Sri Lanka

The Tamil Refugee Council released this statement on February 28.

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A former member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, or Tamil Tigers) deported under duress from Australia on February 22 is being harassed and intimidated, along with his family, by the Sri Lankan state.

Santharuban was handed over to Sri Lankan authorities at Bandaranaike airport, Colombo, where he was questioned for about four hours.

The 12 asylum seekers who fled Sri Lanka and reached the Cocos Islands on May 2 were all arrested on arrival at Colombo airport after being deported by Australian authorities on May 5.

The group, which is believed to include children and an infant as young as one, were handed over to Sri Lanka's Criminal Investigation Department.

The immigration department refused to answer questions about the boat's arrival or the fate of its passengers, saying "we do not comment on operational matters".

More than 300 people braved rain on January 11 in a last ditch attempt to save a Tamil family from deportation to Sri Lanka.

Neelavannan Paramanathan and his wife Suganthini fled Sri Lanka in 2008 in the midst of the civil war. They sought asylum in Australia in 2012, and settled in Ballarat with their three daughters in 2013.

There is no guarantee of their safety if they return to Sri Lanka, as violence against Tamils continues. There is well-documented evidence of harsh treatment and human rights abuses by the Sri Lankan government and military.

Australian condom and rubber glove maker Ansell is engaged in some aggressive union busting in Sri Lanka. It has sacked about 300 poor mainly women workers who are fighting for the right to strike in one of Sri Lanka's so called Free Trade Zones.

Workers gathered outside Ansell’s Melbourne headquarters on August 25 to demand Ansell reinstate the sacked workers and recognise workers' right to organise.

Sri Lankan unionist Anton Marcus, who addressed the rally in defence of the sacked workers, said the workers had wanted nothing more than the right to negotiate through their union.

This speech was given at the Refugee Action Collective protest in Melbourne on April 8.

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We are here to protest against the indefinite detention of a group of refugees who are claimed by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to be a security threat.

These are people who have been officially recognised as refugees who were at serious risk of persecution in the countries they fled. Yet they are detained indefinitely because of negative ASIO assessments.

Two groups of Tamils walked from Glen Waverley and Sunshine to the Melbourne CBD on March 15 to “alert Australians to war crimes and genocide in Sri Lanka”.

The walkers converged in front of the State Library, where a rally was held.

The Campaign for Tamil Justice organised the walk to coincide with a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The UNHRC meeting had been expected to hear a report on Sri Lanka by the UN human rights commissioner, but this has been delayed for at least six months.

The Refugee Action Collective held a public meeting in Melbourne on February 23 to discuss the situation in Sri Lanka after the January 8 presidential election, at which Maithripala Sirisena defeated incumbent president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Trevor Grant, the author of Sri Lanka’s Secrets: how the Rajapaksa regime gets away with murder, told the meeting that Sirisena had been a member of Rajapaksa’s cabinet for 10 years.

He was acting defence minister in May 2009, in the final days of the war, when the slaughter of Tamils by the Sri Lankan armed forces was at its height.

Update: An earlier version of this article reported that asylum seeker Puvaneethan reboarded the plane after protesting passengers had been removed. Reports have now confirmed he is now back in Maribyrnong detention centre in Melbourne.


Three passengers were removed from a Qantas flight from Melbourne to Darwin this morning after refusing to take their seats in protest against the transfer of an asylum seeker on the same flight.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fought for an independent Tamil homeland in the north and east of the island of Sri Lanka.

The group was formed in response to discrimination against the Tamil people by the Sri Lankan government, after peaceful protests had been repeatedly met with violent repression. It waged an armed struggle for nearly three decades.

The LTTE was militarily defeated in 2009, and no longer exists. Yet people are still being penalised for alleged links with the group. This is happening in Sri Lanka, in Australia, and in other countries.

A protest to boycott Sri Lankan cricket was held in Melbourne on December 26.

Photos by Tony Iltis.


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