BY CHRIS SLEE
MELBOURNE — Five hundred people protested on September 2 against a visit by the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Australia, Janaka Perera. Because of the protest, Perera's meeting was shifted to another venue.
Perera, a former senior officer in the Sri Lankan army, has been accused by human rights groups of involvement in human rights abuses. Troops under his command have carried out murders and torture against civilians. These abuses have been committed against members of both the Sinhala majority and the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka.
In the late 1980s, there was a rebellion by the Peoples Liberation Front (JVP), a radical group based among Sinhala youth in the south of the island. The army brutally repressed the JVP and tens of thousands disappeared, presumed murdered by the army. Perera was involved in this repression. The Asian Human Rights Commission has accused him of running an illegal military detention camp at which torture and extrajudicial killings occurred.
Perera has also been involved in repression against Tamil people. For nearly two decades, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have been fighting for a Tamil homeland in the north and east of the island. Tens of thousands of Tamils have been murdered by the Sri Lankan army over the past two decades.
More than 600 Tamil civilians disappeared from Jaffna alone soon after Perera took over as commanding officer of the area. Mass graves were later found with hundreds of bodies, many showing signs of torture.