Global vigilance needed amid Sri Lanka’s post war rhetoric: Australian Senator

[TamilNet, Thursday, 20 August 2009, 23:57 GMT]
The ethnic issue in Sri Lanka must remain at the forefront of the global conscience amid the “very serious prospect of continued breeches of human rights” faced by over 300,000 Tamil IDP’s at the hands of the Sri Lankan Government, said Liberal party Senator Gary Humphries in address at Canberra on Tuesday. Citing allegations of abuse and continued censorship imposed by the Sri Lankan Government throughout military controlled refugee camps to dismiss claims of post war stability, senator Humphries urged the international community "to be vigilant, to watch carefully what is going on, to ask questions about how the Sri Lankan government is treating people” in order to force the Rajapakse regime to address the plight of thousands of Tamil civilians.

Addressing a welcome event at Garema Place in the nations capital for two Australian Tamils, Seran Sribalan and Vishna Sivaraj, on the final stages of their 300km walk from Sydney to Canberra to raise awareness over the conditions faced by IDP’s, the Senator voiced growing concern that “the end of the phase of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka between the Government and the Tamils has unfortunately only marked the beginning of another phase, which has by all reports led to some very serious abuses of human rights”.

In a wide ranging speech illustrating concern over the Tamil issue from all sides of Australian politics, senator Humphries told awaiting media and members of the public that it is vital to ensure that “people are aware that the apparent end of the armed conflict should not mean that we cease to have an interest in what is happening in Sri Lanka or things have now ‘settled down’, they clearly haven’t, reports of what is being done to people in camps around Tamil areas in Sri Lanka is extremely concerning, and no Australian, no body in the world should take lightly those reports”.

Highlighting the need to “ask questions about how the Sri Lankan government is treating people who have been displaced, who have lost their homes, who are distressed, who are in need of food and medical attention” the Senator cited international pressure as the only way of forcing the Sri Lankan Government to adhere to its humanitarian obligations.

Praising the efforts of the two boys for their initiative in spreading awareness of the current situation to rural and regional locales throughout the Australian states, the Senator also expressed concern over whether millions dollars in foreign aid sent by the Federal Government was “reaching those people who are mostly in need, and many of those people in the camps who have been denied a great deal that was theirs previously".

ACT Greens Multicultural Affairs spokesperson, Amanda Bresnan MLA, also addressed the crowd, heaping praise on the two “brave young men”, before urging Australia as a nation to voice, at “the bare minimum”, the need for the lifting of censorship in government camps and demanding the military relinquish control of all refugee centers to outside agencies.

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