Newsletter

Australian Tamil Congress cautiously welcomes the draft resolution tabled at the UNHRC

The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) cautiously welcomes the draft resolution on Sri Lanka tabled at the UN Human Rights Council on 24th September, which Sri Lanka is co-sponsoring.

The text is a product of difficult consensus building including that of the Government of Sri Lanka, and reflects the sometimes competing interests of a wide range of stakeholders. ATC has consistently called for an international accountability mechanism to address the violations and abuses committed by both sides of the conflict, and though the tabled resolution falls short and is a source of concern for many in the Tamil community, we believe it provides a realistic starting point, and if faithfully implemented, can lead to a credible accountability process with substantial international involvement.

The law reform to allow for war crimes to be investigated and trialed, incorporation of Commonwealth and foreign judges in the judicial process, political settlement through effective devolution mechanism, and periodic reporting on the progress of the implementation by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, are a few key provisions that will be under the microscope as this resolution takes hold.

While welcoming the new Sri Lankan government’s commitments, we note that implementing the resolution and the recommendations of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights will be the real test of progress, and not merely words. Victims of Sri Lanka’s brutality have heard far too many words, and now deserve credible actions. The draft resolution gives the Government of Sri Lanka the opportunity to achieve that goal. 

ATC has engaged with a wide range of stakeholders on many issues of concern to the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, which includes the Australian government, the opposition parties, NGOs, academics, legal professionls and the media, and we believe our continuous efforts have contributed to the outcomes at the UNHRC. In this regard, we are grateful to the governments of the US and the UK, all co-sponsors of the resolution, and all others who helped drive the progress on accountability. We sincerely hope that this week’s result will be a step in the right direction.

We are particularly pleased that Australia has decided to co-sponsor the UNHRC resolution, and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s statement is clear testament to her willingness to constructively contribute to reconciliation in Sri Lanka. We also would like to acknowledge the statement from  Shadow Ministers Tania Plibersek and Michelle Rowland welcoming the OHCHR report and the resolution. The draft resolution stresses the importance of the participation of Commonwealth and other foreign judges in a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism, and we believe this is an area where Australia, as a commonwealth country, can make a significant contribution.

Victims of heinous crimes committed during the civil conflict have waited for over six years for this process to reveal the truth and justice to be served. They sincerely hope that all stakeholders of this process including the international community will not let them down. ATC on its part will do all it could to ensure that this process will lead to true accountability and closure to all victims.

UN Human Rights Chief calls for Hybrid Court to Investigate Sri Lankan War Crimes‏

Yesterday, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released its long awaited report into human rights violations in Sri Lanka 2002-2011.

The violations revealed in the report, characterised by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid, as “among the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole”, makes a harrowing reading, presenting evidence of horrific level of abuses suffered by the Tamil civillians at the hands of the Sri Lankan soldiers, including indiscriminate shelling, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, denial of humanitarian assistance, ill treatment of IDPs, torture and sexual violence.

The report recommends the establishment of a hybrid special court, integrating international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators, as essential.

 

Australian Tamil Congress Congratulates the Tamil National Alliance

The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) congratulates Mr. R. Sampanthan and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) on their resounding election victory in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka. The Tamil people have once again given the TNA, and its leader Mr. R. Sampanthan, a strong mandate to negotiate a political solution.

 The Tamil people have also sent a clear message to the new Sri Lankan government and to the international community that they are firmly behind the TNA and its leadership; they are anxious to see a just political solution to the long standing Tamil national question; they want to achieve accountability for war time excesses through honest implementation of the relevant UN resolutions and processes; and they want to address matters of immediate concerns, such as land and livelihood in the north and east, without any further delay.

 As an organization that has worked with the TNA for several years, we seek the full support of the international community, including India, to help implement the legitimate demands of the Tamil people through a negotiated power sharing arrangement.

 Overall, the ‎citizens of Sri Lanka have once again voted for the consolidation of progressive changes that began with the January 2015 presidential election.‎ ATC would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Ranil Wickramasinghe, the leader of the United National Party, and President Sirisena on this remarkable election outcome, and is hopeful that they will continue to strive together for far-reaching constitutional changes for the good governance of the country.  

 ATC respects the wishes of the Tamil people and reiterates our commitment to work with TNA and all other relevant stakeholders to achieve equality, justice, peace and prosperity for our people.

 The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) congratulates Mr. R. Sampanthan and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) on their resounding election victory in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka. The Tamil people have once again given the TNA, and its leader Mr. R. Sampanthan, a strong mandate to negotiate a political solution.

 The Tamil people have also sent a clear message to the new Sri Lankan government and to the international community that they are firmly behind the TNA and its leadership; they are anxious to see a just political solution to the long standing Tamil national question; they want to achieve accountability for war time excesses through honest implementation of the relevant UN resolutions and processes; and they want to address matters of immediate concerns, such as land and livelihood in the north and east, without any further delay.

 As an organization that has worked with the TNA for several years, we seek the full support of the international community, including India, to help implement the legitimate demands of the Tamil people through a negotiated power sharing arrangement.

 Overall, the ‎citizens of Sri Lanka have once again voted for the consolidation of progressive changes that began with the January 2015 presidential election.‎ ATC would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Ranil Wickramasinghe, the leader of the United National Party, and President Sirisena on this remarkable election outcome, and is hopeful that they will continue to strive together for far-reaching constitutional changes for the good governance of the country.  

 ATC respects the wishes of the Tamil people and reiterates our commitment to work with TNA and all other relevant stakeholders to achieve equality, justice, peace and prosperity for our people.

 

GTF-ATC Congratulates President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe on passing of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution

Global Tamil Forum (GTF) congratulates the leadership shown by all Sri Lankan political parties and their Parliamentarians, and in particular the leadership shown by President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe on successfully adopting the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Passing of the 19th amendment along with other steps taken to democratise the state and its institutions have significantly altered the unfortunate political culture and practices adopted in Sri Lanka in the recent past. These newly adopted progressive changes annul the trend set by the previous regime, and effectively place the country back in the right course to work towards more meaningful and democratic constitutional changes in the future.

We are aware that the government’s 100-day program could not be implemented in full to meet all its ideals and the 19th Amendment too in its adopted form has lot to be desired. Despite that, the spirit of change and the new political atmosphere involving consultations and compromises are breathtakingly fresh in the context of Sri Lanka and give hope that such conditions, if further developed, will be conducive to resolve other pressing issues faced by the people.

We also recognise the positive steps the government has taken to address certain immediate concerns of the Tamil people. These include removing of military Governors and appointing civilians as Governors for the Northern and Eastern Provinces, transferring of small sections of land back to the rightful owners, releasing of a few Tamil political detainees and the review of the proscription of Tamil diaspora individuals and entities. Though limited in scope they are still significant.

However, large swathes of private land are still illegally occupied by the military, disproportionate number of military personnel still remain in the North and East, intimidation and arbitrary arrests still continue, military remains engaged in day to day life of Tamils in North and East, sexual violence continue against the tens of thousands of war widows and others, Tamil men and women still live in fear even more so in the Northern and Eastern provinces, several hundreds of political prisoners still remain in custody without being charged, the Prevention of Terrorism Act still not repealed, above all the Tamil National Question remains unresolved.

Momentum developed by passing of the 19th amendment and other positive initiatives taken to provide limited relief for the Tamil people, should be developed further to be stepping stones, to resolve the long standing Tamil national problem in Sri Lanka. In this context, it is important that the government accelerates implementing these initiatives and also takes meaningful steps to comprehensively address the issues related to alleged war crimes, serving of justice, political resolution and reconciliation.

Global Tamil Forum, for its part, is fully committed to playing a constructive role in making all these reality.

Guidance for making submission to the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka

Guidance for making a submission to the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka ("OISL")

Australian Tamil Congress Evidence Collection Assistance Team has been working with legal professionals in coordinating evidence collection for the past three years. Our experienced team will be assisting those willing to provide evidence.
 
If you or anyone you know wishes to provide any evidence, please contact us on 1300 660 629(Australian callers). If you need  guidance to write your statement please click here

 

Page 3 of 18