Friday, June 05, 2009

Sri Lanka: For over 30 years LTTE violated the rights of millions

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) violated the rights of millions of Sri Lankans over three decades, Don Randall of the Liberal Party speaking during the debate on a Private Member's motion on Sri Lanka in the Australian Parliament said.

"Having had a long association with the Australian - Sri Lankan community and having watched closely the atrocities committed by the LTTE over many years, few were more thrilled at the prospect of Sri Lankan peace and unity than me when I saw that the Tigers were defeated recently," Randall said.

The member for Fremantle's motion alleges war crimes have been committed by the Sri Lankan Government as well as the LTTE. I believe that this compromises her role as secretary to the parliamentary friendship group with Sri Lanka. I can only assume that the member's views are supported by the member for Lowe, an historical LTTE sympathiser, based on his statements in this House," he said.

Randall added: "I understand that the Sri Lankan community in the member for Fremantle's electorate are understandably concerned by the motivations of her motion. Over three decades, the rights of millions of Sri Lankans were violated by the LTTE and an estimated 80,000 people were killed in the 26-year civil war. I have said in the House on several occasions that the LTTE was one of the most brutal and militant terrorist groups in the world.

In addition to brutalising the Sinhalese people in its battle for territory, it sacrificed its own minority ethnic group of Tamil people and used them as human shields and suicide bombers and recruited child soldiers from them.

As recently as February this year, I wrote to the Attorney-General to request the immediate listing of the LTTE as a terrorist organisation under the Security Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Act 2002. The European Union, the USA, Canada and Britain are among more than 30 nations who have recognised the LTTE as a terrorist group.

My sentiments echoed the calls of Senator Hutchins, who is the chair of the friendship group. I understand that the Attorney-General began the prescribing process; however, the states must agree to such a prescription and New South Wales opposed the prescription and as a result it was thwarted."

"Speaking on this motion, it is important to stress at the outset that Australia has a strong humanitarian record. We will provide aid but we cannot support or condone aid to terrorists. To cast a slur on the Sri Lankan Government - quoting their defeat of the LTTE, a known terrorist organisation - is an insult to the democratically elected Government and damaging to relations with Australia. As a former Chair and the current Deputy Chair of the Sri Lankan Parliamentary friendship Group I have maintained a strong relationship with the Sri Lankan community over my time in Parliament. I have attended their community events and have heard their stories and watched with horror as the LTTE group brutally murdered many innocent civilians," Randall said.

"The former High Commissioner to Australia, who I was proud to call a friend, was viciously targeted by the LTTE last year. A suicide bomber in Anuradhapura killed 27 people and injured 80, including Major General Janaka Perera and his wife, Wajira. To call for an investigation into the actions of the Sri Lankan Government is damaging at home and abroad. To ambush the Prime Minister with calls for an investigation into human rights abuses is both disturbing and politically motivated. The Sri Lankan Government maintained a zero civilian casualty policy and to meet this policy slowed their advanced considerably in consideration of the ethnic Tamils being used as human shields.

The member for Fremantle, who touts her UN credentials at every opportunity, should acknowledge that the UN in a special session passed a resolution praising the efforts of the Sri Lankan Government in addressing the needs of displaced people and also welcomed the commitment of Sri Lanka to the protection of human rights. The resolution also condemns the Tigers and welcomes the liberation by the Government of tens of thousands of citizens kept by the LTTE against their will as hostages," he said.

"While the Sri Lankan community moves forward the LTTE sympathisers continue to be divisive. The Australian media has reported that LTTE fronts through various groups across Australia have raised funds to support the tactics of the LTTE and demonised the Sinhala people. It is these actions that culminated in recent ethnic attacks in Sydney. The situation is certainly volatile.

The member for Fremantle also raised the issue of humanitarian aid into those camps. Her motion says they are detained but they are actually homeless. An estimated 250,000 Tamil civilians are in internally displaced persons camps because their homes and livelihoods have been destroyed during the conflict through the indiscriminate targeting of the LTTE. The Sri Lankan Government works feverishly to construct temporary shelters, schools and hospitals," Randall said.

Source: Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law & Order - Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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