2ND LEAD

Tamils facing “cultural annihaliation” by SL Government: Australian Politician

[TamilNet, Thursday, 08 October 2009, 05:10 GMT]
“It may be argued that the Tamil people have a legitimate right to self-determination but what is essential now is that we must see an end to the oppressive and discriminatory policies of the victorious Sri Lankan Government” urged Greens MLC Ian Cohen in an address to the Australian Parliament on September 24th. Highlighting the “potential humanitarian catastrophe” faced by almost 300,000 refugees who “despite their desire and capacity to return home they are being held prisoner”, Cohen described the Governments treatment of Tamils as “a litany of injustice, cultural annihilation and human rights atrocities”. Meanwhile, a Tamil NGO official in Vavuniyaa, while welcoming the interest of Australian politicians, said they should also come forward to "first address the question of double standards, employed by their government, between issues such as East Timor and Eezham.”

“The calls for addressing immediate humanitarian crisis in the island, knowingly brought in by the IC, are ineffective without addressing the fundamental question,” the IDP official in Vavuniyaa said adding that the current plight of Tamils is essentially a result of the "ideological bankruptcy of the International Community" in not being able to find universal formulas for recognising righteous questions of liberation.

Senator Ian Cohen
Greens Senator Ian Cohen
MLC Cohen in his address said: “Human rights agencies say that there are between 30 to 50 ‘disappearances’ every day of people from the camps. The Sri Lankan Government may well be continuing its human rights abuses with these arbitrary arrests." He blamed Colombo for its move to weed out alleged ex LTTE cadres within the camps as “collectively punishing the non-combatant civilians who wish to return home”.

“Many of the almost 300,000 internally displaced persons have relatives in Sri Lanka who are prepared to look after them” Cohen argued, describing them as “not economic refugees” but “rather government servants, teachers and farmers. All they want is to go home”.

“International pressure is being stifled in the United Nations and elsewhere” Cohen highlighted, describing China's opposition to censure Sri Lanka at the Security council during the height of the onslaught as evidence “that the machinery of the United Nations has been emasculated by China's veto as China considers Sri Lanka is in its sphere of influence” before slamming Beijing’s promotion of non-interference with national sovereignty as “convenient”.

Acknowledging close 'cricketing ties' between the two nations, Cohen urged the Australian cricket fraternity to speak up on the imminent humanitarian disaster in the camps to raise public awareness of the situation, stating that “cricketers as ambassadors for a sense of fair play and peace could save hundreds of thousands from despair and death”.


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