Sri Lanka

About 200 people attended a meeting on Sri Lanka organised by People for Human Rights and Equality, a group of people of Sri Lankan origin now living in Australia.

The meeting was addressed by Basil Fernando, a director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, and Britto Fernando, co-convener of the Platform For Freedom, a coalition of groups in Sri Lanka campaigning for freedom of expression and the right to live.

The United Nations Human Rights Council had passed a resolution calling for the Sri Lankan government to carry out the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.

The LLRC was appointed by the Sri Lankan government to appease international concern over atrocities committed by the Sri Lankan Army during its war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Sri Lanka is under pressure over repeated allegations of war crimes committed during its war against the pro-independence Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

The war, which lasted nearly three decades, ended with the defeat of the LTTE in May 2009. An estimated 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the first five months of 2009 alone.

More than 500 people attended a dinner of the Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) on February 4.

The ATC, formed in 2009, campaigns for the rights of Tamil people in Sri Lanka, who have been subject to discrimination, oppression and massacres at the hands of successive racist Sri Lankan governments since the independence of Sri Lanka in 1948.

In December 1984, the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) expelled Tamil farmers from three villages in the Ma'nalaa'ru region in the northeast of the island of Sri Lanka and seized 1500 acres of land.

The land has been occupied by the SLA ever since. The displaced farmers told two Tamil National Alliance members of the Sri Lankan parliament who recently visited the area that the army still bans them from returning. They are not even allowed to look at their land.

The statement below was released n December 12 by the Refugee Rights Action Network WA.

* * *

Today, just a few hours before he was due to be returned to Sri Lanka, a Tamil father's deportation order was stopped by the High Court.

On Friday, the Federal Magistrates court dismissed an application for an injunction on the deportation of two Tamil asylum seekers. However on Friday Mr F's case was added to a High Court Challenge to elements of off shore processing that violate procedural fairness.

“We Tamils, inside and outside the island of Sri Lanka, still want an independent state,” Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, prime minister of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE), told me recently in New York.

“And because the war crimes and severe brutality of the Mahinda Rajapaksa government against our people have become well known, our cause is being spoken about all over the world.”

The Cage
By Gordon Weiss
Picador, 2011

The Cage tells the horrifying story of the final months of the war in Sri Lanka, which ended with the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May 2009.

Gordon Weiss, the former United Nations spokesperson in Sri Lanka, says the war ended in a "bloodbath", including the "wholesale bombardment by government forces of unarmed civilians".

Despite growing international outrage over the Sri Lankan military’s mass killings of over 40,000 Tamil civilians in 2009, the Sri Lankan government is defiantly refusing to heed international demands for an independent investigation into the atrocities. Instead it is escalating a range of discriminatory and repressive policies towards the Tamil people.

Australia’s cricketers should take a principled stand in defence of human rights and justice, and boycott playing with Sri Lanka until the government there conducts itself according to the rules of international society.

A British TV documentary and a United Nations-commissioned report have confirmed long-standing Tamil allegations that the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) committed large-scale war crimes in the course of its May 2009 victory over the pro-independence Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

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