'We are not terrorists', say Tamil refugee advocates

December 13, 2012
A boycott has been called when Australia play Sri Lanka on Boxing Day at the MCG.

The Tamil Refugee Council released this statement on December 14.

The Tamil Refugee Council (TRC) strongly rejects the claim by the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Australia that Tamils in Australia have terrorist connections.

TRC spokesman, Mal Bala, said the high commissioner Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe, had cast unjust and unproven aspersions upon many groups that have spoken out against the murder and persecution of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

These groups, including refugee advocates, church groups, journalists, ordinary citizens and Australian Tamils, were doing no more than stating the truth and trying to help people in desperate need.

“The Admiral’s comments are not just laughable. It is insulting to these people to be told they are connected to terrorism,” Bala said.

“The Admiral always claims that everyone else who presents the facts about the Sri Lankan Government’s killing and ethnic-cleansing of Tamils — and this includes such independent bodies as the United Nations — are telling lies.

“I think he needs to step out of his world of propaganda and into the real world.”

Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe said in an ABC Radio Australia interview on December 12 that terrorist organisations around the world — including Australia — were still advocating for a separate Tamil state in Sri Lanka.

He said that a planned protest to call for a boycott of Sri Lankan cricket on Boxing Day at the MCG was helping terrorists and, in a quote that inferred freedom of speech was denied in Sri Lanka, he said that protesters were taking advantage of Australia’s freedom of expression laws.

Admiral Samarasinghe also indicated he wants to stop the protest. He said: “I have taken up the matter with the relevant authorities (about) these allegations and these planned events, distributing leaflets, having demonstrations. These are all part of a long-term plan and game plan.”

“This (protest) is a way of bringing discredit to the country. People with vested interests are still active. These situations are playing into the hands of such terrorist organisations which are smarting at their defeat (in the civil war in 2009),” Admiral Samarasinghe said in the interview.

He was then asked which specific terrorist organisations were duping the protesters.

“The terrorist organisations operating in the rest of the world in different names and different forms are still trying to propagate and advocate separatism in our country,” he replied.

He was then asked whether he was referring to a revived grouping of the Tamil Tigers (LTTE).

“Terrorism is not present in Sri Lanka. But the Tamil Tigers, they are propagating. It is there for everybody to see in various parts of the world.

“The so-called diaspora is agitating. There are calls for separatism still, including on Australian soil. Taking advantage of freedom of speech and freedom of expression, these organisations are collecting money openly; say, $1 a week or $50 a year concept and this has been conveyed. This situation does exist.”

Bala said: “Thanks to freedom of speech here we can do it. But if you did it in Sri Lanka you would quickly be disappeared into the bowels of a torture centre.”

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