2ND LEAD (UPDATE)

99.4 percent vote for Tamil Eelam in Australia

[TamilNet, Thursday, 22 April 2010, 05:07 GMT]
99.4 percent of those who cast votes in the Tamil referendum across Australia last weekend said “yes” to the formation of independent and sovereign Tamil Eelam in the contiguous north and east of the island of Sri Lanka. The results were announced Thursday at a press conference held at NSW State Parliament in front of state and national media. 8,272 out of the registered, numbering around 10,000, participated in the polls. The number of eligible Eezham Tamil voters in Australia is estimated to be around 15,000. The formation of Tamil Eelam was assented by 8,154. The negative votes were 51 and 67 were invalid.



CPI Strategic, an independent body engaged by event organisers to coordinate and process the ballot, announced the results.

The results of the referendum, the first in the eastern hemisphere, is being touted by Diaspora circles as evidence for the aspiration of Tamil Eelam in the diaspora across major parts of the world.

Members of the national press and human rights activists were addressed by a panel consisting of Greens Senator Ian Cohen, who launched the event alongside TRCA representative Dr Gowri Palan, Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) national spokesperson Sam Pari and CPI Strategic spokesperson Steven Newnham , who announced the results at 2:30 p.m. AEST.

“The Tamil referendum employed a far more rigorous process then AEC (Australian Electoral Commission) elections, and we are very confident that the numbers are an accurate indication of voter opinion” said Newnham, citing the need for all voters to provide photographic I.D before casting their vote as opposed to a standard voters list used in Australian political elections.

Dr Sam Pari, national spokesperson for the Australian Tamil Congress told reporters that the result of the mandate and overwhelming support for Tamil independence merely “backs what has been seen as the general consensus for the many decades”.

“If a similar procedure was to be held on the island of Sri Lanka without voters fearing intimidation, we believe the same trend shown in these results and in similar referendums held across the world, would be evident” she said, before again calling upon the U.N to facilitate a similar referendum in Northern and Eastern provinces of the island of Sri Lanka to assess the will of the people and their political aspirations.

TRCA Spokesperson Dr Gowri Palan, citing the fact that over 200,000 “yes” votes had been registered in similar referendums across the globe, said the results were a clear indication of the Diasporas desires held under a transparent and democratic framework.

Representatives from the ATC and TRCA also highlighted the inaction of successive Australian Governments throughout the armed conflict and the current administrations’ decision to refuse asylum to Tamil refugees as reaffirming the importance of the Diaspora voicing its opinion in a transparent and unquestionable manner as embodied by the voting process.

"These results show that the Australian Government failed in its responsibility to listen to its citizens by refusing to condemn its Sri Lankan counterparts, despite vociferous protests from Tamils across the country," said TRCA spokesperson Adrian Francis.

“The inhumane policies taken up by the federal government in dealing with the issue of Tamil refugees, after years of ignoring their plight in their homeland illustrates the need for a paradigm shift within the political landscape, and we hope this referendum can kick start the process” he continued.

The official results were:

Total Polled: 8272
Total Number of Rejected Votes: 67
Total Number of Legitimate Votes: 8205
Total Number of ‘Yes’ Votes: 8154
Percentage of ‘Yes’ Votes: 99.38%
Total Number of ‘No’ Votes: 51
Percentage of ‘No’ Votes: 0.62%


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