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.

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.

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