More on Aust's cooperation with Sri Lanka

April 25, 2011 Comments Off on More on Aust's cooperation with Sri Lanka

ABC (22/04) – Ex-detainees claim AFP officer witnessed torture

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) has expressed concern over the conduct of security forces working in cooperation with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in Sri Lanka.

Two former Christmas Island detainees arrested by Sri Lanka’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) after they were deported from Australia in 2009 claim to have been abused by members of the unit in the presence of an AFP officer.

Their lawyer, Lakshan Dias, says CID officers beat the men with wooden planks and threatened to rape their family members. (More)

Government must give answers on drowning

May 11, 2010 Comments Off on Government must give answers on drowning

ABC Online – Border protection protocols failing: Greens

The Greens say there needs to be a public inquiry into how the Federal Government responds to asylum seeker boats.

Five asylum seekers are presumed to have drowned in waters north-west of Australia after the boat they were in ran out of supplies and they decided to swim for help.

SMH – MPs seek probe of asylum seekers’ deaths

by Karlis Salna

The federal government is under pressure to hold an inquiry into the deaths of five asylum seekers believed to have drowned after abandoning their stricken vessel in search of help.

There are also calls for a review of protocols for monitoring and intercepting boats after it was revealed authorities knew almost two weeks ago the boat had run out of food, fuel and water.

Five Sri Lankan men disappeared when they went for help on a makeshift raft after their boat became disabled for a second time.

Authorities have begun taking statements from the 59 survivors, including 15 children, rescued near the Cocos Islands on Saturday by a Russian merchant ship. The survivors have now been transferred to Christmas Island. More

ABC – Customs slammed over response to stricken boat

Refugee advocates say they are astounded authorities did not do more to help a stricken boat of Sri Lankan asylum seekers off the Western Australian coast.

Customs officials say they were advised the boat carrying 64 people had run out of fuel, food and water while heading to Cocos Island on April 30.

They say a passing merchant ship provided assistance and reported they were in good health and their vessel was seaworthy.

Customs spokesman Phil Mayne says the boat was expected to arrive at Cocos Island on Wednesday, but a search was launched when it failed to turn up. More

The Age – Push for missing asylum seekers inquiry – Sri Lankans asylum seekers ‘panicked’ after stricken boat ran out of food, water

SMH – Five Sri Lankans lost amid big sharks

Rajeevan's powerful ABC interview

May 9, 2010 Comments Off on Rajeevan's powerful ABC interview

ABC Radio Sunday Profile – Arumugam Rajeevan

Last month in Victoria, three Australian Tamil men walked from court – with criminal convictions and good behaviour bonds after pleading guilty to funding the separatist Sri Lankan group the Tamil Tigers – marking an end to a multi-million dollar investigation by the Australian Federal Police.

Hello this is Sunday Profile I’m Monica Attard, and we’re joined by one of those three men – Arumugam Rajeevan, speaking for the first time.

In the wake of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami the Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Canberra complained to the Australian Federal Police that Tamils in Australia were diverting aid money for the tsunami reconstruction effort to the Tamil Tiger’s – Sri Lanka’s separatist fighters and enemies of the Sinhalese majority Sri Lankan government.

The Tigers, also known as the LTTE, are not a listed terrorist organization in Australia – but it is an offence to give the LTTE money or resources.

Arumugam Rajeevan and his two colleagues were initially charged with being members of the LTTE – though that more serious charge was dropped.
Ultimately Justice Paul Coghlan found – on the charge of providing material help to the organisation – the three men were motivated to assist the Tamil community in Sri Lanka and not by a desire to support terrorism.

Though Arumugam Rajeevan pleaded guilty, he explains today – for the first time – why.

But first, does he feel that he is a “free” man?

Listen to full interview here. Transcript below

Arumugam Rajeevan: We were freed by the judgement but personally I will say, I am not a free man in a sense that there were a lot of issues still hanging over our head, both personal, professional and community issues. So in that context unfortunately I will not say that I am a free person as such.

Monica Attard: And when you say that there were community issues hanging over your head, what do you mean by that?

Arumugam Rajeevan: I mean as you know, Monica it’s basically a case involving the Tamil community in Australia and the Tamil community’s contribution to the humanitarian projects in the North East of Sri Lanka. So in that context it touches the community’s every aspect of activity and there are still a lot of unanswered questions in regard to what the Tamil community in Australia can do in regard to bringing about a peaceful resolution in the Sri Lankan conflict.

Monica Attard: Well there looks like there has been a resolution. So are you saying that the Co-ordinating Community continues to raise money for the cause in Sri Lanka? Read and listen here

AFP: GOSL's lapdog, laws unto themselves

April 7, 2010 Comments Off on AFP: GOSL's lapdog, laws unto themselves

Crikey – AFP flying close to the wind — again — on Tamil case

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by Bruce Haigh, political commentator and retired diplomat

In pursuing a case against three Australians of Sri Lankan Tamil background for supplying funds to the militant Tigers, the Federal Police relied on information provided or vetted by the Sri Lankan government. It’s another example of the AFP testing the boundaries of its own laws.

These facts emerged during the trial of Arumugan Rajeevan, Aruran Vinayagamoorthy and Sivarajah Yathavan, before Victorian Supreme Court Justice Paul Coghlan, which concluded on March 31 with stinging criticism by the judge of the methods of interrogation employed by the AFP. Justice Coghlan described it as outrageous and a fundamental departure from the principals accepted as governing interrogations.

Again it appears as if the AFP have moved very close to the edge of the law in getting a desired outcome — learning nothing from the interrogation and charges brought against Dr Mohammed Haneef, a monumental blunder and error of judgement which fuelled the current poor relationship between Australia and India.

For the past 15 years or so the Sri Lankan government has applied pressure on the Australian government to proscribe the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, as a terrorist organisation. Denis Richardson, as head of ASIO (now head of DFAT), rightly resisted that pressure, but following his departure the AFP asserted dominance within intelligence circles and circumvented that restraint, culminating in the case against the three Australian citizens. The judge took such a leery view of the case that all three have been released on bonds.

The Sri Lankan government will not be pleased and through its High Commission in Canberra will no doubt make representations, as well as pursuing the issue through its networks within the AFP.

The Sri Lankan High Commission has conducted a campaign of harassment against Australians of Tamil background for the past decade. This has been tolerated by Australian authorities who should have been offering these citizens protection. The High Commission has been acting improperly; it should be directed to cease those activities. Officers posted to Australia to harass Tamils should be sent back to Sri Lanka.

If the AFP felt constrained to rely on the Sri Lankan government as the sole source of information on matters relating to the LTTE, it is safe to assume ASIO does likewise. That information is biased and unreliable. Yet ASIO has seen fit to declare four Tamil asylum seekers on Christmas Island threats to national security.

In a democracy we have a right to ask why? What is the threat they represent? What is the case against them? If they were former members of the LTTE, they represent no threat. As soldiers or supporters on the losing side of a civil war they are deserving of our assistance and compassion.

For many years it has been a requirement of the Australian government to seek a security clearance from the Sinhalese police for Tamils seeking refugee status in Australia. When I was posted to the Australia High Commission in Colombo I could see no sense in the arrangement. It was best ignored for all it did was to put the family of the applicant in jeopardy.

ASIO and the AFP rely on goodwill to carry out their duties towards ensuring the security of the nation. Goodwill is built on trust, without it security organisations operate in a hostile domestic environment and need to rely on an increasing number of agents. Look at East Germany or indeed China. The AFP has done little to build trust in recent years.

ASIO needs to revisit its decision relating to the Tamils who received an adverse security rating, particularly since these are the same people singled out as terrorists some months earlier by the Sri Lankan High Commission.

In the opinion of the regional director of UNHCR, security in Sri Lanka and Afghanistan is returning to normal and that there is now not a case for people from these countries to claim refugee status. The government and opposition cite this authoritative UN source. The Department of Immigration has recently returned refugee applicants to both countries saying that their claims cannot be sustained in the light of positive change in these countries.

Other sources including Amnesty make no such assessment. Young Tamil males are still disappearing off the streets of Colombo and a quick glance at the evening news will show that nothing has changed in Afghanistan, in fact it is poised to get worse with the approach of summer.

When it comes to doing deals with “friendly” governments UNHCR has form. In 1993 the regional UNHCR representative did a deal with the Australian government declaring that women fleeing China because of persecution or the fear of persecution were not refugees. The Australian government, as usual, was concerned about a flood from the north. The quid pro quo was that Australia would agree to take more refugees from UNHCR camps, paradoxically among them being Afghan refugees in camps in Pakistan.

No doubt some sort of deal making has been involved to help Australia justify sending politically sensitive refugees back home in an election year.

It is a disgrace and there is not a single independent source of information that supports the contention that Tamils from the north do not face a fear of persecution in Sri Lanka or that life for the average Afghan trader and farmer is safe. Shame Senator Evans.

Bruce Haigh is a political commentator who has lived in Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. He is also a retired diplomat.

Please click here to subscribe to Crikey and support independent journalism

Just judge releases 3 Tamils in Melbourne

April 1, 2010 § 1 Comment

AAP – Trio avoid jail over funding Tamil Tigers

THREE Australian men accused of supplying $1 million to Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger separatists have avoided immediate jail time.

Arumugan Rajeevan, 41, from NSW, and Melbourne men Aruran Vinayagamoorthy, 35, and Sivarajah Yathavan, 38, pleaded guilty last year to providing money to a terrorist organisation.

Vinayagamoorthy further pleaded guilty to providing electronic components to Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), or Tamil Tigers.

The trio were arrested in 2007 following an Australian Federal Police investigation. More

Australian Police did GOSL's dirty work

March 31, 2010 Comments Off on Australian Police did GOSL's dirty work

The Age – Top judge blasts AFP terror probe

by Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker

A SUPREME Court judge has attacked the Australian Federal Police for bungling a two-year investigation into three men who sent funds to Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger separatists.

The agents’ action included improperly arresting a suspect and abusing his rights.

The AFP’s mistakes occurred during its 2007 arrest and questioning of Arumugan Rajeevan, who is one of three men who will be sentenced in the Victorian Supreme Court today for providing money to a terrorist organisation.More

SMH – Sri Lanka stymied investigation

Judge agrees: Australian Police abused Tamil's rights

March 31, 2010 Comments Off on Judge agrees: Australian Police abused Tamil's rights

Australian Judge has conscience and tells it like it is in the trial of 3 Tamils in Melbourne by criticising the deplorable actions of the AFP who arrested one of the men at gunpoint

The AgeRaising hackles

by Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker

DURING his 40 years in the criminal justice system, Paul Coghlan has prosecuted remorseless murderers, locked up white-collar fraudsters and watched countless police take the stand to give evidence. His record and experience rank him among the more learned on the Supreme Court bench. Yet if he thought he had seen all that a courtroom could offer, Justice Coghlan would stand corrected in January last year, when he was told by an Australian Federal Police agent that a terrorism suspect could be ”unarrested”.

”To be fair to you, I’ve only been practising in the criminal law for 40 years,” Coghlan said last year in reference to the arrest, and unarrest, of Arumugam Rajeevan, one of three men charged in 2007 with terrorist offences connected to their support and financing of the militant Sri Lankan separatist group, the Tamil Tigers. ”The notion of unarresting people is something that I’ve struck here for the first time … the notion that somebody can be arrested unlawfully and then just unarrested at somebody else’s whim is bizarre.”More

SMH –Judge raps federal police for ‘high-handed’ arrest

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