Sri Lanka's Attempts to Discredit Outspoken Critics Illustrates Regime's Desperation

The Government of Sri Lanka's (GoSL) attempts at discrediting those who have come forward and spoken out illustrate the desperation of a regime that has no other means of rebuttal.

The GoSL has also attacked non-Tamils in the wider community, including politicians, eminent persons and human rights activists, who have spoken in support of a genuine accountability process in Sri Lanka.

This is a regime that has categorically denied bombing hospitals, shelling safe-zones and the death and disappearnces of thousands of Tamils before, during and since the war despite overwhelming evidence. If the regime is capable of such lies, why are they not capable of fabricating other stories to discredit people strong enough to stand up against them

From England to Australia, the GoSL's tactic to discredit Tamil eye witnesses is a racial argument which essentially asserts that those who speak up for war crimes accountability are liars and terrorists or terrorist sympathisers.

Even if one is sympathetic to the idea of a Tamil homeland, such sympathy does not mean that these individuals lack credibility as witnesses.

Furthermore, the evidence given by these eye-witnesses are not new allegations but rather claims backed by numerous reputable independent organisations including the United Nations Expert Panel, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, International Crisis Group and International Commission of Jurists.

Those who speak now are the few that survived the blood bath. Since the GoSL cannot murder or incarcerate these individuals as it would on the island, Sri Lanka chooses to attack their character since it knows it cannot refute their allegations of war crimes with exculpatory facts.

Dr. Sam Pari

National Spokesperson and Executive Officer - Public Relations

Australian Tamil Congress.

Third day running, media goes wild on SL war crimes

There are precedents for seeking Samarsinghe's recall. In September of this year General Jaghat Dias who was Sri Lanka's ambassador to Germany and Switzerland was recalled to Colombo after the Swiss government contacted the Sri Lankan government concerning accusations that General Dias ordered troops of the 57th division, which he commanded, to fire on civilian and hospital targets during the army's final offensive against the separatist Tamils in 2009.A report by the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights accused Dias of participating in acts of torture and the execution of rebel fighters.

In 1995 Australia rejected the nomination as ambassador of retired Indonesian General Herman Mantiri. His nomination was rejected on the basis of war crimes committed by Mantiri against the East Timorese. In 2005 and 2008 the Canadian government refused to accept nominations for the position of high commissioner put forward by the Sri Lankan government, for reasons associated with human rights abuses.

Don't-ask, don't-tell no longer works with war crimes. The international community has become increasingly intolerant of governments solving their internal problems with impunity.

Ethical considerations aside, a secure and orderly global framework requires that international laws and treaties be respected, even when responding to an insurgency.

Yet Sri Lanka's consistent response to allegations since the end of the war has been blanket denial. For years its envoys insisted their forces were not responsible for a single civilian death. As a result of pressure from emerging evidence, they now admit they may have been responsible for some civilian deaths, albeit unwittingly.

Australia has a duty, under our own laws and in accordance with our international legal obligations, to investigate credible allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity

Even china is reporting on this…

Liberals and Greens mount pressure on Australian Government

SHADOW foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop has demanded that Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd reveal whether the government knew about the allegations against Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe before it accepted him as Sri Lanka's high commissioner

Ms Bishop told The Age yesterday: ''The allegations against the Sri Lankan high commissioner are extremely serious. Kevin Rudd should review whether the government was aware of the allegations prior to accepting his appointment as high commissioner, and whether the government undertook any inquiries or investigations into the appointment.''

An official from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet confirmed during a Senate hearing yesterday that the Prime Minister had been given ''advice'' about Mr Samarasinghe's appointment, but was unable to say what that advice was or when it was given.

A spokeswoman for Mr Rudd said it would be inappropriate to comment on the ICJA brief as it was being considered by the federal police.

She also said there was ''an expectation that Sri Lanka will be the subject of discussion by Commonwealth members'' at the CHOGM meeting next week...

The Greens called for Mr Rudd to push for members of the Sri Lankan government to be brought before the International Criminal Court - despite the fact Sri Lanka is not a signatory to the court - and for the federal government to ban Sri Lankans from CHOGM, which meets in Perth next week...

President of the ICJA and former attorney-general John Dowd said those responsible for war crimes should not be allowed to go unpunished.

International Commission of Jurists Australia submits evidence of war crimes to Australian police

SRI Lanka's high commissioner to Australia, former navy Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe, should be investigated for war crimes, a brief before the Australian Federal Police says.

The submission, from the International Commission of Jurists' Australian section, has compiled what a source has told The Age is direct and credible evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity...

The AFP has confirmed it is evaluating the allegations against Dr Kohona "with a view to determining any potential breaches of Australian law"

Admiral Samarasinghe resigned his commission in January to take up his diplomatic post in Canberra. At the time of his appointment, foreign affairs officials reportedly saw his nomination as "problematic", in light of his command role in a military accused of serious human rights violations. But his appointment was not opposed...

Yes the Australian Federal Police have capacity under the Commonwealth Crimes Act and related legislation giving effect to the Geneva conventions which would allow the AFP to conduct investigations into the commission of war crimes that occurred overseas including crimes against humanity by any person including non Australian citizens.

Australia's Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd would not immediately comment on the accusations as they were with police, but a spokeswoman said Australia had asked Sri Lanka to respond to the United Nations.

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights call on Australian Gov't, CHOGM to take action

30 September 2011

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights call on the Australian government and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth to do all reasonably within their power to convince the government of Sri Lanka to set up an independent, impartial, well-resourced and effective body to investigate allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity alleged to have been committed by both sides in the Sri Lankan civil war which concluded in May 2009.

A number of bodies including the International Crisis Group; Amnesty International and the UN Secretary-General's Panel of Experts have found the need for such a body to investigate what the Panel referred to as "credible allegations".

So far, the government of Sri Lanka seems to have done everything it can to avoid an investigation of the kind that it is needed.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government should consider what steps are available to them to encourage the government of Sri Lanka to carry out their responsibility in this matter.

Stephen Keim SC


President, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights

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