January 25, 2011 Comments Off on ATC in the media
ABC Radio Asia Pacific Program – Abuse concerns over Sri Lanka envoy nominee
There is pressure on Australia to reject Sri Lanka’s nominee for its top diplomatic post in Australia because the candidate could be implicated in war crimes during the 2009 offensive that ended the war with Tamil separatists. Neither Sri Lanka’s high commission in Canberra nor the Australian government will discuss the issue. But Sri Lankan news reports say the nominee is the former head of Sri Lanka’s navy, Thisara Samarasinghe. Observers are concerned – this comes at the same time as Sri Lanka’s government has cut off direct talks with a United Nations panel on accountability for war crimes on both sides.
Presenter: Linda Mottram, Canberra correspondent
Speakers: Sam Pari, spokeswoman, Australian Tamil Congress; John Dowd QC, president, International Commission of Jurists (Australia); Bruce Haig, former Australian diplomat
Australia Network News – Envoy anger
ABC Radio Australia News – Sri Lankan admiral in Australian storm
The Age – Concern over Sri Lankan envoy
Canberra Times – War crimes cloud over envoy choice
January 25, 2011 Comments Off on Will Aust give diplomatic immunity to an alleged war criminal?
The Age – Concern over Sri Lankan envoy
AUSTRALIA is under pressure to reject Sri Lanka’s choice of a senior military commander as its next top envoy in Canberra over a war crimes controversy dating from Sri Lanka’s grisly civil war with Tamil separatists.
Former Sri Lankan navy chief Thisara Samarasinghe has reportedly been nominated to fill the vacant position of high commissioner to Australia.
But The Age understands the Foreign Affairs Department – which must decide if it will accept the nomination – sees the appointment as ”problematic” for Australia amid calls for a United Nations investigation into human rights violations in Sri Lanka.
No specific allegation of war crimes arising from the conflict have been made against Vice-Admiral Samarasinghe, who took over as chief of the Sri Lankan Navy in July 2009 after the end of the civil war.
But Tamil community leaders in Australia have demanded that Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd reject the nomination in protest at Sri Lanka’s refusal to allow an international war crimes tribunal.
Plans to send another senior military commander as Sri Lanka’s envoy to Britain were reportedly scotched by Colombo after protests in London.
”It clearly shows that Sri Lanka is slowly becoming a military state,” said Sam Pari of the Australian Tamil Congress. ”Their diplomatic posts are being taken over by military or former military personnel and I think that’s a very, very worrying sign.”
The Foreign Affairs department and the Sri Lankan High Commission in Canberra both declined to discuss the nomination.
The bitter 26-year conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam – who demanded a homeland for Sri Lanka’s Tamil ethnic minority – ended in May 2009 after government troops finally crushed the insurgents.
Thousands of civilians were trapped inside a military cordon in the island nation’s north-east in the closing phase of the conflict as government troops hemmed in remnants of the militants and pounded the area with heavy artillery, mortars and combat aircraft.
Aid groups complained that Sri Lankan forces deliberately targeted civilians during the fighting, especially in the province of Mullaitivu, while the government accused the Tamil Tigers of imprisoning locals for use as human shields.
UN estimates at the time put the civilian death toll at more than 6500 in the four months before Mullaitivu was finally overrun. About 300,000 Tamils were forced to flee the violence to emergency camps.
The fighting sparked the 2009 exodus of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka, many of them later attempting to reach Australia by boat from Indonesia.
Admiral Samarasinghe commanded operations in the country’s eastern and northern waters during the final three years of the fighting. Earlier, he was a base commander on the Jaffna peninsula, a one-time Tiger stronghold.
He retired from the navy 10 days ago and Sri Lankan media report he is expected to be Colombo’s next representative in Canberra, following the departure of the previous high commissioner in December.
But former NSW Attorney-General and Supreme Court justice John Dowd – who is collecting evidence for the International Commission of Jurists to present to an eventual war crimes tribunal in Sri Lanka – said the nomination raised concerns.
”The nature of a war crime, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the person who fires the shot or gives the order,” he said. ”The person in charge can be responsible for a war crime and commit a war crime by not stopping it.
”It’s very difficult to see how anyone in a senior command position – army, navy or air force – is not going to have a likelihood of allegations of war crimes, and indeed evidence of war crimes.”
Mr Dowd said he had recorded stories of shelling of civilians from naval vessels offshore during the war in Sri Lanka.
It is not the first time a proposed appointment of an ex-military figure has complicated Australia’s ties with Sri Lanka. Retired general Janaka Perera’s posting to Australia in 2001 sparked local community protests but he remained as high commissioner until 2005.
Australia’s relations with Indonesia were also poisoned in 1995 after Canberra was forced to reject the nomination of a former Indonesian general, Herman Mantiri, who had earlier excused a military crackdown in occupied East Timor.
Diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in recent weeks show the US believes a war crimes tribunal in Sri Lanka will not occur as President Mahinda Rajapaksa bears much of the responsibility for the abuses.
The civil war in Sri Lanka is thought to have cost up to 100,000 lives.
January 23, 2010 § 1 Comment
Official Press Release – Dublin Tribunal finds against Sri Lanka on charges of War Crimes
In Dublin today, 16th January, at 2.00pm the Peoples’ Tribunal Chairman Francois Houtart read the preliminary findings of the Peoples’ Tribunal on the war in Sri Lanka and its aftermath. There were four findings:
1: That the Sri Lankan Government and its military are guilty of War Crimes;
2: That the Sri Lankan Government is military are guilty of crimes against humanity;
3: That the charge of genocide requires further investigation;
4: That the international community, particularly the UK and USA, share responsibility for the breakdown of the peace process. More
The Sri Lanka government was found guilty of war crimes, a peoples tribunal in Ireland has said.
In its preliminary findings, the People’s Tribunal on Sri Lanka (PTSL) that conducted hearings from 14 to 16 January in Dublin has also concluded that the Sri Lanka government is also guilty of crimes against humanity. More
However, the-pro Tamil Tiger groups’ accusation that the government carried out Tamil genocide at the last phase of war between the security forces and the LTTE needs to be investigated.
“Harrowing evidence, including video footage, was submitted by eye-witnesses of the use of heavy artillery and phosphorous munitions, and of the continuous violation of human rights by military activity to a panel of ten international jurors over two days,” the PTSL said in a statement.
Dublin war-crimes tribunal, conducted by Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) based in Milan, which held hearings on Thursday and Friday on war-crime charges on Sri Lanka from eye-witnesses and other material evidence, in the preliminary findings issued Saturday said, Sri Lanka Government is “guilty of War-Crimes” and “guilty of Crimes Against Humanity.” The tribunal also concluded that the charge of Genocide requires further investigations. Eye witnesses included several escapees from the final week of Sri Lanka offensive in the Mullaitivu “No Fire Zone” where more than 20,000 Tamil civilians were allegedly slaughtered by Sri Lanka Army (SLA) training heavy weapons on them.
October 29, 2009 Comments Off on SL IDPs, war-crimes "smokescreen" & more
28 October 2009
The Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of Vanni origin detained in Sri Lanka Army (SLA) detention camp in Raamaavil in Thenmaraadchi have to stay in the camp if there are no relatives in Jaffna to take them over, according to Jaffna Secretariat sources. Though the government campaigns that Vanni IDPs will be resettled in their own villages, in reality they are not allowed to return to their homes, NGOs in Jaffna said. More
27 October 2009
Sri Lanka Army Intelligence personnel have been ‘screening’ the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who were being transferred in recent days from Vavuniyaa internment camps to transit centres in Trincomalee and have arrested 60 IDPs for interrogation and ‘rehabilitation’. More
28 October 2009
Sri Lanka’s agreement to probe war crimes allegations related to its defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels is a smokescreen to avoid an international inquiry, a human rights group said Wednesday.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Sri Lanka of trying to buy time and questioned the sincerity of the government’s decision to investigate the allegations detailed in a US State Department report.
“The government?s committee is merely an effort to buy time and hope the world will forget the bloodbath that civilians suffered at the end of the war,” HRW Asia director Brad Adams said. More
27 October 2009
The Sri Lankan government’s proposal to create a committee of experts to examine allegations of laws-of-war violations during the conflict between the government and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is an attempt to avoid an independent international inquiry, Human Rights Watch said today.
The government made its proposal in response to a report by the US State Department, published on October 22, 2009, that detailed hundreds of incidents of alleged laws-of-war violations in Sri Lanka from January through May. According to conservative UN estimates, 7,000 civilians were killed and more than 13,000 injured during that period, the final months of fighting. More
28 October 2009
The UN Special Rapporteur on arbitrary executions has said he is initiating inquiries into the video tape showing incidents of alleged extra judicial killings by the Sri Lankan Army.
“I have begun to commission some analysis of that video tape because I do think it is incumbent upon me and I think I owe it to the government of Sri Lanka to try to probe more deeply,” Philip Alston told journalists here.
In August, footage surfaced showing a Sri Lankan soldier shooting at point-blank range a bound and blindfolded Tamil rebel. The video also shows eight bound corpses – reinforcing allegations about executions by Sri Lankan Army. More
Newstodaynet: Eelam the only solution: Vaiko
28 October 2009
In a fiery speech, MDMK general secretary Vaiko today declared only an independent state of Eelam would be a permanent solution to the long sufferings of Lankan Tamils who were now lodged in refugee camps in the island nation.
Speaking at an awareness meeting organised by Lankan Tamil Protection Movement, MDMK chief said at at time when the world nations have expressed sympathy and concern for the plight of internally displaced Tamils in Sri Lanka, Chief Minister M Karunanidhi was taking part in functions that eulogise him.
He cited a reported in London-based Times that said more than 20,000 bodies of Lankan Tamils were left to rot in the open land and corpses have spread out with bones sticking out on the surface. ‘Wheres the Indian media is under duress not to report such incidents in war-torn Lanka,’ he charged. Vaiko said more than a lakh of Lankan Tamils were killed during the ethnic genocide and it was claimed in posters that a four-day visit by Tamil MPs from India to Sri Lanka had given freedom to refugees in the internally displaced camps. ‘Those who are responsible for such posters must be sent to mental asylum,’ he said. More
October 26, 2009 Comments Off on UN says investigate the war crimes in SL
Lisa Schlein, 25 October 2009
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is calling for an independent, international investigation of possible war crimes committed during the last few months of the war in Sri Lanka. The UN agency says there should be a full inquiry into what did or did not happen during the final stages of the country’s long-lasting civil war.
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights says too many questions related to the last stages of the war between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels remain unanswered.
UN Human Rights Spokesman Rupert Colville says something like the Gaza Fact-Finding Mission is warranted, given the wide spread concerns about the conduct of the war between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels. More
October 9, 2009 Comments Off on Voice E-Newsletter – Issue 14
October 9, 2009 Comments Off on Sri Lanka learnt from Israel