Rajapaksa indicted for war crimes in Australian court

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has had an indictment filed against him, in Melbourne Magistrates Court, for war crimes. The indictiment was filed by Arunachalam Jegatheeswaran, an Australian Tamil who witnessed the government's aerial bombardment of hospitals and other civilian buildings during the height of the conflict in 2009. The charge comes as Rajapaksa is scheduled to arrive in Australia, for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth this week. Speaking to Australian media channel, ABC, Jegatheeswaran explained what he has witnessed: " Patients were killed and patients who were in the hospital were killed and there were other patients waiting for treatment, they were killed. "And there was a medical store where they kept the medicines, those were destroyed, scattered all over the place, you can see. "Ambulances was destroyed. So I have seen that personally ." " The hospital, clearly a big red cross sign was marked on the roof, and drones usually take surveillance, so I'm very positive that they know where the hospital is and they know it'll be damaged. So, that's what I can tell at this stage. " He's [Rajapaksa] the commander-in-chief and nothing would have happened without his knowledge or his directions, and ultimately, he should be answerable to what was happening ." See here for full interview. Jegatheeswaran's lawyer, Rob Stary, urged the Australian government to investigate, ''The government will need to show a bit of backbone to investigate it, but there is absolutely no reason on the face of it why they should not pursue it . " It's incontrovertible in our view that war crimes have been committed ." Stary confirmed the hearing is scheduled to take place on the 29th November.

International conference on Sri Lanka calls for accountability

The Global Tamil Forum and Australian Tamil Congress co-hosted an international conference in Sydney, reaffirming the role of the international community in pressure Sri Lanka to address human rights violations that occurred during the war on the island. The conference, held on the 20th October in Sydney, was entitled “ Accountability in Sri Lanka: Common Justice in the Commonwealth ” and saw a vast array of distinguished speakers from all over the world, including MPs from Malaysia, South Africa, Australia and Sri Lanka. Geoffery Robertson , an eminent QC, who was appointed by the UN Secretary General as one of the three distinguished jurist members of the UN’s Internal Justice Council and part-time appeal judge at the UN-backed court for war crimes in Sierra Leone was also in attendance, along with guests from Amnesty International (Graham Thorn - AI's Australia Refugee Coordinator, and Senthorun Raj - NSW president of AI Australia) and diplomats, including, Sisa Njikelana , an MP from South Africa's ANC (African National Congress). Prof Suriyanarayanan of India, member of the National Security Advisory Board of the Government of India during 2008-2010, also spoke at the event, which recognised that “India must revisit its approach and strategy towards Sri Lanka.” Other notable speakers included Lionel Bopage , former general secretary of the JVP in Sri Lanka who resigned from the party on principle as he disagreed with the party's approach to the Tamil issue; Professor Damien Kingsbury from the Schoool of International and Political Studies at Deakin University, and Associate Professor Jake Lynch , the director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney. Those who have witnessed first hand alleged war crimes and human rights abuses that took place were also present, including, Meena Krishnamoorthy , who was caught up in the No-Fire Zone and two Malaysian MPs, Manogaran and Ramakrishnan , who visited Vanni shortly after the conflict unofficially. The conference was held ahead of the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, the conference called for Sri Lanka to be denied privileges such as hosting the 2013 CHOGM and 2018 Commonwealth Games until the issues of war crimes and crimes against humanity were effectively dealt with. Furthermore, they called on the international community to “ take all necessary steps to implement the UN Panel recommendations in its entirety ”.

Tamils injured in detention centre riot

A riot involving more than 100 people has left three injured at the Scherger Immigration Detention Centre at Weipa on the Cape York Peninsula, Australia. Amongst those injured was a Tamil man, who was left with a suspected broken nose and teeth, thought to have been inflicted by a guard at the centre. Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Collective told reporters that the man was hit by the guard, who allegedly provked the incident, whilst waiting to use the internet. "We are not sure if the guard actually punched him or smashed the door into his face. "[There were] broken teeth and there was...

Sri Lanka calls for probe into Gaddafi's death

In a statement released on Sunday, Sri Lankan external affairs minister, demanded a probe into the death of Muammar Gaddafi. " The government of Sri Lanka is of the opinion that the circumstances surrounding the death require an explanation " the statement read. Gaddafi and the Sri Lankan state, particularly the Rajapaksa regime, have long enjoyed a close relationship. See Meeting of minds (Feb 2011)

Accountability cannot be bartered for rights

The TNA were urged under no circumstances to barter away war crimes accountability for "political concessions" by the Tamil National Peoples Front (TNPF) during a press conference on Sunday. The TNPF is a group of former TNA parliamentarians and civil society members, formed in early 2010 in exasperation at the TNA's reluctance to base its policies on the Tamil nation's rights. The TNA has since again become more forceful in articulating Tamil grievances, and the party swept local government elections earlier this year. On Sunday the TPNF congratulated the TNA on its electoral success and...

Dutch court rules LTTE not terrorist organisation

A district court in The Hague ruled on Friday, in the case of five Tamils accused of procuring funds, that the LTTE is not a terrorist organisation. The landmark ruling was defies European and US policy. The defence counsel, Victor Koppe, believes the decision "will have a huge impact" on the wider legal battle in the European Court of Justice to remove the LTTE from the EU's list of terrorist organisations. "For the LTTE, this is a very good judgment. It will be Exhibit A in the LTTE procedure in Luxembourg," said Koppe. During the case in question, five men were convicted of raising funds...

UPFA's sorrow at Gaddafi's demise

Speaking in parliament on Thursday, UPFA member, A H M Azwar, expressed sorrow at the end of Gaddafi's rule. "In the world scene Col Maummar Gaddafi, the leader of Libya had been arrested by the foreign armed forces. We do not know his fate. We as Muslims we pray for the safety of him and for the country, because these countries are self-governing countries ." " Their sovereignty and independence must be recognized. Now that is not happening as far as the superpowers are concerned. Tomorrow is Friday and according to our calendar, it is a holiday for the Muslims for the week. All the Muslims...

Doing the right thing

Writing in the Canberra Times, retired Australian diplomat Bruce Haigh called on Australia to reject the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Australia Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe. Haigh, who has served as the Australian Deputy High Commissioner in Colombo, wrote as Admiral Samarasinghe, along with Sri Lanka's ambassador to the UN Palita Kohona and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse are being investigated by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) for allegations of war crimes. Extracts have been reproduced below. "Receipt of the submission presents the AFP with something of a dilemma. It...

Jaffna Hospital remembers 1987 massacre by Indian army

Photograph Tamilnet Jaffna Hospital staff held a remembrance event on Friday, in memory of the 68 staff and patients, killed by the Indian Peace Keeping Force troops (IPKF) on 21st October 1987. The event, led by Dr Bhavani Pasupathirajah, was attended by families and loved ones of those massacred. The Jaffna hospital staff who were massacred, included three then leading medical specialists, Dr.A.Sivapathasuntharam, Dr.K.Parimelalahar and Dr.K.Ganesharatnan. According to eye witness reports, the hospital was shelled on the morning of the 21st, before IPKF troops stormed the building and threw...

Protest was organised by Ministry of Defence – Channel 4

The head of Channel 4 News and Current Affairs has told a Lords communications committee that a protest against the broadcaster earlier this year was arranged by the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence. Dorothy Byrne told the Lords committee, which is inquiring into the future of investigative journalism, that Sri Lanka had concerted “worldwide PR exercises against us", after the channel’s investigation into war crimes in Sri Lanka. See report from the Guardian here . Speaking to the committee on Tuesday, Byrne said, "They will not just try to threaten us with libel actions, they will launch...

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