ABC TV - 7:30 Report - Atrocities in Sri Lanka

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MP calls for independent war crimes investigation and acknowledges work of ATC

Greenway Electorate: Tamil Community

The Tamil population in Greenway is one of the largest in the country and one that is a great contributor to the multicultural fabric of our wider community. In recent times, the Tamil people have come into the consciousness of the Western world due to the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka. This conflict has been documented in great depth and is now beginning to receive the real acknowledgement it deserves around the world.

Ms ROWLAND (Greenway) (16:14): I rise today to acknowledge and affirm my respect for the Tamil population living in my electorate of Greenway and to mention a number of very important issues surrounding the Australian Tamil community. The electorate of Greenway is an extremely diverse and vibrant place and one that I am very privileged to represent. A large part of this diversity is the some 3,000 strong Tamil community. I say '3,000' but—as I have been told by Tamil community leaders, and I have no doubt as to this—this number is, in fact, far higher in reality.

People in this place were afforded the opportunity last week to visit the Sound of Silence photo exhibition, which I was privileged to host, thanks to the Australian Tamil Congress. This exhibit displayed a collection of photographs taken by Melbourne documentary photographer Shelly Morris during her visit to the northern parts of Sri Lanka in late 2010. This powerful and shocking exhibit allowed a rare insight into the human face of the civil war in Sri Lanka, and I thank members from all sides for taking the time out of their busy schedules in this place to visit this exhibit, including the Special Minister of State.

Recently, the UK's Channel 4 News continued this awareness raising regarding the Sri Lankan civil war when it screened extended footage of executions of Tamils by the Sri Lankan military and other crimes against humanity. This footage was shown during the most recent United Nations Human Rights Council session with the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Christof Heyns, announcing that the evidence in the footage amounted to 'definitive war crimes'. In light of this we must look to move Tamil relations—and justice for Tamils—forward in a constructive and meaningful way. The federal government has consistently maintained that accountability will be a crucial part of reconciliation and lasting peace in Sri Lanka.

While the Sri Lankan government has commenced some initiatives to improve conditions in parts of the country, there must be an external examination of atrocities committed by military forces on both sides. Australia must now join other Western nations in pushing for an international independent investigation into war crimes in Sri Lanka. 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.

I would like to commend the work of individuals such as Ms Varuni Balachandar of the Australian Tamil Congress and Dr Mano Mohan and Mr P Sivasubramaniam of the Australian Tamil Electoral Lobby for their hard work and dedication to achieving and ensuring a peaceful outcome for all Sri Lankan people. I particularly acknowledge their ongoing volunteer work within my community of Greenway.

Australian political analyst casts spotlight on Rudd's duplicity

Silence on Sri Lanka screams of duplicity

Cynthia Banham

This week Sri Lanka celebrated the second anniversary of the end of its 26-year civil war by holding an international ''defeating terrorism'' conference. It is a kind of brag-fest, to talk about the lessons learnt in its brutal victory over the insurgent group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

There's one aspect, however, of the protracted battle that the Sri Lankan government does not like to talk about, how in the final stages - a United Nations ''panel of experts'' says - up to 40,000 civilians may have been massacred.

Pressure Mounts on Labor gov't as Australian of the Year also backs calls

26th May 2011


“For over ten years I have been involved in the mental health care of very many Sri Lankans who have come to Australia seeking asylum from the civil war and the extensive use of torture and other human rights abuses that have occurred there. Most of my patients have been Tamil, however some have been Sinhalese or Muslim. Based on this knowledge of the situation in Sri Lanka in recent years, as seen through the eyes of my patients, all of whom have been granted asylum in Australia. I fully support the recent call from the UN Expert Panel for an independent investigation into war crimes in Sri Lanka, and respectfully urge the Australian government to support this call.”

Yours sincerely

Professor Patrick D McGorry AO

Rudd's stays silent as Liberals and Greens speak up on war crimes in Sri Lanka

THE Tamil community has called on Kevin Rudd to reject the credentials of Sri Lanka's new high commissioner and warned the Foreign Minister's silence on UN war crimes allegations will worsen Australia's asylum-seeker problem.

Confirmation Canberra has accepted Vice-Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe's credentials has “shocked” the Tamil community, spokeswoman Dr Sam Pari said...

...Dr Pari said Mr Rudd's silence on the report's call for a war crimes probe was worrying.

“Sri Lanka is using diplomatic posts to sanitise their image after the war.

“The influx of asylum-seekers into Australia will only be perpetuated by Mr Rudd's silence on the issue of war crimes in Sri Lanka.

“If his (Rudd) silence reflects Australia's asylum policy, it will only exacerbate the refugee crisis,” she said...

...Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman, Julie Bishop, said claims of war crimes need to be investigated.

“The UN report raises very serious allegations about the conduct of both the Sri Lankan government forces and the Tamil Tigers in 2009.

“The Gillard government should be raising concerns about the events in 2009 and urging all parties to fully cooperate with any investigation.”

...BANDT: We trade with them we have negotiating and dipolomatic influence with them. And I think perhaps in a country closer to home or pehaps in a country where they were a group that had a louder voice, we would be jumping up and down saying this is unacceptable treatment.

MISTRY: Sri Lankan MP Rajiva Wijesingha says the government is working to engage more Tamils in the reconciliation process. But Tamils say there can be no reconciliation without an independant examination of the past. Adrian Sinnappu again.

SINNAPPU: Without justice there cannot be true reconciliation. They can continue to subjugate and threaten the community but without an international investigation and trying to find the truth and then the perpetrators on both

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