October 25, 2011 Comments Off on More media coverage – war crimes
The Australian – War crimes case against leader
AN Australian man caught in the violent last months of Sri Lanka’s civil war has launched an Australian war crimes case against Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the leader is to fly in to the country for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
October 24, 2011 Comments Off on Press conference: Sydney Marriott Hotel
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE on 25 October 2011
Australian Citizen Files War Crimes Charges Against Sri Lankan President
Australian citizen Arunachalam Jegatheeswaran has instituted proceedings against Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The indictment was filed with the Melbourne Magistrates Court under the Australian criminal code. The Magistrate has issued the charges and a date has been fixed for the hearing of the charges.
Date: Tuesday 25 October 2011
Venue: Dalley Room, Level 2, Marriott Hotel, 36 College St, Sydney
Attending: Arunachalam Jegatheeswaran
Lucien Richter, Lawyer, Robert Stary Lawyers
Sam Pari, Spokesperson, Australian Tamil Congress
Bruce Haigh, former Australian Diplomat
Arunachalam Jegatheeswaran: “I am a living testimony of the massacre that happened to the Tamil people in the final days of the war in Sri Lanka. Mahinda Rajapakse is the Commander in Chief of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces. This alleged war criminal is coming to my country, Australia and I want to make sure he is held accountable for the massacre of thousands of Tamils in 2009.”
Sam Pari: “Mahinda Rajapakse is among a small circle of men who have committed the worst crimes in the 20th century: Hitler, Idi Amin, Milosevic, Pol Pot, Al-Bashir. The Australian Tamil Congress has been repeatedly calling for an international independent investigation into war crimes in Sri Lanka. In the absence of ethical leadership by governments, it falls upon courageous civilians to pursue justice for the victims. We applaud these efforts and hope that more such individuals will find the courage to seek the justice they deserve.”
Bruce Haigh: “CHOGM must consider the issue of Sri Lankan war crimes. More importantly however the issue of the ongoing genocide of the Tamil people by the Government of Sri Lanka needs to be considered urgently and CHOGM is the forum in which to do it.”
A week ago, the International Commission of Jurists submitted a dossier of evidence and eye witness testimonies of war crimes committed in Sri Lanka, to the Australian Federal Police. Mahinda Rajapakse is due to arrive in Perth today for the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting.
Mr. Arunachalam Jegatheeswaran – 0405 021 516
Lucien Richter, Lawyer, Robert Stary Lawyers – 03 8622 8200
Dr. Sam Pari, Spokesperson, Australian Tamil Congress – 0433 428 967
Mr. Bruce Haigh, former Australian Diplomat – 0417 037 988
October 24, 2011 Comments Off on Australian citizen files against SL Pres. for crimes against humanity
An Australian citizen who says he saw hospitals deliberated attacked by Sri Lankan forces has filed war crimes charges against president Mohindra Rajapaksa in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.
Click here to watch video
SRI Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa – who was due to arrive in Australia last night – has had a charge laid against him in a Melbourne court accusing him of war crimes in his country’s civil war.
Sri Lankan-born Australian Arunachalam Jegatheeswaran filed an indictment against the President yesterday, declaring he was seeking justice for thousands who perished in a series of aerial bombardments and ground attacks on shelters, schools, hospitals, orphanages and community centres.
The court move coincides with this week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, which the Sri Lankan President is attending. ”People are still suffering because of what he did and I think the world should know,” Mr Jegatheeswaran told The Age.
”I’ve seen all of these things,” he said, having been a volunteer aid worker in Sri Lanka from 2007 to 2009. ”I can’t bear that the person who is responsible for all of this – who is the commander-in-chief – is coming to my country and getting off scot-free. I’m asking the highest court of justice in Australia to decide whether he is guilty or not guilty.”
The indictment had been filed under the Australian criminal code with the Melbourne Magistrates Court yesterday and set for hearing on November 29, his lawyer, Rob Stary, said.
For the case to proceed, the AFP would have to conclude there is enough material to compile a brief of evidence of criminality, which it would then refer to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration. If a decision to prosecute is made, the Attorney-General’s consent would be sought.
Mr Rajapaksa, who strenuously denies any wrongdoing, has already been cited in a brief of evidence compiled by the International Commission of Jurists’ Australian section and handed to the AFP.
The brief recommends that the President be investigated for alleged war crimes, along with Sri Lanka’s high commissioner to Australia, Thisara Samarasinghe, and other military and
political figures. Mr Samarasinghe has also denied committing war crimes and, in an interview with The Age last week, cast himself as a unifier of the Sinhalese and Tamil communities in Australia.
Mr Jegatheeswaran, 63, who arrived in Australia in 1987 and became an Australian citizen three years later, says he is still haunted by the killings and injuries he saw. ”I am living testimony to what happened. I’m trying to forget, but I just can’t,” he said.
Mr Stary said he had written to federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland last Thursday to alert him to the move and urge him to take up the case. He had also written to the Australian Federal Police yesterday asking them to serve the indictment on Mr Rajapaksa.
”The government will need to show a bit of backbone to investigate it, but there is absolutely no reason on the face of it why they should not pursue it. It’s incontrovertible in our view that war crimes have been committed,” Mr Stary said.
A spokesman for Mr McClelland said he had not been told about any criminal matter or charges relating to Mr Rajapaksa.
In a seven-page statement, Mr Jegatheeswaran describes how he returned to Sri Lanka early in 2007 to work as a volunteer and initially stayed with relatives in the Tamil stronghold of Kilinochchi.
When aid work was disrupted by the war, he volunteered to work in a camp for displaced people, before being forced to move and eventually becoming displaced himself. ”I saw Sri Lankan planes directing bombs into towns and open areas where displaced people were congregated, including areas declared as no-fire zones. I saw many hundreds of civilians killed and injured by these attacks.
”I also witnessed many civilian buildings and public facilities damaged or destroyed by aerial bombardments. I saw houses, shelters for displaced people, schools, hospitals, religious temples, orphanages and community centres shelled and bombed.”
October 23, 2011 Comments Off on ICJ submission on SL to Committee against Torture
ICJ submission to the Committee against Torture on the Examination of the combined Third and Fourth Periodic Reports of Sri Lanka
14 October 2011
During its 47th session on 31 October to 25 November 2011, the UN Committee against Torture will undertake an examination of the combined third and fourth periodic reports of Sri Lanka. In preparation for this examination, and in response to Sri Lanka’s combined report, the Committee issued a list of issues to be considered during the forthcoming examination. The ICJ has submitted a parallel report to the Committee against Torture, which includes replies to aspects of some questions in the Committee’s list of issues, and sets out concrete recommendations for Sri Lanka’s implementation of obligations under the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The ICJ’s submission addresses issues concerning: the definition of torture; the crime of enforced disappearances; rights on arrest or detention; habeas corpus; contemporary issues at the provincial level; non-refoulement; witness protection legislation; reparation mechanisms for victims; and the prohibition on the admission as evidence of information obtained by torture.
Click here to read full submission.
In this submission the ICJ provides alternative replies to some of the questions raised in the List of Issues to be considered during the examination of the combined Third and Fourth Periodic Reports of Sri Lanka, taking place on 8-9 November 2011. The ICJ addresses the issues concerning: the definition of torture; the crime of enforced disappearances; rights on arrest or detention; habeas corpus; contemporary issues at the provincial level; non-refoulement; witness protection legislation; reparation mechanisms for victims; and the prohibition on the admission as evidence of information obtained by torture.
The ICJ concludes with a list of recommendations about what steps Sri Lanka should undertake in order to improve its adherence to the Convention. The ICJ urges the Committee to call on the Sri Lankan authorities to make amendments to the Convention against Torture Act so that it is compatible with the Convention’s provisions, to implement legal safeguards for individuals detained under the Emergency Regulations and the Prevention of Terrorism Act. In addition, robust measures must be enacted to safeguard full fair trial guarantees. Finally, a comprehensive State policy on remedy and reparation, including compensation and rehabilitation, must be adopted to ensure effective redress to victims of torture.
October 23, 2011 Comments Off on Dozens of NGOs call on Aus + Cwlth to act on SL
Australia and the Commonwealth must take action on Sri Lanka
On 20 October 2011, a coalition of leading human rights NGOs, including the Human Rights Law Centre, Human Rights Watch and the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, sent an Open Letter to the Commonwealth Heads of Government [PDF] regarding the need to take urgent action on human rights in Sri Lanka at the forthcoming meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government in Perth.
The letter was written as further evidence emerges of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law against Tamil civilians by Sri Lanka’s military, including systemic rape, murder and the targeting of hospitals and health care clinics.
Click here for the text of the letter.
October 21, 2011 Comments Off on More media coverage of war crimes in SL & role of Cwlth
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) Australia says the forthcoming meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting cannot be allowed to ignore the serious breaches committed in Sri Lanka.
…“The next meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth should reverse the decision that the next Heads of Government Meeting in 2013 be held in Sri Lanka”, said Mr Dowd…Read more
October 19, 2011 Comments Off on Advert in SMH – Wake up and smell the bloodshed
October 19, 2011 Comments Off on "Don't-ask, don't-tell no longer works with war crimes"
Opinion Editorial by Gordon Weiss
The Australian – Secrecy and denial are also war crimes
…Don’t-ask, don’t-tell no longer works with war crimes. The international community has become increasingly intolerant of governments solving their internal problems with impunity.
Ethical considerations aside, a secure and orderly global framework requires that international laws and treaties be respected, even when responding to an insurgency.
Yet Sri Lanka’s consistent response to allegations since the end of the war has been blanket denial. For years its envoys insisted their forces were not responsible for a single civilian death. As a result of pressure from emerging evidence, they now admit they may have been responsible for some civilian deaths, albeit unwittingly.
Australia has a duty, under our own laws and in accordance with our international legal obligations, to investigate credible allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Julia Gillard should join Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s public commitment and boycott next year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting should Sri Lanka not satisfactorily account for the deaths of civilians. Incredibly, CHOGM 2013 is scheduled for Hambantota, Rajapaksa’s hometown.
Gordon Weiss, the UN spokesman in Sri Lanka during the war, is the author of The Cage: The Fight for Sri Lanka and the Last Days of the Tamil Tigers
October 19, 2011 Comments Off on There are precedents for seeking Samarsinghe's recall
ABC Unleashed – A diplomatic dilemma of the Sri Lankan kind
…Receipt of the submission presents the AFP with something of a dilemma. It currently has a presence in Sri Lanka working with the Sri Lankan navy, army and police in preventing persecuted Tamils from leaving the country by boat for Australia.
The armed forces of Sri Lanka occupy traditional Tamil lands in the north. There are now emerging credible claims of rape and other abuse by members of the occupying forces against Tamil women and those old people and children that remain who are seeking to eke out a living with what few assets they have left.
The Sri Lankan police have blood on their hands, having engaged in the extra-judicial killing of Tamils. They have been involved in the murder of Sri Lankan journalists. Press freedom is all but dead in Sri Lanka. In 2009 the editor of The Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickrematunge, was murdered. In the same year JS Tissainayagam, a Tamil journalist and newspaper editor, was jailed for 20 years for publishing editorials critical of the government in 2006.
Over the years the Sri Lankan High Commission in Australia has conducted a campaign of harassment against Sri Lankan Tamils living in Australia. They were assisted by the AFP, who saw nothing wrong in visiting and intimidating Tamils in their homes at odd hours.
A Victorian Supreme Court Judge, Paul Coghlan, strongly criticised the AFP during his summary at the conclusion of a trial into the alleged terrorist activities of three Tamil males at the end of March last year. One of the accused, Arumugan Rajeevan, had the novel experience of being “unarrested” by AFP agents. He was pulled over as he was driving to a meeting, and arrested and handcuffed at gunpoint. Realising they did not have the legal grounds to arrest him, the AFP “unarrested “him. Coghlan also commented that Rajeevan had been abused during his interview which was an “absolute departure from normal principles”. No admission of fault or attempt at recompense was made.
Admiral Samarasinghe, as chief of staff of the Sri Lankan navy, oversaw the shelling of Tamil soldiers and civilians trapped in what had been declared a safe zone at the end of the civil war. The navy then blocked attempts by the International Committee of the Red Cross to evacuate the injured, women and children from the safe zone…
…There are precedents for seeking Samarsinghe’s recall. In September of this year General Jaghat Dias who was Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Germany and Switzerland was recalled to Colombo after the Swiss government contacted the Sri Lankan government concerning accusations that General Dias ordered troops of the 57th division, which he commanded, to fire on civilian and hospital targets during the army’s final offensive against the separatist Tamils in 2009.A report by the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights accused Dias of participating in acts of torture and the execution of rebel fighters.
In 1995 Australia rejected the nomination as ambassador of retired Indonesian General Herman Mantiri. His nomination was rejected on the basis of war crimes committed by Mantiri against the East Timorese. In 2005 and 2008 the Canadian government refused to accept nominations for the position of high commissioner put forward by the Sri Lankan government, for reasons associated with human rights abuses…
October 19, 2011 Comments Off on 3rd day running, media goes wild on SL war crimes issue
NineMSN – Greens want Sri Lankan envoy recalled
Even china is reporting on this…
China Post – Australia faces pressure to probe alleged war crimes linked to Sri Lankan envoy