Event- Sri Lanka Human Rights and Australia


Sri Lanka, Human Rights and Australia

(7 March in Melbourne | 8 March in Sydney)


The civil war in Sri Lanka came to an end in 2009, but human rights concerns linger and debate continues to rage about the current situation. Human Rights Watch recently said "Justice and accountability for abuses, an end to torture in detention, and ending constraints on basic liberties continue to prove elusive for the Tamil population." On the other hand, Australian politicians would have us believe it is safe to return Tamil asylum seekers to Sri Lanka without processing their claims.

The Human Rights Law Centre invites you to participate in what is sure to be an in depth, robust and enlightening discussion about accountability for war crimes and the current human rights situation in Sri Lanka.


Frances Harrison, a former BBC foreign correspondent who covered the final stages of the Sri Lankan civil war and has recently published a book of eye witness accounts from the end of the war, Still Counting the Dead


Dr Sam Pari, National Spokesperson of the Australian Tamil Congress. Sam possesses vast experience as a volunteer worker in the post-tsunami regions of North-East Sri Lanka, and has represented the Tamil community at numerous human rights, political and academic forums and in the media.

Bruce Haigh, political commentator and a former Australian diplomat, who was Deputy High Commissioner at the Australian High Commission in Colombo in the 1990s, and a former member of the Refugee Review Tribunal. (Participating in the Sydney event only.)

Gordon Weiss, a seasoned journalist and international aid worker. He was the UN spokesperson on Sri Lanka during the last phase and aftermath of Sri Lanka’s civil war. Drawing on his experiences, his book The Cage: The Fight for Sri Lanka and the Last Days of the Tamil Tigers, examines atrocities perpetrated during the last months of the war in Sri Lanka. (Participating in the Melbourne event only.)


The discussion will be facilitated by the host of SBS’ Dateline, Mark Davis, one of Australia’s foremost video journalists and winner of five Walkley Awards.

Tickets are now available: Purchase tickets for Melbourne event here or Purchase tickets for Sydney event here

Kindly hosted by:

6:30pm, Thursday 7 March 2013
Report to reception at Level 50, Bourke Place, 600 Bourke St

6:30pm, Friday 8 March 2013
Report to reception at Level 61, Governor Phillip Tower, 1 Farrer Place

ATC in the Media

Arrival Stretch Resources

Camberra Times:

Australian Tamil Congress, Sam Pari, told Fairfax that Tamils were still fleeing the island three years after the end of Sri Lanka's civil war.

''Tamils continue to fear for their lives in Sri Lanka. The continuing persecution of the Tamil people, the threat of rape, indefinite detention, disappearances - in essence a slow genocide of the Tamil people - is what is driving Tamil people to risk their lives on leaky boats,''Dr Pari said...

Australian Tamils welcome shift in world stance on Sri Lankan war crimes

The Australian Tamil Congress welcomes the shift in the international community's stance on issues of war crimes in Sri Lanka.

On Wednesday, the Australian Senate unanimously passed a motion jointly moved by Sen. Lee Rhiannon, Sen. Gary Humphries and Foreign Minister Bob Carr calling on Australia to support a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution.

Last night the United States led resolution was passed at the UNHRC calling on Sri Lanka to implement the constructive recommendations of its internal inquiry, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), while pointing out the LLRC report does not however adequately address serious allegations of violations of international law.

"We appreciate Australia openly calling Sri Lanka out on issues of war crimes and accountability," said Dr. Sam Pari, spokesperson for the Australian Tamil Congress. "The UNHRC resolution is finally an acknowledgement by the international community that Sri Lanka needs to address serious issues of accountability. However, the resolution is only a small first step and our call for international independent inquiry will continue until Tamils achieve the justice they deserve," she added.

Australian Parliament supports international calls for investigation into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka

Michelle Rowland MP -Member for Greenway

Australian Parliament supports international calls for investigation into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka

Federal Member for Greenway, Michelle Rowland, welcomed the Australian Parliament support for a motion supporting the US-led resolution at the UN Human Rights Council which amongst other recommendations urges Sri Lanka to investigate allegations of war crimes and human-rights abuses during the war by all parties.

The joint motion was moved by the new Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bob Carr and calls for an independent investigation into all allegations of war crimes, including those outlined in the UN Secretary-General s Panel of Experts report.

We must look to move Tamil relations and justice for Tamils forward in a constructive and meaningful way, Ms Rowland said.

Accountability will be a crucial part of reconciliation and lasting peace in Sri Lanka.

That is why I have been a strong advocate for an independent, transparent investigation into allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka.

I have watched with horror the UK s Channel 4 documentary which showed extended footage of executions of Tamils and other crimes against humanity.

With the persecution of people in Sri Lanka causing thousands of people to flock to Australia in search of asylum, peace and stability in the island of Sri Lanka will also benefit Australia.

The Parliament s recent support for the US led resolution at the UN Human Rights Council which urges an independent investigation is a testament to the commitment and dedication of Tamil leaders, including the members of the Australian Tamil Congress.

I look forward to working with the Tamil community in my electorate to ensure the cause of justice continues.

Contact: Dominic Ofner (0407 678 564)

ATC advocacy bears fruit - bipartisan support for motion to support UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka war crimes

A timely motion has been passed unanimously today in the Australian Senate, voting to give bipartisan support for the US-led resolution on Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

As you are aware the 19th session of the UNHRC in Geneva is currently debating a US-led resolution on Sri Lanka. The Australian Senate motion being passed only days before the final vote at the UNHRC will give strength to the UNHRC vote taking place on Friday 23 March 2012 and counteract the intense lobbying by the Sri Lankan Government to ensure the UNHRC resolution is not passed.

The following motion was moved by Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Senator Gary Humphries. The Australian Tamil Congress has been tirelessly lobbying Members of Parliament and Senators on issues of war crimes and we are confident that our continuous advocacy has bore fruit. However, we are aware that the US-led resolution is only a first step and we will continue to lobby for an international independent investigation to achieve the true justice for our Tamil brethren.

Kind regards,

Australian Tamil Congress

MOTION PASSED ON 21 March 2012

1) The Senate notes:

a. On the 13th of February 2012, the then Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd issued a media release in response to the Sri Lankan Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) final report that stated:

i. The LLRC report contains constructive proposals for advancing reconciliation and reconstruction, including through reducing the presence of security forces in the North, care of internally displaced persons and media freedoms;

ii. The Australian Government has consistently urged Sri Lanka to investigate all allegations of crimes committed by both sides to the conflict, including those raised in the UN Secretary-General's Panel of Experts report;

iii. In light of the report's failure to comprehensively address such allegations, the government continues to call on Sri Lanka for all such allegations to be investigated in a transparent and independent manner.

2) The Senate calls on the Australian government, as a minimum, to support efforts to secure a US initiated resolution on Sri Lanka at the 19th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, through the Australian permanent representative in Geneva.

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