Press Release

ATC's Response to Sri Lankan Government Ban on ATC

The Australian Tamil Congress was formed in August 2009, and is the national body of Australian Tamils. We encourage the positive participation of Tamils in Australian society, highlight issues of importance to Tamils, uphold core Australian values and engage other communities, governments and organisations in addressing the socio-cultural and political concerns of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Our main function is to lobby and raise awareness of issues affecting the Tamil people by engaging with politicians, media, community leaders and the broader community. ATC is a properly constituted public and transparent Australian civil society organisation.

The ATC has been made aware that it has been listed among a host of Tamil organisations worldwide to be proscribed in Sri Lanka by the Sri Lankan Government.

The Sri Lankan government's abuse of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 to ban civil society organisations such as the ATC is in a desperate attempt to discredit anyone who is seeking an open, transparent and independent international investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by all parties, and a just and equitable solution to the long standing grievances of Tamil people in Sri Lanka. This is a knee jerk reaction to the recently passed UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka. After having silenced all the voices that stood up for democratic governance in Sri Lanka, it is now trying to intimidate democratic civil society organisations outside Sri Lanka who lobbied in their respective countries to garner support for this UNHRC resolution.

The ATC has always been and continues to be a well respected Australian civil society organisation, which has built mutual trust with Australian activists, eminent persons, media, policy makers and politicians, and any such ban is seen as a desperate act to discredit the good work done by the ATC


Allegations of Australia Giving Custody of Asylumseekers in Manus to Former Sri Lanka Army Major

24/02/2014 4:45:00 PM

Extremely disturbing news has surfaced that the commander of the G4S security forces at Manus Island Detention Centre is a man named Dinesh Perera who may have been a former Major in the Sri Lankan Army.

Many Tamil asylum seekers from Sri Lanka claim their main reason for seeking asylum is due to fear of persecution from the Sri Lankan state and its military.
Sri Lanka has also been in the media spotlight having been accused of human rights abuses, war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated against the Tamils in the island, and calls for Sri Lanka to be investigated for these crimes are on the increase.
"A deeply concerning pattern seems to be emerging. We have Tamils fleeing a military accused of war crimes. They are then detained and held in the custody of a former member of that very military. This man has access to all their personal details. Then they are returned back to Sri Lanka, after which their fate is not known," said Dr Sam Pari of the Australian Tamil Congress. "If Dinesh Perera's background is confirmed, then Australia is no longer simply turning a blind eye to Sri Lanka's persecution of the Tamil people, but it is aiding and abetting it," she added.
Media contact: Dr Sam Pari 0433 428 967

Australian Tamils reiterate calls to boycott CHOGM in Sri Lanka

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper confirmed on Monday that he will not attend the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meetings to be held in Sri Lanka later this year as Sri Lanka failed to uphold the Commonwealth's core values.

The Australian Tamil Congress has joined the global call for all countries to reconsider attending CHOGM in Sri Lanka given the island's repeated violations of human rights and it's persecution of the Tamil people.

"In light of further atrocities and a culture of impunity only worsening in Sri Lanka, we will continue to ask our Prime Minister Tony Abbott to reconsider his decision to attend CHOGM," said Dr Sam Pari, National Spokesperson for the Australian Tamil Congress. "We welcome the Canadian Prime Minister's principled stand and hope more countries will follow this example," she added.

Media Contact : Dr Sam Pari, Spokesperson, Australian Tamil Congress

UN Heads Turn Up Heat on Sri Lanka

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has delivered a critical oral report of Sri Lanka following her week-long visit to the island earlier this month. Referring to the UN Human Rights Council’s call to conduct an independent and credible investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law during the war, Ms Navi Pillay stated she “detected no new or comprehensive effort to independently or credibly investigate the allegations” and warned that the international community will have a duty to establish its own inquiry mechanisms” if Sri Lanka failed to show “a credible national process with tangible results, including the successful prosecution of individual perpetrators”.

Ms. Pillay’s report also contained criticisms of the heavy military presence in the North, compulsory acquisition of private land for military installations in areas of the North-East, military prominence in civilian and economic activity in the North, factors impeding normalisation and the vulnerability of women and girls to sexual harassment and abuse especially at the hands of military personnel.
She further called for the repealing of the Prevention of Terrorism Act acknowledging arbitrary arrests continued to take place under this act. Among other things, she also highlighted the intimidation faced by human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists and the rule of law and democratic institutions being undermined and eroded.

The very same day, in an address to the UN General Assembly’s 68th session – attended by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon admitted “systemic failure” of the UN, stating the world had failed during the final stages of the war in Sri Lanka four years ago when member states failed to provide the UN with support to meet the tasks set by themselves.

 “The words of the report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the admission by the UN Secretary General that the world stood by as mass atrocities took place in Sri Lanka are only meaningful if action follows,” said Dr Sam Pari, Spokesperson for the Australian Tamil Congress.

Press Release made on 26 September 2013

Coalition Call to Automatically Return All Sri Lankan Asylum Seekers Unethical and Unlawful

The Australian Tamil Congress is shocked by remarks made by the Coalition that all asylum seekers from Sri Lanka would be automatically returned without due process. Such an act would not only be unlawful and in breach of Australia's obligations under international law, but also gravely unethical.

"The Australian Tamil Congress believes all claims of asylum should be assessed on a case-by-case basis," said Mr. Bala Vigneswaran from the Australian Tamil Congress. "From our experience having worked with a large number of Tamil refugees we know for certain of the continuing persecution of Tamils, human rights activists and media workers in Sri Lanka, and the continuing effects of torture and trauma experienced by refugees currently in Australia. Such a generalised statement from responsible political parties only dilutes and over simplifies this very real problem," he added.

These statements coincide with the visit to Australia of a group of Sri Lankan journalists of both Tamil and Sinhala backgrounds, to participate in the screening this week of their documentary "Silenced Voices - Tales of Sri Lankan Journalists in Exile".

The documentary highlights the dangerous life of death threats, abductions and indefinite detention faced by media workers in Sri Lanka which hails itself as one of the most dangerous places in the world for media workers. Mr. Bashana Abeywardane, coordinator for Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka and Mr. Lokeesan Anputhurai, former correspondent from the war-zone for TamilNet are willing to be interviewed.

Those wishing to attend the screening of the movie or interview the journalists may call 0433 428 967.

Media contact:

Mr. Bala Vigneswaran, Australian Tamil Congress - 0404 404 777

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