Photos by Ali Bakhtiavandi
Privatisation polices have been stepped up since the end of the war between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in May 2009, says Ranath Kumarasinghe from Sri Lanka's New Socialist Party (NSSP) Kumarasinghe is features editor of Haraya, a Sinhala language newspaper published by the NSSP. He recently visited Australia to speak at the Marxism 2012 conference, organised by Socialist Alternative in Melbourne over Easter.
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 Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has condemned the federal government's planned increase in the “efficiency dividend” imposed on the Australian Public Service. “Efficiency dividend” is a euphemism for funding cut. In the 2012-13 financial year the “dividend” will be 4%, based on the assumption the public service will increase its efficiency by 4% during the year. Such cuts have been continuing for many years. In 2011-2012 the “efficiency dividend” is 1.5%.
In a November 9-15 ballot, Austalian Taxation Office (ATO) staff voted 57% to 43% to accept management’s proposed enterprise agreement. This was the second all-staff vote. The previous version of the enterprise agreement was rejected by 59% to 41%. The two drafts did not differ much. Both provided for a pay rise of 9% over three years. The final version includes two once-off bonuses, but these are dependent on meeting certain targets which may not be achieved.
From November 9 to 15 Australian Taxation Office staff will vote on management's proposed enterprise agreement. This is the second time a staff ballot has been held. The first version of management’s proposal was rejected in June by a majority of 59% to 41%. The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) is recommending that staff vote “no”, because the pay offer of 9% over three years is less than the expected rate of inflation. A ballot of CPSU members endorsed this position following a recommendation by union’s Tax Section Council.