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SL envoy hits back at Greens

20 September 2011 08:16 am - 6     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Sri Lanka's top diplomat in Canberra has hit back angrily at an Australian Greens-led group demanding a war crimes investigation of his government.

Greens senator Lee Rhiannon on Tuesday hosted a roundtable meeting of academics and activists who want Prime Minister Julia Gillard to throw her weight behind international calls for an independent war crimes tribunal to investigate Sri Lanka.

The roundtable's participants called for Sri Lanka's suspension from the Councils of the Commonwealth and warned they may try to disrupt Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa's visit to Perth for next month's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

A series of reports have accused Sri Lanka of committing war crimes during its final 2009 offensive against the Tamil Tiger rebels. The offensive crushed the Tigers, bringing a decades-old civil war to an end.

The British and Canadian prime ministers have called for an investigation of alleged human rights violations, but Ms. Gillard has so far been silent on the issue.

"The ball is with the Australian government to stand up for human rights," Senator Rhiannon said. "This isn't a time for fence-sitting."

But Sri Lanka's High Commissioner in Canberra, Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe, dismissed the war crimes allegations as "unsubstantiated propaganda".

"I totally reject any of the claims," Admiral Samarasinghe told AAP from Perth, where he is preparing for President Rajapaksa's visit. "The government had to take military action to defeat the terrorists to save the civilians. This whole process is being orchestrated by the defeated terrorist front organisations," he said.

Admiral Samarasinghe - a 37-year veteran of the Sri Lankan military - said he had complained to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade about the roundtable meeting.

"We are doing our best to keep friendly countries apprised of this wrongdoing," he said, adding, "These people will have no opportunity to discredit my country on foreign soil."

Senator Rhiannon said the Greens and other groups did not believe President Rajapaksa's visit was appropriate. "It does appear there are grounds for visas to be held from people who may jeopardise the public interest or the security of this country," she said. "So this is an issue we are exploring further," she added.

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said Australia had not relaxed its visa arrangements for CHOGM.

"Normal strict visa and border integrity arrangements remain in place for CHOGM and all non-citizens seeking to enter Australia must satisfy visa requirements, including those relating to character," he said. Sydney University academic Jake Lynch said Ms. Gillard should "step up to the plate" and lead on the issue.

"What is she doing to prevent the government of Sri Lanka from getting away with war crimes?"

Australian Tamil Congress spokeswoman Sam Pari said a war crimes tribunal would deter other regimes from killing their own civilians.
Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has previously expressed concerns over civilian casualties in Sri Lanka during the final stages of the war.
Mr. Rudd told the Fourth Tamil Community Forum in June he believed all allegations of human rights violations should be "tested, assessed and, if accurate, substantiated".

Mr. Rudd said Labor would wait to see the final report of the Sri Lankan government's own inquiry before considering the need for further inquiries. (Channel 9)

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  Comments - 6

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  • Sajitha Wednesday, 21 September 2011 07:34 AM

    Do youo know US and UK are the biggest debtors in the world. talking about beggres ?? Ha!

    koka Tuesday, 20 September 2011 09:27 AM

    Accept the facts and do a genuine inquiry ..
    dont take sins of brothers for the sake of bread !

    Percy Amarasinghe Tuesday, 20 September 2011 09:28 AM

    Some ignorant Australians are entertaining supporters of facist LTTE who have killed thousands of civilians in cold blood and recruited children in lower ages such as 12-14 for their failed war effort.. Percy

    Guru Tuesday, 20 September 2011 09:38 AM

    You come from a begging country. Do you know that?????

    chandra Tuesday, 20 September 2011 09:46 AM

    Most western countries and Aussies dance to LTTE remnants and Diaspora's tune without facts and based on here and say slogans

    sparks Tuesday, 20 September 2011 09:55 AM

    A first class remark.


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