Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's parliament voted on January 11 to impeach Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake. This enabled President Mahinda Rajapaksa to dismiss her and appoint a new chief justice, Mohan Peiris.

Bandaranayake was appointed as chief justice by Rajapaksa in May 2011. However, she antagonised him by ruling that a new law was unconstitutional.

This law is aimed at setting up a new government body, known as Divi Neguma (a Sinhalese phrase meaning “raise the island”), which is supposed to promote economic development and social welfare.

Two student leaders from Jaffna University who were detained under Sri Lanka's draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act were released on January 22.

Jaffna University Student Union president V. Bavanandan and Science Faculty student activist Shamugam Solomon were taken into custody with two other students on November 29 and 30.

A Tamil refugee living in Australia on a bridging visa died in a Fremantle hospital on January 5 from suicide. He had a wife and young daughter still in Sri Lanka, and was waiting for an outcome on his refugee status.

It was his second suicide attempt. Refugee advocates in Perth said he had been tortured in Sri Lanka and his mental health deteriorated while in detention on Christmas Island and in the remote north Queensland Scherger base — where he first attempted suicide.

Trevor Grant, former cricket writer for The Age, makes the case for boycotting Sri Lankan cricket. Grant maintains the website What's the Score, Sport?.

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For all its international posturing about human rights these days, Australia has a sordid history of being a denier, or passive follower, rather than a leader in protecting the most vulnerable people in our world.

There is one exception, which makes this attitude all the more damning.

A United Nations review into its handling of the Sri Lankan government's war against Tamils in 2009 has revealed the UN deliberately ignored Sri Lanka's huge-scale human rights violations.

Up to 50,000 Tamils were killed by Sri Lankan military forces in the final stage of the conflict between the Sri Lankan government and armed Tamil independence groups, the most prominent of which was the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

After the defeat of the LTTE in May 2009, about 300,000 Tamils were forced into prison camps, where mass executions, torture and rape allegedly took place.

More than 100 people attended an October 17 talk by Professor Damien Kingsbury of Deakin University titled “Why are the Tamils fleeing Sri Lanka?”. The meeting was organised by the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project.

Kingsbury outlined the history of Sri Lanka. He said that British colonialism created a centralised administration of the previously separate Tamil and Sinhalese areas of the island. After independence in 1948, Sinhalese politicians established a “majoritarian” political system that discriminated against the Tamil minority in terms of language, employment and education.

The Sri Lankan civil war ended in 2009 and in the war’s aftermath there has been a plethora of serious human rights abuses perpetrated by the Sri Lankan government. Some of these abuses include abductions, torture and the murder of journalists and civilians, including women and children.

Tamil Nation in Sri Lanka
By Ron Ridenour
New Century Book House
Chennai, India
Available in Australia via www.resistancebooks.com

Ron Ridenour's Tamil nation in Sri Lanka is a history of the struggle of Tamils on the island of Sri Lanka for self-determination.

Ridenour explains the reasons why many Tamils took up arms to fight for an independent Tamil state. He shows the history of racism in Sri Lanka and the violent repression carried out by successive governments against peaceful Tamil protests.

The appalling suggestion by deputy leader of the opposition Julie Bishop that Sri Lankan asylum seekers should be delivered into the hands of the government of Sri Lanka without even looking at their claims has underlined the importance of the newly-formed WA Network for Human Rights in Tamil Eelam and Sri Lanka.

The Sydney Refugees Action Coalition released the statement below on September 7.

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A High Court decision this morning has dismissed an application of behalf of five asylum seekers seeking to extend judicial review to discretionary ministerial decisions.

In a similar application (M61) in 2010, the High Court found that asylum seekers were entitled to judicial review of appeal decisions.

The High Court judgment means that there is now no legal impediment to the government moving to deport a large number of asylum seekers.

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