Feature Article

Remandating VR, a unique opportunity to address Australian refugee crisis

[TamilNet, Friday, 16 April 2010, 12:15 GMT]
Australia’s announcement that it will not accept claims of asylum by Tamils in defiance of U.N convention merely strengthens the argument that independence as outlined by the Vaddukoddai Referendum remains the “silver bullet” in addressing underlining issues causing instability in Sri Lanka and must be adopted by the IC and imposed upon the Rajapakse administration, say Tamil advocates in Australia on the eve of the Tamil referendum.

Close to 15,000 Tamils will visit polling stations across the country this weekend to take part in the referendum on the main principle of Vaddukkoaddai Resolution to express their desire for an independent Tamil homeland in the North and North East of the island, with further interest generated in recent days after the Australian Government announced it would not accept refugees of Tamil or Afghan, a move seen as a knee-jerk reaction to political pressure over border security in an election year.

The Tamil Referendum Council of Austrlia (TRCA), an independent body established to run the referendum, have called upon Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to use the principles of VR as a way to deal with the overarching issue of Tamil oppression that is creating an influx of refugees, without foregoing its responsibility to safeguard the rights of the vulnerable and persecuted or compromising Australia’s positioning as a beacon of regional democracy.

“It’s in Australia’s best interest for countries in the region to remain stable, thereby reducing the amount of refugees coming to these shores” said TRCA spokesperson Adrian Francis.

Citing a letter by Human Rights Watch (HRW) to the Rudd Government stating that changes to the asylum processing system “violate Australia's obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol not to discriminate in the treatment of refugees”, Francis urged the Rudd Government to acknowledge and utilise the Vaddukkoaddai mandate as the only sustainable solution to long term regional stability.

“The VR is a democratic mandate and a silver bullet that can end years of political and social instability and human rights abuses. If countries like Australia urge the Sri Lanka Government to adopt this model of independence and fix the problem, there would be no people fleeing for their lives and seeking asylum, and no need for inhumane policies to dismiss the legitimate grievances of people” a TRCA statement said.

The Australian Government justified its change in policy after citing a report by the UNHCR stating that conditions in countries like Afghanistan and Sri Lanka were improving, making it safe for refugees to return.

These claims have been publically dismissed by human rights groups and politicians, including a senior Australian Diplomat who told the Herald Sun that the Sri Lankan Government cared little about the fate of refugees, and in some cases were encouraging Tamils to make the treacherous journey on boat.

Support for the Vaddukkoaddai Referendum, to be held in locations across Queensland, New South Wales, A.C.T and Victoria, has come from all sections of Australian society, including a motion passed this week by the powerful Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC) highlighting the significance of the referendum, “at a time when the decimation of Tamil identity project is being implemented at full-speed in the island of Sri Lanka”.

The VR will “re-affirm the political aspirations of the Tamils in the island, of Sri Lanka, at a time any form of dissent against the racist regime in Sri Lanka is brutally eliminated” the motion continued.


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