Press Release

Availability for Comment - Australia - A Sanctuary for War Criminals?

"Suggestions that the man who led the Sri Lankan army in rounding up and unlawfully imprisoning 300,000 men, women and children may seek asylum in Australia is an outrage"

Dr Sam Pari – Spokesperson for the Australian Tamil Congress (ATC)

In response to reports that former Sri Lankan army Chief Sareth Fonseka is considering seeking temporary asylum in Australia, Australian Tamil Congress Spokesperson, Dr Sam Pari stated "It is inconceivable to think the Australian Government would even consider such a request given General Fonseka's alleged involvement in war crimes during Sri Lanka's civil conflict.

"For Sareth Fonseka to even make the suggestion shows his incredible arrogance and contempt for the values and freedoms we have in Australia. "Australia and her citizens should be protected from suspected war criminals including Sareth Fonseka and Palitha Kohona – the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United Nations and dual Australian citizen", said Dr Pari


Dr Sam Pari is available for interview on this topic Ph: 0433 428 967

History Repeating for Sri Lanka's Tamils

"The re-election of a man who unlawfully imprisoned 300,000 men, women and children and whose regime has accrued an appalling human rights record should be condemned"

Dr Sam Pari - Spokesperson for the Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) President Mahinda Rajapaksa's victory in Sri Lanka's Presidential elections virtually guarantees the democratic, social and economic opportunities for Tamils and other minorities in Sri Lanka will remain bleak, according to Dr Sam Pari, spokesperson for The Australian Tamil Congress. "150,000 Tamils remain detained against their will in military run camps. Thousands of people have gone missing without trace and Tamils who have been released face severe restrictions on freedom of movement. Poor voter turnout in the predominantly Tamil areas of the north and east of Sri Lanka show the deep level of resentment and mistrust against both candidates.

"Despite calls by the United Nations for investigations into alleged war crimes, President Rajapaksa continues to resist any cooperation in these investigations. The outcome of this election will continue to hamper the restoration of justice and the ability of the country to move forward through reconciliation - a key component in Sri Lanka's rebuilding process.

"We are extremely concerned for the welfare of Tamils and other minorities in Sri Lanka and once again are calling on the Australian Government and the international community to ensure peace, justice and true democracy are restored. They must take a more active role in holding President Rajapaksa to account and pressure for independent investigations into alleged war crimes", said Dr Pari.

On the issue of asylum seekers, Dr Pari said "the only way to stem the tide of boat people arriving in Australian waters is to address the root cause of why people are fleeing Sri Lanka in the first place- to escape ethnic persecution and a brutal regime which is answerable to no one"

Dr Sam Pari is available for interview on this topic Ph: 0433 428 967

NSW State MP and Senate Candidate for Australian Federal Elections, Hon. Lee Rhiannon's speech in NSW Parliament 13/05/2010

Lee Rhiannon and Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young will be meeting the NSW Tamil community @ Homebush Boys High School on the 29th of May @ 4pm.From Hansard -Page: 50SRI LANKAN CONFLICT Ms LEE RHIANNON [5.27 p.m.]: I make reference to the one-year anniversary marking the end of Sri Lanka's civil war, particularly with reference to the recent decision of the Federal Government to suspend the processing of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. Given reports coming out of Sri Lanka of why Tamil people are continuing to flee their country and seek asylum, it seems essential for us to respond to the needs of the Tamil people and not turn our backs to their cries.

In May 2009 the Sri Lankan government claimed victory after 26 years of civil war. It has been reported that around 380,000 were subsequently incarcerated in internment camps with extremely poor sanitation and water facilities. Among the reported conditions to date there have been allegations of starvation, rape, prostitution, torture,

Availability for Comment: Undemocratic Election = Unthinkable consequences

Dr Sam Pari - Spokesperson for the Australian Tamil Congress (ATC)

Dr Sam Pari, spokesperson for The Australian Tamil Congress fears the democratic, social and economic opportunities for Tamils In the north and east of Sri Lanka will remain bleak, regardless of the outcome of the Presidential election on Tuesday.

"Tamils have faced decades of oppression and been subjected to ethnically motivated human rights abuses for many years - the democratic freedoms and opportunities which have been promised time and time again by Sinhalese presidents and political parties have never been honoured in the past.

"There is so much work to be done in the reconstruction of Sri Lanka- we need real commitment to address inequalities.

"The international community must be vigilant in its monitoring of conditions in Sri Lanka and pressure the United Nations to conduct an independent inquiry into allegations of war crimes", said Dr Pari

Sam Pari, MD is available for interview on this topic Ph: 0433 428 967

Pressure for Investigation into Sri Lanka's Human Rights Record grows

The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) welcomes recent findings from an international tribunal of academics, legal experts and human rights campaigners, including former UN Assistant Secretary General, Denis Halliday, which found the Government of Sri Lanka has a strong case to answer over its complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the final stages of Sri Lanka's civil conflict.

The Permanent People's Tribunal heard eye-witness accounts and examined materials including video footage during two days of hearings at Trinity College Dublin last week. The Tribunal was co-hosted by the Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College Dublin and the School of Law and Government, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland. The event was organised by the Irish Forum for Peace in Sri Lanka (IFPSL).

This latest announcement adds to a growing volume of international condemnation and calls for independent investigations into alleged war crimes and human rights abuses committed during Sri Lanka's civil war. Most recently, Philip Alston, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions called for an independent inquiry to investigate alleged war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.

"Sri Lanka is a country with a very dubious human rights record against ethnic minorities, including Tamils. This is the cause of so many Tamils fleeing Sri Lanka. It is time the International Community, including Australia ensures the root cause is dealt with - the perpetrators should be brought to justice and the safety and security of all Sri Lankans should be protected," said spokesperson for the ATC, Brami Jegan.

Dr Jake Lynch from the University of Sydney's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS), added, "The abuses and injustices inflicted on the Tamils add up to an important factor in this conflict that will have to be meaningfully addressed before there can be any chance of building a lasting peace. The findings of this court, unofficial as it is, present a challenge to the world's governments. They must either take decisive action to offer the prospect of justice to the Tamils, or see their warm words about the prospects of reconciliation condemned as mere windy rhetoric".

Brami Jegan, Spokesperson for the ATC is available for interview on this topic Ph: 0433 054 712

Associate Professor Jake Lynch (CPACS) is also available for interview on this topic Ph: 0420 980 010

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