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ATC

Press Release

NSW MP speaks in Parliament about Sri Lankan war crimes

NSW Member of Legislative Council speaks in NSW Parliament on Sri Lankan war crimes and human rights abuses against the Tamil

SRI LANKA AND TAMIL CONFLICT

Ms VIRGINIA JUDGE (Strathfield—Minister for Fair Trading, Minister for the Arts) [1.39 p.m.]: I speak in support of a small but prominent group of residents who live in my electorate but whose representation by number belies their contribution to my community in the electorate of Strathfield in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. The Tamils of Strathfield are solid citizens, noted for their commitment to education, a strong work ethic and devotion to family life, as well as to the greater community in which they live. I have observed that the Tamil community in my electorate applies these principles to their business and professional practice and to their enthusiastic participation in benevolent community organisations. They also work tirelessly to integrate refugees into our society by helping to meet their physical and emotional needs. I am advised that their community work includes recently raising money for research into breast cancer and actively supporting a young Tamil gymnast, Prashanth Selladurai, from my electorate to represent Australia in the Australian gymnastic team at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, where he made a major contribution to the efforts that I believe won the team a silver medal, and then at the Commonwealth Games recently in Delhi where he won two gold medals and bronze.

For Immediate Release on 17 October 2010 – Australian Tamils welcome announcement to release detained refugees

The Australian Tamil Congress welcomes the news that the Federal Government is preparing to announce plans to release children and families from detention centres into the community while their applications for asylum are being assessed.

"We welcome this shift in policy and look forward to further details," said Dr Sam Pari, spokesperson for the Australian Tamil Congress.

"Hopefully we will soon see the speedy processing of asylum applications. Some Tamils have been waiting in limbo for nearly 20 months," said Dr Bala Vigneswaran from the Australian Tamil Congress who works as a national coordinator for refugees and migrants.

Media contact:

Dr Bala Vigneswaran – 0419 361 273

Dr Sam Pari – 0433 428 967

For Immediate Release: Tamil fears of persecution in Sri Lanka very real

The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) maintains that the threat of persecution of Tamils in Sri Lanka is very much a reality.

The UNHCR, while claiming that the situation in Sri Lanka is improving, still concedes that large numbers of Tamils still have grounds to fear persecution.

Sixteen months on, the Sri Lankan government is yet to fulfil three promises it had made to the UN Secretary-General in May 2009. Sri Lanka still holds thousands of Tamil civilians in military-run internment camps, it shows no intention of addressing the political grievances of the Tamil people and it has been absolutely defiant of any independent investigations of alleged war crimes.

With the Sri Lankan government recently changing its constitution to scrap the two-term presidential limit and allow the President to appoint judges, police, election commissioners, and central bank officials, Sri Lanka is sprinting away from democracy and towards autocracy.

The fear of persecution if returned to Sri Lanka is very real for Tamil asylum seekers in Australia.

The ATC maintains that a solution to the asylum seeker crisis can only be achieved by dealing with the root cause. ATC encourages Australia to join increase its pressure on Sri Lanka to uphold the rights of Tamils in the island.


Media contact:

Dr Sam Pari – 0433 428 967

Press Release : Sri Lanka - Let In An Independent Umpire

Sri Lanka should be banned from the International Cricket Council because of the island's ongoing human rights emergency, according to Associate Professor Jake Lynch.

The Sri Lankan touring team plays Australia in a One Day International tomorrow (Friday 5th) at the Sydney Cricket Ground in the penultimate match of their tour.

Associate Professor Lynch, Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney says: "Until Sri Lanka agrees to an independent investigation into war crimes alleged to have been committed last year, it must be shunned by all international bodies".

Tamils Urge Politicians to Support UN Probe on Sri Lankan War Crimes

Following yesterday's announcement by the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General of a three-member advisory panel on alleged human rights abuses during the final stages of Sri Lanka's civil war in 2009, the Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) urges all sides of Australian politics to support an Australian Senate motion scheduled for tomorrow on the very same issue.

"We welcome the UN's announcement of an advisory panel and we hope the UN will soon take the next step towards actually investigating these alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka," said Dr Sam Pari, ATC spokesperson. "We hope all sides of Australian politics see the importance of bringing the perpetrators of these crimes to justice and support the Senate motion tomorrow," she added.

Several eminent Australians have confirmed their support on this issue, including Australian of the Year, Prof. Patrick McGorry.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young will propose a Senate motion tomorrow calling "on the Australian Government, as an active member state of the United Nations, to encourage the UN to investigate the alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka."

Last month, independent reports by the International Crisis Group and Human Rights Watch cited photographs and eye witness testimonies strengthening claims of war crimes and reiterated their calls for an independent investigation into Sri Lanka.

Media contact:

Dr Sam Pari - 0433 428 967

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