Australian Tamils call for sanctions on Sri Lanka

January 26, 2008

The Australian Federation of Tamil Associations (AFTA) has called on the Australian government to impose sanctions on Sri Lanka, following the Sri Lankan government's decision to abrogate the 2002 Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

The CFA was supposed to end a 20 year war between the government and the LTTE, who are fighting for self-determination for the Tamil people in the north and east of Sri Lanka.

In a statement issued on January 4, AFTA noted that the Sri Lankan government, which has been headed by president Mahinda Rajapakse since 2005, has failed to abide by the terms of the CFA.

"The use of paramilitaries to silence the democratic voice of the Tamil people and to carry out abductions, killings and disappearances, terrorisation of the Tamil homeland ... embargo on the flow of essential supplies and services ... and blatant refusal to cooperate with the independent International Eminent Persons Group and allow the presence of the UN Human Rights Council in Sri Lanka to monitor human rights, expose the Sri Lankan state's genocidal intent", the statement said.

Nevertheless, the CFA was important because it "recognised the existence of the de facto state of the Tamil people and the need to restore normalcy to create conditions conducive for peace negotiations".

By officially abrogating the CFA, the Rajapakse government "seeks to pursue the military option unhindered", according to AFTA.

AFTA has called on the Australian government to recognise the Tamil people's right to self-determination. It has also called for "an international embargo on the sale of arms, trade and sports until it ends its genocidal violence against the Tamil people and resumes peace negotiations addressing the legitimate aspirations of the Tamil people".

The New Socialist Party of Sri Lanka (NSSP) has also condemned the government's abrogation of the CFA. In a statement issued on January 11, the NSSP said: "Well over 5000 people, including 3 Tamil parliamentarians, have been killed under the Rajapakse presidency".

The abrogation of the CFA means that even "greater destruction and suffering will be heaped on the hapless civilian Tamils in the North East".

It is not only Tamils who are under attack from the what the NSSP calls the government's "reign of terror". Anyone who opposes the government's "war hysteria" is under threat. "Trade unions and their leaders, especially in the Health, Railway, Postal and Power sectors, that are vehemently opposed to the government's racist/militarist project are under severe threat, and so are the media institutions and media persons critical of the government. Some of them have already been killed", the NSSP says.

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