4 March 2014


Diplomats preparing for the 25th United Nations Human Rights Council session in Geneva have expressed concern Australia is working to ''actively undermine'' a push for an international inquiry into human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, because of the government's eagerness to co-operate with that country's leaders on asylum seekers according to media reports.

The US is likely to sponsor a resolution at the meeting criticising Sri Lanka's human rights record, and there have been reports it could call for an international investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the dying days of Sri Lanka's civil war in 2009.

Meanwhile 205 Tamil Christian clergy from the north and east of Sri Lanka have bravely addressed an open letter to the UN Human Rights Council appealing for an international investigation into Sri Lanka that will address past and current human rights violations.

The letter notes that some of the signatories have previously engaged with governmental bodies and Commissions of Inquiries established by the Sri Lankan government, none of which have resulted in any progress towards truth and justice, on the contrary the participants have been interrogated, threatened and intimidated.

The letter goes on to state that ‘Disappearances, sexual abuse, arrests, detention and torture under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, restrictions and attacks on freedom of assembly, expression, association and movement continue to date. Collective commemoration of dead and disappeared and religious freedom is restricted. Those who criticise, question and challenge government policies and practices, and those who engage with the international community on human rights issues, are branded as terrorist supporters / traitors. They are threatened, interrogated, intimidated by the government's security apparatus. Some of us have also been targeted in this manner. We are aware that writing this letter and engaging with the UN HRC itself can make us vulnerable to risks, and several of the more vulnerable clergy are not signing onto this, even though they agree with the contents.'
(reports of threats and intimidation against anyone who dares to criticise Sri Lanka within the UN are commonly heard in Geneva - BB)

The letter goes on to detail systematic efforts currently underway to destroy the identity of the Tamil community.

Australia continues to deny that a serious human rights problem exists in Sri Lanka presumably in order to justify its treatment of Tamil asylum seekers. Obviously Australia’s policy makers have not viewed the harrowing, award winning documentary ‘No fire Zone”  - then again perhaps they have, and just don’t care.

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