Keeping the world focused on Sri Lanka

In early March a Sri Lankan Crisis Statement was circulated and signed by a host of Australians to highlight the dire humanitarian situation in the country.

An updated statement has now been released:

We are Australian citizens who share a deep concern about the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka now affecting more than 300,000 people, according to United Nations (UN) estimates.

We call on the Government of Australia to demand the Government of Sri Lanka immediately:

a) give the UN, International Committee of the Red Cross, non-governmental organisations and all local and international media unrestricted access to the Tamil civilians trapped in the former war zone and those indefinitely confined in detention camps for internally displaced people;

b) treat all members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), former members, suspected combatants, non-combatant cadres and their families according to international law, including the Geneva Conventions, which have been ratified by the Government of Sri Lanka and allow independent international monitors to be part of the Government of Sri Lanka’s screening process;

c) release the over 300,000 Tamils from government controlled concentration camps and allow them to return to their homes;

d) release the three doctors – Dr. T. Varatharajah, Dr. T. Sathyamurthi and Dr. V. Shanmugarajah – who treated hundreds of severely wounded civilians in understaffed makeshift hospitals in the country’s war zones;

e) release journalist Mr. J.S. Tissainayagam detained without charges by the Sri Lankan government since March 7th 2008.

We strongly urge the Government of Australia to support the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay’s calls for an international independent investigation into alleged war crimes by the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE.

Furthermore, we recognise the Tamils in 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 pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

We urge the international community to support and facilitate a political solution that addresses the self-determination aspirations of Tamils and protects the human rights of all Sri Lankans.