Starvation, rape, killings, torture in Sri Lanka camps, Murphy tells Australia parliament

[TamilNet, Monday, 14 September 2009, 12:04 GMT]
Noting that "hundreds of thousands of innocent Tamils displaced by the military offensive are living in camps in appalling conditions. Moreover, foreign media channels have reported horrifying evidence of the worst violations of human rights, including starvation, rape, killings and torture. International agencies are calling for full access to these camps in order to provide life-saving treatment and medical supplies and to allow free and independent media access," parliamentarian, John Murphy, appealed at the House of Representatives Thursday, "to all governments of the world who have respect for human rights, the rule of law and free speech to join together and call on the government of Sri Lanka to right the wrongs forthwith."

More excerpts from Murphy's address follow:

"To date, the Sri Lankan government has arrogantly refused free media and humanitarian access to these camps. Why is the Sri Lankan government hiding from the truth? Surely providing unimpeded media and humanitarian access to these camps would provide a perfect opportunity for the Sri Lankan government to demonstrate that it is doing all it can to alleviate the suffering of the Tamil people. Clearly, the Sri Lankan government does not want the truth revealed.

"I am horrified to learn that a Sri Lankan journalist, Mr J S Tissainayagam, was detained for five months without charge in 2008 and has since been convicted and sentenced by the Colombo High Court to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment...What an appalling assault on free speech by the Sri Lankan government. Australia, as a country that asserts the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of expression, including views on all matters of public policy, the behaviour of the Sri Lankan government is in direct conflict with our values as well as those of other democratic nations and, as such, must be loudly and publicly condemned.

"In a further assault on freedom of speech, an Australian United Nations official, Mr James Elder, was recently ordered by the Sri Lankan government to leave the country because of comments he made about the military offensive and its impact on innocent civilians. Mr James Elder is a spokesman for the United Nations Children’s Fund in Colombo and has made several statements on foreign television news channels and print media concerning the horrendous humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka....It is obvious that there exists no freedom of the press in Sri Lanka. The actions of the government of Sri Lanka must be condemned and must be condemned loudly."


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