Despite international calls for a cease-fire, the conflict in Sri Lanka continues to escalate.
The district health official in the conflict zone has stated that 40-50 Tamil civilians are dying each day. Most recently the Sri Lankan government issued orders to doctors and other health staff to leave the conflict area immediately.
In an attempt to put an urgent stop to the humanitarian catastrophe, a group of young Tamil Australians have written a ‘Sri Lankan Crisis Statement’ for the wider Australian community to sign.
From 9 March 2009 we will take it to the media and the Australian government to raise our concern for this largely unreported war.
If you want to sign this statement, please leave your details as a comment on this page or via email to email@example.com as soon as possible.
****** STATEMENT ******
We are Australian citizens who share a deep concern about the escalating civilian crisis in Sri Lanka.
We call on the Australian government to demand the Sri Lankan authorities and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam declare an immediate ceasefire.
We are deeply concerned about the lack of medical staff and aid agencies serving the estimated 250,000 civilians trapped in the conflict zone.
In September 2008, the Sri Lankan government evicted United Nations and international aid agencies from these areas. While the local Red Cross is still operating within the conflict area, their presence is threatened by the ongoing conflict.
The departure of international witnesses within the conflict area will remove accountability for all parties to the conflict.
The Sri Lankan government has also issued orders to doctors and other health staff to leave the conflict area immediately.
We demand the Sri Lankan government allow international monitoring and medical and aid agencies unrestricted access to the conflict zones immediately.
In direct violation of the Geneva Convention, civilian hospitals in the conflict zones have repeatedly come under aerial bombing and shelling. Furthermore, on 2 February 2009 the Sri Lankan Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse stated that everything outside a government declared safety-zone is a military target and no exception will be given to medical facilities. We urge the Australian government to demand the Sri Lankan government stop the aerial bombing of hospitals and both parties cease placing civilians in direct cross fire in all areas.
Foreign and domestic media have been banned from entering the conflict zones since January 2008, when the government unilaterally withdrew from a cease-fire and commenced its military offensive. Without independent reporting, it is impossible to separate fact from propaganda by all parties to the conflict.
We call on the Australian government to pressure Sri Lankan officials to permit independent journalists unrestricted access to the conflict zones.
Furthermore, we recognise that the Tamil citizens of Sri Lanka have been subject to ethnic discrimination by successive Sri Lankan governments since Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948.
We acknowledge that all people, including the Tamils, have the right to self-determination and must freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
We acknowledge that a military solution to this conflict will not bring lasting peace to Sri Lanka. With the intention of ensuring long-term peace, we call on the Australian government to lead political negotiations that recognise the legitimate aspirations and protects the human rights of all Sri Lankans.
- Mr. Julian Burnside AO QC, Australian Barrister, Human Rights and Refugee advocate and author, Victoria
- Mr. John Pilger, renowned Australian journalist, author and documentary filmmaker
- Emeritus Prof. Stuart Rees, Director, Sydney Peace Foundation, University of Sydney, NSW, Order of Australia
- Prof. Wendy Bacon, Professor of Journalism, University of Technology, NSW
- Prof. Chris Nash, Professor of Journalism, Monash University, Victoria
- Associate Prof. Jake Lynch, Director, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney, NSW
- Prof. Damien Kingsbury, Associate Professor, Deakin University, Victoria
- Emeritus Prof. Ivan Shearer AM, University of Sydney, NSW
- Rev. Gregor Henderson, President of Uniting Church in Australia
- Hon. Ian Cohen, Member of the Legislative Council, NSW
- Hon. Lee Rhiannon, Member of the Legislative Council, NSW
- Hon. John Kaye, Member of the Legislative Council, NSW
- Hon. Colleen Hartland, Member of the Legislative Council, Victoria
- Hon. Mike Reynolds AM MP, Member for Townsville, Queensland
- Mr. Andrew Bartlett, BSocWk BA, former Senator for Queensland
- Mr. Lionel Bopage, Social Justice Activist and former General Secretary of Sri Lanka’s JVP, Victoria
- Dr. Susan Harris Rimmer, President, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, ACT
- Prof. Andrea Durbach, Associate Professor and Director of Australasian Human Rights Centre, Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales, NSW
- Mr. Jeff Loewenstein, Barrister, Victoria
- Dr. Peter Slezak, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, University of New South Wales, NSW
- Mr. Antony Loewenstein, Independent Journalist and Author, NSW
- Prof. John Whitehall, Paediatrician, Queensland
- Prof. Hamish Maxwell-Stewart, Assistant Professor, School of History and Classics, University of Tasmania, Tasmania
- Mr. Chris Riseley, Project Manager, Australian Volunteers International, Victoria
- Mr. Paul Benedek, State Convenor of Socialist Alliance in Queensland and Member of the newly formed ‘Tamil Justice Brisbane’, Queensland
- Mr. Peter Boyle, National Secretary, Democratic Socialist Perspective, NSW
- Ms. Sue Bolton, Convenor, Socialist Alliance, Victoria
- Ms. Pip Hinman, Socialist Alliance anti-war coordinator, NSW
- Mr. Timothy Dobson, National Executive, Resistance, NSW
- Mr. Mal Jago, Community News Site ‘streetcorner.com.au’, NSW
- Mr. Alex Bainbridge, Socialist Alliance, WA
- Ms. Rihab Charida, Palestinian activist, Freelance journalist (incl. Press TV), NSW
- Mr. Larry Marshall, Project Officer, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe Univesity, Victoria
- Dr. Ken Macnab, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney, NSW
- Ms. Annie Herro, Pricipal Researcher, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney, NSW
- Dr. George Myconos, Research Fellow, La Trobe University, Victoria
- Dr. Gareth Beal, Associate Lecturer, Creative Writing, Macquarie University, NSW
- Prof. Roger Packham, Associate Professor, University of Western Sydney, NSW
- Rev. Dr. Antony Floyd, Minister of Religion – Uniting Church in Australia, Victoria
- Ms. Rebecca Hinchey, Professional, Public Relations, STARTTS, NSW
- Mr. Kevin Rennie, Retired Teacher, Unionist and Australian Labor Party member since 1972, laborview.blogspot.com, Victoria
- Fr Claude Mostowik, President, Pax Christi, Australia
- Mr. David Feith, Tertiary Education Lecturer, Victoria
- Ms. Karen Coffield, Maternal & Child Health Nurse, Victoria
- Dr. Bea Bleile, Lecturer in Mathematics, University of New England, NSW
- Dr. Helen Kerr, General Practitioner and Addiction Physician, Brisbane, Queensland
Australian Groups supportive of the Sri Lankan Crisis Statement include:
- The New Internationalist Magazine Co-op, SA
Non-Australians supportive of the Sri Lankan Crisis Statement include:
- Ms. Karen Parker, JD, Specialist in Humanitarian Law and NGO Rep. UN
- Mr. Doug Bandow, former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan, Virginia, USA
- Mr. Siritunga Jayasuriya, Ex-Sri Lankan Presidential Candidate, Leader of the United Socialist Party and Trade Unionist, Sri Lanka
- Prof. Dr. Seemampillai Joseph Emmanuel, President, International Federation of Tamils, Geneva, Switzerland
- Prof. Peter Schalk, Professor in History of Religions, Uppsala University, Sweden
- Mr. Michael Otterman, Visiting Scholar, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney, NSW and author of ‘American Torture’
- Prof. John Neelsen, Department of Sociology, Tuebingen University, Germany
- Dr. Dagmar Hellmann-Rajanayagam, Reader, University Passau, Germany
- Dr. Nagalingam Ethirveerasingam. Ph.D, retired Prof in Agriculture and Education Olympian, Helsinki 1952 and Melbourne 1956, Humanitarian work in agriculture, education and sports in the NorthEast. Los Angeles, California, USA
Click here for complete list of signatories to the Sri Lankan Crisis Statement Version I.