Swiss Federation of Tamil Associations
to the Australian Foreign Ministry
15 November 1995
15 November 1995
Acting First Assistant Secretary,
South and South Asia Division
Department of Foreign Affairs,
Canberra , Australia.
Appeal for Humanity and Justice
We thank you for your letter of 6 October on behalf of Senator Evans and
the careful consideration that you have given to our views about the
situation in the island of Sri Lanka. We are particularly encouraged by your
"Australia is prepared to consider assisting a genuine peace process in
any way that would be useful and acceptable to both sides".
We are, however, not surprised by your further statement that:
"…following recent discussions between Senator Evans and the Sri Lankan
Government, there appears to be no obvious role for third party involvement
We are not surprised because during the past several years,
Sri Lanka has consistently rejected offers of international involvement
with a view to resolving the conflict in the island.
We recognise that the strategy of the Sri Lanka government is to
wage war against the armed resistance of the Tamil people, at whatever cost
in Tamil civilian casualties; annihilate Tamil resistance, proclaiming
that it is necessary to 'weaken' it; and in this way create the frame for
Sri Lanka to impose its own 'political solution' on the Tamil people, so
that Sinhala rule may be perpetuated in a 'more acceptable form'. We also
recognise that whilst Sri Lanka is engaged in this effort, it may well see
no 'obvious role' for third party involvement - except, of course, as silent
bystanders who do not impede Sri Lanka's continued genocidal onslaught on
the Tamil people.
However, the political reality is that third party involvement
(silent or otherwise) has always existed in relation to the conflict - and
continues to exist.
For instance, the
Aid Consortium, meeting annually in Paris during the past several years,
has propped up the tottering Sri Lanka economy - recently to the tune of 30
billion rupees. Today, Sri Lanka's defence budget exceeds its education
budget plus its health budget. However, the militarisation of Sinhala
society and the swelling ranks of Sinhala Army deserters has not secured
stability - it has done the reverse.
Again the influx of
Tamil asylum seekers to Australia, Europe, Canada and elsewhere is also
a part of this larger 'third party involvement.' Further, it cannot be
gainsaid that 'third party involvement' by way of arm sales (both lethal and
non lethal, covert and open) continues to feed Sri Lanka's unjust war
against the Tamil people.
We respectfully suggest that it surely cannot be in the interests of the
international community to be seen to support the genocidal actions of
President Chandrika Kumaratunga's government - because, even apart from
everything else, genocide is not the path to stability - it will only
broaden and deepen resistance to alien rule and domination - and without
stability there will be no climate for economic development.
UN Secretary General calls for humanitarian
aid for 400,000 Tamils
also say that we do not use the word 'genocide' lightly. The recent
intensified attacks by the Sri Lanka armed forces in the densely populated
Jaffna peninsula has resulted in upto 400,000 Tamils being displaced from
their homes and living in appalling conditions which threaten starvation and
Here, we seek your open support for the
appeal made by the UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, on 4 November
1995 for urgent humanitarian aid for up to 400,000 Tamil refugees
fleeing their homes as Sri Lanka government troops invade the Jaffna
peninsula. Dr Boutros-Ghali has said that humanitarian aid on a significant
scale was needed to minimise the suffering of the Tamil people.
We may mention in this connection that on 11 November thousands of Tamils
and supporters of the Tamil cause participated in demonstrations in Europe
urging support for the appeal made by the UN Secretary General Boutros
Boutros-Ghali. We annex hereto a copy of the Press Briefing given at Berne
by the Swiss Federation of Tamil Associations on 10 November 1995.
Though Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga has sought to justify the
invasion of the Tamil homeland as a war to 'liberate' the Tamil people from
the Liberation Tigers, the fact is that the Tamil people have fled in their
thousands from their would be 'liberators', leaving behind them their homes
and hard earned belongings.
Further, though President Chandrika Kumaratunga has claimed that the Sri
Lanka security services have endeavoured to minimise civilian casualties,
the undeniable fact is that the invading Sinhala army has indiscriminately
bombed and shelled the Tamil homeland; that hundreds of Tamil civilians had
been killed and thousands maimed; that houses had been flattened and
farmland destroyed; and that the economic blockade imposed by Sri Lanka had
prevented food and urgently needed medical supplies reaching the peninsula.
On 1 November, the Government's own representative in the peninsula urged
the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry to stop bombing civilians and refugees in
Jaffna and has told President Kumaratunga that civilians in refugee camps
were being killed by aerial raids and appealed for safe areas to be set up.
Thousands of people have fled Jaffna with the spread of disease causing
concern among relief agencies. Relief workers have said that the few
hospitals in the peninsula are dangerously low on anaesthetics for surgery
and several drugs essential to stopping the spread of diseases and treating
war casualties. Without clean water and proper latrines, an epidemic could
hit in a matter of days and the world probably wouldn't see it happen.
Gerard Peytrignet, who heads the International Committee of the Red Cross
in the island has said that about half of the 400,000 Tamil refugees are
living and sleeping outdoors in heavy monsoon rains. He added: "The rest are
holed up in churches, schools and relatives' homes. The refugees have very
little food or proper sanitation. Doctors are already seeing cases of
dysentery and eye infections, and while cholera hasn't struck yet, the
conditions are perfect for a deadly epidemic.. Of course, in this type of
situation, anything could happen, quick action is needed."
The attack by the Sri Lanka armed forces has taken place under cover of a
press censorship imposed by Sri Lanka on September 21. The
press censorship has prevented full details of Sri Lanka's genocidal
attacks on the Tamil people from reaching the outside world.
At the sametime, Sri Lanka has used the cover of the press censorship, to
manage news of the war to the outside world and plant malicious propaganda
concerning alleged attacks by the LTTE on armed Sinhala settlements in the
Tamil homeland in the East.
The Canadian Toronto Star reported on 5 November:
"Relief workers are so afraid of making the government angry, they refuse
to photograph or shoot video of the refugees' suffering and smuggle pictures
out to the reporters… Few were willing to criticise the government publicly
because they are afraid it will shut down their relief operation in
retaliation… 'I think they don't want an International presence there to
witness what's happening,' a senior Western relief official said."
The conclusion is inescapable that the Sri Lanka armed forces are acting in
accordance with the dictates of their commander in chief President
Kumaratunga who said in an interview with an Indian journal on 30 April
"Q. Where do you go from here?
A. ...To defeat the LTTE you have to launch an all out attack (which
would mean a lot of Tamil civilian casualties) and the place (Jaffna) will
be wiped out.
Q. Is that possible? Can the Sri Lankan forces do it?
A. Ofcourse it is possible. That is what the IPKF tried to do."
President Kumaratunga's words are at one with the words of her predecessor,
President Jayawardene to a British newspaper, a couple of weeks before the
1983 genocide of the Tamil people in Colombo and elsewhere:
"I am not worried about the opinion of the Tamil people... now we cannot
think of them, not about their lives or their opinion... the more you put
pressure in the north, the happier the Sinhala people will be here... Really
if I starve the Tamils out, the Sinhala people will be happy."
In this context, the claim of the Sri Lanka government on 4 November that
the exodus of Tamil civilians was somehow 'contrived' to deprive the
government of 'the stated rationale for its military action, namely to
liberate the people of the peninsula from LTTE control' would be farcical if
not for its callous disregard of the unfolding human tragedy in the Tamil
homeland, caused by the wanton actions of the Sri Lanka armed forces.
The truth now stands exposed by Paul Watson from the Asian Bureau in a
report in the Toronto Star on 5 November that "while Sri Lanka's army fights
to crush Tamil rebels, its battling on another front against foreign relief
workers trying to care for 400,000 war refugees." He reported:
" Western relief agencies accuse the military of blocking desperately
needed aid. Tight restrictions are preventing the delivery of drugs, tents
and blankets as well as equipment to build latrines, said frustrated aid
officials, who spoke on condition they not be named…More food won't end the
refugees' suffering or stave off disease because most have no shelter from
the rain, proper toilets or safe water, relief workers said. While the
government is announcing the new food of deliveries by sea, its army was
blocking a small convoy of relief trucks that was supposed to cross into
rebel territory yesterday."
President Kumaratunga declared recently at the UN:
"Concerted international action is essential to combat terrorism and to
compel the terrorists to renounce violence and enter the democratic process.
Unfortunately, effective action to that end has been frustrated through
sterile philosophical debate about the nature of terrorism."
That Sinhala chauvinism should assert that discussion
about the nature of terrorism, is 'sterile' and 'philosophical' is not
altogether surprising. On the one hand, Sinhala political parties (who had
'entered' the so called 'democratic process') have during the past four
decades sponsored and actively encouraged terrorism against the Tamil
people. On the other hand, President Kumaratunga seeks to demonise the
lawful armed resistance of the Tamil people to decades of oppressive
Sinhala rule as 'terrorism' and provide a legitimising facade for her
current genocidal attack on the Tamil people.
We agree that concerted international action is essential to combat
terrorism. But the fact is that it is in Sri Lanka, that state terrorism was
consolidated and refined as a way of political life by the J.R. Jayawardene
government, and later by President Premadasa and President D.B.Wijetunga.
And this continues under President Kumaratunga today.
On 9 August 1995,
21 non governmental organisations in a joint statement to the UN
Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities
expressed their grave concern at the 'impunity with which the Sri Lanka
armed forces continue to commit gross and inhumane violations of human
rights and humanitarian law' and went on to condemn such actions as being
'intended to terrorise and subjugate the Tamil people'. The Statement added:
"In May this year, President Chandrika Kumaratunga
declared that it may be necessary to launch an all out attack in the Jaffna
peninsula and that this 'would mean a lot of civilian casualties' and the
'place would be wiped out'. In May, June and July the Sri Lanka armed forces
launched a genocidal onslaught on the Tamil people in the Tamil homeland in
The aerial bombardment of civilian population centres and places of
worship follow a pattern set by the Sri Lanka armed forces over the past
several years and President Kumaratunga's belated promise to investigate the
recent violations, must ring hollow in the ears of the Tamil people whose
kith and kin have lost their lives or their limbs in the bomb outrage."
Collapse of the Peace Talks
President Kumaratunga has sought to justify her current military operations
by asserting to the international community that it was the withdrawal of
the LTTE from the peace talks in April 1995 which led to Sri Lanka's current
'war for peace'. Here, we also note your statement that the Australian
Government has 'expressed strong disappointment at the unilateral decision
of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to withdraw from the peace
talks and resume armed conflict' and your further statement that -
"The LTTE's justification for ending the Cessation of Hostilities… was
not convincing and served to cast considerable doubt on the sincerity of
LTTE's stated desire for a peaceful settlement to the ethnic conflict."
On the question of sincerity and good faith, may we point out Sri Lanka
President Kumaratunga's frank admission in the Sinhala owned Sri Lanka
Sunday Times on 20 August 1995:
"I have studied and acquired considerable knowledge on guerrilla warfare
when I was a student in Paris, and we knew how they would behave. We
conducted talks on the basis that the LTTE would not agree to any peaceful
settlement and lay down arms."
Whilst it is significant that President Kumaratunga's Paris education had
not extended to a study of the Kissinger negotiations which ended the
conflict in Vietnam or for that matter the London negotiations which ended
the guerrilla war in Zimbabwe what is more significant was her frank
admission that she did not participate in the peace talks in good faith with
the object of reaching a 'peaceful settlement' because her Paris studies had
convinced her that this was not possible with a guerrilla movement.
President Kumaratunga's hidden agenda was exposed by her own appointee as
Chairman of the Sri Lanka state television, Rupavahini, Mr.Vasantha Rajah,
who wrote with the knowledge of an insider in the Sri Lanka state controlled
Sunday Observer on 25 June 1995:
"... a hidden agenda seeped into the government's peace effort. Instead
of making a genuine effort to cultivate confidence and trust with the Tiger
leadership and exploring 'common ground', the government got side tracked by
a different strategy: to try and isolate the Tiger leadership from the Tamil
masses so that the military could corner and defeat them. The military
establishment, together with most Sinhala intellectuals and left wing
politicians... had been preaching this was for some time. This became the
aim of the Presidential initiative too. In other words the peace process
began to resemble a tactical episode in the government's strategy to crush
the Tigers. Indeed President Chandrika even spoke about such an intention
You also state in your letter:
"The ending of the peace process did nothing to resolve understandable
complaints from the Tamil side about the pace of the talks, the level of the
dialogue, and the delays in the lifting of fishing restrictions and the
supply of fuel and other commodities to Jaffna. These issues should have
been pursued through continuing dialogue, not abandoning it."
Here, the words of
Velupillai Pirabaharan, the Leader of the LTTE in a BBC interview on 30
April 1995 are apposite:
"In so far as the day to day problems of the Tamil people are concerned
the Government dragged its feet for more than six months. On these issues,
there were four rounds of talks and more than forty letters exchanged.
Furthermore, we gave a two weeks deadline and that was further extended to
three more weeks. If there was a genuine will on the part of the Government
it would have lifted the bans and proceeded with the implementation within
24 hours. I think that if the Government had been sincere there would not
have been any delays or difficulties."
The failure of the Sri Lanka government (for a period of six months and
more) to address what you have described as the 'understandable complaints'
of the Tamil side served to expose the 'hidden agenda' of a government whose
President now admits that she did not engage in the so called 'peace talks'
with a view to reaching a peaceful settlement.
The fact is that the so called peace process failed
not because of so called LTTE intransigence, but because President
Kumaratunga sought to use the talks as a mere 'tactical episode' in her
attempt to quell Tamil resistance.
President Kumaratunga's "Devolution Proposals"
President Kumaratunga has also sought to buy the silence of the
international community to her genocidal onslaught on the Tamil people by
claiming that she has presented 'radical and wide ranging proposals' for
constitutional reform. We note the statement in your letter that:
"Australia welcomed the announcement on 3 August by President Kumaratunga
of radical and wide ranging new proposals for constitutional reforms, which
would devolve significant powers from the central government to regional
administrations. The proposals address underlying causes of ethnic conflict
and aspirations of the Tamil population."
However, the fact is that the
that President Kumaratunga announced on 4 August, one month after the launch
of the intensified attacks on the Tamil homeland, in July 1995, and one
month before President Kumaratunga renewed these attacks in September 1995,
was simply a 'mask' to cover her government's military strategy. Two days
before the official unveiling of the 'political package' on 4 August 1995,
President Kumaratunga had met with the Buddhist High Priests in Kandy and
promised that the package will not be finalised until the war against
the LTTE is won.
As for the proposals which have been touted to the international community
as 'wide ranging and radical' and devolving 'significant powers from the
central government to regional administrations', President Kumaratunga
herself exposed its true nature in the Sinhala owned Sri Lanka Sunday Times
reported on 20 August 1995:
"Defending the devolution package, (President Kumaratunga) said in no way
would it erode the supremacy of (the central) parliament... The President
said that since Policy Planning was a subject for the centre, the central
government had a hold in every subject a region handled... the President
said, even if a Regional Council opposes, the centre has the power to go
ahead and allocate land for its purposes. The President also moved to allay
fears of a North-East merger saying that the government did not have any
idea of merging the North with the East."
The ex Chief Justice of India,
V.R.Krishna Aiyer commented in the Hindu on 6 September 1995 on the
failure of the Chandrika proposals to recognise the existence of the Tamil
" It is beyond argument that the North-East is the homeland of the Tamils
and an unconditional acceptance of their integrated existence as a
provincial unit is basic. To treat the Tamil region just like any other
region is to miss the categorical imperative that the North and East is an
entity with a higher autonomy and foundational features, as distinguished
from the other provinces. To carve out other areas and glorify them as
regions may be a stroke of federal realism but the North-East is a
"quasi-Eelam" with more sub-sovereign powers and less Central presence than
the other regions. Otherwise, the whole course of the decade-long bloody
history will come to nought...
The Chandrika vision of Sri Lanka with all communities living in safety
and security, human dignity and equality, together with a string of
platitudes regarding human rights and fundamental freedoms does not take
note of the core of the controversy… The sharing of power of all regions
cannot be alike since that obliterates the relevance of the Tamil struggle
which entitles them to a far larger protection regarding human rights,
coexisting, as they are, with a snarling Sinhala majority..
The contiguous Tamil territory, with its integrity restored as before the
disintegrative process during the last decade began, is important. Even the
powers, administrative, legislative, and judicial have to be wider,
deep-rooted and beyond manipulation by a majority in Parliament. The
grievous error in the "Chandrika package" is its failure to install the
North-East as a special category."
Again, predictably even the original devolution package announced by
President Kumaratunga on 4 August was further watered down and eventually,
the presentation of the draft legislation spelling out the specifics of the
'devolution package' to the Parliamentary Select Committee was also
deferred. In addition the main Sinhala opposition party, the United National
Party, has withheld expressing its views until the Government presents a
draft of its detailed legislation.
The response of the Liberation Tigers to the so called 'devolution package'
was a measured one. LTTE spokesman, Mr.Anton Balasingham addressing a Press
Conference in Jaffna on 11 August 1995 said:
"The so called political package is a mask to conceal the government's
President Chandrika Kumaratunga has already promised the Buddhist Maha
Nayakas that she would not finalise the proposals until the Liberation
Tigers are militarily defeated and the war brought to a finish. Under these
conditions, how can she resolve the conflict through political means or
bring durable peace to the country?...
It is being said that under this package, areas that were forcibly
colonised by Sinhalese will be excised from the North-East region. It is
also being said that this is not a package to devolve power to the Tamil
people but to all the regions in the island.
The package has to be placed before the Parliamentary Select Committee.
After the Committee sits on it, it has to go before Parliament which must
pass the bill with a two-thirds majority. The Peoples Alliance government
has only a wafer thin majority in Parliament and within the Alliance itself
there is opposition to the proposals. Having passed all these hurdles, the
Sinhala people have to approve the proposals at a referendum.
We say that the Tamil people have the right to determine their own
future. If any attempt is made to impose an arbitrary political settlement
on the Tamil people through military means, the LTTE will resist it....
... even today when the Chandrika government has closed its doors on
peace, we have not given up hopes of exploring a peaceful settlement.
Whether it is peace or war, we are ready for both. If the government halts
its military operations and creates the necessary atmosphere for peace by
showing concern for the day to day living needs of the Tamil people, we are
still prepared for political negotiations…"
The political reality is that the proposals presented by President
Kumaratunga far from addressing the 'underlying causes of ethnic conflict
and aspirations of the Tamil population' seek, on the contrary, to
perpetuate Sinhala rule in a rather more sophisticated manner.
We respectfully agree with the Australian government that a
negotiated settlement, is ultimately the only logical course to achieving a
durable solution to the conflict. But the short point that we seek to make
is that a peaceful resolution of the armed conflict in the island demands
also a recognition that the armed resistance of the Tamil people, led by the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, arose as a response to decades of
oppressive rule by a Sinhala dominated Sri Lanka state and that that armed
resistance is both lawful and just.
It is not that representatives of two peoples cannot engage in peaceful
dialogue and work out structures within which they may associate with one
another, in equality and in freedom. They can. But such a dialogue must
surely begin with the recognition of the existence of two peoples in the
island living, in the main, in two different territories.
Eighteen non governmental organisations consisting of the International
Organisation for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination,
International Educational Development, Centre Europe Ties Monde,
International Indian Treaty Council, Fedefam, Association paur la Liberte
Religiose, Codehuca, World Christian Community, Pax Christie International,
International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples, Movement
contra le Racisme, International Association of Educadores for World Peace,
International Association against Torture, World Confederation of Labour,
and International Movement for Fraternal Union among Races and Peoples, put
it well on 8 February 1993 at the UN Commission on Human Rights:
''We are of the view that any meaningful attempt to resolve the conflict
(in the island of Sri Lanka) should address its underlying causes and to
recognise that the armed struggle of the Tamil people for self
determination, arose as a response to decades of an ever widening and
deepening oppression by a permanent Sinhala majority, within the confines of
an unitary Sri Lankan state.
It was an oppression which included the disenfranchisement of the
plantation Tamils, systematic state aided Sinhala colonisation of the Tamil
homeland, the enactment of the Sinhala Only law, discriminatory employment
policies, inequitable allocation of resources to Tamil areas, exclusion of
eligible Tamil students from Universities and higher education, and a
refusal to share power within the frame of a federal constitution. It was an
oppression by an alien Sinhala majority which consolidated the growth of the
national consciousness of the Tamil people.
During the past several years the Sinhala dominated Sri Lankan government
has attempted to put down the armed resistance of the Tamil people and has
sought to conquer and control the Tamil homeland. The record shows that in
this attempt, Sri Lanka's armed forces and para military units have
committed increasingly widespread violations of the rules of humanitarian
In the East whole villages of Tamils have been attacked by the Army and
by the so called Home Guards. Many Tamil residents in these villages were
killed. Others have been tortured. Those Tamils who were detained by the Sri
Lankan authorities have had little or no hope of coming out alive. The
attacks on the Tamil homeland have been coupled with the declared opposition
of the Sri Lankan Government to the merger of the North and East of the
island into a single administrative and political unit.
However, despite the sustained attacks of Sinhala dominated governments
over a period of several decades, the territorial integrity of the Tamil
homeland in the North and East of the island has remained. The Tamil
population in the North and East, who have lived for many centuries within
relatively well defined geographical boundaries, share an ancient heritage,
a vibrant culture, and a living language which traces its origins to more
than 2500 years ago.
A social group, which shares objective elements such as a common language
and which has acquired a subjective consciousness of togetherness, by its
life within a relatively well defined territory, and its struggle against
alien domination, clearly constitutes a 'people' with the right to self
Today, there is an urgent need for the international community to
recognise that the Tamil population in the North and East of the island of
Sri Lanka are such a 'people' with the right to freely choose their
political status. It is our view that such recognition will prepare the
ground for the resolution of a conflict which has taken such a heavy toll in
human lives and suffering during the past several years."
We respectfully commend these views for the consideration of the Australian
Government and urge that the desire to retain the territorial integrity of
existing states should not prevent the international community from
recognising, as events in the old Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe have
shown, that national identities rooted in language, culture and history have
proved to be long enduring and the attempt to suppress such national
formations serve only to consolidate resistance to alien rule.
In an increasingly small and interdependent world, concepts of
'sovereignty' and 'territoriality' are themselves undergoing change.
Significantly as long ago as 1992, Velupillai Pirabaharan, the leader of the
"It is the Sri Lanka government that has failed to learn the lessons from
the emergence of the struggles for self determination in several parts of
the globe and the innovative structural changes that have taken place."
International humanitarian law
You state in your letter that the 'Australian Government hopes that the Sri
Lankan Government will exercise restraint in any military response it
pursues.' May we point out respectfully that the matter is not simply a
matter of 'restraint' but also of complying with the international law
relating to non international armed conflicts.
For instance, the facts as vouched for by the International Red Cross show
that the bombing of Navaly Church, several miles away from the front line of
battle cannot be explained away as a 'tragic incident where non combatant
Tamil civilians have been killed in (so called) military exchanges.' The
Navaly Church was deliberately bombed with at least six bombs. In a Press
Release from Geneva dated 11 July 1995, the Red Cross said:
"On 9 July the Sri Lankan armed forces launched a large scale military
offensive against the positions of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
(LTTE) north of the city of Jaffna. The operation involving intensive
artillery shelling and air strikes, immediately forced tens of thousands of
civilians to leave the area. Many of the displaced sought shelter in
churches and temples, including several hundred people who took refuge in
the Church of St.Peter and Paul in Navaly.
According to eye witness accounts, this church and several adjacent
buildings were hit by further air force strikes at 4.30 p.m. the same day.
During the attack 65 people were killed and 150 wounded, including women and
children. That evening and into the night Sri Lanka Red Cross staff
evacuated most of the wounded by ambulance to the Jaffna Teaching Hospital.
Delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) present the
next morning at the scene of the attack noted the widespread damage and
measured the extent of the tragedy. Many of the bodies had not yet been
removed from the rubble.
Deeply concerned by the series of violent acts that have claimed innocent
victims, the ICRC call on the parties involved to respect civilian lives,
property and places of refuge. It also urges them to respect the protected
zone around the Jaffna Teaching Hospital and to refrain from attacking any
other medical facilities."
In a report dated 18 August 1995, Marco Altherr, head of the ICRC
delegation to Sri Lanka added:
"It is not quite sure how many bombs fell, as only one hit the ground (a
crater), the others hitting concrete, but six is a fair estimate. The church
itself was not directly hit, but damaged by the blasts and shrapnel. More
than 1000 people were gathered in the compound, busy to prepare food for
dinner and accommodation for the night."
Further, the conduct of the Sri Lanka government subsequent to the Navaly
bombing reinforces its culpability. Sri Lanka initially denied knowledge of
the bombing. Later, Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar blamed
the Red Cross for 'not informing the Sri Lanka government before issuing a
statement'! Subsequently, Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister promised to hold an
inquiry. But, later still, President Kumaratunga denied responsibility and
with a callous disregard for the victims of the attack, declared that
inquiries should be addressed to the Red Cross because it was they who seem
to know about the attack.
We have referred to some of these matters in some detail because the
failure of Governments with a strong commitment to human rights and
humanitarian law, such as Australia, to openly condemn these crimes against
humanity has led Sri Lanka to act with impunity. We are mindful that real
politick may sometimes demand a circumspect approach. But the price of
silence is that more and more Tamil civilian lives are lost day by day. We
believe that the Australian government can help save Tamil lives by giving
expression to its concerns about Sri Lanka's genocidal attack on the Tamil
In all these circumstances, we appeal to the Australian government, as a
matter of urgency, to respond positively and with humanity to the call made
by the Secretary General of the United Nations for urgent humanitarian aid
for hundreds of thousands displaced Tamils and also call upon the Sri Lanka
1. to withdraw from the occupied territories of the Tamil homeland and end
the genocidal attack on the Tamil people; and
2. to recognise the right of the Tamil people to choose their political
status in order to pave the way for a peaceful settlement of the conflict.