Monday 30 November 2009
Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission welcomed the recent announcement by the Sri Lankan Government of the lifting of restrictions on movement in the country, but urged continued pressure on the Sri Lankan Government in relation to the treatment of Tamils.
The Commission’s Executive officer, peter Arndt, said that some reports indicate that there is continuing harassment of Tamils despite the announcement.
“We understand that Tamils seeking to travel from the north of the country to Colombo must register at the local police station when they arrive,” Mr Arndt said.
“There are also police and military checks being carried out on Tamils as they travel through the country,” he said.
“It is one thing to announce that Tamils can move freely through the country, but it is another thing altogether for that to be happening on the ground,” he said.
“No-one should be rushing to close the book on Sri Lanka just yet,” he said.
“We have a lot of credible evidence of the complete disregard for the human rights of Tamil civilians by both the military and the Tigers during the recent conflict,” he said.
“Thousands of Tamil civilians were killed by appalling actions on both sides and there must be accountability for this,” he said.
“The homes and infrastructure of many Tamil communities was devastated by the Government’s military onslaught and we need to ensure that Tamils will be given all the help they need to re-build their communities,” he said.
“And we must never forget that the long-running conflict is linked to Tamil discontent at their treatment by the Government,” he said.
“Unless there is a genuine commitment by the Government to enter into a process of reconciliation, the bitterness will continue to simmer,” he said.
“Sustained pressure from the international community has pushed the Sri Lankan Government to this point today and it must continue to be applied if the Tamil minority is to be treated with dignity and fairness,” he said.
“The repeated criticism of many Governments and the UN and the threat of economic action by Europe have forced the Sri Lankan Government to improve the situation for Tamils,” he said.
“This pressure must continue so that the Tamils can live in Sri Lanka without discrimination and fear and so that all Sri Lankans can live in peace and security,” he said.
“Some dreadful things have been done to people on both sides in this conflict and efforts must be made to address the root causes if the country is to know peace,” he said.