Friday 9 October 2009
A petition calling on the Federal Government to pressure the Sri Lankan Government to release Tamil civilians detained in camps in the north of the country was handed over to Queensland Senator Claire Moore on Thursday evening during a prayer service.
The petition was organised by Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission and attracted over 2400 signatures.
Over 50 people, including a number of Tamils living in Brisbane, attended the service which was held at St Oliver Plunkett Catholic Church at Cannon Hill.
The Chair of the Commission, Mr Rick Sheehan, presented the petition to Senator Moore who said that the petition would be lodged in the Senate at its next sitting at the end of October.
Mr Sheehan said that, despite claims to the contrary by the Sri Lankan Government, conditions for those detained in the camps were still very por.
Senator Moore said that it was clear that the human rights of people detained in the camps were not being respected.
“I cannot promise you that we will be able to change the situation in Sri Lanka,” Senator Moore said.
“However, if our Government is to continue to act on this dreadful situation, it is vital that people continue to let their local Members of Parliament and Senators know that they are concerned,” she said.
The Commission’s Executive officer, Peter Arndt, said that United Nations officials continue to express grave concerns about conditions in the camps.
“With the onset of the monsoon season, things are likely to get even worse,” Mr Arndt said.
“These people should be released quickly and we hope that Catholics will continue to pray for them and to also tell their MPs that things must change in Sri Lanka,” he said.
The Commission is committed to continuing action on the issue until Tamil detainees are released and a genuine reconciliation process is in place.