War criminal Rajapakse to visit Perth

Several prominent Australian human rights advocates have called for protests when Sri Lanka’s “war criminal” president, Mahinda Rajapakse comes to Perth in late October to attend the Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

The Rajapaksa government is guilty of committing “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity”, Professor Damien Kingsbury, the director of the Centre for Citizenship, Development and Human Rights at Deakin University, told an international conference on “Accountability In Sri Lanka: Common Justice In The Commonwealth” in Sydney on October 20.

There is “widely accepted evidence” that about 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed largely through “systematic shelling of populated areas” in the closing weeks of the Sri Lankan governments war against the Liberation Tigers for Tamil Elam (LTTE) which had previously ocupied and run parts of the north and east of the country.

There is also credible evidence of thousands of killings and disappearances, he added, and this was enough evidence for a case to be taken to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by signatory state of the ICC convention.

Kingsbury added that there was also a precedent for CHOGM to suspend Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth until it was brought to account for these crimes.

He joined several other speakers at the conference, including Bruce Haigh (former Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka), Pat Power (Catholic Bishop of Canberra), Reverend John Barr (Uniting Church), Associate Professor Jake Lynch (director of the Centre of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney) and John Dowd (Australian president of the International Commission of Jurists, and a former Supreme Court judge and NSW Attorney-General)  in calling for protests to be held against Rajapakse when he comes to CHOGM.

A number of overseas guest speakers added their voice to this call for protests, among them two Malaysian opposition MPs, Dato Johari Abdul and M. Manogaram.

Haigh and Dowd also called for the current Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Australia, former admiral Thisara Samarasinghe, to be sent back because there was enough evidence of his responsibility for war crimes. The ICJ had sent the evidence to the Australian Federal Police.

Sam Pari, a spokesperson for the conference (which was organised by the Australian Tamil Congress and the Global Tamil Forum), said:

“Despite mounting evidence of war crimes in Sri Lanka and increasing calls for an international independent investigation into such crimes, Sri Lanka continues to be defiant.

“Sri Lankan leaders are due to attend CHOGM to campaign for CHOGM 2013 to be held in their country. However, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has already stated that he is likely to boycott CHOGM 2013 if Sri Lanka was to host the event, given the country’s appalling human rights record.

“Sri Lanka is also competing with Australia to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games.”

One Comment to “War criminal Rajapakse to visit Perth”

  1. With all the evidence that have already surfaced of committing attrocities on a minority race, war crimes and human rights abuses against innocent Tamils, the International community is shameful to allow an alleged war criminal to continue to commit more and more crimes and ethnic cleansing at will.

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