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Sri Lanka's Genocidal War - '95 to '01
Australian MP condemns Sri Lanka's genocide
Australian Member of Parliament Paul Zammit condemned the genocide of Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka in an intervention in the Australian Federal Parliament on 28 August 1997:
"I rise tonight to bring to the attention of the Australian nation a genocide occurring not far from our shores. I refer to the slow genocide that is happening in Sri Lanka aimed at the Tamil people. I have a sizeable Tamil community in my electorate and I have been watching the situation closely for the past 13 or 14 years, and all I can say is that what is happening there is a blight on humanity.
The latest thing that has occurred that I have to bring to the attention of this House and of the Australian nation is the deliberate bombings and indiscriminate shellings by the Sri Lankan armed forces. The latest carnage occurred on 15 August, when two Sri Lanka Kfir bombers attacked a Catholic church, killing nine people, including a four-year-old child, and wounding 15. In addition to that, on 9 July 1995 the Sri Lankan government bombed a Catholic church in Navaly, killing 120 civilians. On 22 September 1995 Sri Lankan Puccara aircraft bombed a school in the village of Nagar Kovil, killing over 40 people, including 25 children. On these occasions, as well as the one on 15 August 1997, the killing was deliberate.
I have a statement here issued in 1997. The source is the Tamil Centre for Human Rights reports to the 53rd session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, Geneva. These are official figures of human rights violations of Tamil civilians by the present Sri Lankan government over a period of approximately 2½ years. They are as follows:
- Disappearances 759
- Summary executions of Tamils 1330
- Innocent Tamils injured 2332
- Tamil women raped by Sri Lankan security forces 33
- Arbitrary detention of Tamils 14,953
I want to read into the record a statement issued by Amnesty International. I am a member of Amnesty International and I know many members of this House are also long-time members. This statement was issued very recently by the international secretariat from the United Kingdom. They say:
The level of "disappearances" in Sri Lanka has hit a new high, Amnesty International warned as the United Nations Commission on Human Rights examined the country's human rights record. Coinciding with the Sri Lankan Government's pledge at the Commission that "full rigours of the law will be brought to bear" on the perpetrators of human rights violations, Amnesty International submitted more than 400 cases of "disappearances" to President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga urging her to bring those responsible to justice. Since the security forces regained control over the Jaffna peninsula in northern Sri Lanka between late 1995 and early 1997, the total number of "disappearances" reported to the organization has reached 648 - the highest number since 1990.
"That more than 600 "disappearances" can occur in one year despite the government's claim that it is addressing the problem is outrageous. This highlights the need for action too be taken now - to prevent these violations from continuing," Amnesty International said.
There is a clear pattern of the security forces resorting to "disappearances" in reprisal for attacks on the security forces by members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). In one incident which occurred on 19 July 1996, the day after the LTTE attacked the Mullaitivu army camp, at least 40 young men "disappeared" after they were rounded up by army personnel in Kaithady and surrounding villages in the Thennamarachchi Division. They were allegedly taken to Navatkuli army camp but when relatives went to make inquiries, they were not given any information. Amnesty International fears that they may have been massacred.
There is a lot more I want to say about this issue, but I call on the Sri Lankan government to respect the human rights of all individuals, to respect the right that humans have to be treated as decent people and as decent humans in our society and their society as well. They have a responsibility to humanity, and these indiscriminate bombings of individuals who are innocent and not part of any war should be stopped and outlawed immediately by the world community.
I call on the Sri Lankan government to allow the Tamil people of Sri Lanka the right to self-determination." (Paul Zammit, MP (Lowe) Australian Federal parliament, Canberra - P7132 REPRESENTATIVES Thursday, 28 August 1997)