Release the Tamil activists immediately!


The Socialist Alliance condemns the arrest of two Australian Tamil activists, Aruran Vinayagamoorthy and Sivarajah Yathavan, under the "anti-terror" laws. This is another example of the use of such laws to repress political activity of which the government disapproves.

The two are accused of being members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a group fighting for self-determination for the oppressed Tamil people of Sri Lanka. This group is described as "terrorist" by the Sri Lankan government and its allies, including the Australian government, but it is not on the list of "proscribed terrorist organisations" decided by Canberra.

The accusation that Tamils living in Australia support terrorism has long been used by the Sri Lankan government to discredit the efforts of the Australian Tamil community to publicise the plight of Tamils in their homeland.

Moreover, those who use this term always ignore the state terrorism perpetrated on the Tamil people by the Sri Lankan government through its armed forces. These have murdered and tortured thousands of Tamils, and bombarded and economically blockaded Tamil villages, causing hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes and become refugees in their own country.

The two arrested men have been active in Tamil community organisations in Australia engaged in peaceful political activity to draw attention to the situation of Tamils in Sri Lanka. They have also been helping to raise money for the more than 500,000 Tamils displaced from their homes by war and the December 2004 tsunami.

The two men are accused of diverting money raised for assistance to refugees to fund the LTTE. The Sri Lankan government routinely uses this kind of allegation to disrupt the aid efforts of the Tamil diaspora to help their fellow Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Socialist Alliance calls for the dropping of the charges and the release of the two men. We further call for the "anti-terror" laws under which they have been arrested to be repealed.

The Socialist Alliance also reaffirms its call on the Sri Lankan government to cease its war on the Tamil people and recognise the right of the Tamil people to self-determination. This is the precondition for a peaceful solution to the conflict.