Newsletter

The Australian Tamil Congress welcomes the UN Investigation Team for Sri Lanka and urges the Australian Government to take Necessary Steps to Support the Investigation

On June 25th, 2014, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay announced that three distinguished experts will advise and support the UN international investigation team set up to conduct a comprehensive investigation of alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka, as mandated by Human Rights Council resolution 25/1 in March 2014.  The experts include: Mr. Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; Ms. Silvia Cartwright, former Governor-General and High Court judge of New Zealand; and Ms. Asma Jahangir, former President of Pakistan’s Supreme Court Bar Association and of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. The Investigation Team working alongside the experts will consist of 12 staff, including investigators, forensics experts, a gender specialist, a legal analyst and various other staff with specialized skills. It will be operational for a period of 10 months, until approximately mid-April 2015.

 

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has welcomed the investigation team, stating “This investigation is an important step in establishing the truth and facilitating reconciliation within Sri Lanka. The inclusion of Martti Artisaahri, Silvia Cartwright and Asma Jahangir completes a strong team with a clear mandate from the UN Human Rights Council”, and has also “strongly urge(d) the government of Sri Lanka to cooperate fully with the Office of the High Commissioner and this investigation, and to ensure those engaging with the investigation can do so without fear of intimidation or reprisals.”  US State Department has also released a statement supporting the appointment of the eminent panel and urged the Sri Lankan government for its full cooperation with the Office of High Commissioner and investigation.

 

The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) appreciates the progress being made on the UN resolution on Sri Lanka, and welcomes the investigation team and its advisors in their new role.  As an organization that campaigned hard and worked with its partner organizations towards the passage of this resolution, and its predecessor resolutions for the last five years, ATC is pleased to see the advancement of this crucial step in achieving justice and accountability, and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. We also would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation for the political parties and individual Parliamentarians in Australia, and a large number of Australian entities and eminent persons, who consistently supported this just call and helped towards achieving this outcome.

 

ATC extends its fullest support and cooperation to this investigation team.  ATC also urges the UN investigation team to visit Australia and collect evidence from those residing in Australia who may have been affected in the final stages of the war.  We earnestly call on the Australian government to welcome the UN investigation and also urging it to take necessary steps to support the investigation process in Australia.

 

 

 

ATC is calling on the Australian government to urge Sri Lanka to protect its religious minorities from continuing violence

The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) strongly condemns the communal violence targeting the Muslim community in south-western Sri Lanka over the past couple of days.

More than 78 people have been seriously injured and at least three have been confirmed dead following violence predominantly aimed at the Muslim population in the towns of Aluthgama and Beruwala. On Sunday 15th June, a rally by the extremist, Buddhist Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) organisation, descended into chaos as the BBS and its followers moved through predominantly Muslim areas chanting anti-Muslim slogans and inciting hatred.  Mosques and tens of Muslim-owned local businesses and homes have been destroyed by the rampaging mobs. Violence targeting ethnic and religious minorities, and the police not acting promptly and even-handedly with tacit support from senior government officials, is becoming a regular occurrence, and the current escalation of violence appears to confirm this worrying trend. 

Speaking on the issue during the current 26th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, UN High Commissioner Ms Pillay stated that “the Government must urgently do everything it can to arrest this violence, curb the incitement and hate speech which is driving it, and protect all religious minorities.” Her office has previously raised alarm at the escalation of attacks upon Muslims, Hindus and Christians and the ways in which Sinhalese Buddhist nationalists organisations, like BBS, have incited violence.

US Embassy in Colombo in a statement urged "the government to ensure that order is preserved and the lives of citizens, places of worship, and property are protected" and called on the Sri Lankan authorities to investigate these attacks and bring those responsible for justice. Canadian government in an official statement has called on the Sri Lankan government to act quickly to ensure the safety of all communities, adding that "the attacks on Muslims in the country are completely unacceptable and a clear violation of the right to religious freedom."

ATC calls on the Australian government to publicly condemn this wanton violence inflicted upon religious minorities in Sri Lanka, and to insists that the Sri Lankan government take immediate steps to ensure protection for all communities and to bring those responsible for justice.

 

ATC Submission for the Proposed Changes to the Racial Discrimination Act

On behalf of Australian Tamils who appreciate the social cohesion of our society, ATC made a submission in relation to the exposure draft Bill on proposed changes to the racial hatred provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.

The Australian Tamil Congress believes it should be unlawful to offend, insult or humiliate based on race, and we unreservedly oppose the proposed changes, in the interest of all Australians to keep Australia free from any form of racism and bigotry.

Full Submission - Click here

International Women's Day Statement

 

The insecurity of Tamil women in Sri Lanka

This year, International Women’s Day celebrates the theme of ‘Equality for women is progress for all’. This idea should be at the core of a drive towards fairer societies and a better world. However, in many countries the rights of women continue to be denied, ignored and undermined.

Sri Lanka is one such place where women’s rights – particularly those of Tamils who reside in the former armed conflict areas of the North and East - are under sustained assault.

Full Statement : Click here

Allegations of Australia Giving Custody of Asylumseekers in Manus to Former Sri Lanka Army Major

Australian Tamil Congress Press Release

24 Feb 2014

Extremely disturbing news has surfaced that the commander of the G4S security forces at Manus Island Detention Centre is a man named Dinesh Perera who may have been a former Major in the Sri Lankan Army.
 
Many Tamil asylum seekers from Sri Lanka claim their main reason for seeking asylum is due to fear of persecution from the Sri Lankan state and its military.
 
Sri Lanka has also been in the media spotlight having been accused of human rights abuses, war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated against the Tamils in the island, and calls for Sri Lanka to be investigated for these crimes are on the increase.
 
"A deeply concerning pattern seems to be emerging. We have Tamils fleeing a military accused of war crimes. They are then detained and held in the custody of a former member of that very military. This man has access to all their personal details. Then they are returned back to Sri Lanka, after which their fate is not known," said Dr Sam Pari of the Australian Tamil Congress. "If Dinesh Perera's background is confirmed, then Australia is no longer simply turning a blind eye to Sri Lanka's persecution of the Tamil people, but it is aiding and abetting it," she added.
 
Media contact: Dr Sam Pari 0433 428 967

 

Page 4 of 18