January 31, 2010 Comments Off on What is Fonseka saying?
Defeated Sri Lankan presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka denied on Saturday he was seeking political asylum abroad, but said several countries had asked Colombo to stop harassing him.
January 31, 2010 Comments Off on More on Merak detainment
The Age – Indonesia deports refugee activists
Big Pond – Deported refugee activists seek an end
Media Release – Canadian Humanitarian Appeal for Relief of Tamils (Canadian HART)
January 29th, 2010 – For Immediate Release -MEDIA ADVISORY
Canadian Student Arrives Home After Being Detained in Indonesia
(Toronto, Canada) – Canadian student, Jessica Chandrashekar, University of Toronto Alumni and PhD student from York University arrives home after being detained in Indonesia for supporting Tamil refugees marooned on a boat of the coast of Indonesia at the behest of the Australian government. Friends and family of Jessica will welcome her home on Saturday January 30th, 2010 at 12:30pm at Terminal 3 of Pearson International Airport. Jessica will be speaking to the media about her confinement.
During her three days of detention her passport was confiscated and she was asked to sign a document that was in Bahasa Indonesia. Jessica was warned against speaking out to the media. Jessica was in Indonesia meeting with senior officials of the Indonesian foreign ministry to arrange humanitarian supplies for the 254 Tamil boat refugees.
“I am really looking forward to being back home in Canada. I can’t believe I was arrested for doing humanitarian work. But what is worse is the treatment of these refugees who are stuck without food, water or safety on a boat.” said Jessica Chandrashekar in a statement.
The asylum seekers, who have been living on a boat for over 100 days, are under threat of deportation back to Sri Lanka. One asylum seeker has died from having been denied medical care. Another person is in need of immediate medical attention for injuries sustained during the war. There are 31 children on the boat and one pregnant woman. All of the asylum seekers are suffering from lack of food and medicine and the denial of medical attention.
The boat Australia bound was intercepted by Indonesian Navy upon Australia’s request. Australia, as a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, has a responsibility to protect these refugees. Human rights advocates around the world are condemning Australia and Indonesia for stalling the refugee boat for the past four months.
Experts on the war in Sri Lanka, international refugee agreements as well as family members of the some of the refugees will be available for interviews.
For more information contact Canadian HART at (647) 836-6858.
Through community outreach and media campaigns, Canadian HART seeks to raise awareness about the human rights abuses against the Tamil minority population in Sri Lanka. Working in collaboration with labour unions, student groups, faith-based organizations and community organizations, Canadian HART aims to draw Canadian and international attention to the situation of Tamils in Sri Lanka and to push for an international presence and monitoring of the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka.
January 31, 2010 Comments Off on Post-Election crackdown on journos
Human Rights Watch (29/01) – Sri Lanka: End Harassment, Attacks on Journalists
The Sri Lankan government should immediately end its post-election harassment of media outlets and ensure protection of journalists from attack, Human Rights Watch said today.
Swiss Info – Swiss journalist told to leave Sri Lank
The Straits Times – Sri Lanka expels Swiss reporter
SRI Lankan authorities have withdrawn the visa granted to a Swiss reporter covering the island’s fiercely fought presidential vote and asked her to leave the country within 48 hours.
Times of India – Police seal office of ‘Lanka‘ newspaper
January 30, 2010 Comments Off on In Sri Lanka
New York Times – Sri Lanka Police Arrest Staff of Election’s Loser
New York Times (blog) – Sri Lankan Police Raid Defeated Opposition Candidate’s Office
Hindustan Times – Fonseka’s office raided, Swiss reporter deported
The Copenhagen Post – Per Stig Møller urges reconciliation and respect for Tamil minority after …
January 30, 2010 Comments Off on Aussie Govt must resolve Merak standoff
Refugee Action Coalition Media Release – Refugee Activists Deported from Indonesia Arrive in Australia, Saturday 30 January
URGENT ACTION NEEDED FROM AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT TO RESOLVE THE SITUATION OF MERAK ASYLUM SEEKERS
Two Australian refugee activists detained and questioned by Indonesian police in Merak have been deported by Indonesian immigration authorities, will arrive in Australia on Saturday morning (30 January).
Tamil community activist, Sara Nathan, will arrive at Sydney international airport at 7.40am Saturday, 30 January. She will be available for media comment after her arrival at the international airport.
Their deportation follows claims that they violated the conditions of their visas by being in the restricted area around the boat of Tamil asylum seekers at Merak. Under conditions placed on the return of their passports they were not allowed to make comments to the media. They are also barred from returning to Indonesia for six months.
Australian consular officials and Indonesian legal aid representatives provided support at their interview with the Indonesian chief minister
immigration on Thursday afternoon, Indonesian time.
“Claims by the immigration authorities that we entered the restricted area at the boat are completely untrue. We were in the public area beyond the
boundary of the port.
“The claims that I was associated with people smuggling are also completely baseless.
At first I was meant to be associated with “Nathan” the people smuggler (part of my maiden surname is Nathan but my married name is NOT Nathan), by
distributing Australian humanitarian visa forms – something that was actually suggested by Australian DFAT.
Later the claims changed to being in the restricted area around the boat.
“We were in Indonesia because of our concern for the welfare and the future of the asylum seekers on the boat at Merak. That remains our central concern,” said Sara Nathan, on her arrival at Sydney airport.
“Being detained and deported won’t hide the injustice of leaving the people on the boat for three months without proper support. The deportation will
not stop us campaigning against the Indonesian solution or for justice for the people at Merak.
“If Kevin Rudd had not called on the Indonesian government to intercept the boat to Merak, none of this would have happened. The Australian government urgently needs to play a role in resolving the situation it created.
“The Indonesian government has placed a complete ban on access to the boat by welfare groups, NGOs and journalists. That ban should be lifted. We have
suggested a way forward for the immigration verification of the asylum seekers and processing by the UNHCR,” Nathan said.
“Such processing would pave the way for Australia to play a role in the re-settlement of those found to be refugees. There is an urgent need for the Australian government to provide the assistance that Indonesia needs to guarantee the safety and future of the asylum seekers.
“News that Sri Lankan opposition leader, Sarath Fonseka, himself accused of war crimes in his role as leader of the army, may ask Australia for asylum is testament to the dangers that any opponents of the Sri Lankan government face. Just like those fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan, Tamils are fleeing human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.
“Australia, as a signatory to the Refugee Convention, should live up to its obligations and welcome those fleeing persecution – including those at Merak.”
For further information and media comment contact Sara Nathan 0412 236 703 or Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713
January 30, 2010 Comments Off on ATC on Fonseka claiming asylum in Aust
Availability for Comment : Australia – A Sanctuary for War Criminals?
“Suggestions that the man who led the Sri Lankan army in rounding up and unlawfully imprisoning 300,000 men, women and children may seek asylum in Australia is an outrage”
Dr Sam Pari – Spokesperson for the Australian Tamil Congress (ATC)
In response to reports that former Sri Lankan army Chief Sareth Fonseka is considering seeking temporary asylum in Australia, Australian Tamil Congress Spokesperson, Dr Sam Pari stated “It is inconceivable to think the Australian Government would even consider such a request given General Fonseka’s alleged involvement in war crimes during Sri Lanka’s civil conflict.
“For Sareth Fonseka to even make the suggestion shows his incredible arrogance and contempt for the values and freedoms we have in Australia.
“Australia and her citizens should be protected from suspected war criminals including Sareth Fonseka and Palitha Kohona – the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United Nations and dual Australian citizen”, said Dr Pari
Dr Sam Pari is available for interview on this topic Ph: 0433 428 967
January 29, 2010 Comments Off on Is Fonseka trying to get to Australia?
The Australian – asylum bid for Colombo general
Hindustan Times – Now, Fonseka to fight for parliament