Friday 4 May 2012
The Australian Government must raise the issue of human rights abuses in Sri Lanka in talks currently taking place between the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, and the Sri Lankan Government, according to Executive Officer of Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, Peter Arndt.
The Immigration Minister has spent the last three days in Sri Lanka in order to discuss on-going cooperation to counter people smuggling.
Mr Arndt said that Mr Bowen should not turn a blind eye in his discussions to reports of on-going abuses of Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority by the military.
“We are very concerned about reports that some Tamil asylum seekers whose claims for protection have failed were deported to Sri Lanka and subsequently subjected to rape, beatings and torture,” Mr Arndt said.
“A Human Rights Watch investigation shows at least eight Tamil asylum seekers were deported to Sri Lanka by the British Government and were abused by the Sri Lankan military in various ways,” he said.
“The Sri Lankan Government has thumbed its nose at the international community with its refusal to implement recommendations of its own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission,” he said.
“The UN Human Rights Council has called on the Sri Lankan Government to implement the Commission’s recommendations to deal with the injustices and abuses committed during Sri Lanka’s brutal and long-running civil war, but theSri Lankan Government refuses to do the right thing,” he said.
“There is still a massive military presence in the traditional homelands of the Tamil minority in the north and east and there are still reports of military violence and abuses of the Tamil people in the area,” he said.
“The Australian Government knows the Sri Lankan Government has questions to answer about human rights abuses committed during the civil war and that significant human rights concerns still exist in Sri Lanka,” he said.
“Australia cannot ignore these matters when it is talking to the Sri Lankan Government about stopping more Tamils coming to Australia and seeking asylum,” he said.
“Tamils and other minorities in Sri Lanka will stop fleeing their country when they can live in their own lands free from fear and oppression,” he said.
“The Sri Lankan Government will not get the message about human rights abuses if Australia keeps dealing with them as if it is business as usual,” he said.
“Australia cannot send Tamils back to Sri Lanka if it knows there is a strong possibility that they will be subjected to violence,” he said.
For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.