Newsletter

Australia co-sponsors, Tamils call for stronger UN Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka

The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) expresses its disappointment on the shortcomings of resolution 40/1 ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’ adopted at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), as it fails to set a clear pathway for accelerated progress on achieving transitional justice and accountability for mass atrocity crimes committed in Sri Lanka.

There have been seven such resolutions with Sri Lanka itself co-sponsoring the last three. However, ten years since the war which saw the peak of mass atrocity crimes committed against the Tamil population, very little justice has reached victims and survivors. Action so far has mostly been bureaucratic shuffling for international approval.

Having not delivered on commitments agreed to in resolution 30/1 in 2015, Sri Lanka was given a 2-year extension (resolution 34/1) in 2017. Despite no meaningful progress again, co-sponsored by 32 countries, including Australia, another 2-year extension has been given yet again without strict time frames or consequences for failure in delivering on commitments.

The ATC appreciates the Council’s High Commissioner’s report which includes recommendations such as calling on member states to use universal jurisdiction to prosecute perpetrators of war crimes in Sri Lanka. However, the resolution has failed to meaningfully incorporate any of these.

“We are frustrated that member states have not taken a more robust approach to ensure delivery of Sri Lanka’s commitments made in previous resolutions,” said Ms. Avi Selva, ATC NSW director, who is currently attending UNHRC sessions in Geneva.

“This resolution yet again aids Sri Lanka’s tactic of delaying and hence denying justice to victims and survivors,” said ATC Spokesperson, Dr Sam Pari.

The ATC acknowledges Australia and other co-sponsoring countries and the Core Group for ensuring Sri Lanka continues to be monitored by the UNHRC. It is grateful to the NGOs and human rights defenders, including from Sri Lanka, who so diligently create awareness of past and ongoing abuses in Sri Lanka.  

Given Sri Lanka’s lack of will to bring perpetrators to justice, the ATC joins Tamil victim and survivor communities within the island, the Diaspora and international human rights organisations in calling for alternate UN processes to be considered such as referral to the ICC or the establishment of an international criminal tribunal.
 

Media contact:

Ms. Avi Selva, NSW Director, ATC      +417679678

Dr. Sam Pari, Spokesperson, ATC      0416206431

Counting the Dead- ATC Assisting in collecting data in Australia

As we approach the tenth year since the war in the island of Sri Lanka came to a bloody end, there still exist discrepancies as to number of dead. The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) will be assisting in a project launched by two international NGO’s, the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) and the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG), which aims to estimate the number of dead and disappeared. 
 
Volunteers from ATC will assist those wishing to provide the relevant information required to record the deceased or disappeared due to war, and coordinate the project in Australia. Names and details will be collected over the next three months with the aim to have a collated list by May 2019. ITJP and HRDAG have assured confidentiality in the collection process. 
 
ATC will also engage in protecting the privacy of those involved. We urge those who wish to volunteer for this project, or those with details of anyone who has deceased or disappeared in the island of Sri Lanka due to the war, including as far back as 1983, to contact us via email on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us on 1300 660 629.

 
 
முள்ளிவாய்க்காலில் இடம்பெற்ற தமிழ் இனஅழிப்பு முடிவுற்று பத்து ஆண்டுகளை எட்டுகின்ற போதிலும், படுகொலைசெய்யப்பட்டவர்களின் எண்ணிக்கை இன்றுவரை உறுதிப்படுத்தப்படாமலேயே உள்ளது. இத்தகைய பின்னணியில், படுகொலைசெய்யப்பட்டவர்களினதும், பலவந்தமாக காணமற்போகற்செய்யப்பட்டவர்களினதும் எண்ணிக்கையை அறியும் முகமாக, உண்மை மற்றும் நீதிக்கான சர்வதேச செயற்திட்டமும் (The International Truth and Justice Project) மற்றும் மனித உரிமைகள் தரவு ஆய்வுக் குழுமமும் (Human Rights Data Analysis Group) இணைந்து மேற்கொள்ளும் செயற்திட்டத்திற்கு அவுஸ்ரேலியத் தமிழர் பேரவை உதவிகளை வழங்கவுள்ளது. 
 
படுகொலைசெய்யப்பட்ட மற்றும் பலவந்தமாக காணமற்போகச்செய்யப்பட்டவர்கள் தொடர்பான தகவல்களை பதிவுசெய்ய விரும்புவர்களுக்கு அவுஸ்ரேலியத் தமிழர் பேரவையைச் சார்ந்த தொண்டர்கள் உதவிபுரிவதோடு, இந்த செயற்திட்டத்தையும் அவுஸ்ரேலியாவில் ஒருங்கிணைக்கவுள்ளனர். சேகரிக்கப்படும் தரவுகளும் தகவல்களும் ஒன்றுதிரட்டப்பட்டு மே 2019 ல் ஒரு பட்டியலை பெற்றுக்கொள்ளும் நோக்கில், பெயர்களும் தொடர்புபட்ட தகவல்களும் எதிர்வரும் மூன்று மாதங்களுக்கு  சேகரிக்கப்படும். சேகரிப்பு முறையில் இரகசியத்தன்மை பேணப்படும் என்பதற்கு உண்மை மற்றும் நீதிக்கான சர்வதேச செயற்திட்டமும், மனித உரிமைகள் தரவு ஆய்வுக் குழுமமும் உத்தரவாதம் வழங்கியுள்ளன. இந்த செயற்திட்டத்தில் ஈடுபடுபவர்களின் இரகசியத்தன்மையை அவுஸ்ரேலியத் தமிழர் பேரவையும் பேணிப் பாதுகாக்கும். 
 
இந்த செயற்திட்டத்தில் இணைந்து பணியாற்ற விரும்புபவர்களும், இலங்கைத் தீவில் 1983 ம் ஆண்டிலிருந்து போரினால் மரணமடைந்தவர்கள் மற்றும் காணமற்போனவர்கள் தொடர்பான தகவல்களை வழங்க விரும்புபவர்களும் கீழ்வரும் மின்னஞ்சல் அல்லது தொலைபேசி இலக்கத்தின் ஊடாக எம்மைத் தொடர்புகொள்ளவும் - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 1300 660 629
 
7 January 2019

ATC refutes statement made by Minister Mano Ganesan that it is safe for Tamils to return to Srilanka

Mr Ganesan wants the asylum seekers in Australia to return to Sri Lanka. He claims that it is safe for them to return, “If anyone has broken any law, they may be questioned about it," he tells SBS Tamil. "But, they will not be taken to torture camps.”  

However, not all Tamils in Australia subscribe to that view.  

Dr Sam Pari, spokesperson of the Australian Tamil Congress says, “There is evidence that torture and arrests continue in Sri Lanka, even after the new government has taken office, with the International Truth and Justice Project alone documenting at least 36 cases of Tamils being tortured."

The International Truth and Justice Project, named by Dr Pari, is just one of many rights groups who allege the abuses are still continuing despite the war ending, officially, in 2009.

There remains no independently verifiable documentation of this though, as  there has been no international inquiry into war crimes and human rights abuses committed during or since the civil war by either the government or the rebel Tamil Tigers. This is despite repeated calls for an inquiry from no less than the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Dr Sam Pari of the Australian Tamil Congress says that "Sinhalese attorney and human rights activist, Lakshan Dias, has fled Sri Lanka this month because of threat to his life by the Justice Minister."

"Bold statements such as this by Minister Mano Ganesan makes one question his credibility.”

While activist Lakshan Dias's current whereabouts could not be confirmed, various rights groups and bloggers report that the prominent lawyer has left the country following speaking out on alleged human rights abuses against the Christian community. The American-headed NGO Human Rights Watch reports that on June 17, 2017, Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe threatened to “take necessary steps to remove Mr. Lakshan Dias from the legal profession” after the outspoken lawyer alleged attacks on Christians at 160 churches across the country.  

Full Article : Click here

 

ATC statement on recent issues in the NPC

The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) wishes to express its disappointment at the events unfolding within the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) surrounding the corruption investigation of Northern Provincial Council (NPC) ministers, and the attempts by certain factions in TNA with the support of the Opposition, to impeach NPC Chief Minister, Justice Wigneswaran. 

The ATC has worked with the TNA over the last several years to help bring about justice for the Tamil people in the island of Sri Lanka. With due respect for elected political representatives, the ATC supports the need for investigations into corruption allegations of those in public office. Furthermore, the ATC strongly believes corruption should be stifled and investigations should take place in a free and fair manner, without the intimidation of witnesses or acts undermining independent investigations.
 
The ATC condemns any acts disrupting political honesty and integrity, and has confidence that elected representatives of the TNA understand that their democratic rights should be exercised to reflect the aspirations and needs of the people who voted them in.
 
As a supporter of democratically elected Tamil representatives, the ATC, as a diaspora organisation with interest in the well-being of kith and kin living in the island of Sri Lanka, urge the TNA to amicably resolve any grievances and bring to an end this highly divisive issue.
 
The ATC also urges Chief Minister, Justice Wigneswaran to take necessary steps to unite all TNA members and deliver tangible socio-economic benefits for our people who have been affected by the war. The ATC hopes the NPC lead by the Chief Minister, Justice Wigneswaran will function with more vigour and focus on improving the education and living standards in the Northern Province
 
 

Collective memorialisation is a fundamental right

29 May 2017

The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) is deeply disturbed and strongly condemns the ongoing acts of surveillance, intimidation and harassment by the Sri Lankan state of family members and civil society leaders found engaging in commemoration activities of loved ones who perished eight years ago.  

This month Tamils world over marked the 8th year since over a hundred thousand Tamils were killed due to the Sri Lankan government's military onslaught in the island's north - a campaign riddled with allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity. 

On 17 May, ruling that it threatened “unity" and "national security" a local court issued a two week ban on memorialisation activities near a commemoration monument in Mullivaikkal East that had been erected earlier. Over the past week several reports have risen of acts of intimidation and harassment by Sri Lankan police and military of those involved in memorialisation events. The most prominent has been the repeated summoning for questioning by the police of Fr. Elil, a Tamil priest involved in such remembrance events. He along with a young Tamil man who assisted in creating memorial stones have been interrogated and asked to sign statements in Sinhala, a language not native to them.

Collective remembrance is a community’s fundamental right and peaceful gatherings help heal a grieving community. Acts of intimidation and obstruction of such fundamental rights goes against ‘good governance’ and ‘reconciliation’. 

The ATC is humbled to hear, however, that amidst such threats by the state, Tamils in the North and East of the island of Sri Lanka continued to publicly commemorate the ‘Mullivaikkal Remembrance Day’ on 18 May with Tamils around the world, including Australia, joining them.

Meanwhile, ATC stands in support with the families of the disappeared holding a peaceful protest in Kilinochchi. This protest demanding answers from the Sri Lankan government on the whereabouts of disappeared family members has now reached its 100th day.

For further details: 

Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research

Amnesty International

The International Truth and Justice Project 

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