Australia arrests will jeopardize humanitarian help- AFTA

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 02 May 2007, 11:55 GMT]
The recent arrests in Australia of Tamil activists on allegations of misdirecting of funds for the LTTE, "could jeopardize the humanitarian projects funded by the Australian Tamil community and NGOs that assist over 500,000 internally displaced Tamil civilians in the Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka. Denial of this assistance to the needy would only help the Sri Lankan government in their attempt to “beat the Tamil people in Sri Lanka into submission,"" the Australasian Federation Of Tamil Associations (AFTA) said in a press release issued Wednesday.

Full text of the press release follows:

The Tamil Australian community is shocked at the arrest of two Tamil residents of Melbourne on 1 May 2007 reportedly charged with terrorism offences. According to ‘The Age’ article of 1 May 2007, the Australian Federal Police have alleged that they are members of the Tamil rebel organization, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and have provided them with funds and electronic equipment aiding in their armed struggle for a homeland for the Tamil people in Sri Lanka.

Whilst the law abiding and peace loving Tamil Australians acknowledge the need to conduct a fair and open judicial process aimed at establishing the truth, the Australasian Federation of Tamil Associations (AFTA), an umbrella organization of the peak Tamil associations in Australia and New Zealand is deeply concerned of these arrests and their possible consequences.

These arrests and the allegations against the persons arrested that they have directed funds raised for humanitarian purposes, to the LTTE, could jeopardize the humanitarian projects funded by the Australian Tamil community and NGOs that assist over 500,000 internally displaced Tamil civilians in the Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka. Denial of this assistance to the needy would only help the Sri Lankan government in their attempt to “beat the Tamil people in Sri Lanka into submission”.

It is disturbing to note that Sri Lanka's Foreign Secretary Dr Palitha Kohona tipping on 1 May, that further arrests in Australia are to follow, pre-empting our government action and adding credence to the fears of the Australian Tamils of Sri Lanka’s political interference with the judicial process in Australia.

Undue publicity and wild speculations in the media about this matter would embolden the Sri Lankan Government and the Sinhala extremists in Australia to demonise the Tamil Australian Community. This would lead to the profiling of the entire Tamil Australian community as ‘terrorists’ or ‘supporters of terrorism’ and would affect their capacity to live with self respect and dignity and serve their newly found home country to their fullest potential.

An intensified demonizing campaign by the Sri Lankan Government would also undermine the legitimate struggle of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka for self-determination and may lead to the denial of the fundamental rights of the Australian Tamil community to raise their genuine concerns over the blatant violations of human rights of their brethren in Sri Lanka.

In this context, AFTA appeals to the Office of the Attorney General and the Australian Federal Police to be sensitive to these genuine concerns of the Tamil Australians, in their conduct of the judicial process.

AFTA also pleads with the media to take note of this matter in their reporting of related developments in the future.

Contact:
Vino Kanapathipillai...0416 967 760 (Sydney)
Raga Ragavan..........0402 387 920 (Canberra)
Siva Sivakumar.........0404 894 591 (Melbourne)

 

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