. PA often differed from me and others regarding compromises between nationalistic tendencies and socialistic strategies, we nevertheless recognised that his positions were always anchored in his fundamental beliefs. PA said it clearly: "For me oppression (whether it is violent or non-violent, armed or unarmed) is terrorism. Opposing oppression in any form is not terrorism and I am always at home to be on the side of resistance, whether enlightened by Marxism or not." He stood for the right of (external) self determination of cultural nations but he did not rule out solutions to national conflicts within a single country.

At a personal level, PA was totally devoted to his family. Both PA and his beloved wife Rani always provided the best for their children Nakkeran and Kavitha, both of whom today are successful physicians in Australia.

Always congenial in his dealings, trusted by all, PA was a valuable resource in times of personal stress. PA made us laugh with his sharp-witted comments, and wherever he went generated a joyous mix of sarcasm, cynicism, convictions and laughter. "PA had genuine feelings for his fellow men and women and worked hard to alleviate their problems". An intellectual from Jaffna with an innate orientation to social commitment, he will be recalled among the likes of A.Vaithilingam, Vice chancellor K.Kailasapathy, Professor K.Sivathamby, 'Tamaki' Sivaram and others.

The interpreters of the Bhagavad Gita extol the virtues of worldly men dutiful and devoted to their families, and, yet, detached sufficiently in time and spirit to care for and serve ordinary suffering people. The Gita locates these humans into the class of sattvic beings destined for the heavens.

May his soul rest in peace.

P.A. Subramaniam passed away on October 4, 2012 at the age of 73. He leaves behind his beloved wife Rani and children Kavitha and Nakkeran.


(Dr S.Ganesan studied with P.A .Subramanian at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Ceylon (1959-63). He later worked as a Professor at The University of Hong Kong (1977-2004). Tributes to PA from our class mates: K.Suntharalingam, N.Kugadasan, P.H.B Samarawickrema, N. Madusoothanan and others are included in the obituary)

Video documentary moves Aus FM to speak out on SL

ABC Radio Australia - UN urged to review Sri Lankan civil war

Last year, a United Nations panel of experts found there was credible evidence that up to 40,000 civilians were killed in the war.

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd says new information about atrocities against Sri Lankan civilians at the end of the civil war is appalling.

A new British television documentary has shown evidence of civilians being killed by government troops.

The 26-year war, which ended in 2009, was waged between Tamils seeking to create their own state and the Sri Lankan government and military.

Last year, a United Nations panel of experts found there was credible evidence that up to 40,000 civilians were killed in the war.

Mr Rudd says the UN's Human Rights Council needs to reinvestigate the issue.

"I believe their deliberation on it was inadequate and I would call upon - as does the Australian Government through its mission in Geneva - the Human Rights Council to revisit this matter and to examine once again whether their original findings can any longer be regarded as well founded," he said.

Australian Tamil Congress says the footage shows there is a need for an independent investigation. "Both sides are accused of war ...

Speakers: Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, Ms Melisa Park MP , Mr Don Randall MP, Australian Tamil Congress- Varuni Bala

Sri Lanka's civil war atrocities shown in British documentary

Presenter: Cameron Wilson

Speaker: Melissa Parke, Australian Labor Party Member of Parliament and former UN lawyer

Austrailan Tamil opinion piece makes it on to mainstream Australian newspaper

Sydney Morning Herald - Emerging truth about UN failure in Sri Lanka

Sam Pari

April 28, 2011

Two years ago, a war without witness was executed by the state against the Tamil people in the island of Sri Lanka.

In September 2008, after ordering all United Nations personnel, non-government organisations and media out of the Vanni region, the Sri Lankan government embarked on a vicious military campaign. While it informed the world it was fighting the Tamil Tiger rebels and was following a ''zero civilian casualty'' policy, photographs, video footage and phone conversations with our relatives in the war zone told us a different story.

We watched in horror as images of injured babies, maimed pregnant women and rows of dead civilians leaked out. Hospitals were bombed. Refugee camps were shelled. Surrendering civilians were executed. Even the International Committee of the Red Cross was blocked from saving the injured. Advertisement: Story continues below

As members of the Tamil diaspora took to the streets, campaigning for the international community to act to stop the bloodshed, the world did nothing. More than 100,000 Tamils rallied around the world, yet our cries fell on the bureaucrats' deaf ears. Kevin Rudd, then the prime minister, preferred ''soft diplomacy'' with Sri Lanka, in contrast to his stand on Burma, Zimbabwe and Libya.

We slowly realised the UN was well aware of the high civilian casualties. Leaked satellite images revealed the UN knew of the Sri Lankan Air Force's targeted bombing and shelling of civilian locations.

Following his resignation, the former UN spokesman in Sri Lanka Gordon Weiss revealed the civilian death toll could be up to 40,000, while "significant others have said that the figure may well be far higher". Why would the world allow civilians to be killed in such a gruesome manner?

During the war, China and Russia prevented the war in Sri Lanka being discussed at the UN Security Council. Both countries are allies of Sri Lanka, China having invested heavily in it.

UN officials are said to have told Vijay Nambiar - whom the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, appointed as his chief of staff - that the final death toll could exceed 20,000, but Nambiar urged his staff not to "rock the boat" by criticising the Sri Lankan government.

Witness reports later revealed senior UN officials, including Nambiar, and senior Sri Lankan officials, including the Defence Secretary (and brother of the President), Gotabaya Rajapaksa, were involved in the surrendering of Tamil Tiger combatants, who were later executed. After waiting two years for an independent inquiry into this incident, Tamil rights groups have submitted their own complaint to the International Criminal Court.

When the war came to a bloody end on May 18, 2009, Sri Lankan government puppets were quick to continue the propaganda, claiming all was well in Sri Lanka, encouraging Australian tourists while discouraging Australia from accepting Tamil refugees.

The reality was very different. Hundreds of thousands were held in military-run internment camps, disappearances were rife and rape and torture occurred. There was a reason the number of Tamil refugees arriving by boats in Australia had suddenly sky-rocketed.

The unrelenting campaigning by the Tamil diaspora and human rights groups finally forced Ban to establish a panel of experts last year to assess the mounting allegations of war crimes. Sri Lanka was quick to condemn this decision and banned the panel from visiting the island.

The panel's final report, submitted to Ban almost a fortnight ago, has finally been published. The panel has found allegations of war crimes to be credible and has admitted the UN failed to act to protect civilians, despite knowing about the high civilian casualty rate. The panel has also recommended an international independent inquiry into war crimes in Sri Lanka.

Today tens of thousands of Tamils are missing. Up to 14,000 Tamils, including 500 children, have been held for the past two years in secret prisons; no one knows if they are alive. The Tamil homeland in the north is under military occupation and forced resettlement of Sinhalese families is taking place, changing the demography of the region.

After Rwanda the world said "never again", but in early 2009, what happened to the Tamils was far worse. Not only did the UN fail to act to stop the persecution of Tamil civilians - it was complicit.

Dr Sam Pari is a spokeswoman for the Australian Tamil Congress.

Serious concerns raised over alleged war crimes abuses by Sri Lankan envoy to Australia

The Age - Concern over Sri Lankan envoy

AUSTRALIA is under pressure to reject Sri Lanka's choice of a senior military commander as its next top envoy in Canberra over a war crimes controversy dating from Sri Lanka's grisly civil war with Tamil separatists.

Former Sri Lankan navy chief Thisara Samarasinghe has reportedly been nominated to fill the vacant position of high commissioner to Australia.

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