Special Announcements

Australian Unions Support UN Panel on Sri Lankan War Crimes

Australian Council of Trade Unions - Support for an UN Advisory Panel in Sri Lanka 13 December, 2010 Australian Unions have welcomed the establishment of the Advisory Panel on Sri Lanka by the United Nations Secretary General. ACTU President Ged Kearney acknowledges the human costs of the conflict, dispossession and violence in Sri Lanka over the past decade and sees this first step as a closer step towards a resolution.

"This process will assist in achieving peace in Sri Lanka and be the start to minimise civilian disruption in Sri Lanka.

"We urge the Sri Lankan government to cooperate with the panel and engage in establishing an effective process of national reconciliation to ensure the country moves forward after many years of internal conflict.

"The people of Sri Lanka deserve a peaceful and lasting solution that respects the economic, political, social, linguistic and cultural rights of everyone who shares residence in their nation state.

"It is our hope that anyone displaced by this conflict will soon be able to return to their homes and land to start rebuilding their communities" she said.

Restoration of a free media and respect for freedom of expression and rights of all working people are essential to achieving a lasting peace in Sri Lanka.

If Zimbabwe, why not Sri Lanka?

As Aussie cricket fans, myself included, plan to gather today in pubs and in front of television screens to cheer for green and gold, I can’t help but cringe at the team we are cheering against.

Every time the Sri Lankans hit a six we 'boo' in unison, but is there more that we should be ‘boo’-ing about? Even still should we be playing cricket with a country accused of war crimes?

Some may argue that one should not mix sports with politics. However, that is only a convenient bypass considering only a few years ago we boycotted a cricket tour of Zimbabwe, and our former foreign minister Alexander Downer even called for Zimbabwe to be banned from the International Cricket Council.

So I ask: If Zimbabwe, why not Sri Lanka?

In fact, for Sri Lanka, sports and politics seems to be very much intertwined - retired cricket captains, Sanath Jayasuriya and Arjuna Ranatunga have entered politics; Ajantha Mendis is in the Sri Lankan Armed Forces.

Ranked 133 out of 149 (which is lower than Burma) in the

, Sri Lanka’s human rights record is nothing to admire.

By Dr Sam Pari was a panellist at the International Peace Research Association Conference 2010. She is the spokesperson of the Australian Tamil Congress.

Sound of Silence - Charity Photographic Exhibition

Australian Tamil Congress announcement on War Crimes Evidence Collection

On 18 October 2010 the United Nations issued the following notice:

On 22 June 2010, the UN Secretary-General established a Panel of Experts to advise him on the issue of accountability with regard to alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka. The members of the Panel are Marzuki Darusman, Steven Ratner and Yasmin Sooka. The Panel officially began its work on 16 September 2010.

The Panel will look into the modalities, applicable international standards and comparative experience with regard to accountability processes, taking into consideration the nature and scope of any alleged violations in Sri Lanka. The Panel advises the Secretary-General and is not an investigative or fact- finding body.

Anyone wishing to make submissions in respect of the above may do so as follows:

1. Organizations and individuals may make one written submission not exceeding ten pages, and must include the contact details for the author(s) of the submission.

2. The Panel will receive submissions until 15 December 2010.

3. Submissions may be sent to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

4. Submissions made to the Panel of Experts will be treated as confidential.

Further information may be solicited from the Panel’s Secretariat at the following address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

In Australia, the Australian Tamil Congress War Crimes Inquiry team will be cordinating this project. If you or anyone you know wishes to provide any evidence, please contact us on 1300 660 629 (Australian callers) or +612 9423 4741 (overseas callers). Please note that all information regarding those seeking assistance will be treated as confidential.

Kind regards,

War Crimes Inquiry team

Australian Tamil Congress.

For Immediate Release - 21 May 2010 7AM

Tamils call for Trade Sanctions and Travel Bans on Sri Lanka

A report by Human Rights Watch released today, citing photographs and eye witness testimonies, claims war crimes may have taken place in Sri Lanka during last year's war and reiterates its call for an independent investigation into Sri Lanka.

Over the past two days, a stream of evidence supporting the claim of war crimes in Sri Lanka has been published by British Channel 4 News and the International Crisis Group, strengthening the call for Sri Lanka to allow an independent investigation of war crimes in the island.

Tamil groups say these reports finally confirm what Tamils have been claiming for more than a year - that the Sri Lankan military tortured and executed Tamil civilians and surrendering combatants and indiscriminantly bombed Tamil civilian targets during its war.

The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) urges the Australian government to put pressure on Sri Lanka to allow an independent investigation into war crimes and human rights violations that have occurred in the island.

"If Sri Lanka fails to do so, Australia should impose trade sanctions and trave bans on Sri Lankan government officials," says Dr Sam Pari, spokesperson for the ATC.

The ATC further urges the Australian government and the opposition to review Australia's current foreign policy on Sri Lanka regarding Australia's trade as well as refugee issues.

Media contact:

Dr Sam Pari - 0433 428 967

Human Rights Watch - Sri Lanka: New Evidence of Wartime Abuses

Channel 4 News - Sri Lanka Tamil killings 'ordered from the top'

International Crisis Group - War Crimes in Sri Lanak

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